Today, I found a nice surprise in my email inbox – a notice that my journal article based on my MSc dissertation has finally been published. It’s now available here for anyone with an internet connection to read (no paywalls here!)
I also had some interesting notifications on my usually-dormant Twitter account as a result. Seeing a couple of “likes” from people who had attended my OER17 presentation was nice, especially as that was close to two years ago.
Completing my article is also helpful for me for another reason. I’ve wanted to talk about the process of research, and about academic publishing, on this site, but I didn’t want to do so until after I’d had at least some first-hand experience.
After submitting my article in September, I recently received my reviewer’s verdict. I had some revisions to do and two weeks to do them in, but now V2 of the article has been completed and re-submitted.
Luckily, most of the sections were satisfactory. My abstract needed some extra information, to which I initially thought “that’s impossible, I’ve only got 150 words!” However, I was wrong — my new abstract fits way more information into the limited space.
Yesterday, I finally pushed the big green “Submit” button on the research article that I’ve been working on sporadically for nearly two years. Pressing that button provided a relief, though an anticlimatic one; seeing years of my life summed up in a file just 46kb small felt more painful than joyous.
But for now I’ve done what I can, and I need to wait for the journal staff to give their verdict. However, that could be a slow process. When I and two other students helped with another study during our undergraduate degree, it wasn’t fully published until three years later. Hopefully my paper won’t need too many revisions, but I’m not naive enough to think it will be waved through unchanged.
I’m glad to have completed a version of the paper, and I’m fairly happy with my work. So far, I’m annoyed about only one aspect. As part of studying science communication, and from my own interests, I’ve read quite a bit about the failure points of academic writing — how it can be jargon-laden, hard to read, and artificially exclusive. I’ve read about how to make academic writing more lively and well-crafted, and how to make it better do its job of communicating. After diving into this new topic, I wanted to try out those new techniques and approaches. But in the end I stuck with the conventional approach, the passive, impersonal “view from nowhere”.
November’s deadlines were supposed to mark the unofficial end of my MSc. However, I’m going to be in academic-land for a little longer now, as I’ve been offered two really cool opportunities involving my MSc work. (So these should really just be called academic updates now…).
The first opportunity I’ve been given is presenting my findings at a conference on Open Educational Resources in April. That’s somewhere between awesome and terrifying right now, especially as I’m really not a fan of presentations, and that I wasn’t expecting to be accepted when I applied!
If you have a smartphone, then right now you could be taking part in the world’s largest mental health study. Sounds interesting? Then head over to http://howistheworldfeeling.spurprojects.org/ to join in.
If you need a bit more convincing, then read on.
The survey is called How Is The World Feeling?, and it’s aiming to get a snapshot of how everyday people around the world are feeling during this week (October 10th- October 16th). The target is to have 7 million people taking part, and 70 million emotions logged.
On Wednesday, I got an email from my dissertation supervisor about a potentially-useful meeting based on research and what UWE’s Open Access policies are. This sounded interesting, so I went to investigate, and it actually did give me a lot of information about how researchers understand Open Access.
For my Methods in Neuroscience Research module, we were all tasked with making a mini-dissertation. This involved us getting into groups, making and analysing an experiment as a group, then writing it up. I thought I would show you a little bit of what we got up to in the last few weeks.
So, as you can tell from the title, our experiment was using eye-tracking. Seeing as unless you’re a psychology student you probably won’t ever get to see one of these, I thought I would document it.
Firstly, here’s some pictures of the eye-tracking lab setup. On the left is the participant computer: the metal frame is for their head , and the plastic is for their chin. The computer is running software called GazeTracker, which can track people’s eye responses to pictures and even track their responses inside some software programs.This means it can also be used for user interface data.
As you’ve gathered from the last few posts, I’ve been spending the majority of my non-lecture time in uni, hiding out in my semi-underground lab and testing people. I’ve found the process of researching interesting, but it has also worried me a bit: doing my dissertation research has shown me there are many more things to take into account than I expected.
While organisation isn’t my strong point, it can be resolved fairly easily in normal lecture and seminar environments. During data collection, on the other hand, keeping track of many different variables and responsibilities becomes incredibly important, and my difficulty with it has almost got me into trouble already.