At the beginning of the semester, my process for doing academic research involved me reading only the abstract in order to deem if a source is relevant. Now, I will often briefly skim other sections of the paper, such as the methods, in order to determine if the study uses the same or similar stimulus materials as our study. Additionally, I will often skim the introduction section, in order to find other papers that may be relevant. This provides me with more detailed information without having to fully read the article in order to deem if it is an appropriate source.
As a part of this course, we worked to design a survey to administer to primarily low-income, racially diverse families in Prince Edward County in central Virginia. When we were designing the survey, we had to be mindful that the wording of the questions is important. For example, some parents completing the survey might not wish to answer particular questions, such as those about income depending on how the questions are worded. Through designing this survey, I learned that it is important to conduct research in ways that are culturally competent. This is something I will always strive to do in the future.
When selecting sources to use for my research assignments, I ensured I only used peer-reviewed papers from academic journals. I used sources that appeared to relate to my topic, the relationship between socioeconomic status and family involvement. I did not add or change any sources for my final assignment after turning in my annotated bibliography, though I did change the order in which I presented the sources to improve the flow of the information.
In doing research for my assignments this semester, I faced a few challenges. One challenge was how to separate the sources and discuss them in an order that makes the most logical sense. This was more challenging than usual, as some of my sources discussed both socioeconomic status and family involvement, while others focused on just one topic. Even the sources that discussed these topics together tended to differ from one another in a way that made grouping them more confusing. This impacted my initial draft significantly, but for my final draft I played with the order of these sources until I was able to find an order that worked.
My confidence level regarding research has increased slightly over the course of this semester. I say slightly because I have already been involved in the research process, so this is not entirely new to me. However, this semester I was able to use R Studio, which was a brand-new tool. This allowed me to become exposed to a new way of conducting statistical analysis, aside from SPSS and Jamovi.
In order to “Think Like a Researcher,” you must persist through any obstacles in your way, such as technological problems. You must be willing to accept when you may be wrong, such as when your hypothesis is not supported by the data. You must be able to think from an outsider’s perspective and wonder how other individuals may interpret your questionnaire. You must have a passion for knowledge and wonder how you could improve your research in the future.