Over the course of this class, I’ve discovered that there is a lot more that goes into academic research than I initially thought. Before this class, I had never been required to do a research assignment on this scale before. The only notable assignment that even comes close is a research paper I had to write my sophomore year. However, this was a completely different kind of research. This project has certainly changed the way I look at research projects and it had some notable effects on my methods and processes. 

Before this assignment, my methods for selecting sources were simple: input my key terms into Academic Search Complete, select sources with titles that sounded at least close in relation to my topic, then try to work them into the assignment as best I could. After this project though, I’ve realized that my old method doesn’t exactly hold up under the microscope of a literature review. With the sources for this project, I tried my old method originally, but it wasn’t long before I hit a few snags. The first being that I had to condense all eight sources into roughly three paragraphs and in those paragraphs, the sources needed to connect to each other in some way. Because the paragraphs weren’t just about the multiple sources I’d found, they were about the multiple sources that talked about the same issue or type of study in our case. Over the course of writing the literature review, I think I had to change at least three or four sources due to issues caused by my original method. I started out pretty broad with just the key words in the search bar. But as I went on, I realized that wasn’t going to work. I remember that at one point I had to specify that I only wanted articles in relation to the United States because I kept getting studies from eastern countries like South Korea and India, this was the reason I had to scrap one or two sources. I also graduated from just skimming the abstract to reading the abstract as well as the data, methods, and findings sections of the articles. 

I think there were two fairly large challenges I had to overcome in this project. First, there were my bad habits in relation to conducting research. The other, my genuinely not understanding how to turn the collected data into a solid research paper. The bad habits were a bump in the road every so often, I would think that I’d done something well or the way Dr. Pederson wanted only to be told that what I had done was not correct. For instance, when we were being instructed on how to write our literature review, I asked a question about how it was formatted. Specifically, I believe I asked if it was just supposed to be us listing the articles along with their authors and purposes for all eight sources to which I was told that was not correct. However, I still had some trouble with my literature review, for which Dr. Pederson was kind enough to give me an extension and speak to me during her office hours so that I could better understand my mistakes. Both of those were definitely pivotal in this assignment for me. As for my issue of not knowing how to use the data, It took a few classes, but afterwards I had a better understanding of it. Rstudio most definitely helped as well once I learned the proper commands. After this assignment, I would absolutely say that I am more confident in my ability to conduct research. I now feel that I have a better understanding of what goes into a fully fleshed out research paper as well as how to better select sources and distinguish good ones from bad ones. Overall, I think that to “think like a researcher” is a combination of a few things. To know your topic, know the variable(s) you want to use, and to be able to use those variables to get results. If someone doesn’t know what they’re doing on a research project, then it’s not going to be a fun time for that person. But, if a person does know what they’re doing, then the whole process goes much smoother. I’m quite confident that had Dr. Pederson conducted this research either on her own or with a much more experienced group that this project would’ve been completed in potentially a much quicker and definitely a much smoother manner. However, It’s because of this assignment that I now have a better understanding of research and how to conduct it.