MSc Project – the Pros and the Cons

I completed my research project on food insecurity and long term conditions  between January 2016 and July 2016. The way it worked for my MSc involved being given a list of project outlines (you could also propose your own) by different supervisors to pick from. I met with a couple of different supervisors about different projects on the list as there were a few which appealed to me and I wanted to find out more about. I ended up selecting a qualitative study which required primary data collection.

I went with the project I did as it was the one that appealed to me most and it seated within my background and interests (social inequalities/health inequalities).  I’d been really intrigued by some of the lectures I’d had in my qualitative reasearch module as so was keen to try this style of research.Overall I really enjoyed my project.  Yes there were some “I’m hiding under this desk and not coming out moments” (ask poor Heidi who had to sit behind me – she is doing a PhD looking at participant recruitment to clincal trials which you can find information about here) but these were mostly due to paperwork approvals taking longer than expected and me watching the time I had to complete my project tick past. On the whole I found it to be enjoyable, useful and informative.

In hindsight picking a primary data collection study within the time frame was ambitious and perhaps added more stress but would I do it again? Absolutely yes. Here are the Pros and Cons from my point of view:

– Having to learn about how to apply for ethical approvals and research passports and such like was a massive learning curve but it stands me in good stead for knowing how to navigate these systems in future and the timescales I can expect

-Not having a budget for transcription meant I learnt how to do transcribing. My typing skills improved quite dramatically and I probably still have much of it memorised (great way to learn your data), I found this made analysis much easier

-Doing something new really made it feel like the research was “mine”. I was really invested in it and really cared (Still do!) about the research and progressing the evidence within the area of food insecurity

-I went to a few different training sessions such as study documentation and applying for ethics which enabled me to keep my research folder up to scratch and again has given me the skills for future projects

– Requiring various approvals left me very pushed for time. I’d advise anyone with this type of tight time frame to get ahead of the game. My protocol was ready by the end of January but really the beginning of January would have been much better.

-TRANSCRIPTION IS THE DEVIL. It takes so long and I found it massively tedious. It also takes about 3x longer than you expect it to and words start to look funny after you’ve typed them out so many times. I understood quite quickly “the look” people gave me when I said I was doing transcription myself.

-Trying to recruit was fairly painful. My focus was on health professionals who are notoriously hard to recruit due to time constraints and in turn my recruitment window was shortened by the aforementioned approvals.

There are probably a lot more pros and cons, I’ll add to this list as they come back to me. Have you completed a project and have any to add? Does anyone have any to add on a secondary data project? I’d love to hear them!


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