Monday, 29 April 2013

Dissertationnnnnnnnnnnn (part two) :)

So here it is, as promised, the second part of my dissertation blog, designed to give you an insight into what a psychology dissertation is really like!! I’ll focus my next blog more on personal thingy and how me submitting my dissertation went :)

So last time I finished off by talking about applying for ethical approval, so once you been granted ethical approval, you are then able to start conducting your study.

Depending on your design of your study/when you get the approval you may be able to start collecting data straight away. A few of my friends opted to do online studies, as then once they had set up their questionnaire online they could just Facebook/tweet/email the link over, and those that got approval early managed to start in summer and get lots of participants very quickly!! Although one con associated with doing an online study, as those that were conducting studies specifically using student participants found it slightly more difficult, as getting the students to actually complete it did prove challenging especially if the questionnaire  was quiet lengthy.

Alternatively you can go down the traditional route of booking a lab, and inviting participants, through the participation scheme, to book a time to come down and complete the study. Although again, this can be slightly problematic, especially in term two, as there always seems to be a shortage of willing first years to complete the studies. However, if you do get your ethical approval quickly you’ll be able to have access to booking the labs sooner, and subsequently make an earlier start on collection (notice a theme here :P the EARLIER THE BETTER!!)

Although to address some of the problems people experience this year in terms of data collection the lecturers are now looking at ways to promote participation in order to make it easier for students to collect their data, so hopefully by the time you guys need it it’ll be easier :).

Now once you have your data, they next step is inputting it and analysing it. If you did it online you’ll probably be using a programme called qualtrics, which very handily allows you to extract the data to SPSS without much difficulty.

Whereas, if you've collected your data by hand (questionnairres etc…) you’re going to have to input it on SPSS yourself…This really isn't as tricky as most people think, especially if it’s just a standard questionnaire. Say for example it had 5 questions, the easier way to input it would be to label the columns in SPSS as follows: participant number, participant code, gender (dummy coded, 0 &1) age, and then Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4 and Q5. The participant number would just start at 1, and then each participant after would be 2, then 3, then 4 etc…as by adding this extra column whatever you do to your data, you still have a way to quickly sort it back to its original format.  Just remember to save it at every possible moment, as SPSS is notoriously unreliable and with crash and erase your data without notice…you have been WARNED :P

Once you have all your data nicely inputted the next stage is the analysis. This is the part which strikes fear into the heart of many, as soooo many people don’t realise that statistics plays a large part in psychology. I was fortunate as I have always liked maths (the geek that I am :P) but I know this is the part that most people in my year struggled with.

Your supervisor is always on hand to help if you’re not sure about anything, but they do prefer it if you at least attempt it yourself first. My top tips to make this section a breeze is to first of all find the appropriate test for your data. To do this you’ll need to know what your IV and DV is/are and whether the are categorical (e.g. female/male, yes/no etc.) or continuous (e.g. IQ). Once you know this you can use handy little websites like this: which can help give an indication of what statistics you need to run :)

Once you know that, the BEST thing you could do is to refer to a really good statistics book!!!

My favourite book this year was this one:

By Howitt and Cramer, as they really just put things in a way I could understand, and it was one of the very few ones that actually explained how to do a binomial logistics regression, which is what I needed to do in my study.

The other book which most of my lecturers recommended throughout my three years was this one:

By Andy Field, which is a really good overall statistics book, (with a few amusing anecdotes) and quiet a lot of my friends found it a great help :) 

I was also contacted a few months ago by a lovely gentleman who has also written a psychology book and was kind enough to send me a copy of it to read:

Unfortunately due my super strict spam filter I only received the email the other day, but thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and it does also have some really good tips on statistics (amongst other things) if you want to give it a read :)

So, once you've done your statistics, you can move on to the write up. This pretty much follows the same layout as every single lab report you would have had to do in first and second year, so I won’t go into too much detail :P but I will say make sure you read the guidelines/marking criteria, just so you don’t lose marks over stupid little errors!!

But yeahhhhhh, that’s my explanation to writing a psychology dissertation! I hope it has helped at least one of you!! If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as :)

Regardless, good luck with it if this is something you’re doing soon!!

Byeeeeeeeeeee xx