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Identity Crisis

Emerging into sunlight!

Emerging into sunlight!

After months spent as a virtual recluse battling against all manner of hurdles to complete my thesis it felt like a real treat to emerge out into the winter sunshine yesterday and wandered up to Warwick Medical School.   This was just a flying visit, to put last minute touches to some future plans, and now I am back in my regular haunt on main campus.   However, all being well I hope to be spending much more time “up there” in the future…

It was as I was wandering back down the hill that my thoughts turned back to a conversation I had a little while ago, on the topic of “identity”.  The common question of “What do you do?” often being an early probe in conversations, currently provides my first dilemma. I am no longer a student, having ceased to be registered with the University at the end of 2013.  However, my daily activities seem to have changed little, except that instead of writing my thesis I am now translating my work into journal papers, blog articles and future research proposals. But I am not a student.  Yet neither am I a Post-Doc, for I have to wait to have my viva before such exciting developments can occur. So prompts the question: “What am I?”

Identity Crisis

Identity Crisis

The answer to this question is further complicated from my seeming inability (reluctance?) to define myself under a traditional “discipline”.  In academia, as in life, one is often identified by a series of labels. People are “Historians”, “Mathematicians”, “Philosophers” and “Economists”.  Recently I was asked “What are you?” to which I explained that I saw myself as a researcher within Infection Prevention.

Apparently this was not the accepted approach…

I needed to “be” something. I explained I had a Psychology degree, but I refute that I am a “Psychologist”, although according to some definitions perhaps I am…  I have a business MA, but I do not see myself as exclusively in this field either.  Having spent a number of years in manufacturing I could define myself as an “Analyst”, but that isn’t solely what I do.  Finally, all being well, I will soon have a doctorate in “Engineering”.  But, looking at what I do, and where I see myself going, I don’t feel that the identity “Engineer” quite covers it either….

So, what am I?  And further, does it matter?  Answers on a postcard* please… Be kind.

Postcard

*Tweets, comments, owls and smoke signals also accepted.

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Have just had to make my first cancellation with a participant since my research began, and naturally feel dreadful.  On a scale of dreadful so great that I’m thinking that even cake isn’t going to cut it today…  Combine this psychological feeling with physical pain, and you’ll gather that today finds me in a ‘bad place’.  For comparison, perhaps imagine an IKEA checkout on the first day of the Sale, full of fraught couples, bored children, hyper-active under-5s, and a flat-pack box wedged in the till space…. No, your pastry and free coffee temptation isn’t going to calm me today my yellow t-shirted friends…

Anyway, so yes, today I am supposed to be collecting data on site, but yesterday, in a rather daring move, I decided to try to knuckle down to understanding a new area of my work – trying to add a quantitative element to the research.  Thanks to a brilliant co-researcher at the IDL I am now looking at performing a new level of analysis on my Inherent/Elective categorisation, namely a MANOVA.   Whilst the bulk of my work in my first degree (BSc Psychology) was quantitative, it has been many years since I flicked on the computer and turned to SPSS, so statistical analysis as a whole is like revisiting Narnia – strangely familiar yet most definitely not yet commonplace.  I have been using the great work of Andy Field as guide/lamppost to keep me secure during my re-awakening adventure through statistical analysis, and this is really how the mishap of yesterday occurred….

Having presented to the IDH team at lunchtime, I went straight off to the library to review some of the issues raise, turning to Andy Field’s ‘Discovering Statistics Using SPSS’ text book.

 Brilliant.     Cover of "Discovering Statistics Using SP...

However, when it was time to go, in my rush to get out and make the most of the elusive dry/sunshine I forgot how much he had packed into one book, and flung my book bag over my shoulder….and calamity…!  Searing pain across the shoulder-blade.  Not good.  Being a sneaky pain it did go after some rather entertaining breathing exercises and stretching (in public…!), but this morning it has returned to show me who is boss, and thus I am now somewhat incapacitated.  Have taken the recommended tablets, and now am sitting in a position that is reasonably comfy, to the point that I have about 1cm tolerance either way…  Loving all things wireless, laptop and mobile right now. Not loving kettles, fridges and basically the real world – how dare it be so demanding?!

Have everything crossed that this pain goes quickly, as have another meeting scheduled at UHCW tomorrow, plus a meeting at IDH.  Also, running – something I’ve not managed to do for a week now, and with a rather long run planned on Saturday am starting to get a little concerned about….

Anyhow, on the bright side, the temporary incapacitation does give me an opportunity to catch up on coding the already collected data, so as ever, there are always things to do…  And this chair is exceptionally comfy. From IKEA. Naturally….

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