Tuesday, March 29, 2011

research induced psychosis

I'm in the middle of collecting my dissertation data. And it's nearly turning me into an confused mess.

Due to an unfortunate circumstance, I only have a three week window to collect my data. Which means that my priority right now is organizing experimental sessions and recruiting participants. Last night my adviser told me that I should try informal methods, "word of mouth," to recruit participants. So I spent at least an hour last night emailing professors I know, fellow hall directors, and advisers of student organizations. Then this morning at approximately 9:23 during my 9am work meeting, I received an email on my dag smartphone from the presenter of my dissertation study that he double-booked himself and needed to reschedule one of our sessions next week. Which 10 participants had already signed up for. So, I spent the rest of the loooong meeting worrying about rescheduling a location and contacting the participants. Within an hour of the meeting's end, I had rescheduled a location, confirmed with the presenter, contacting the participants, and met with my adviser. I spent at least another hour munching chocolate covered espresso beans and emailing the folks I had emailed last night to let them know about the schedule change and additional contacts who might help me recruit research participants.

By by 2pm meeting with one of the Resident Advisers I supervise, I was a disoriented, jittery mess who kept asking her questions about things she was working on, to which she would answer by blinking twice and then saying, "I sent you an email about that already . . . "

And now I know why my adviser is frequently so scattered when I talk to him. Not because he's suffering from any kind of premature dementia, but because he is first and foremost a researcher. There is absolute truth to the absent-minded professor stereotype. Fortunately, I don't plan a career which would primarily involve research, so likely this research-influenced incoherent fugue state will be brief. I apologized to my RA, saying, "I'm sorry, it's hard for me to keep everyone's things straight unless I'm looking at them," when I should have said, "I'm sorry, I'm collecting research data right now, and it's hard for me to remember to turn my oven off."

But there is an end at sight. Despite this mad rush of data collection, if all goes well, this could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. How great will it be to have it all collected so soon, and time to spend analyzing it before the semester is up (which will carry it's own madness), before I begin my summer adventures! There is hope for me to be a doctor by next year. Sigh.


Cara said...


I have new appreciation for all my scatter-brained professors.

Make sure your oven's off!

Britt M. said...

Wow, you must be feeling so stressed right now! I'm pretty sure, though, that you're not the only one feeling that way. Keep pushing through! You're doing a great job! For the record, I often feel like an absent-minded professor, but I don't have dissertation research as an excuse! : )