Month: July 2014

Updates on Data Collection and Data Entry

My research project is examining the relationship between perceived power and conflict behaviors in romantic relationships. I am interested in how perceived power affects people’s tendencies to display different affects, demanding behavior, criticizing behavior, contemptuous behavior, and several other behavioral tendencies. I am currently in the data collection and data entry phase of the research.

Project Update:

blog1It is so exciting to see how my ideas and research goals change and grow as the summer progresses. When I am not conducting my research on the participating couples or using my observational coding system to collect data from videotaped material, I end up just thinking about my hypotheses and procedures. The more I ponder, the more my ideas develop and transform. I find that whenever I take the time to just sit back and think about my research, I come up with something new I would like to incorporate. I think of new observational codes to add and small edits and additions to my collection of hypotheses. I didn’t expect a research project to be such a dynamic experience.

            My original goals for this summer were to finish running couple participants so that the stage would be set for statistical analyses at the beginning of the fall semester. While I am still optimistic that this goal can be accomplished, I have found that recruiting participants does require a great deal more effort than expected. Hanging a few flyers and waiting for the phone to ring simply does not work. I have had to make numerous posts on my Facebook timeline as well as in every Facebook group of which I am a part, and I have had my team of experimenters and coders do the same. I have posted on Craig’s list on multiple occasions. I have even gone as far as to reach out to peers I know are in relationships in order to give them participant information. While my efforts may be a bit pesky, they have been effective! I have been running couples in a steady, consistent rhythm for the past few weeks now, and I think because of persistence, it will be very possible for me to finish running my fifty couples by the end of the summer period.  blog2

Dr. Brooke Feeney, my thesis advisor, and Meredith Van Vleet, PhD student, have been my two most valuable resources. They are both incredible sources of knowledge and support. I work very closely with Meredith, in particular, as our research projects are overlapping in data collection. My research project would not be possible without her guidance and cooperation. Meredith and I worked closely in developing the conflict codebook. With her wealth of knowledge and experience, she was a great person with whom to work in developing the codebook. She really helped me to focus my ideas and definitions within the codebook. Furthermore, wherever Meredith and I had trouble, Dr. Feeney was able to step in and help. Whenever we hit a wall or were unsure of an element of the developing coding system, Dr. Feeney was able to give clear guidance. I am so grateful to have such a strong, wonderful collection of mentors this summer.

My work week is very structured. I always spend my Monday mornings doing the same task: I file through all of the research assistants’ coding sheets, make sure that all of the week’s assignments have been completed, and enter the data from the coding sheets into my data entry file. Then, I assign each research assistants new couple members to observationally code for the week. The rest of the week is comprised of my own coding, recruiting and scheduling new participants, meeting with both Meredith and Dr. Feeney, and reviewing as much background literature as possible on conflict in romantic relationships as well as power in romantic relationships. Despite the structure to my work week, it is never dull because I am always developing and discovering new information and new nuances of my research project. I can’t wait to continue working, and to eventually see what results my labor-intensive research project yields.

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Project Update: Finalizing the Theory

My anticipated work will combine a thorough analysis of historiography, assembled this semester in preparation for the more dedicated nature of the formal project. I will combine this segment with direct historical analysis supplemented by the statistical excavation of empirical trends in my period of study, oriented toward the theoretical formulation of the relationship between state and society in achieving practical legitimacy. The ambition of the project gives me great cause consider the value of this early summer start.

PROJECT UPDATE:

My work this summer is entering its final stage; I have completed the revised write-up of my theory of institutions and political agents and supplemented it with illustrative examples and disambiguating glossary entries. These documents represent the culmination of many weeks’ reading into the thicket of related theoretical material and the development of my own nucleus of ideas into a fuller conceptual spectrum built on revision and adaptation. Though each element has been exciting to undertake and satisfying to complete, the core theoretical piece has certainly been the most important and fulfilling component of my work. At this juncture, the only remaining item from among the objectives that my adviser and I devised for this summer period is the comparative orientation of the original theory I have produced within the existing scholarship. I look forward to adding this final dimension to the theoretical stage of my thesis.

My thesis will be a composite product; fundamentally, it is a work that proposes a political and social theory whose salient claims are applied with the sensibilities of a historian to a demonstrative instance. This summer has been reserved for establishing the theory, leaving essential time in the upcoming year for the historical project of assessing the theory through the lens of the reign of Francis I. The opportunity to focus entirely on the theory has enabled me to adopt a more conceptually contained working style whose clear objectives enable depth without sacrificing the intended scope of the project and which have produced a workable theory ready for implementation within a distinctly subsequent phase demanding a refocused mindset as much as an appreciation of the running threads of the thesis.

I find the greatest challenge of work of this nature, reading and constructing theory, to be the marshalling of sometimes disparate inspirations into a cohesive (and coherent) work. A firm concept of the project is indispensable to this effort, and I continue to find great value in the clarity provided by the weekly meetings I began holding with Dr. Modell before the beginning of the summer.

Working during this time on a topic of my choosing has been a liberating process of welcome rigor and novelty, and the development of new understanding has been complemented by the mentorship of a knowledgeable and experienced adviser nonetheless party to the project as a learning enterprise. In this respect, I felt considerably greater ownership over the thesis as an object of scholarly innovation rather than a demonstration or reinforcement of current learning. I near the conclusion of this first experience with independent research enriched by my work and excited by plans and possibilities for the next year.