It’s been way too long since I’ve posted about my research and that’s not great. I seem to be finding a lot of legitimate seeming reasons to do other things – also getting sick – and things feel a little out of control.
There is an overall plan – I’ve booked in December to write the first draft of my research proposal, including most importantly the lit review and I think I’ll spend most of November getting ducks in a row for that. The SOCRMx MOOC is helping me to understand research concepts and language a little better and I feel like it will give me enough to get through.
One thing that I have been excited to find is what p means in statistical tables. As I’ve surely mentioned, I’ve not spent a lot of time studying research methodology and pretty well no time at all working on stats. I managed to work out that n is the number of participants in a study – however it was only this afternoon that I learnt that this is referred to as the frequency. But I’ve always been baffled by what the p column meant.
Turns out that it is the probability that the two associated variables in the table have no relationship – also known as the null hypothesis. So a p value of 0.623 means there is a 62.3% chance that the relationship between thing in the column and the thing in the row just happened by coincidence. I still have no idea how that score is calculated but little steps.
This information came from a particularly user-friendly guide to research concepts at https://saylordotorg.github.io/text_principles-of-sociological-inquiry-qualitative-and-quantitative-methods/index.html (Chapter 14)
This I found through the SOCRMx MOOC, which is still kicking goals. I’m getting into some of the assessable work now. Given that I’m not formally taking the MOOC – as in not being accredited for it – I’m toing and froing about the next piece of work, reading a 17 page paper about food and culture and then taking a quiz about my understanding of the research methodologies but I’m here now so I guess I might as well.
Reading some of the other student work – several people here are doing this as part of their coursework – I’m highly conscious of the fact that I still really don’t write in an ‘academic’ style and I worry that this makes me look dumb. For the most part it’s a political or ideological decision – I read something by John Ralston Saul a long time ago about how language is used by technocrats to exclude people and it’s been important to me ever since to be accessible in my communication. I realise that there is a need to be mindful of one’s audience as well and I know that when I do formal academic writing, I will be more ‘proper’ but for the here and now, I really just prefer natural language.