REMINISCING ON THE RESEARCH

Within the execution of this research project, three main research concepts including reflexivity, critical judgement and respect, emerged as providing the framework to successful research. As explained below, each of these concepts were seen to hold an intrinsic presence amongst all areas of this research area. Furthermore the overall application of such methods has propelled the ethical representation of data to be upheld, in order to remain a reliable researcher.

From the interviews that were conducted in this report, I have appreciated that ongoing reflexive behaviour is crucial in producing authentic research. As determined by Moustakas, it is through a researcher’s heuristic inquiries that the concept of ‘self’ is utilised as a main tool in the research procedure (cited in Etherington, 2004 p. 16). This correlated mainly into my research area due to my own personal experience as a type 1 diabetic student at UOW. Therefore throughout the methodology and development of focus area I consistently reaffirmed my attachment to this research, which provided motivational guidance towards producing an accurate representation of information. Hence an overall achievement from the execution of these interviews was the ability to connect and share stories with other students as this prompted a greater sense of purposeful research behaviour.

By distinguishing the study area of my research project, this gave a clear indication towards the types of reflexive research to be conducted. As stated, a distinctive feature of qualitative methods is that they originate from the perspective and actions of the subjects studied (Alvesson, Sköldberg 2009 p. 7). Therefore, this meant that the researcher’s presence and further interpretation acts as a major influencer in the formation of final research (Alvesson, Sköldberg 2009 p. 7). Ergo through the incorporation of personal interviews, this gave my reflexivity greater leverage to encourage the participants’ answers through our connection with a chronic condition. Through this reflexive behaviour, I was more so inclined to execute ethical research within interviews and background information to ensure that this material is interpreted and understood as being reliable.

Additionally to obtain authentic research, it is necessary to engage with critical judgment in order to uphold ethical representation. As described by Burton & Watkins (2013 p. 119), critical judgement is an intellectual skill that researchers are expected to uphold to appropriately reflect their research objectives. As evinced from this report, resources such as Diabetes Australia and studies from medical scholars were incorporated to provide a framework for accountable research. In order to include this information the ‘CRAP’ validation method was implemented from evaluating credible sources and information legitimacy. Ergo critical judgment meant that resources were seen as being accountable for and acceptable for supporting evidence.

More so due to the health focus of my research area, respect was another critical aspect to adhere to. Firstly participants in the interview environment were made aware of the research focal point and their access to entitlements during the questioning process. Secondly, they were also made aware of my communication strategy (blog updates) to again, execute ethical behaviour in terms of keeping participants informed and alert to the research development. As confirmed by Sana Loue, researchers must fashion their research to be sensitive of varying understandings while still ensuring that fundamental principles of informed consent are followed (2015 p. 55). Ergo at the beginning of each interview, participants were given an outline of consent regarding the allowance to not answer questions and not incorporate personal details such as their name or age. Furthermore as referred to by Loue (2015 p. 55), it was crucial to be receptive of all participants’ answers and allow probing questions to be formed off such differing responses. Hence, this allowed for a more illustrative depiction of contrasting or similar experiences to be incorporated into the final report.

As deduced from above, the incorporation of each of these elements has highlighted the execution of authentic research. From upholding reflexivity, this meant that an ongoing connection to this research topic was maintained and further allowed for meaningful interactions to occur with participants. Additionally implementing critical judgment for main background research exhibited the criticality of ethical behaviour in the representation of personal data. Finally, always showcasing actions of respect meant that the participants were prioritised in the ethical collection of data. Furthermore maintaining the communication strategy kept them continuously informed of the project’s development. Thus through these concepts, this research has attempted to achieve the righteous attainment and representation of information to provide educative awareness on type 1 diabetes and tertiary study.


 

Alvesson M, Sköldberg K, 2009, ‘Reflexive Methodology: New Vistas for Qualitative Research,’ SAGE Publications Ltd., London, UK, p. 7

Burton M, Watkins D, 2013, ‘Research Methods in Law,’ Routledge, New York, USA, p. 119

Etherington K, 2004, ‘Becoming a Reflexive Researcher – Using Our Selves in Research,’ Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London, UK, p. 16

Loue S, 2015, ‘Ethical Issues in Sandplay Therapy Practice and Research, Springer International Publishing, Ohio, USA, p. 55

 

 

Keeping the Research Receptive

Something that I have come to accept about undertaking a research project is the importance of remaining receptive and open to necessary changes. Originally, my research area was purely focussed on type one diabetics and stress management, however, after thorough consideration of all the ethicalities and practical measures involved it has now evolved into a similar yet slightly dissimilar topic:

The exploration of type one diabetic tertiary students and management.

Obviously the major changes seen here is my refocusing on academic students (seeing as I underwent a little detachment of specifying my particular people of interest) and the omission of stress from the area of study. However now that the project design and management task has been completed, I feel a boost of confidence in regards to knowing the definite exploration of my research.

Another major modification to make note of was my shift from utilising an online survey to conducting individual interviews. Upon consideration of the ethical framework involved in researching health-related topics, individual interviews seemed more logical and secure in terms of not mismanaging personal input. Once the panic of such a change in methodology had occurred, I realised that this in fact would provide a much more colourful depiction of the personal experiences of students with type one diabetes. Furthermore I was luckily able to review most of the survey questions already created to better suit an interview environment – but always remembering that probing questions are a major tool used in such research situations as I learnt from the wise words of Turner (2010, p. 757).

Some major research aspects that I utilised were acknowledging key research concepts of ethical and critical judgement to ensure that the information accumulated from this exploratory research will be in rightful accountability and respect. Therefore this would mean that the participants in this research project would be reassured of the project’s framework, the application of their input and overall academic objectives for this topic of research. More so, it would be adhering to socially responsible behaviour that would prompt the successful collection and representation of data from participants.

My original curiosity to examine type one diabetes as mentioned in a previous blog post, stemmed from my own experience with this chronic condition and how my project could potentially connect to the wider type one diabetic community. Thus through this research process my objectives are to exhibit continuous reflexivity to re-establish the foundation for my curiosity, as now conveyed through my remodified research area. From the execution of background research, ethical considerations and seeking feedback from academic staff, this ‘checkpoint’ has shown me the severe refurbishing that a research project can undergo. And as a good researcher, you must always remain receptive to these modifications to ensure that the best possible method of attack is going to be used.

 


 

Turner D, 2010, ‘Qualitative Interview Design: A Practical Guide for Novice Investigators,’ vol. 15 no. 3, Nova Southeastern University, USA, p. 755-757

 

 

Managing Study, Stress and a Faulty Pancreas

In 2015 it was surmised that the “peak age group of diagnosis” (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2017) for type 1 diabetics rested between ten and nineteen years of age. Type 1 diabetes (also referred to as juvenile diabetes) accounts for 10% of all diabetic diagnoses (Diabetes Australia, 2015) and is accepted as one of the most prevalent chronic conditions that results from an abnormal immune response; one that ultimately leaves production of insulin by the pancreas in a defect.

When reading these statistics, a reality that struck me was that the age group of peak diagnoses was majority teenagers – meaning that a definite amount of these individuals would be attaining a higher-level education of some sort. Having been diagnosed myself at seven years of age and now studying at UOW, I was interested in researching the interconnection between type 1 diabetic management and academia. Even more so, how the stresses concerned with undertaking a university education can exert influence on glycemic control and visa-versa.

Having been a type 1 diabetic for over twelve years, I can confidently say that acknowledging the different factors that affect blood glucose levels (BGLs) will improve overall management. The more experience I have had with this condition, the more confidence I have gained with my control. By researching the effect that stress has on type 1 diabetics, I hope to not only bring to light an issue that all patients deal with, but to also see possible methods of how to deal with it.

In terms of collecting research for this project, I am aiming to obtain quantitative data in response to questions that will be directed at stress related BGL results and the actions that these individuals undertake towards them. I also hope to incorporate qualitative data to help describe the emotions and thoughts that individuals have to give a better personal insight into this condition. At the moment either conducting individual interviews or having a focus group will accomplish this.

An important consideration to take note of while completing this research will be ethical mindfulness when dealing with personal health. It will be essential to be aware of individual input and to make sure that clear communication is disclosed to participants to ensure they comprehend the information that is going to be used. This will ultimately make the data collection process very lucid for participants to make them feel at ease and comfortable with the responses and opinions they relay.

While researching this project, I am ultimately hoping to connect with other people through their own experiences with type 1 diabetes and their own tertiary study. Studying with a chronic illness is not by any means impossible, but it certainly does come with extra considerations to remember in order to master good glycemic control.

 


 

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2017, How many Australians have diabetes? viewed 10th March 2017 <http://www.aihw.gov.au/how-common-is-diabetes/#t3>

Diabetes Australia, 2015, Diabetes in Australia, viewed 8th March 2017 <https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/diabetes-in-australia>

 

The Value of Curiosity

Their experiences, their accomplishments, are a reminder that you cannot live by curiosity alone. To have a satisfying life (and to make valuable use of curiosity), you also have to have discipline and determination.” (Fishman, Grazer 2015, p. 198)

This excerpt written by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman really consolidated my understanding of how learning satisfies starving curiosity. Within the process of fulfilling a curiosity, learning goes hand-in-hand with it. For when our minds become fixated on learning a concept, action or event, it is our curiosity that propels us to digest more.

The action of feeding a curiosity’s desire allows us to apply such knowledge to real, physical situations where we not only have the attained knowledge, but we also have the applied tenacity from making use of our own interest. Therefore through the process of fulfilling a curiosity, we are allowing ourselves to become receptive and equipped individuals in facing new situations.

For instance, since those good ol’ high school days I have always had a particular appeal towards the French language and upon the inception of my University degree, I decided to undertake subjects to feed my curiosity. Now two years later and a Minor in French behind me, I can happily say that my curiosity has been satisfied. Here, I can confidently say that it was my curiosity that led me to learn.

The knowledge that we obtain from pursuing a curiosity can go beyond recalling a mere fact or story. From applying “discipline and determination” to make “valuable use” of such interests as Grazer and Fishman (2015, p. 198) point out, we are enabling ourselves to become well-educated people. So ultimately by pursuing a curiosity, you might even gain a skill or two (like learning a few French words, right?).

So what we can take from curiosity is the need to pursue it in the right manner – in other words, to actually gain proper knowledge that can be utilised in the real world. As our curious writers state “…curiosity gives us the skills to better relate to people” (Fishman, Grazer 2015, p. 182) which shows us that by learning, our curiosity can make us better connect with people and better reap opportunities.

Having travelled to France last year, I put my skills to the test in an attempt to converse with native French speakers. Despite the sweaty palms and dry throat I was able to exchange a few words of understanding – even if it was just about ordering white wine. From these few words of exchange not only was I challenging myself, I was again learning how to simply communicate to a person using limited language.

rs_500x281-160218113045-oscars-5-wine-captain

Yes, I can say white wine in French. Image via eonline.com.

Always expect to undertake some type of educational experience when feeding a curiosity. In order to live a rewarding life as Grazer and Fishman put forth, it would be valuable to remember that pursuing a curiosity with a purpose or goal in mind is what will make us learn in the end.

So always remain passionately curious, as it might even take you to a restaurant in France if you let it.

 


 

Fishman, C, Grazer, B, 2015, A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life, Simon & Schuster, New York, p. 182, 198