Some weeks I wish I had never started this project - six years is a very, very long time to take over what should have been over and done with in three (well, if I was doing this full time) and even though I was enthusiastic and keen to start with, it's stretched thin over such a long time that it's really just bloody mindedness getting me through at the moment.
So - this week, I really really needed to get my survey set up and ideally tested. I can log into Qualtrics from anywhere, so was hoping to use my lunchbreaks at work to get some of the set-up work done. (I've finished designing the flow but there's still quite a laborious copy-and-paste job to do to get the right images in the right places.) However I've had an exceptionally huge amount to do, I didn't get any time to break for lunch let alone Qualtrics work , worked late every evening - until *midnight* on Wednesday! - and didn't get a thing done.
It's now Saturday morning and weekends should be solid PhD work at the moment but I've still got at least a dozen small day-job things that I need to do before Monday - I can log in from home so that's not a problem but I just want to feel like I'm making some progress somewhere. And it's a properly beautiful day today, blue skies, sunshine and the world turning golden. I'd like to be out somewhere enjoying it, not choosing between several things I really don't want to do and deciding which unpleasant one it'll be best to start on.
Oh dear. I seem to be in a particularly foul mood which isn't going to help!
I wish I could give 2006-me a stern talking to about thinking that a part-time PhD would be easy and fun. All this do I can have a cheque book with 'Dr' on it. And I don't even use cheques any more!
This is a sad post to write - I'm taking a break from my research for a while. I've had a difficult year: my family have been through bereavement and serious illness, and I'm finding that's making it difficult to focus on my research. Studying with the OU allows research students a degree of flexibility so I'm able to suspend my studies for a short period to get my life back on track.
I've used this flexibility before when I my job was becoming particularly stressful, and then again when I was promoted and didn't have any free time for studying but it's never something that I want to do. I've had moments of joy while working on this research but it's mainly a long, hard slog to get anything done and stopping for a while means that I lose any momentum that I've managed to build up - really, not ideal.
However, it's the right thing to do for the moment. I'm signing off now - and will be back again in September.
Bye for now.
I said the other day that I'd booked today off to get some work done… and here I am!
I'm currently analysing the results of my last study: I decided that I wanted to have at least one traditional experiment as part of the thesis, and a study looking at whether there was a difference in recognition speed for different types of human and almost-human faces seemed to be ideally suited to this aim. I designed the study last year, created all of the source images, and spent November, December and January recruiting participants across the OU and meeting them in my lunch breaks to run the study. I was testing the theory that almost-human faces are processed in a different way to natural human or artificial faces, and while I'm working on the data at the moment, I have some interesting preliminary results!
Once I've drawn my conclusions there, I can decide how to structure my final data collection exercise: I loved the face-to-face data collection, but I'm going back to a web-based format just to get results in a timely fashion. I want to look at the impact of feature swapping: one of my theories about the uncanny valley is that part of the disquiet comes from mismatched features: for example, where the eyes are too 'dead' for a realistic face, or they don't show the same expression as the rest of the face. (I won't go into detail about the study as I'll be recruiting via this blog :) and don't want to bias anyone's participation.)
So, by the end of the day I want to have a full set of analysis output, with notes on the interpretation and a diagram showing the plan for the next study. I've also been working on an outline for the sections I want to include in my thesis, but that's making me confused and tetchy, so I think I might leave that for a bit, and come back to it after my meeting tomorrow.
Right. Time for a coffee, then time to fire up SPSS…