After completing the second year of my Biological Sciences course I wished to gain some formal research experience so I applied to be a Student Research Assistant with the Ageing and Dementia Research Centre at Bournemouth University. Understanding the significance of dementia related problems, I was excited and proud to get involved with research on such a problematic and widespread condition, and to work alongside Professor Jane Murphy.
The project aim was to evaluate the impact and use of a learning resource and training video produced by the Ageing and Dementia Research Centre. I was provided with a well-structured plan for my 4-week project. Principally, this involved collating data from a questionnaire regarding the resource’s usefulness, analysing the results using qualitative methods, and producing a report of the results.
I got stuck in quickly and within hours I had already mastered aspects of Excel and Word I had never used previously. As the work began to develop momentum, data analysis became the next task to be executed. My course has always prioritised quantitative data analysis due to the nature of data usually obtained, and I had no prior experience working with qualitative data. By the end of the third week I had delved into various approaches in the field of qualitative research, and had conducted a thematic analysis of over 400 questionnaire answers.
Prior to this experience, the research process was alien to me. However now I have knowledge of the different stages involved and the fundamental organisational skills required, which has really helped me plan and develop ideas for the independent research project in my final year. I have really enjoyed the project and have developed incredibly useful skills as well as learning about nutritional care for people who have dementia.