“My enriching experience as a research assistant on the Whiplash Prognosis Project 2017”
Department of Psychology
With my master’s dissertation due in a month’s time, I decided to take up another research assistantship, given my profound interest in research. This project which was led by supervisors Dr. Jonny Branney and Dr. Ellen Seiss was mainly aimed at conducting a literature review to gather evidence relating to the prognostic factors following acute whiplash injury in adults. After getting well acquainted with my supervisors during the first meeting, I got thoroughly briefed on the aims and objectives of the project and a detailed plan on how to go about it. During the entire course of the project, there was good communication, interaction and flexibility where I was given the autonomy and freedom to come up with innovative ideas to work around the project. With regular weekly face to face meetings and briefings on the progress of the project from my side, we successfully completed the project and tabulated necessary evidence on the research area.
The interesting aspect of the project to me was categorising the prognostic factors according to the biopsychosocial model since I got to apply the learnings of psychological principles and theories to diverse fields. This facilitated improved learning on a range of topics like role of organisational factors of physical and mental health, public health system and compensation, subjectivity of pain threshold and clinical statistics to name a few. I am glad to have been a part of this preliminary research which is ultimately aimed at filling the gap in literature concerning evidence on prognostic factors immediately following acute whiplash, and eventually developing effective interventions and treatment plans in the future.
This research project has personally given me insights into doing a thorough evaluation of evidence based on different statistical models, and also conducting independent literature review on a specific research area. I strongly feel that theoretical knowledge in research methodologies and statistics can be put into effective use only when taken part in research projects. This gives the practical experience of working alongside supervisors or a research team, meeting deadlines and promotes collaborative work in a multi-disciplinary team. Overall, my experience as a student research assistant has given me a clear vision into research in a real world and practical setting, enhanced my ability to critically evaluate and sum up evidence, improved my scientific writing skills and has ultimately driven me to pursue my future goal of becoming a PhD laureate.