DegreeNeuroscience and Chemistry ’19
This project has overall been an entirely enriching process, filled with unexpected challenges and rewards that altogether have made me a stronger researcher and learner. As an aspiring physician, I was immediately attracted to this project due to its emphasis on gaining a better understanding of the many moving factors that can impact patient behavior. The opportunity to be a part of a research team with individuals that varied in their expertise from organizational management to health policy was enticing to me. Furthermore, given that my previous research focus was primarily quantitative cellular and molecular biology, I was excited to learn about how qualitative research is conducted. I feel extremely grateful to be able to say that all of my hopes for this project were more than met through a process of constant edification and growth.
Throughout the semester, I feel that I have learned a great deal about the process through which qualitative field work is conducted. For the first few weeks, I struggled to understand the project research questions, only to eventually realize that the task of constructing research questions is an integral part of the research process itself, and contingent upon completion of rigorous literature review and analysis. Learning more about the process through which a research focus is clarified has already made me a more perceptive researcher. For example, when I read journal articles, I no longer take the research focus as a given. Instead, I immediately wonder about the methods through which the researchers clarified their questions.
This project has also taught me about the value of effective communication in team-based projects, and the patience, resilience, and perseverance that is required to develop a research project from inception. As a student, much of my daily work is self-guided, so it was not until I participated in this research project that I fully understood the benefits that dynamic collaboration can provide to overall growth and productivity. There were many times this semester where I felt my viewpoints on certain issues being positively challenged. I was made to think differently about everything from the importance phrasing has in constructing effective focus group questions to the general role of communication in mediating patient behavior, to everything in between. All in all, this semester has led me to fully understood the value of investing in building a strong team, that can withstand the many pressures researchers can face on a daily basis.
Finally, this project has allowed me to recognize the importance of seeking help from outside parties. Through this semester, I have learned that collaboration with community partners is vital in order to expand the depth of the research conducted. For example, inputs from Link group experts and program specialists at Duke vastly enhanced the way I understood the project goals and analyzed collected data. Relatedly, I have learned that research often involves one to be flexible, and willing to learn new skills according to the needs of an evolving research project. Going forward, I feel motivated to further investigate ways to expand the scope of this project through utilization of other resources and services available at Duke and beyond.
All in all, my experience with this research project has shown me that conducting research is a constantly changing process that warrants malleability, a keen desire to learn from diverse perspectives, and a capacity to address obstacles along the way through collaboration, use of evidence-based approaches, and creativity! I feel extremely excited to continue my development as a researcher and a thinker through this project next semester!