Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Six Guidelines for Interesting Research

Just came across an interesting abstract in 'Perspectives on Psychological science'

There are many guides on proper psychology, but far fewer on interesting psychology. This article presents six guidelines for interesting research. The first three—Phenomena First, Be Surprising, and Grandmothers, Not Scientists—suggest how to choose your research question; the last three—Be The Participant, Simple Statistics, and Powerful Beginnings—suggest how to answer your research question and offer perspectives on experimental design, statistical analysis, and effective communication. These guidelines serve as reminders that replicability is necessary but not sufficient for compelling psychological science. Interesting research considers subjective experience; it listens to the music of the human condition.

Woes of a Career Psychologist!

I have been reflecting as a young professional Clinical Psychologist, ... what next ? 
Stumbled upon an interesting method to answer this question, the 'Gossip test' which suggests know yourself to be most interested in what you often talk/gossip about. This is from Francis Crick, while his colleague Watson had 'boredom test' advising young scientists to never start working on something which makes them bored (the duo are most famous for discovering the double helix DNA structure). 
This post seems to be emerging out of ashes of my last few work experiences ... as well as a long conversation yesterday with someone who moved out of my current work place, even before I joined.

If abilities, skills and preferences are mapped on a linear scale, from most fluid to most concrete, then mine falls more towards poetic-reflective-experiential-meditative side and only goes as far as biological-evolutionary-neuro-psychology, on the other side of the continuum. Beyond that, I start feeling a sense of dead dryness. The comfort zones are cognitive-affective-behavioral aspects, with increasing joy as I move towards reflective-poetic, and increasing intellectual curiosity as it goes towards neuroscience.

Further, if we add angle of 'purposefulness' then I am ever interested in socio-economic-political-environmental-developmental issues, and mapping how human issues interacts with the larger issues of the society and where all a mental health professional can contribute to the larger discourse, in theory & action. Again if 'data gathering methods' are included as one more angle in this whole picture, then I'm gradually getting most interested in first-person subjective research. Beyond which lies the richness of second-person qualitative work and specificity of third person quantitative research. And on the motivations angle, I guess knowledge (generation & dissemination) & one-to-one/small group human service (in terms of teaching, personal-development & psycho-therapy) are the biggest.

Now its getting complicated! 
With development in technologies there comes heightened excitement for Neurosciences across the world (really big projects have started in Europe & USA). Simultaneously I see increasingly diminishing space for anything which is poetic-reflective-experiential-meditative and subjective, no matter how much it can contribute to a life worth living, and a knowledge worth pursuing! This seems to be what I want to do do ... but how, even I don't know!!!
Neuroscience is growing, but also at some level has been predominantly descriptive till now, and has also been criticized as 'stating the obvious'. I'm afraid it is going the way of molecular biology, and will someday reach its saturation point without answering the most interesting questions. However the amount of funding being poured into it has been mind-boggling. With a background in Clinical Psychology (training in Neuro-psychology is part of it) I get nudges & pushes towards starting my own lab in this area, which although I have resisted till date but how long? 
Although I'm open to intervention research/work in this area, but theoretically I also wonder beyond short-term fads, since every experience leaves a concurrent mark on the brain, (even psychotherapy bring such changes), isn't having a full-life the best cognitive-affective enhancement/enrichment program ? ? ?

Serendipitously, today's quote in my inbox is encouraging ...
"Gradually the horizon becomes distinct, the path grows clear, and we move towards a greater and greater certitude."