The practicum journal entry of today is timely. I feel, more than ever, that I need to put things down.
In the past two weeks or so, I have had to learn about trusting oneself. Since I am a novice to this research thing, I guess I strangely doubt myself. It started with the first analysis I did for the abstract for the TB conference. I thought I had incurred an error in the table sent of to the International AIDS society.
But there was no error. It was all my own insecurity. Later I had a meeting with my mentor and the post-doc who took a first shot at the analysis. I went through painstakingly through every slide I had made, because I wanted her input on all the items. There was even a slide on the method we used – survival analysis – and its appropriateness. I was questioning the validity of using survival analysis for our specific time to default data and I had a valid points, as I found out from the biostatistician.
My mentor however let me know this one thing – when you present your findings in public health research, you do not need to show that you did all the checks to ensure you got it right. Rather, your audience assumes that since you are there, standing before them as a researcher in an academic setting, you have it right. Now, if you instead highlight all the flaws of your study, you actually undermine your own work. And that is not necessary.
Now I realize the difference between being a student and researcher is in the former, humility and self-criticism is fine, but in the latter it is not helpful at all.
I am now slowly warming to this reality of being a researcher.
Another thing I have learnt – being able to focus on the project at hand.
During our Friday academic talk at the office where, I found out there is opportunity to carry out a survival analysis (a way of comparing the average time to a specific event, such as dropping out of treatment, across different patient traits) on antiretroviral therapy dropout among adolescents living with HIV. But I have to make a poster on the reasons adolescents drop out of tuberculosis treatment for July’s TB conference. And let me not forget my own mini-dissertation poster for the AIDS conference thereafter. The elephant in the room, of course, there is my mini dissertation that I have to hand in still.