Choosing a research topic

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Choosing a research topic

Postby parnassus » Sat Aug 09, 2008 2:55 pm

Even though I have only just begun the MSc in psychology, I have started to think about what my area of research ought to be. Here are a few of my ideas:

1.) An investigation of language processing in adults with dyslexia, focusing particularly on their comprehension of sentences that include multiple prepositions.

2.) Religious cognition in people with autism, with a particular emphasis on their interpretation of metaphor and symbolism in religious language.

3.) The specific impact that Internet support forums have on the behaviours of those suffering from eating disorders.

I have a few more ideas, but these are the principal ones. Any suggestions?
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Postby k9ruby » Sat Aug 09, 2008 5:37 pm

Me? 2! :lol: :lol:
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Postby parnassus » Sat Aug 09, 2008 9:37 pm

Pinkparrot is with you on that one. :) I'm intrigued by it myself, although I'm wary about focusing too much on autism during my research - most of my practical experience so far is in the field of ASD, and I need a broad base of knowledge if I want to progress to clinical training at some point.
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Postby C » Sun Aug 10, 2008 10:22 am

Hi Vicky, I really like the ideas you suggest. Also, I think I read somewhere (may have been here or on facebook) about you ordering books, let me know if you need any and I may be able to give you some of my old ones if I can bear to part with them (I don't usually give books away, I keep them but I've got so many at the moment they're taking over my room!!!) I appreciate they may not be advanced enough for an Msc but if you wanted any, or to borrow some, then be my guest.

I'm going to be the odd one out as usual but I prefer the first and third idea jointly over the second. I think the first would be fantastic for you because you're interested in specific learning difficulties and language and literacy and it would allow you to combine the two. If you wanted new experience (as you've already done an English degree) then choose the third (although in saying that, you've already set up internet forums as well, thinking about it!) You'll have loads of personal experience to contribute to your study.

Next year I have to do a research project and placement essay (I finish my placement, with preschool autistic children, next wednesday and will really miss it there!) Essay topic ideas have varied widely from how children with autism settle into new environments (when I started there were two children new to the setting and more have since joined) to how children with autism play to interventions to help children with autism to providing early years education for children with autism. My final idea, the one I think I will stick to, is do preschool children with autism show the precursors of theory of mind and go to develop theory of mind (although obviously I will word the title better than that!) I found the theory of mind deficit so interesting when we had a lecture on autism for developmental psychology and then a few months later I had my NVLD diagnosis myself and I remember thinking that I couldn't be on the autistic spectrum because 'I have a theory of mind.' I have done the outline and began writing it already, there's so much theory about this and also so much in the setting I've seen that both supports AND that goes against the theory of mind deficit hypothesis. I've also decided on my research project, e-mailed the tutor I would like and she's informally (they can't offically accept students until we go back in september) accepted me as a project/essay student. I won't tell you what it's about in case I want to use any of you as participants!!!
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Postby parnassus » Sun Aug 10, 2008 10:56 am

That's a very kind offer, Charlotte. I know what you mean about being reluctant to part with books, and I'd be happy to return yours to you if I took any. At this stage I would value any basic guides to research methods and statistics that you could recommend as dyscalculic-friendly. Do you have any?

I quite like the third idea myself. I'm not sure whether I would be able to find enough material for the first one. I will see.
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Postby tears_on_a_pillow » Sun Aug 10, 2008 10:01 pm

2 and 3 sound interesting.

Good luck with whichever you choose.
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Postby Steph » Tue Aug 12, 2008 3:21 pm

I think Number 3 sounds the most interesting option as you have mentioned you need to broaden your knowledge base away from just ASD. The dyslexia one is also interesting but I'm not sure how much existing research material there is on that whereas I supect there is a lot of material on eating disorders and the Internet. Eating disorders are interesting to research-I read over a friend's dissertation on the glamourisation of women's bodies in magazines and how that related to anorexia and bulimia and, although the quality of writing was weak (that's not a criticism-the girl herself acknowledges she struggles with extended writing assignments), it was really interesting to read.
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Postby parnassus » Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:26 pm

There's no research that I can find on the particular aspect of the relationship between Internet support groups and ED recovery that I want to investigate, although there is a fair amount of research into other aspects of it. In a way, this is a good thing - it would mean that I already had data to draw on and studies to consult. When I wrote my dissertation on autism in the work of Emily Bronte I was doing something so original that I couldn't find many appropriate secondary critical sources. For an English degree, this didn't matter - I just stayed close to Bronte's own text and did a thorough psycholinguistic investigation. For a psychology degree this approach would not work. Great importance is placed on former work in the field, as the literature review shows.

I'm leaning more towards the dyslexia idea at the moment, although I will probably refine it substantially. I am going to dig out some of my old linguistics textbooks later in the week and see if I can get any ideas from there.
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Postby Thirteen-thirty-seven » Tue Aug 19, 2008 3:13 pm

They all sound like excellent ideas. I suggest you ndo the one you will be able to concentrate on best.
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Postby C » Tue Aug 19, 2008 3:42 pm

parnassus wrote:That's a very kind offer, Charlotte. I know what you mean about being reluctant to part with books, and I'd be happy to return yours to you if I took any. At this stage I would value any basic guides to research methods and statistics that you could recommend as dyscalculic-friendly. Do you have any?


Field and Hole do some funny books about research methods and statistics, I own two of them, 'How to design and report experiments' and 'Discovering statistics using SPSS (and sex, drugs and rock and roll!)' My only worry about lending/giving them to you it that I will also need to use them in the final year, although we don't take stats then we do need to design and carry out our own research project (like you're doing) and I'd like to keep them for reference. I have a few others stats books as well, including 'research methods and statistics in psychology' by Hugh Coolian. I'd be happy to give you this one, although it isn't as clear and easy to read as the other two.

Books I'd be more than happy to give away include books on personality and biological psychology. We had to take biological psychology during the first and second year (I don't know if you will take it too) but I was always fairly weak and it and will avoid it like the plague now that I can choose my options. I also have LOADS of child development books that I probably don't need so much now as the only child development module was taken in the second year BUT I am never giving them away EVER because they are too interesting!!!!! Also, I may consult some of them during my essay on autism.

And you're right about the research when doing psychology. It's great to have some names and dates to throw in and psychology is very research and theory orientated. One of the reasons I am so keen on doing my placement essay about theory of mind in children with autism is because of the number of psychological research studies done about this - this is loads of theory to link to!
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Postby parnassus » Wed Aug 20, 2008 8:53 pm

I am doing a compulsory paper on biological psychology and another paper that focuses on personality development/personality disorders, so those books would be very useful, along with the Coolian. If they're typical doorstep-sized textbooks they would be very expensive to post, though. I will be in Cambridge on 22nd and 24th September (with a one-day gap in between, when I'm in Norfolk). If you're free, perhaps I could collect them from you on one of those days? I will be happy to post them back to you if you decide that you need them after all.

Thank you so much for this - it will be a big help!
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Postby C » Mon Aug 25, 2008 8:19 pm

parnassus wrote:I am doing a compulsory paper on biological psychology and another paper that focuses on personality development/personality disorders, so those books would be very useful, along with the Coolian. If they're typical doorstep-sized textbooks they would be very expensive to post, though. I will be in Cambridge on 22nd and 24th September (with a one-day gap in between, when I'm in Norfolk). If you're free, perhaps I could collect them from you on one of those days? I will be happy to post them back to you if you decide that you need them after all.

Thank you so much for this - it will be a big help!


Yeah, you're right they would be expensive to post, the Coolican is huge although a few of the others are smaller!

I've moved now but we could meet in Cambridge if you'd like (or you're welcome to come to Hertford if you'd prefer!) I think I can manage either one of those days some time in the afternoon unless I am back at Uni then (I know I go back either that week or the week after, I suspect it's the week after though but Uni are always really late in telling me!!!) I've had a scan of my room and there's the Coolican one, Perspectives on Personality and Motor Learning and Synaptic Plasticity in the Cerebellum that I'd be happy to give you (I found the last one about motor learning really confusing to follow though, it wasn't a recommended text I mostly bought it because I thought it might give me insight into some of my own motor problems! It just confused me so say if you don't want/need it. But it may be right up your street!) There may be some more lying around at my mums (I'm at my dads at the moment) I'll check next time I stay with her. And I hope you don't mind but some of them are highlighted with notes inside.
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Postby parnassus » Mon Sep 01, 2008 11:56 am

Now it transpires that I may not need them at all. ;) Thank you for the kind offer, though, Charlotte.
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