While writing his new book, Advanced research methods for applied psychology, Professor Paula Brough sought to fill the void she continually encountered when supervising graduate students.
“The idea came to me during a doctoral confirmation where the student was evaluating the different methods to perform the missing data analysis,” said Professor Brough. âI realized that most students would not be aware of the different methods – but should be!
âI wanted to write a user-friendly and accessible book and this student even ended up writing the chapter on missing data analysis.
Professor Brough says that many graduate students are not fully equipped to consider the myriad nuances involved in conducting high-quality psychological research.
“They wade through the information thrown at them from all sides about research designs,” she said, “and I have found that students often have difficulty getting projects started.”
The goal of Advanced research methods for applied psychology is to help new researchers understand how topics such as research design, data collection techniques, missing data analysis, and research findings all relate to each other, and that each should be duly taken into account when starting a research project.
âIt is recognized that the ‘silos’ of these key research topics is necessary for an appropriate depth of detail; However, this may prevent researchers from seeing the big picture, âsaid Professor Brough.
The book provides up-to-date research techniques from around the world for data collection platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and social media analytics, and discusses the pros and cons of these methodologies.
Some of the research models described in Professor Brough’s book have been applied to nationally recognized projects, such as his research on ‘contagion of stress at work’ – recently featured on Sunrise – and âMental Well-Being at Work: Lessons from Criminal Justice Workersâ, led by participating author Dr Amanda Biggs.
Professor Brough believes that the growing volume of postgraduate researchers in psychology and related fields is indicative of several key factors, including a growth in intrinsic interest in psychology research; recognition of the value of a postgraduate degree for career development; and – arguably the strongest driver (at least in Australia) – the increased requirement for psychologists to obtain a postgraduate degree containing a research thesis component for registration in professional psychology.
At the same time, most academics are experiencing important work intensification processes; the academic time devoted to teaching, research and supervisory tasks is subject to increased control and is reduced to specific allocations of working hours.
For example, according to Professor Brough, it would not be uncommon for an academic to be given a formal stipend of 18 hours per year to supervise a master’s student in psychology in their thesis research.
“For this reason, we also want this book to be of direct value to both increasingly busy academic supervisors and their doctoral students, as a useful reference point for the most relevant questions regarding the conduct of postgraduate thesis research, âshe said.