So far, the grant proposal for the post-doc position has been rewritten (and improved, I hope) and been sent back to my prospective supervisor and some other people. One of them said they will for sure look at it beginning of next week, which is good.

The discussion and conclusion of the journal article have been somewhat written, but it turned out that bits of the results were missing, so I’ve been fixing that first. If I continue work on it today it could be finished enough to send to supervisors, and internal company reviewers.

Chapter: will start on that as soon as the article has gone off to reviewers, but will wait to send chapter to supervisors until the feedback and comments on the article have been processed.

Method section: haven’t looked at it yet, but at least I made pictures of the experimental set-up.

Experiment: FINISHED! 100 people in 4 weeks, with sessions lasting around 100 minutes. Next time I’ll come up with an experiment that doesn’t last so long and doesn’t require so many people! (After which I reviewed my grant proposal and failed that intention quite completely – although the time should be split up into different sessions. Experience tells me this is not necessarily better, but it will be different.)

Currently, happiness is having a participant show up on time for my experiment. A participant who doesn’t mind that things might run a little longer sometimes, or not as expected. Also somebody who can see well, and isn’t colourblind, so I don’t have to send them away.

Happiness is a boyfriend who has dinner ready by the time I make it home when I’m tired from sitting in the lab a whole day, switching between 3 screens to make sure everything is going alright.

Happiness is finding a new connection, a potential new friend, among the participants. Somebody who’s also working on their PhD, and could probably use some support and has funny experiences to exchange.

Happiness is having friends who can make you laugh, despite the fact that you’re nervous and tired and cranky and worried. Who can give you a new outlook on things, and remind you that, at the end of the day, this is also something you will get through.

Happiness is knowing that there’s an opportunity for sleeping in on the weekend!

Why do I tend to go for the hardest choice? Sometimes because it’s more fun, but when you’re running the actual experiment and have to turn away participants because, sadly enough, they’re not the target group, things can feel a little sour.

Less than 4 months before my funding is up. Scary. 3 more weeks before this experiment will be finished. Also scary, the last experiment I might run in a while. Until I find a post-doc, that is. In which case I need to get my butt in a chair, and write the proposal draft this weekend. This post is meant to remind me of that bit. There’s more to life than data-entering and exploration, even while running a massive experiment.

The analysis of the 4 datasets I have has finally paid off, and results are very interesting. I’ve written up a structure for the article we want to get out of this, but so far haven’t had the opportunity to discuss the structure. Partially laziness, partially sickness, partially scared that again it wouldn’t be good enough yet…

But the structure will be discussed a week and a half from now, with the whole committee together so I had better get my act together.

My other research is panning out as well, albeit not was fast as hoped. First there were technical difficulties, and do I ever not like programmers who think their mission in life is to fill their hours, rather than getting a good product and a satisfied client! Next there are participant difficulties, mostly in terms of getting enough participants rather than anything else. Especially when you are going to do something like exploratory factor analysis or principal components analysis it’s important to have enough people give answers, otherwise there’s not enough data to see patterns in the first place. And yet, even knowing that, I think I wouldn’t have changed my current experiment.

As the time to submit something for the scientiae carnival draws nearer, it was very difficult to decide on the challenge I want to share. Partially, this is because too many details and anonymity is out the door. Partially because it looks like my biggest challenge is now.

There’s only a couple of months left for me to finish my PhD, and a part of that is resolving around 4 datasets that should give the same results but – very frustrastingly – aren’t. Let me explain.

Dataset 1A was gathered in 2006 and gave very interesting results. Another student was engaged to follow up and this and ran a partial replication, giving us Dataset 2A (2007). However, results from 1A and 2A turned out to be opposite. This was rather distressing, since I’d published about dataset 1A by then!
After much hemming and hawing, I decided to do a full replication of both 1A and 2A. The data were gathered last year, so now I have also datasets 1B and 2B.
And while 1A and 1B are reassuringly similar (down to having the same fit problems due to a one-dimensionality assumption), 2A and 2B are not similar. Considering that 2 is already a partial replication of 1, it is rather difficult to explain WHY neither 2A nor 2B give the same results as 1A or 1B. But wait… it gets better! 2B also doesn’t replicate 2A! So the past couple of months have been soent with looking at other ways to analyse these data: some very in-depth explorative data analyses and some new ways to try and find out about the possible multi-dimensionality of these data.

The data have my tearing out my hair (almost literally), because in my planning I’d already finished this off by now and moved on to another dataset. And while all this hassle may prove to be the connection that I’m looking for, and while it is very interesting, I’m also on a deadline.
There’s another meeting with my supervisor in two weeks, let’s work so that there’s progress to report by then.

Also, before I added this sentence, word count was 333.

When people ask about my PhD project, they sometimes get a puzzled look in their eyes when they hear where I want to go to. Other people immediately perceive possibilities and applications everywhere. Proof Positive? Marketing students wanna work with me (and not just because I work for Company)!

A couple days ago, a marketing student came for an interview concerning an internship within Project3. There was much rejoicing on his side when it turned out that Company Research indeed is somewhat marketing oriented (or at least tries to be user oriented rather than technology). There was much rejoicing on my side that Project3Leader is quite impressed with his people-oriented skills, since Student M interviewed with me before on an internship which didn’t happen after all. And made an impression too, since he came in a very nice suit, a light pink shirt and a pink tie. Did I mention he’s a marketing student? Plus, he shows sufficient analytic insight and managed to explain a somewhat vague project to our heart’s content.

Actually Project3 is hot, especially because it promises to connect people in a less-PC oriented way, while retaining as much as possible the features which make it appealing to connect through the PC. I’m not sure this makes it more hot than Dr. Isis’ Naughty Monkeys, but my influence will definitely bring more opportunity for sparkles and glitter to shine through.

More news from the conquering department: 2 experiments which needed replication are finally being replicated. It’s costing several t-shirts, umbrellas and USB sticks, and a present for the volunteer, but come january the data will be available, and should be able to tell me more. Now, what do I want this data to give me? Well, Experiment 1 was carried out  by a student and produced good results. Based upon these results another student carried out Experiment 2 to see if the results were stable enough to use for her follow-up experiment. Unfortunately, Experiment 2 produced opposite results from Experiment 1. Yes, not just a wee bit skewed, but freekin’ opposite. Obviously, a replication is clearly in order, if only to make sure that the data don’t follow me in the night, like ghosts intend to make sure they are heard and understood.

This week has been somewhat exhaustive. One of the reason for said exhaustion is still the adaptation to the new getting-up time (6:15 rather than 7:30), the other reason is that two replica experiments were set up. There’s a volunteer who will execute the experiments, but the reason she’s a volunteer is that she wants to gain more experience in running experiments. This obviously still leaves me with a host of practical stuff to arrange (such as transporting a 42″ television with a large support, where forgetting to mention the size of the support makes for rather awkward transportation), and the need to provide her with a thorough run-through before the experiments can start.

On the bright side, there’s no need for me to be there while she’s running the experiment and the volunteer will supply all the participants. All I have to do is make sure that they get a reward now; which gives me a new excuse to order more business gifts, since that’s so much easier to arrange than vouchers.

Writing has been in short supply this week, since most of it has proved to be either running around or sitting down and talking to people. The other day, it was standing and listening though, since Donald Norman was into town. Considering he recently published “The design of future things”, this would be an interesting way to see what kind of new material he would cover. The topic of the lecture was announced as “Social Design”, and mainly the end covered new material concerning his eight principles of psychology of waiting (and how to design for it, of course). The design principles he set out are:

  1. emotions dominate
  2. eliminate confusion’
  3. the wait must be appropriate
  4. set expectations, then meet or exceed them
  5. keep people occupied
  6. be fair
  7. end strong, start strong
  8. memory of an event is more important than the experience

Donald Norman updated his pdf on this august 21st, 2008.