Research: It’s All About Balance

Just in case you were thinking that research is all glamor and excitement, I’m here to tell you that sometimes it’s tedious and boring. I know–shocking. This is the part where the professors hope they have indentured servants (aka students) to carry out the grunt work. Oh wait, it’s our lucky day! We have eight of them! So today the Balance Study students spent the day entering numbers into a spreadsheet.

Data entry--weeeee!

I don’t feel too bad, because they’ve done the fun stuff, too: Learning how to use a force platform to test people’s balance, thinking up cognitive tasks to distract people from their balance task, and of course, eating the leftover cookies offered to participants. And once the tedious tasks are over, we get back to the fun again (sounds very *balanced* doesn’t it?).

As some of you no doubt know, scientific research usually starts out something like this: “Hmmm, interesting question, how will we answer it?” This is eventually followed by, “Oh, can’t wait to start collecting data!” Then it moves to “UUugg, when will we be done entering this data?” It sort of bottoms out at “Guys, I think we made a mistake entering the data.”

OK one more time, Mitch. "C" stands for "cognitive."

But then it starts to get exciting again because once you start running the statistical analyses, you get closer and closer to finding answers to your questions! Actually what you really get is closer to finding out what the next question should be, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.

When I was a student I found it difficult to be careful and meticulous about the data entry phase because I was so excited about moving on to the data analysis phase (go ahead, make fun of me). But when I took the time to do it right, I knew I had the best chance of finding answers to my research questions. So, I KNOW that TERESA, MATT, ROB, MALLORY, KATE, and MITCH are being EXTRA meticulous. Right? RIGHT?

More fun to come this week: a visit to the rehab unit at a medical facility, an afternoon at the Wapsi River, and an evening of stargazing. And data analyses 🙂

-Professor KT


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