Tuesday, November 22, 2011

And multiple analyses later. . .

When the Matrix becomes real, I will find the SPSS program within its intricate pathways. I will then proceed to initiate mortal combat with this program; not that crappy real-life Dragon Ball Z nonsense from Matrix 3, but the good ole' fashioned fisticuffs from the first movie. Overcoats, sunglasses, hilarious numbers of guns, the works.

And I shall dance upon it's pixelated corpse with giddy abandon.

Now, this might seem a bit strong, and indeed it is. I have been doing outlier data cleaning for 3 data sets for the past few days, and the problem is that in the literature that we're working off, everybody has their own method of dealing with outliers. Some researchers ignore them entirely, others delete them, others replace them with a 2.5 standard deviation cutoff. Even worse, some determine outliers within-participants, within-conditions or sometimes both. Owing to the high likelihood that a fellow psycholinguist will review our paper come submission, we decided it was a good idea to cover all the bases in case they ask why we didn't manage outliers in (x) fashion.

Cue 13 different outlier cleaning processes, over 3 data sets. Every possible relevant permutation of the process to be performed on each dataset.

Predictably, I have reached the point where I no longer believe that I and my beloved Apple Mac are separate beings. I think we've become some sort of Deus Ex Machina, albeit in the narrow field of number crunching. I think it simply is aware of my intentions and reacts accordingly; I could probably use two chopsticks instead of a mouse and keyboard and still create the desired SPSS commands. I may eventually nickname it 'Skynet' and welcome the end of humanity.

I am of course inflating the issue for the sake of comedy and a good read. The work is not hard, nor is it particularly urgent. I've set myself a deadline for the end of the week, mainly in order to give myself a semblance of motivation beyond that transmitted through caffeine-based products. It is a reminder that not all work in a PhD is gloriously interesting, mind-expanding stuff. Occasionally you do have to engage in exercises of pure tedium with the promise of a reward at the end, which in my case is a conference I hope to go to next year overseas, as well as the publication that will come out of this work.

My new master/Sith Lord/computer program calls to me to resume crafting the syntax that will deal with analysis no. 3. If anyone hears 'EXTERMINATE' or sounds of death rays coming from my office, worry not - it's all been ethically approved. See you next week!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

And so here we are again!

It has been a relatively sedate fortnight since my last post; some data analysis has been done, some writing done, and I have re-developed a few hobbies outside university life that might indeed result in me seeing the light of day this decade, and may even result in physical exercise. Yep, those are airborne animals of the porcine genus you're seeing, and that is indeed the yelping of frost-bitten devils you're hearing. All against the glorious backdrop of a cyan-coloured moon.

The data for my second experiment has not turned out to be all it can be, unfortunately; our main hypothesis wasn't entirely supported. Luckily, Experiment 2 is essentially a supplemental to Experiment 1, so it can still be used albeit in a reduced form. Painful, but such is life in academia, and frankly if odd data is the worst of my troubles I am going quite well.

So now we're on to Experiment 3, which can hopefully be completed within a month or two, provided the Summer Semester victims *ahem* participants are obliging with their volunteering for testing. I will spare you the precise aims of this 3-experiment project for the next blog, as I'm still wrapping my head around all the wee bits and pieces that go into the evidence that I'm working with.

Handily, the first part of experiment 3 is on its way to completion; the online surveys I posted a few weeks back were Part 1 of this endeavour, and many obliging souls have submitted to the psycho-linguistic probings within. Once the data is compiled and subjected to the various statistical tortures I will turn to performing the main gristle of the experiment, which is the final experiment of my first project.

All this is in aim of getting a paper out ASAP so I have something material for confirmation, as said event is beginning to loom like a disapproving bouncer in an ill-fitting suit. And ye, verily is the metaphorical pepper spray being reached for.

Waxing lyrical aside, that's all for today and the next post shall regale you with the theories behind Lexical Selection, Picture-Word Interference and so forth (shorter version: The field I'm sticking my neck into). Hope this is a good read, and see you next time!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A good life, this one.

Well, the semester is over, as is both my marking and testing.

In the academic parlance, I am well and truly buggered.

This will probably be a shorter post than my usual verbose linguistic gushings, as I am frankly very tired. All in all, I have had one hell of a fun semester. I have had my first tutoring experience; terrifying, but it's the first time I've ever really given a formal education, and it's quite the fun thing to do. Actually engaging with students who trust you to provide accurate information is one seriously motivating experience.

I've also managed to run two experiments, one of which was only partly successful (see my lengthy whinge/blog posts prior to this), and have learned valuable lessons about time management, data analysis and maintaining a level head when pressured. Not to mention that working too hard really does catch up to you. So in short, I shall provide an end-of-semester surmise: PhD life really rocks. In the whole time I've been a PhD candidate (since March 1st), I've enjoyed almost every day of it. Not bad for work satisfaction, methinks.

As of writing this I'm planning to go home rather early and sleep for quite possibly 24 hours straight, so I shall leave things here. I hope that life treats you all well, and I shall return next week with yet PhD life goodies!