Monday, August 10, 2009

Food for thought

I thought, since it's currently consuming my life, I would take this opportunity to briefly describe my literature review and the related research project I am completing for my Masters. Also, nothing much of note happened this weekend, although I did get the chance to try out Starfarers of Catan.

I have an interest in nutrition; however, I have only taken one course on the subject during my undergrad, and I've done some reading on the topic (primarily Michael Pollan's books--who's not a nutritionist). In general, I have an interest in how medical/health information is passed onto the public and how that information is preceived and used. This interest has grown out of my experiences during my nursing degree, my time as a research assistant involved in systematic reviews, and my general outlook on health care and how it should be conducted. Since I am currently in a library and information studies program, I have combined this interest with the the LIS field of information seeking (basically, how people look for information).

Currently, I am enrolled in an independent study course involving a literature review on the topic of undergraduate information seeking behaviours for food and nutrition-related information. Since no one has specifically looked at the nutrition information seeking behaviours of undergraduates, I'm having to combined data on undergraduate nutrition (perhaps not to surprisingly, it's not great) with information seeking behaviours of undergraduates in general (also not that great) along with a smaller section on what is known about how people search for health information (I haven't gotten to that part yet). This whole process has taken a considerable amount of time, much more time than I had anticipated. I'm glad I don't have to factor in class time as well. Sadly, because of this, completing work on my Nora MS has been delayed.

During the fall semester I'll be taking on the primary research part of this project. I'm going to interview U of A undergraduate students to find out if, how, where and why they search for information on nutrition. This is a slightly terrifying prospect, a) because I'm an introvert by nature; and b) I suspect I'll be dragging information out of these students by tooth and nail. My suspicion is that most students don't look for information on the food they eat. They eat what's convenient (which is what I've found out from my literature review) and cheep. I think the whole thing is going to be a tough go. Once I've completed the interviews I'll have to transcribe, code and analyze my data and finally write up a paper. From where I stand, it seems like a mind-booglingly large amount of work.

After that, well, I'm not sure. I would love to continue on with this vain of research except, the only way for me to really do that is through PhD studies--and I'm not convinced I want to do that (when would I find the time to write more adventures with Nora?). Another possiblity bouncing around in my head is I could look at applying to the Nutrition department at the U of A for a second Masters. I would be a little behind on the nutrition knowledge, but I think given my background experiences I might be able to swing it. However, there again, do I really want to do a second Masters? I don't know. This is a problem, and I see no immediate answer to the question. Maybe I should just apply to everything that comes my way (jobs included) and see what happens.



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