What I wish I had known at the start of my Master’s research project

At the start of my Master of Information Management research project, I wondered how I would complete a deliverable that’s equivalent to the weighting of 12 postgraduate assignments. Thanks to expert guidance from my supervisor, I was able to break it into stages and smaller chunks, and make steady progress. I’ve now completed the methodology section, literature review, recruitment, data collection and data analysis and am writing up my findings and discussion.

My tips so far

  • Research question reminders – Once you’ve figured out your research questions, keep them visible as you progress through the project, at the top of Word documents for example:
    • when you’re reviewing the literature for your lit review
    • writing interview questions or
    • writing up the findings and discussion sections.
  • Software licenses – If you think you might need any software from your university, ask for it early – it took me a few weeks to get a license for a home version of data analysis software.
  • Organise your files – Try to keep your filing system under control as you go. My current count for this project is 41 folders and 275 files. Save a copy of each version you send to anyone – for example ethics documents and drafts for review. This makes it easier to track changes as you go, and revisit older versions.
  • Back it up – Back up everything, have a primary and two backups with one of the backups offsite. For me this means the main copy on my laptop, a copy in the cloud (my university’s dedicated research cloud space), and another copy on an external drive. During transcription I had a corrupted audio file and nearly lost 30 minutes of an interview. Thankfully I was working with a backup copy rather than the original. I was easily able to get a fresh copy of the original with no harm done except for 5 minutes of sheer panic!
  • Help future you – once you get into the intense writing stage in the last few months, leave a note for yourself at the end of each session so you know where to pick up the next day.

I’ve had a positive experience overall, enjoyed some parts more than others, and it has made me want to do more research!

Photo of Prevally Beach with rocks, ocean and a bronze statue of a woman
Prevally beach, in Yebble, Margaret River, WA

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