Research, It’s a Process

by Matt

The topic of this blog was supposed to be “the research process, start to finish”.  However, I haven’t reached the finish line, so I think it more appropriate to call this, “the research process, it is a process”.

 I have a graduate fellowship with Dr. Pritzker at the GCSW.  Many of you will be lucky enough to take some of her classes and should start thanking me know for introducing her to you.  Dr. Pritzker’s primary area of interest is in Civic Engagement among youth, in particular minority youth.

Most of the Professors at the GCSW are involved in some sort of research and publication is required for tenure at the University.  UH has made a concerted effort to become a Tier One research facility – there are numerous criteria but a key one is bringing in $100 million in grant funding per annum – and attained that distinction in 2011.  Needless to say, there was a party.

I began work with Dr. Pritzker on her first study at the GCSW – she has since netted a substantial State grant as well (WOOT-WOOT!), but I digress.  I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the civic engagement survey from the beginning because it gave me real insight into the research process.

My background is not in social science.  I am actually a philosophy major, and you don’t need to write grant proposals, or conduct focus groups to write about Plato!   Thus, I was an utter novice when it came to research.  I recall being extremely stressed out regarding the research course that is bundled into Foundation, and I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown when I took a graduate level Stats course in my 2nd year!

Working with Dr. Pritzker was a wonderful learning experience because she accepted that I had no idea what to do and was willing to walk me through the process.  We started with the IRB proposal to UH as well as Houston Independent School District (HISD).  We also looked at formatting survey questions.  I was involved with contacting schools, administrators etc… and present when Dr. Pritzker went to talk with teachers at our target schools regarding the purpose of the survey.  I was able to take part in the writing or revision of every proposal and administered half of the surveys in the study.

Going into a High-School was quite nostalgic, as I taught HS for 3 years, and it was a challenge to work with teachers and administrators to maximize the survey response among students.  Last summer gave me the opportunity to enter 800+ surveys worth of data….opportunity might give you the wrong impression!  Taking Stats helped me learn how to use a statistical data program to make sense of our student responses.  I have also been researching justifications for certain things that pertain to our data and making suggestions that will impact publication

The process is not over, but I have learned so much.  I’ve definitely realized I still don’t know very much about research, but that I am capable of making some sense out of it.  Research is challenging, but important and interesting.  I would encourage students to talk with professors at UH, find out what they are working on, and take the opportunity to volunteer some time to learn more about the process.

Good night, and good luck!


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