Research This! - A Contest

Wednesday, August 17, 2011
So I've signed up for fall classes at the University of Denver, and now that I'm officially a Senior*, I'm started to perform more of my major-related work. There are a variety of graduation requirements for this program, and one of them is a fairly extensive research project on a topic of my choosing. From the course catalog:
As part of the major, students have the opportunity to pursue a topic of special interest in greater depth. This should be an independent research project that grows out of one or more courses in the major. The purpose of the project is to learn more about a particular topic through library research, explorations via the Internet, or structured interviews with experts. The emphasis is on deepening one's knowledge about a particular topic rather than applying knowledge, which is the focus of the Integrative Project. The Directed Research, done with the guidance of an appropriate faculty member, should result in a report of sufficient length to summarize the findings and comment on their significance.
The topic must be related to my major, which is "Science and Technology," and the courses related to my major include:
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Business computer applications
  • Research methods
  • Using statistics
  • Science, technology and markets
  • Breakthroughs in science
Since I paid my tuition, I've been trying to determine what topic I'd like to spend time on. It has to be something I'm interested in. If I have to spend 2.5 months and 40 pages on some boring piece of shit that will make me approach my research with dread in my heart, I'm going back to Community College. It has to be something with sufficient available resources to make the research challenging, but not impossible. And it has to be something new to me, as I don't see the point of spending the time and brain power on a topic I've already written about.

I know I have a wide cross section of readers, so I'm proposing a CONTEST. With PRIZES.

Make your suggestions in the comments on what I should research for my directed research project. If I select your topic (and it's approved by my adviser), then you win a PRIZE: Your choice of homemade jam, a handmade hat and scarf for the upcoming winter months, or an Amazon gift card.

So suggest your topics, Hot Chicks and Smart Men! Go! Confront the problem! Fight! Win!


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*Yes, at the ripe age of 46, I'm now officially a Senior. Methinks I'm not going to be able to postpone my graduation for much longer - my company narrow-mindedly won't pay my tuition forever. Which means I'll need to start looking at an advanced degree if I want to continue as a student in perpetuity.

5 comments:

Phiala said...

Hm.

How about a pet topic of mine, bias in the display of quantitative information in the media?

Uses statistics, quantitative reasoning, potentially business computer applications and research methods.

That is, how is information presented to the reader, and does the means of presentation accurately convey information, or is it inherently misleading?

Doing this as a project would involve spending some time looking at business pubs/newspapers/etc, some time reading about visual display of quantitative information, and if I were your faculty advisor, some time creating alternate presentations of a single dataset for comparison purposes.

How misleading can you make it? How good? What presentations best fit with the psychology of human perception? Or worst fit?

Since this is a pet interest, if you decide to go that way I can point you toward resources. :)

Nathan said...

Phiala wins! Any school project that involves spending a lot of time in business pubs is one I can get behind. (They usually have the best happy hour deals.)

P.S. I promise to think about this and come up with a real answer.

Steve Buchheit said...

Yeah, but you have to ask for the good stuff at the Business Pubs. They keep trying to pawn off the Schlitz as a premium beer (or Rolling Rock).

nzforme said...

I have no idea. I just have a bit of advice, which is stick to what YOU want to write and don't let your faculty advisor talk you into something different.

I had to write two major papers in Law School -- the one which was on a pet interest of mine was easy; the one on the topic my professor convinced me to write was like pulling teeth. (The one upside to that paper was that the prof did not require a rewrite -- I think he didn't want to read it again about as much as I didn't want to write it again.)

Just from your list of courses, it looks like you're pretty lucky in that you could probably spin pretty much anything off of "Research methods" or "Breakthroughs in science."

Knowing what little I know about your interests, how about doing your research project on:

- Cool Shit Nobody Knows About Neil deGrasse Tyson

or

- Nifty Factoids About the Large Hadron Collider

Given your recent investigations into faith, it might also be interesting to do some research into "Creation Science" and see how these folks create pseudo-scientific theories to back up the beliefs they hold as a matter of faith.

filelalaine said...

I'm not sure how this might translate into an actual project or if you may even be able to use it at all, but I always think about little things to improve one's life with the use of the abundant technology that we are currently afforded.

Most major problems get top billing because of the sheer number of people who complain about them, as well as the severity of the prognosis. But for example, for people who forget to stand up straight, or smoke, or bite their nails... some form of iphone app that manages to catch them in the act and deliver a positive or negative reinforcer to help in the acquisition or the extinction of the behavior. Maybe they already exist, maybe a good research would be a mega analysis of studies about their validity and usefulness. It's not exactly a business computer application but business is made up of people who slouch, smoke, bite their nails, etc... Too much of a stretch?