Why being a PhD student can be dangerous to your Blog

Hello my long lost blog! How I have missed you so! I've been buried in statistics for the social sciences, taking care of the Manship School's media effects lab, conducting an online survey experiment on media framing of "fracking," and final exams! So what has it been like being a first-year PhD student this semester? Exhilarating. Stressful. Tiring. Enlightening. Busy. Fulfilling. Downright depressing. Awesome.

For other PhD students out there: it is not as bad as it seems. But perhaps a bit worse. A PhD students juggles classes, assitantship work, teaching requirements, extracurricular professional development and research interests on a daily basis. But then again, you get an excuse to ask all the wildest questions you ever dreamed of asking as a researcher, and pursuing your "heart-of-hearts" research interests.

I took a political science statistics course this semester which I HIGHLY recommend for ALL journalism/social science researchers. Linear regression is one of the most useful tools you will ever learn for the analysis of your experimental data. You want to look at how general science knowledge impacts how readers use environmental media messages to form judgments about environmental regulation? Multiple regression. You want to see if concern about scientific issues makes people more receptive to particular forms of persuasive messaging? Multiple regression. Anytime you want to see how multiple independent variables predict the outcome of a continuous-level dependent variable, you can use regression analysis to estimate a (typically) linear relationship between your IV's and your DV. That relationship would look something like this:

Y = a + b1x1 + b2x2 + b3x3 ...

where Y is your dependent variable, a is the point where the predicted line crosses the y-axis, and x1, x2 and x3 are your independent variables. Check out linear regression, it's cool. If you need help with data analysis... ask!

I also conducted research this semester on the impact of media framing on attitudes about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Quite a sticky topic. I presented my results, in which pre-existing scientific knowledge about fracking appears to influence what types of messages people are most receptive to, at the 2012 Midwest Association of Public Opinion (MAPOR) conference.

I also managed and performed all study scheduling for the Manship Media Effects lab, where we measure students' heart rates in response to media viewing, administer surveys, track their eye movements and more fun stuff! I wrote a feature about MEL for LSU which you can read here.

I also coaching diving (my favorite sport ever!), dappled in photography, and spent time with family.

So what is the point of all this? Being a PhD student is BUSY! This Christmas break, my biggest goal is to catch back up with From The Lab Bench and enjoy a bit of creative time! No matter how busy your PhD gets, don't stop creating and asking research-y questions. That is what we are best at, anyway!