I can’t believe it I can almost breathe the fresh air of freedom. I’ve now officially completed the 10th module, Research Project Proposal (RPP) 😱 I was so out of steam when I handed it in that I didn’t have time to write this blog post so it comes a little later than usual. I hope you’ve all been keeping well as the weather picks up in the UK I’m feeling very excited that there are only 3 months of this left!
The Research Project Proposal
The Research Project Proposal (RRP) is an entire module dedicated to building the research plan of what you are going to do for your final project and dissertation. The books and learning content was actually very similar to the Research Methods module except you get to choose the topic of your desire 😍. So basically 10000% better!
This module has 4 main books:
- C.W Dawson. Projects in computing and information systems: a student’s guide. Pearson Education. 2009
- J W Creswell. Research Design, Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches. Fourth edition. SAGE publication, 2014
- J Zobel. Writing for computer science. Second edition. Springer 2004
- S Cottrell. Dissertations and Project Reports: A Step by Step Guide. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Palgrave Study Skills. Web.2014.
These help with your report writing and the way you conduct your research and are very useful. You can get the PDF ebooks for free (illegally) in the Uni Slack channels or you may find them on PDFdrive.
The module walks you through step-by-step how to find a research topic, formulate a research idea, build research questions, critique the literature review, write a methodology and think about the ethics behind the project itself. It’s basically a plan of how you are going to conduct your dissertation and explanations of why your body of research or contributions are important to the world of computing.
The methodology is a list of methods or processes you will embark on to conduct your study. So you may want to do qualitative research, quantitative or mixed methods, it also includes how you collect your data, how you will conduct your experiment or build your artefacts.
Apologies tips are getting less and less attention it’s just as you get to around the 7-9th Module you realise the Exams or Assignments require a similar amount of effort and process to complete so by now you sort of figure out your own learning styles, ways of working and you kind of get into the swing of things! Nevertheless, I still have a few small tips:
- I highly recommend writing your Research Proposal Plan as you go through the weekly tasks. They are in-a-way helping you build your plan step by step so if you build it and write it as you go along you won’t have a huge amount of work in the last week – where you panic (like me)
- Clickup.com / Notion.so – I started to use project management tools to manage studying, assignments and workload and OH MY GOD I wish I had discovered this sooner. It’s free and so efficient in keeping track of your notes, your tasks and everything all in one. I highly recommend using it to devise a study plan in. I currently use Clickup for my uni work because it’s more of a project management tool where you have tasks, subtasks, an automated gant chart, a Kanban board, deadlines/scheduling etc. Then I use Notion for notes since you can create Wiki pages with it and link to each other and create this like a linking web of information that also looks pretty and organised!
I loved this module!! I spent most of it reading Literature Papers about topics I am interested in. I just wished we didn’t have so much MOOC content to work through – as it took up a lot of my time but then again it was useful. The model tutor was extremely engaged and provided very good feedback and support throughout the module and the tasks we did were useful in developing our ideas. The only issue is everyone has received their grades now and said the tutor was extremely harsh. Some people lost out of Distinction because of it – so that was upsetting to hear.
If you’ve gotten this far (10th Module) then it’s safe to say you may have gotten Stockholm syndrome like me and learnt to love the course as it is, appreciate it and learn how to write academic reports the way The University of York want them. I had to do it through trial and error but I finally have figured out a good method/process of writing them.
My Dissertation Idea
The best thing about getting to the end of the course is the project you get to pick and focus on. Since I am doing the Artificial Intelligence module I have to build some sort of computational aspect that is related to AI. I was going to focus on Heuristic Algorithms as I really enjoyed this topic but my passion is to help more women get into tech or stay in tech and I couldn’t really find anything that joined these two topics together. Currently, women working in STEM/tech careers stand at around 25% in the EU and it’s pretty much been stagnant for the past 10 years. I looked into reasons for this and there’s a whole host of barriers specifically for women which range from minor incidents to severe cases of harassment, sexism, discrimination, and misogyny. Furthermore, their roles may be diminished as they endure a continuous cycle of harassment. Although this treatment does not happen to all women in tech (personally I’ve not experienced as much) there is still significant gender disparity and feelings of isolation as they find themselves greatly out numbered by men. A support system, role models and mentorship were some of the top existing ways to counter these barriers but nothing was found that tried to evoke change through storytelling.
This is why I am building a recommendation system that basically recommends inspiring stories of how experienced women in tech have overcome these workplace barriers. The system bases recommendations on user profile matching with the assumption that “those who are similar will find more inspiration from a story of success”. Since I looked a bit into Social Learning Theory and also the power of storytelling and using a personalised system may share stories that are more inspiring and interesting to that person which may provide impact in a positive way to tackle these issues. Anyways, we don’t learn about recommender systems – so now here I am 6 weeks into my Individual Research Project panicking (in an excited way) so heads up! Pick a topic or skill you already have so you don’t end up like me having to learn a whole field of study in 1 month. Trust me to always try to make my life hard.
So… in my previous posts, you may recall how much I have moaned about taking very long to write and learn new concepts and struggling to read, process or remember the books I read – basically lots of suffering and finding ways to overcome this. Thus I mentioned I suspected there is a possibility I could have some learning difficulties.
I actually went and did a dyslexic assessment with one of the companies Uni recommended called The Educational Guidance Service(EGS) and low and freakin’ behold on Wednesday 12th April 2023 I was officially diagnosed with Dyslexia at age 32 🥲. On the same day I received my Computer and Mobile Networks (CAMN) results where I got a distinction. Total oxymoron 🤯.
The assessment took 3 hours and I did 11 different ‘tests’. It was a range of things from reading, spelling, listening to a string of letters and numbers and re-ordering them, answering information, general knowledge, putting puzzles together, finding the next step in a visual sequence, pattern matching and to be fair I felt depleted at the end of it like a shrivelled potato.
The results said I was in the “gifted” and “superior” IQ range for things like Perceptual Reasoning and Visual Processing and then in “average – normal” for everything else like Auditory Processing, Memory Sequencing and Verbal Comprehension which is why it went undetected because the stronger abilities were masking the struggling ones. And because there are very big differences between quite a few of my cognitive abilities, it means I am dyslexic 😱.
Specifically, I have learning difficulties in auditory processing, sequencing and poor working memory which are the issues many dyslexics have that also very much impact learning ability. One in ten people are dyslexic so it’s quite common in the world. It also explained a lot of my struggles in life and issues with self-esteem. I mentioned in the about me how I always didn’t feel “intelligent” and I read online quite often those with dyslexia struggle with these feelings because they have unstable self-image because their ability wavers depending on the situation. This is exactly how I feel. I can work super hard on an assignment and still worry I am going to fail it. Then I sometimes end up with a distinction or I sometimes fail. The amount of work I put in never equates to the result I get which confuses me. A lot of people think I am attention-seeking but it’s purely for the fact I struggled to learn the content and struggled to explain what I know which leads me to believe I’ve done very badly.
Anyways, I still can’t believe it – who would have thought doing a post-grad later on in life would uncover so many new discoveries? Better late than never they say! I feel very excited about this news that I have told EVERYONE I know and been shouting it from the roof tops haha.
I know I say this every time over and over again but I want to give another big shout-out to all the readers. Thank you so much for sticking with me through this entire rollercoaster of a journey. I have learnt so much about Computer Science, about myself, how to manage my time and most of all how to manage my emotions – this blog and your support have been one of the best things that have kept me going!
I also want to say thank you to those who have reached out to say hi and to the many asking for advice etc – I am planning on writing a few short courses specifically for career changers who have no technical background to write banging academic reports, also how to build a portfolio and work on your CV to change your careers! Let me know if you’d be interested or if there are any other things you’d like to know about and I will see what I can do. When I graduate I’ll have so much free time and I’d love to dedicate this time to helping you change careers (because tech is the best!)
Love you all,