Dissertation Diaries | Penultimate Entry + Where have I been?

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So where have I been? I finally submitted my thesis for August 23rd and now just have my VIVA left on the 20th of September which is a presentation about my research.  Therefore, I made this the penultimate post because I haven't quite finished yet and still have more to discuss in the future.  On top of this, I am gearing up for Medical School which is a brand new and exciting chapter that I never thought I would write in my lifetime.  There is a lot of admin work that goes into moving that stretches beyond packing up boxes and cleaning: I've had to find a new flat which proved stressful, fill out an excessive amount of forms for which I had the wrong date on one, and I have been bombarded by impromptu viewings of the flat on a daily basis.  Hence, ever since I got my offer, it has been quite tough for me to find time and motivation to blog as I was lacking in ideas.  My self-care habits went out the window which explains the lack in the Insanity Week 3 review I was scheduled to post.  I will be restarting insanity, and slowly get back into makeup, beauty, and fashion which will help source inspiration for blogposts.  As my schedule is not too overwhelming once I start school again, it is possible for me to post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday as I had originally anticipated and planned.  For now, let's talk about my dissertation submission.

Previously, I mentioned that I wouldn't be able to include covariates into my ARiMA model due to complexity.  However, in the end, we managed to do just that to see the impact of population size, crude birth rate, and crude death rate on vaccination coverage to help improve forecasting.  This  highlights important it is to not only complete work to the best of your ability, but also express interest in the topic to your supervisor.  If I hadn't continuously expressed my desire to progress my understanding of forecasting by using coefficients, my supervisors would not have guided me to do so.  Hence, look at your supervisors as a teammate.  Everyone wants this project to succeed as much as yourself.  

In addition, having a specific research question will increase the likelihood of it filling a niche in the evidence-base.  There is nearly no published papers that discuss the affect of crude birth rate, crude death rate, and net population increase on vaccination coverage rates and forecasting accuracy.  Furthermore, there are five high risk countries: Pakistan, India, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and DR Congo.  Instead of analysing every single low and middle income country, we narrowed the focus down to these five which require high levels of attention and analysis of policy to implement appropriate changes.  I hesitated at first since there were so many other countries I wanted to explore in dept, but there is not a sufficient amount of research available that discusses policy impact and covariates that affect vaccination coverage of the PINE and DRC countries.  In foresight, it can further increase likelihood of publishing which is a huge benefit. 

Third, always get someone to read through your thesis.  More often than not, your supervisors cannot read the entire paper and only offer guidance.  Getting a third-party individual who is not an expert in the field will help prove that you explained information for the lay-man to understand.  To add, our eyes tend to get tired and use to our own work so many grammatical mistakes fly over our head.  This helps ensure the work we produce reads well.  

Finally, never underestimate the power of qualitative research.  There is some stigma around qualitative research as it is a lot more subjective than hard statistics.  Nevertheless, a huge portion of my thesis involves suggesting policies or interventions that can improve vaccination coverage.  This is filling the gap in research of these high risk countries.  Dissertations can feel a lot like a summary of existing information and producing statistics that simply further confirm correlations and causations already published or discussed.  

Though this is the case to a huge extent, I believe that it is equally as vital to suggest and infer new ideas and explanations to aid any potential future work in the field.   Your research should provide a base to build existing theories or ideas on top.  Do not be afraid to offer your own opinion if the evidence leads you in that direction! 



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