Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Getting PhDing back on track!

I'm planning on posting some fairly regular work updates. I will paint you a picture of what I've been up to over the last few months.

When I got back from fieldwork in November I had two options:

(i) either write up my analyses from the first year as a manuscript and have Chapter 2 of my thesis fairly completed  (which would be sooo great!),
(ii) or start a new bunch of analyses for Chapter 3 (exciting, but lots of work too).

I decided to carry out a quick preliminary analysis for Chapter 3, before writing up the early work. I wanted to do just enough to inform the write up - and then focus on the manuscript before diving fully into the new set of analyses.

I did the analysis and got a result that made little sense. It baffled me. I got in touch with my PI - the results baffled her too. We spent the next few days digging through the data... We found some errors. Those issues needed to be fixed before any more analyses could be carried out - so Chapter 3 needed to wait. They needed to be ironed out so that I can be sure that the results from analyses for Chapter 2 are trustworthy enough to be published.

I have spent November, December and January troubleshooting and checking the dataset issues. In January I have also started learning Bayesian stats and the MCMCglmm package, which I will use to carry out my inbreeding depression and survival analyses for Chapter 3. I am slowly getting to the point where I can start doing analyses again, although some troubleshooting and model comparisons to test robustness are still necessary.

I'm also sorting out my schedule, as the old one went down the drain when I dropped everything to focus on troubleshooting. I need a new timeline for the PhD to accommodate the few months of troubleshooting and the time needed to re-do models for Chapter 2.

So there you have it - for the time being you can expect to hear about R, stats, MCMCglmm, data issues, scheduling, timelines, as well as restoring balance and getting back on track with reading and writing. I am also looking for a field assistant for the next field season and hoping to acquire data for two further chapters of my thesis. Oh, and I am sorting out a placement so that I can do some more public engagement + I'm putting some materials together for a science festival.

Getting PhDing back on track!

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