The Scientific Process

One of the things you quickly learn about doing your own research is that the very beginning, before you get going on any data collection, is very slow going. Even what seems to be a small, insignificant detail can easily be questioned and you then have to think about how you can make it better or how you can make it consistent throughout every experiment. My lab notebook is quickly filling up with thoughts my professor, my research peer and myself have considered to make the research that we are doing easily publishable.

We have been thinking about the flow dynamics of the flow tank as a whole and how, with the faster flow speed we are using, we can eliminate as much turbulence as possible around the mouth of the fish. We have developed more advanced methods of cutting the fish and using more lights to get the best view inside the mouth so we can see more easily what is happening on/around the rakers. We have also thought very carefully about ways in which to standardize the position of the fish in the flow tank so we can eliminate that as a factor that may effect variation in our data.

Other than scrutinizing our own experimental design we have been conducting pilot studies on a practice fish. Many of these studies have been in relation to the other project in Dr. Sanderson’s lab, but because we are using the same fish it has been very interesting to sit down with Cassie, my research peer, and talk to her about how our research projects relate and even how one can help explain the other. It has, and will continue to, help me have a fuller understanding of my own research project which will be incredibly helpful when it comes to writing up my Honors Thesis as well as explaining my research to anyone without the background knowledge of filter-feeding fish.


  1. djspeer says:

    Interesting! Even though it is annoying to get caught by these preliminary roadblocks, it is great to hear you optimize your research as well as question your scientific process to fully understand how your project works. It is what becoming a scientist is all about! I wish you luck as your pilot studies begin!

  2. Hi! After reading you blog post about the struggles of early-stage research, I wanted to post a comment to your page, as I’m sure we are all sharing a similar struggle. At the beginning of a project, ideas are flowing rapidly and every time e piece of new information becomes available, or you arrive at a new conclusion or achieve some sort of new insight, the entire direction of your project seems to change. Though your thesis appears more scientific and experimentally based than mine (I am writing an honors thesis on the poet William Carlos Williams for the English Department), I face similar challenges as I come across new and topic-shifting ideas while I read criticism and articles on my topic.
    I enjoyed reading about your means of coping with the slow-going stages of early research, particularly your collaboration with your professor and research peer. I think that your flexibility and openness to assessing your experimental design and your ability to work with others is great advice for your fellow honors-thesis students, including me-to take very seriously. Good luck with the rest of your project!

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