Confessions of a Research Blog Editor

I can’t keep secrets. I’m not referring to my friend’s hush-hushes or any information that may harm others in any shape or form. I am talking about lessons and experiences in life that are worth sharing with others. For example, when I made a mistake of choosing an overly complex research question for my dissertation, I decided to write an article to tell everyone about it, so that others won’t make the same mistake as I did. This habit of mine, I suspect, comes from having been immersing myself in the world of scientific research for almost a decade. You see, the very basis of a researcher’s job is to develop new knowledge that contributes towards human’s understanding of the world, and to share these new information with everyone.

It’s been a couple of months since I was last officially allowed to call myself a researcher. The only connection I have now with scientific research is my job as an Editor for the Journal of European Psychology Students Bulletin (JEPS Bulletin), which operates under the European Federation of Psychology Students’ Associations (EFPSA). I am glad to be part of JEPS Bulletin, as it has provided just the right place for me to satisfy my compulsive need for knowledge-sharing.  In fact, this is precisely what I am trying to achieve through this writing: to share with you what it is like to be a JEPS Bulletin Editor, and the biggest lesson I have learned from being one.

How does a day in a life of a JEPS Bulletin Editor look like?

To me, working in EFPSA is like online dating – my teammates and I exchanged emails for half a year before we met each other in person. In fact, a typical day in a life of a JEPS Bulletin Editor starts by checking my email inbox. Ivan Flis, my Editor-in-Chief, is my frequent inbox flooder. Today, I receive an email from him about a new contributor for JEPS Bulletin, who has submitted a draft article about the importance of qualitative research findings. It is a very interesting read, with only a few grammatical mistakes here and there. So far, JEPS Bulletin has only focused mainly on quantitative research, although indirectly. As I continue to read the draft, it suddenly struck me that JEPS Bulletin can benefit from more articles on various research methods in the field of psychology. How about having an article on the use of secondary data analysis methods in psychological research? Wait a second. Do readers know what primary and secondary data analyses are? What about the different types of secondary data analysis techniques, such as systematic review and meta-analysis? Maybe we can even have an article about how to make sense of a meta-analysis paper! I think to myself as my fingers continue to move at the highest speed on the keyboard, jotting down what feels like a pharaonic influx of new ideas for JEPS Bulletin. Now, all of a sudden, a completely different thought kicks in, so abruptly, that it stops me from what I am doing; who is going to write these articles?

I pause.

C’mon, head. Use your brain. Think. Think.

…HOLD on a second.

What did the PhD student who hit on my friend’s girlfriend’s friend the other day say he was doing for his thesis research again? A meta-analysis!

At once, I transform the ideas into the form of a mobile phone text message, and immediately send it to my friend’s way. Now, all I have to do is pray that his crush on my friend’s girlfriend’s friend is deep enough for him to want to write an article for JEPS Bulletin.

Back to the draft article, although it is very engaging, I still feel that the write-up can be improved by presenting more concrete arguments, backed up by reliable references.  Thus, I decide to write back to the author with the reviewed draft article as feedback, for him to make the necessary changes. While writing the email reply, I receive an incoming email from the Scientific Affairs Team, asking if anyone in the Bulletin Team is interested to do a technical review for a new JEPS manuscript. Well, why not? I can do it during my lunch breaks. I reply yes, finish up the reviewed draft article email reply, and send another email to my teammates to share my list of new article topics for JEPS Bulletin.

Done for the day, as a JEPS Bulletin Editor. Maybe I’ll tweet about some older JEPS Bulletin posts later, just to do a little promotion.

What is the big lesson?

For a researcher, what would perhaps be the best thing that can happen to one is the moment when the researcher makes a ground-breaking discovery in his or her research. What we do next is to inform everyone about the discovery, by presenting at international conferences and publishing the findings on high-impact journals. As researchers, we fantasize about such moments and dream of the day when we will be widely recognized for our contribution in our field of expertise. As a JEPS Bulletin Editor, I have edited articles of various topics related to scientific research, and also written a few myself. Each time I review a draft article, I discover new information that can be shared with my readers. By discovering new topics and also writing my own articles for the Bulletin, I found a place to develop and express my creativity. Through the review and feedback process of the draft article, I exchange knowledge with the writer and we learn something new from each other. When I publish the article on JEPS Bulletin, I know I have just helped another person enhance his or her work portfolio. Most importantly, I have just shared what the writer and I have learned from each other, with the rest of the world. The significance of my work may be negligible, but the excitement and sense of satisfaction I get from my job is no less than making a new research discovery.

The bottomline is, there are actually countless ways we can use and things we can do to contribute to the scientific world, and it doesn’t just have to be about making the headlines.

Acknowledgement: This article was inspired by an article written on the daily work schedule of a JEPS Bulletin Editor, as published on the April 2013 issue of the EFPSA Internal Newsletter. Special thanks to the EFPSA Office for permission to reuse the material on JEPS Bulletin.

Photo  credit: socialmediatoday

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Yee Row Liew is an Editor of the JEPS Bulletin, who has a wide research background and experience that ranges from plant genetics to psychology. She gained her MSc in Psychological Research Methods from Anglia Ruskin University, United Kingdom, and recently completed her work on one of the Green Deal trials as a research assistant at the Global Sustainability Institute. She hopes to gain further knowledge in the study of emotion, cognition, and motivation, in pursuit of her love for scientific research. 

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Yee Row Liew

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