Posted in Psych Bites, Psychology

Psych Bites: Tuskegee Syphilis Study

In 1895, Booker T. Washington outlined his dream for economic development for the ethnic minority community. Over the subsequent years, this led to funding into the development of schools, factories, businesses and agriculture. Around the late 1920’s, there was a severe problem with Syphilis. In 1929, the disease was treated with mercury and bismuth and only had a cure rate of 30%.

This led to the funding of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study bu the US Public Health Service. The purpose of this study was to record the progression of syphilis in the hopes of justifying treatment programmes for African-Americans. The official name of the study was “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male”.

At the beginning of the study in 1932, 600 black men were involved; 399 of these already had syphilis and 201 did not. Participants were told that they would be treated for “bad blood”, a local term used to describe several ailments such as syphilis, anaemia and fatigue.

Participants did not actually receive proper treatment for their condition. In exchange for taking part in the study, the men received free medical exams, free meals and burial insurance. The study was originally supposed to last 6 months but went on for 40 years.

In 1936, the study published a major paper on the health effects of untreated Syphilis. The study was criticised as it was not known if the men were being treated, this led to the involvement of local physicians who were told by the researchers not to treat men. Decision was made to follow the men until death.

In 1945, penicillin was found to be a successful treatment for syphilis. However, the participants of this study were left untreated despite “Rapid Treatment Centers” being established for the treatment of syphilis. It wasn’t until 1972 that the study ended.

Following the termination of the experiment, the surviving participants were given treatment for the disease. By the end of this study 28 people had died from the disease, 100 had died from related diseases and 40 spouses and 19 children had also been infected as a result of this research.

In 1974, a $10 million settlement was reached as well as lifetime medical benefits and burial services to all living participants. The Tuskegee Health Benefit Program was established to provide these services. A year later wives, widows and offspring were added to the programme.

In 1997, President Clinton issued a public apology on behalf of the nation. The final participant of the research passed away in 2004.

This research is an important marker in ethical procedures as it is a perfect illustration of why we need to have ethical principles for research in order to stop things like this occurring. As it is such an important piece of research I wanted to have this included in my psych bites feature on my blog, what are your thoughts on this?

Posted in Education Help and Advice, Life as a Research Student, PhD Journey

Top 5 Books that saved me on my PhD

I love reading and I always have. So, when I started my PhD first thing I asked about was “what books do I need to read?” And whilst I was met with a lot of people who didn’t use that many books on their PhD, I did manage to find some books myself which I think were really useful to me and could be used across a wide range of disciplines.

Discovering Statistics Using SPSS by Andy Field

I will never stop recommending this book. Not only does it help with SPSS (he has one for R too) but it helps with understanding the statistics behind it, knowing what test to use and why you’re using it. I’m one of those people that if I don’t understand why I’m doing it then I just can’t understand it at all! This book is good right from the basics up till the more advanced. I myself bought it in my first year of my undergraduate and have used it since!

PhD: An Uncommon Guide to Research, Writing and PhD Life by James Hayton

When I first started my PhD I actually got this book for Christmas, it’s only short but it really helps you to get started, understand what you should expect from your PhD and how you should plan your time. I have actually met the author as well (he did a talk at my university) and he was super nice and really helpful! He also has a YouTube channel where he discusses about doing a PhD so I’d also recommend checking that out.

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association

As I have written about before, publishing is an incredibly daunting experience on your PhD and I am still trying to figure it out and learn from it. This book has been really helping me, although written by the American Psychological Association it can go way beyond the psychology discipline and a lot of journals do actually recommend you read it if you are thinking of submitting a journal to them.

Doing a Literature Review by Chris Hart

I honestly think the majority of my books are from sage publications, and this is no exception, as it’s part of the sage study skills. This is a must have book for every scholar, it really helps with writing a literature review and puts it very simply. This is especially useful for those who struggle with organising themselves or understanding the best way to tackle a literature review. It’s a super useful book and really helped me to be more efficient with my literature review writing.

Qualitative Research Methods by Monique Hennink

Clearly my love for publications by sage continues! I really wanted to find a book to help me to get to grips with qualitative research. I myself prefer the quantitative methods but this book has completely helped me to understand the processes around qualitative research and analysis. It’s really easy to understand and very useful for anyone undertaking qualitative research.

Posted in Life as a Research Student, PhD Journey

Going into the Final Year of my PhD – Planning and Writing my Thesis

As of this month July 2018, the 13th to be exact, I will officially be in the final year of my PhD. I had a meeting last week with my supervisor to set some dates to work towards and we settled upon May 2019 when we fill in all the forms to say i intend to submit my thesis soon and have it submitted in June. Meaning the end of August/beginning of September 2019 should be when I have my viva… which is terrifying!

Using Hugh Kearns completion planner, I set up when I want to have each chapter completed by (so I know if I am on track) and I used the huge poster printer in the library, printed it off and stuck it above my computers in my home office! I would recommend doing this because you can see it every single day and understand if you are on track.

I recently went to a workshop called “planning your final year” run by Dr Nathan Ryder and he really helped me to understand and break down my final year into small manageable tasks.

It seems impossible knowing you have to write 80,000 words (or whatever your word limit may be) and setting yourself a task of “write chapter one” is so huge and so complex that it is better to set yourself smaller goals such as “write notes on a paper” or “write 1,000 words for chapter one”. If you want to write a chapter a month, think about how many words that might be and break it down into how many words you have to write a week, if you want even smaller goals how many would that be a day?

When I first started looking into writing, I had no idea what a thesis was supposed to be like. What really helped me was looking at a successful PhD from a past student! Luckily, there was someone who helped me start in my PhD who was about two years ahead of me so I looked at her thesis – how many chapters were there, what were the chapters, what did the chapters contain, how did she lay them out? This helps you to get started on your own thesis and get an idea of how many chapters yours is going to contain!

My next thoughts for the final year, and a sort of impending doom, is trying to get a job to line up with the end of my PhD. I’ve already started to look at post-docs (as my plan is to do RA or post-doc work and then go into lecturing) and seeing how long between the adverts going up and the start date.

My last payment from my PhD is July 2019. So I have been advised to start looking around Christmas 2018, and applying around April. It’s going to be a stressful time for me as I live alone so I can’t afford to have a gap (I have bills to pay!) but I have been assured there are always options to make sure there is no gap.

Although the thought of my viva is scaring me, I know that once I have finished writing this thesis, once all the data and the methodology has come together, it will feel a bit better.

Good luck to anyone else out there who is doing a PhD and to anyone about to go into their final year too, we can do this!