‘Things are swell’, I think to myself,

Joe Pearson, Psychology, Lancaster University (2019 Cohort)

‘Things are swell’, I think to myself, ‘I’m going into the final year of my PhD, I’ve a paper submitted for publication, and I’ve presented work at a couple of conferences. I’ve even tackled an entire set of cross-sectional analyses with what feels like dignity and all I have to do now is extend that longitudinally.’

Things were not swell.

Do you have any idea how complex time can make statistical analyses? Well, good for you because I didn’t. My work involves developing a framework of interrelated variables to try and help improve our understanding of how experiences of criminal victimisation impact quality of life in older adults. So far, I’ve used structural equation modelling to do just that, albeit in a single wave of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Regardless of whether I knew how complex longitudinal analyses can be, or whether I now know that I should have known how complex longitudinal analyses can be, what I did know was that I needed a comprehensive online course that would give me the confidence to do the work and know I was doing it well.

That course came in the form of Longitudinal Structural Equation Modeling by Curran-Bauer Analytics. This 5-day online course featured hours of lecture material covering basic matrix algebra, the importance of longitudinal data and research, and various types of longitudinal data analysis. Dan, Patrick, and Ethan (I’m on a first name basis, I KNOW) keep things light to offset the heavy nature of much of the material, and software demonstrations in R, Stata, and M-Plus are delivered at the end of each day of learning. I’m not sponsored by Curran-Bauer Analytics – although I do have the name tattooed on my back – but I’m sure we can all agree that some teachers and some courses, or the molding they do on your mind, stick with you. This has been my mind-molder. Yet, the course came with a hefty price-tag.

It’s a strange thing being a PhD student. No thesis is quite like yours, and because of that it can be terribly easy to try and get through the three years entirely on your own. This mindset, perhaps enhanced by all the social distancing we’ve been doing, meant I had no idea that the price-tag of an expensive online course wasn’t just another thing I would have to deal with on my own. Do not fear, though, for all NWSSDTP students have access to a Research Training Support Grant (RTSG). The RTSG can be used to cover research related expenses, including conference attendance and the purchase of books and key resources. The claims process is incredibly simple, and one need only include any receipts for the associated training or resources.

I suppose what I want you, dear reader, to understand is that if there is some training that you feel is vital to your research or, most importantly, to increasing your confidence in your ability to carry-out your research, then use the RTSG. It, alongside the NWSSDTP, is there to help you; it is there to make you a better researcher; and you decide what will make you a better researcher.

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