Mixed Methods: Maintaining your motivation

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In research, the term “mixed methods” (also known as “multimethodology”) refers to a scientific approach that combines qualitative and quantitative data. Basically, it means mixing and match the tools you’ve got until you find a combination that best suits whatever subject it is you’re trying to learn more about. It’s like mixing and matching your lenses until you’ve got the right set in your microscope to properly see what’s underneath it, essentially.

When you’re training for a marathon, the approach is similar- each person is different, and because of this each training process is going to look different; different shoes, different habits, different daily programs, different cross-training, different diets. It’s all different. But it’s about finding what works for you, and more importantly for your body type.

The other night while I was out on one of my runs, I realised how much this applies to each of us in postgraduate coursework. Because working on your dissertation is more of a mental marathon than a sprint, it’s so important to find a routine that works, a schedule that suits you so you can pack in all the work that needs to get done while maintaining personal well-being and balance. In academia, this is tricky, because there isn’t much room for self-care or proper mental health practices.

To keep things mixed up in our running, my running buddies and I have registered for additional, smaller races and we often change the scenery of our distance-runs (which happen once each week). This gives us smaller milestones to work towards and mixes things up enough to keep training fun and exciting. Besides, life is about the journey more than the destination, right?

So here’s my mixed-method tip: supplement your education with things that are relevant and interesting. Remind yourself why you were interested in this subject to begin with. Sometime’s its easy to fall in line with what the professors are focusing on and forget what your specific interests are, but ultimately this degree defines our careers so it’s important to maintain a balance between both. Drop in on new lectures. Sign up for supplemental workshops. Go see speakers who pique your interest.

Keep yourself inspired by mixing it up and the marathon isn’t such a challenge!

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