The Obstacles in Data Collection

This summer, I have found that collecting data from as many participants as you can is important, because you may begin a participant’s session only to realize at the end that their data is useless due to a circumstance beyond your control.

In one of my lab sessions, when the participant was a few minutes into one of the computer tasks I use, a campus-wide power outage caused the room lights to flicker and the participant’s computer to shut down in the middle of the task. Despite experiencing some stress in the moment, I knew that the best way to continue would be to continue gathering as much data as possible from the participant during their session, and conclude if their data would be useful to consider in my results after I had completely finished running the experiment. So, when everything was back up and running again, I had the participant restart the program and continue with the study from there.

Perhaps even more unfortunate was a couple weeks later, when I found that the lab server as a whole was down due to IT performing migration of all of its files. I had to reschedule two participants when I realized that none of my programs would run properly.

While these experiences were definitely inconvenient, I know that I will likely run into more situations in which I collect data which I may not be able to use. Therefore, I hope to run as many participants as I can in the next few months, as to have a full sample from which to draw generalizable conclusions.