Lisa Wehr's Public Health Blog

Lisa is originally from Sigourney, Iowa. She attended Iowa State University and received her bachelor’s degree in Music in 2010. She is currently a first year Master’s of Public Health (MPH) student in community and behavioral health (CBH). Lisa works on the medicine-psychiatry unit at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC). Through this blog Lisa hopes to let people learn about the CBH department.

This student blog is unedited and does not necessarily reflect the views of the College of Public Health or the University of Iowa.

23 February 2011

Today I Woke Up...

...with a dog on my head.
Okay, that has nothing to do with the rest of this post, but it was a strange way to wake up.

Actually I wanted to write about writing papers. Yay! (I just finished my first paper of the semester this morning)

I believe a couple weeks ago I wrote a post about how I was graded in classes. In case you didn't notice, papers are highly prominent. Particularly long, involved, research papers. Or a series of smaller papers that all add up into one long, involved, research paper. Key words there: long, involved, research. Meaning I can't just sit down a couple days before the due date a whip something out.

So how do I start? And how do I keep from getting buried in the work?
Tiny steps. I always start work on the paper on the day it's assigned. This doesn't mean I start research and writing on the first day of classes (blasphemy!). It typically involves something benign like narrowing down and/or choosing a topic. I am terrible at choosing topics; probably because I am terrible at making decisions. So starting early gives me plenty of time to suck it up and decide. I don't really have a system for topic decisions. I usually look at the professor's directions ("a health related behavior?"....there's a lot of those) and think about what I am interested in researching. I write down those areas. For example:

  • Mental Health
  • Rural Health
  • Primary Care
Then I go through and brainstorm topics within those larger areas that fit the required paper topic:

  • Sleep and mental health
  • Nutrition and mental health
  • Exercise and mental health
  • Mental health in rural areas (two areas of interest!!)
  • Preventing eating disorder relapse
  • Nutrition
As you can see, some are narrower than others, some have a specific health-related behavior, others will take some more brainstorming. Eventually I force myself to choose one from the list. Sometimes I'm smart and think to look at the available literature before getting myself too deep and finding out that no one has really studied the topic. For this paper I chose eating disorder relapse prevention. A couple reasons preventing relapse narrows my target population, it has more defined behaviors (as opposed to primary prevention of eating disorders), and I'm interested in it.

Then comes the research....

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