I have recently been confronted with the idea of reflexivity within our research practices and I welcome it completely, thinking about the way in which we influence our own research piques my curiosity. Combining research with reflexivity is a concept that I feel should be a far more established practice than it is today, particularly in the world of media research.
Researching reflexively allows us to further understand and as a result, change the world we live in, exploring ethical and relational accountability as we do so. I have chosen a topic that I have a connection to and wish to delve deeper into, therefore instead of being an objective researcher I will be taking on this research project as an invested stakeholder.
My proposed project seeks to explore whether there are enough services on the UOW campus that have the right skills and information to tackle concerns regarding mental health and whether or not these services are being utilised by students. I will be using secondhand sources to research what sorts of services are required to best assist students faced with mental health concerns and what kinds of mental health concerns students are predominantly faced with in university. In conjunction with that I will conduct first-hand research such as questionnaires, interviews and surveys to gather an understanding of the ways in which these services may improved and how we can encourage students to welcome the idea of help.
Letting go of the idea that my research should revolve around objectivity has motivated me to embark on task ahead. I have a vested interest in the topic as I have previously studied psychology, had a family history of mental illness and myself struggled with the pressures that come with studying, as most students would. I have also recently completed a 9,000 word body of work in the form of a mini-publication, consisting of a series of in depth profiles on individuals that each have an alternating yet unifying view on the effects of stereotyping on the course of an eating disorder. This study allowed me to challenge the traditional idea of mental illness, who suffers from it and why.
Reflexively, this project will connect curiosity to learning and development for me. I hope it can help shape the attitudes around seeking help, improve the services provided by UOW and make both students and the general public aware of the pressures that studying can bring. When contemplating what relational responsibilities I have as a researcher, I feel it will be vital to reconnect with those involved in providing first-hand research and give them the opportunity to view the final project and the information and awareness that they have helped to provide.