Using research to advance knowledge of human computer interaction
Human Computer Interaction graduate Christina Keating talks about how her master's degree prepared her for her PhD research.
There is constantly new information out there waiting to be found and incorporated into your research.
I am a PhD student, following the completion of my MSc Human Computer Interaction here at Bath.
When I was completing my master’s, I was approached by the PhD recruitment team. They said that I had a strong CV and they highly encouraged me to apply. After speaking to some current PhD students and potential supervisors to get some advice, I decided to submit an application.
As part of my PhD research, I perform literature reviews, identify gaps in research and perform studies in order to increase the knowledge base in the field of Human Computer Interaction.
Research, teaching and managing time
My day involves serious time management skills. My most typical day will be split into searching for peer-reviewed work that may inform my own research, working on writing my thesis, setting up and running studies and performing analysis of experiments that have already been completed. This work draws on all of the skills I gained when I did my undergraduate and master’s degrees.
On other days, I might spend several hours tutoring seminars. It’s quite fun to be on the other side of teaching, in particular for subjects that I’ve taken in the past. I’ve found myself imparting that knowledge rather than being on the receiving end. It really makes you think about the teaching styles you liked and disliked, and try to tailor your seminars based on this.
Continuing to learn
The most enjoyable part of being a researcher is that you keep learning. Although you bring your skills with you, there is constantly new information out there waiting to be found and incorporated into your research.
You also have the ability to define your own working hours. If you prefer to work on the weekends and take Wednesdays and Thursdays off, then you can!
The most challenging part of being a PhD researcher is the constant feeling that you ‘should’ be doing more. It’s very difficult to disconnect and switch off. There isn’t really a measure of ‘if you do this amount of work, it's good enough’, so you find yourself having to set your own limits.
My plans for the future
I would ideally like to start working in User Experience roles, in particular in start-ups and companies with an active focus on experience, or those who try to make an impact on society. I could definitely see myself starting a company in this field in five to ten years' time.
My advice to you
A master’s degree can be a really good springboard into a variety of careers, in particular if you graduate from a place like Bath.
If you have chosen to do a master’s degree here, remember that you are doing this for your own learning so really take advantage of that opportunity. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
On top of going to lectures and doing the work, start conversations with academics in your department to find out what they're doing and see if anything interests you. This is in particular useful as it helps you prepare for your dissertation.
Additionally, there are a lot of activities to do at Bath. Have a look around and see if anything interests you. Take extra language classes. Join one of the societies or sports teams. Really take advantage of the year you'll have here.