research thesis

|4 september 2017|

it’s finally back to school time for most of us and, at least for me, it’s also time to start good habits, crack down on the bad ones, and just begin to prepare for the year ahead. i’ve been in school for a couple of weeks now and, so far, i’m doing pretty good. below, i’ve compiled some simple tips that help me in day to day life that i would love to share. so let’s get cracking:

  1. prepare outfits and pack your backpack on sunday instead of in the morning. i know for a fact you have more time on sunday to prepare your outfits and pack your backpack than on monday morning so planning in advance will most definitely benefit you. instead of running around in circles trying to find that shirt, hang them up in the front of your closet or place them in the top of a drawer on sunday. and instead of throwing random pens in a bag, pack your backpack and put it in front of your door. it’ll save you time to do other things such as eating and washing your face.
  2. prepare and eat a breakfast. whether it’s some cherrios in a bag on the way to class or eggs and bacon cooked that morning, eating will definitely benefit you. you’ll have more focus in class and it’ll get your metabolism going. if it’s easier for you, think about preparing your food the night before and packing it in bags or tupperware.
  3. have a tray by the door to put small things in. oh, how many times have i forgotten my earbuds or keys. keep yourself organized and not calling your roommate to get an extra set of keys by just having a tray on which you can put smaller things you don’t put in your backpack. then, just grab them before you leave and voilà! you aren’t locked out.
  4. on sunday, do your meal preps, weekly spread, and clean your room and workspace. i am such a procrastinator during the weekends and there have been so many days that because of that, i am trudging through knee high messes in my room because i just won’t pick up. i also commonly forget to plan the week and prep my meals and then boom, it’s monday and i’m a mess. so don’t be a mess like me, do it all on sunday.
  5. have a letter tray to put class handouts and old assessments so you can put them in binders later. using a letter tray to collect handouts and assessments can be so beneficial to keeping your desk clean. and without it, i tend to throw out old graded assessments i could study instead of putting them in binders. keeping all those papers in one binder is super helpful, so put them in a binder and finals won’t be your doom.
  6. have a bedtime routine. having a bedtime routine can increase your productivity and sleep time because, one, it can help you stay organized and, two, it helps put you to sleep. the more your brain associates doing certain tasks with sleep, the faster you’ll be able to drift off. so be smart and enjoy an extra hour of sleep.
  7. have one journal for in class notes and one to retake and organize your notes at home. in class you do not have time to keep your thoughts organized. with tangents from your teachers and questionable notes, its best to just use a pencil, pen, and highlighter to make scratch notes in class and then come home and organize it into something that you can study from. this idea has kept me afloat time and time again.
  8. talk to your teachers. do yourself a favor, ask and answer questions in class and go to your teachers’ office hours if they have them. if you do this, your teachers are more likely to recognize you and will be more lenient with your grade (since it shows you’re engaged and involved). you don’t necessarily need to like the teacher, just pretend you care. smile and nod along as you ask about their lives, questions about the content, and for advice that you are never going to take. this is a pretty slytherin thing i’ve been doing for years and it has got me so many half points back, especially in math and science.
  9. use quizzes and tests to study for finals. as i stated earlier, it’s important to save your assessments to study, and that is especially true during finals. teachers commonly use similar questions on the final as unit tests and quizzes. think of how many more points you can score on that final if you just study your tests.
  10. make a study group. find friends and people in your classes that you would like to study with and meet up! they’ll definitely be able to help you understand topics and it’ll be more fun than holing yourself up in your room. also, explaining concepts to others will help you better understand them and answer those questions on your tests.
  11. make a weekly to-do list. some of you may already do this in your weekly spreads, but it’s important to make to-do lists of goals and tasks you need to complete. this isn’t necessarily studying and notes but things such as cleaning your room, watering your plants, or going grocery shopping. make lists, organize yourself, don’t be a mess like me.
  12. reward yourself for doing well. whether it’s talking to your teacher or scoring straight a’s, we all work hard. so why not treat yourself to a nice dinner or relaxing bath? have fun, relax, and don’t let yourself get too stressed. remember to unwind.
  13. sit up front in class. i know, i know, you don’t really want to, but think about it. if you’re up front, you are going to be 100% more engaged and paying more attention. and this will make your teacher remember you, which you now know the benefits of. you will also be able to see the board easier, get your questions answered, and hear what is going on.
  14. talk to the people around you in your classes. jeremy from physics sneezes on you and suddenly, you’ve got the flu and can’t make it to your lit lecture. what are you going to do? text that new friend you made from lit that sits next to in the lecture hall of course. simply talking to people on your first day can help you stay on top of class in case you miss or can help you study before the test. never doubt the benefits of knowing people.
  15. if there’s an opportunity for extra credit, take it. i don’t care how good you are in that class or how perfect your grades are, take the extra credit. those few extra points could be the ones that take you from a b to an a. just do it and don’t question it, you may need them. 
  16. outline all papers and presentations. you have a draft due for your class in a few hours and you open you computer and prepare to type. but where to begin? what are you writing? how do you want to phrase it? well, you could already know that if you had outlined it. take the time to research, write a thesis, and fully understand your prompt before you write. especially if this is a persuasive essay. do this as well for presentations and visual assignments so you say every fact and point you want to.
  17. keep your test dates by you at all times. no matter who you are, you need to know when tests are coming up. and, as someone who tends to leave things at home sometimes, i may not have my planner with those tests dates next to me when i need them. but what do i have? my phone. i use the app My Study Life to keep track of those dates. i explain that beautiful app in this post.
  18. have a ‘school survival kit.’ by now i think you’ve caught on to the fact i can be a bit forgetful. so i like to have a little bag with me that has things i may need that i could have forgotten. this includes a pen, pencil, highlighter, a few pads, some mints, pain medicine, allergy medicine, tissues, band-aids, hand sanitizer, tide-to-go (stain remover), and other such items. i may make a list of these items at another time.
  19. if you have a question, ask. i’ve already gone over the benefits of talking in class but it’s also extremely important to understand your content. it’s better to ask than not know, even if you think the question is dumb. there’s a good chance someone else has that exact question. it’s also better to look stupid than have that count against you during assessments.
  20. if your university, college, or high school has a writing center, use it. i work in a writing center and we are here to help. we do nothing so much of the time and you coming in makes our day. contrary to the popular opinion, we aren’t going to judge your writing or insult you (unless you ask for it). but we also aren’t going to correct your entire paper, we want to help you learn how to edit your papers and make sure you’re fitting the requirements. and this goes for all tutoring centers; if they’re an option, use them. 

Hello! I am a student doing my undergrad thesis on asexual people in the LGBTQ+ community and I need participants (ages 18-35) that are on the asexual spectrum, and that are out of the closet.

If you are interested in taking part in this research, you can email me (Zoe Rankin) at

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Try to get up early! I know a lot of people who like to sleep in, but I also know some who don’t feel productive if they don’t get up early. Getting up early (and not necessarily super early, maybe one or two hours later than you’d get up for school) on the weekend or on a day off gets you moving and ready to start your day. 

Do some sort of exercise early in the day. It doesn’t have to be intense or a lot, but get moving. It could be anything from an actual workout to just walking to a bookstore or coffeeshop to start your day.

Eat breakfast! If you don’t like getting up early, eating a really good breakfast can make your day. And if you do get up early, you’ll have enough time to actually make something.

Schedule your day. Don’t schedule it down to the last minute, but schedule the big things you need to get done. If you need an alert on your phone or computer to remind you, some good calendars I recommend are: Timepage, Google Calendar, Schoolhub Students(not necessarily a calendar but the best I’ve used for tracking assignments),  and Outlook Calendar(ok so Sunrise was THE BEST calendar app I have ever used but it was discontinued and kind of moved to Outlook).

Write down absolutely everything you need to accomplish. Do this first. It doesn’t matter how big or how small it is, just do it. It might be a pretty long list, and that’s ok. If you have bigger tasks, like writing a paper, break it down further into something like research, brainstorm, thesis, etc. You can further break those down too. The eventual goal is to break down the massive tasks into small, manageable things that you can handle so you don’t feel overwhelmed. 

Prioritize the things you need to do. What I generally tend to do is prioritize the assignments and tests that are coming up first, but if I have a bigger test after them, that can become an equal priority. So for example, if I have a worksheet due first period tomorrow, a quiz fourth period that same day, and a major test two days away, I would do the worksheet first, do about half my studying for the major test, study for the quiz, then finish my studying for the major test. 

Get started on something! Once you’ve got all your ducks in a row, get to work. If music helps you focus, listen to it, or if wearing a comfy sweater helps you destress, wear it. Find what works for you and use it to your advantage. 

Don’t forget to take breaks. Use something to help you time your breaks- I personally like to use forest, but one that I’ve tried and liked is flat tomato. Do something you like during your breaks- your brain needs time to process what you’ve been working on. 

Try to get all of your work done before evening- but if you don’t get it all done, it’s not the end of the world. Use this time for yourself, so watch a good movie, eat dinner, play an instrument, whatever makes you happy. This is your self-care time- you work hard and you deserve it!


Need 77 more surveys!


Thank you for taking the time to read and maybe participate! 

I’m currently trying to gain participants from different online groups for my thesis. You should be 18+ and preferably US resident. The study has IRB approval, shouldn’t cause you any distress or harm, and should only take about 20-25 minutes of your time. If you’d be willing to participate, you can email me at OR you can message me here on tumblr saying you’d like to participate!

I’ll send you the link to the survey afterward! You can even complete it on mobile devices. The study is a psychology study focusing on social processes. 

Please read the informed consent section first, and if you agree to participate make sure to click “Next”. Make sure to clearly read all text and answer all questions without skipping or changing previous answers. Remember that all responses will remain anonymous.

I really appreciate your time in this, as without you guys I’d have no data to work with and that’d make for a boring thesis. If you have any questions regarding the survey or study, feel free to email or message me.

Thank you,

Lately I have been reading a lot of articles for my master thesis project. I don’t know about you, but after a week of literature review I am not able to remember what each of the articles were about or if they had any relevant piece of information. That’s why I developed my “keep track of what you read” system. 

STEP 1 - organize your folders

Create a subfolder inside your project folder and give it a catchy name. I call mine “articles”, nice, huh? Then create a subfolder inside that folder and call it “to_read”. Now, every time you get a new article, you will put it into the “to_read” folder.

STEP 2 - give your PDFs a nice name

The default file name when you download an article is something ugly like “1-s2.0-S0140674607612379-main.pdf”. Change this for something that will allow you identify the article easily. I try to stick to the system “first_author (year)”.

STEP 3 - use the cloud

I have all my stuff stored in Dropbox or Google Drive. It’s the best if you are going to work from more than one device as it will keep your stuff synced and always accesible.

STEP 4 - create a reading log

My master thesis project is about auditory verbal hallucinations, language, and dynamic causal modelling, so I have to read articles about these three topics. To keep track of what I’m reading, I created an excel document in Google Drive with 3 different spread sheets, one for each of the topics. Now, every time I start reading an article, I open this document, I go to the spread sheet that fits, and I write down its title. 

STEP 5 - read the article and take notes

I am a color coder, so I highlight the articles as I read them. Something interesting? Yellow. Hypotheses? Green. Relevant results? Blue. Then I take some notes of the important stuff, either in my research notebook or in a Word document, depends on my mood. Once you are done reading, move the article from the “to_read” subfolder to the main “articles” folder. At this step, you could also consider to use a reference manager like Mendeley or EndNote, but that’s a topic for another time.

STEP 6 - update the reading log

Now write in your log a couple of sentences (or more!) about the article you just read, just to jog your memory in the future. You can also copy some quotes you think will be usefull in the future or references to other articles cited in the text that you might want to check later. It’s up to you.

STEP 7 - hyperlink

If you have everything stored in the cloud, you can add hyperlinks from your reading log to the articles and/or to the notes you took on them. If you took notes on a paper notebook, write down which notebook it is and the page number where you can find those notes (numbering the pages of your notebook is a must!).

Now, remember that everybody works differently and this is only the system I use, but I strongly recommend keeping a reading log. I might seem like an overkill when you only have to read a couple of articles for class, but you’ll be gratefull for it when you have to use something you know you have read about… and you can’t remember where you read it.

Zoos Prevent Extinction

(And do other good work.)

This is an excerpt from an email from the American Zoo and Aquarium Association to its members. The AZA isn’t the only zoo accrediting body in North America, but it is the largest and arguably the most rigorous, requiring its members to participate in research, conservation, education, and sustainability efforts. Here’s a list of some of the 2016 accomplishments of the members:

Field Conservation:·         

AZA-accredited and certified related facilities spent approximately $216 million dollars last year on field conservation projects, breaking the $200 million dollar mark for the first time (217 facilities reporting).·         

Projects benefitted species in more than 127 countries, and projects most frequently occurred in the United States, Kenya, Indonesia, China, and Canada.·         

823 species and subspecies benefitted from conservation action, including 231 species listed as endangered or threated under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.  

Education Programming:·        

 AZA-accredited facilities engaged in more than 90 million audience-driven education opportunities, including visitor-initiated interactions like nature play spaces, interpreters at exhibits, discovery carts, and more (146 facilities reported). ·         

Over 21,500 education volunteers contributed 2 million hours of service at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums.  

Green Practices:·         

52 facilities generated renewable energy on-site or purchased it for their business operations (128 facilities reported).   ·         

Twenty facilities reported having certified wildlife habitat on-site, 16 facilities reported buildings that are LEED-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, and 10 were certified as “Dine Green” through the Green Restaurant Association.   


Approximately $26.8 million was spent on 1,249 research projects conducted in 55 countries around the world (180 facilities reporting). ·         

AZA members published 237 peer-reviewed papers, technical reports, book chapters, or graduate thesis.·         

Research most often focused on animal care, health, and welfare; and species and habitat conservation. (122 facilities reporting) With each year, more information is collected that demonstrates how the AZA community of accredited zoos and aquariums and certified related facilities provide unique venues for informal learning, set examples in sustainable business practices, make important contributions to science, and work toward securing the future for wildlife. 

People always ask me for mythology books and history books I can recommend for research and my first instinct is to go “Yes!” and reach behind me for a book case that isn’t there.

I will say, I never thought leaving all my books and research thesis work back home in Scotland would ever be an issue, and yet I find myself constantly annoyed/surprised that I’m so hindered by the loss of it.

I wonder how much it would cost to ship a couple of thousand books to the US…and a solid Scottish oak bookcase. My dad made it for me I can’t just get rid of it.