Learning about Research through Podcasts

Picture by @neilgodding

Research methods: There is so much to love about them, for example that they can guide you in a systematic way to find an answer to your research question. As a master student, it can however be pretty frustrating. For example, when your lecturer asks you to come up with a research design for a problem you just started to think about, including the selection of appropriate methods, which you maybe just have learned about the other week in a lecture.

Research approaches and methods are often presented in a quite abstract or brief way, especially when you read articles published in conference proceedings, as the authors have to adhere to the page limitations. There are many excellent books on research methods, but maybe an even more fun way to learn about research studies, their design, the used methods and the findings is to listen to the researchers talking about it in podcasts.

Podcast: You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney

One of my favorite Podcasts is You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney. In his blog and podcast, he explores “self delusion” and the central theme of his podcast is “that you are unaware of how unaware you are”. In the very first episode, he talks about “attention” and interviews Daniel Simons, one of the researchers behind the Monkey Business Illusion, which you might have seen before. For me, it is super interesting to listen to the researchers explaining what happened behind the scenes, in other words how they set up their experiments or studies, their rationales behind it, and what they found. At the end of each podcast „there will be cookies“ and an read-out abstract from a related study.

The podcast is really great and I personally learned a lot about many phenomena. Take for example the backfire effect (episode 93-95), which is highly relevant also in relation to “fake news” and other issues we face today. I listened to all episodes by now and highly recommend to start with the first episode. By listening to them, not only will you learn specific aspects about certain phenomena, but also increase your general knowledge about research, research methods, the language researchers use to explain what they do (i.e., the specific terms used), how a research design might be set up, things to consider and so on.

Podcast: Everything Hertz by Dan Quintana and  James Heathers

I recently came across the Everything Hertz podcast which is described as “A podcast by scientists, for scientists. Methodology, scientific life, and bad language. Co-hosted by Dr. Dan Quintana and Dr. James Heathers”. I listened to episode 46, because here they interview Andy Field. Andy is the author of the “Discovering Statistics” textbook series and – no kidding – a science fiction novel on statistics. The latter is on my pile of books that are yet to read for far too long:

As Andy Field says in the podcast, everyone has to find the resources that speaks to them. So his books may not be for you; I personally like his writing style and used his books when preparing my lecture on research methods. So whatever you choose, as soon as you start reading research papers, books on research methods, or listening to podcasts talking about research, you might realize that there is a lot to think about before carrying out a study. In line with David McRaney’s theme: You don’t know, what you don’t know. So why not give it a try and start making use of those podcasts?

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November 2, 2017 | | Christiane Grünloh