Digital research practices: the real user experience

PhD profiles: Sophia Tetteh

‘One of the most challenging things about research is sifting through an enormous amount of information that is out there that might be relevant to my proposed research.’

With so many resources readily available online, how does the researcher source accurate information that is relevant to them? In this changing digital climate, Taylor & Francis and Loughborough University are working on a user experience project, to better understand how it can be enhanced. Findings from the project will be published and shared with the scholarly community.

Ten PhD researchers have been asked to keep a diary recording their online activities for eight months. Throughout the project, researchers will be asked to share their online research journeys, their aspirations for what they hope to achieve by taking part in the project, and they will be asked to offer some sage advice to new researchers. Our PhD profile series continues with Sophia Tetteh.

Got a view on managing research online? Wherever you are in your research journey, join the Twitter discussion to share your experiences and hear about others (#Rd2research).

Sophia TettehHi Sophia, what’s your research discipline and topic?
Design – new approaches to maxillofacial prostheses in the developing countries (N.B. The title is tentative; I might change it as my research goes on).

What is the main focus of your research?
To come up with novel materials that can be used in the construction and fabrication of the prostheses for developing countries, as well as determine design variables necessary for maxillofacial prostheses construction and fabrication in these areas.

What was your route to becoming a researcher?
Prior to becoming a researcher, I worked in the biomedical engineering industry as an engineer with a focus on spinal implants in the USA, as well as in academia lecturing to undergraduate biomedical engineering students in Ghana.

What do you hope to achieve with your research?
I hope to provide knowledge of the design of medical products for limited resource areas using modern manufacturing practices. And, most importantly, improve the lives of people with maxillofacial defects/deficiencies.

What do you hope to do next after completing this research?
I want to teach and train the next generation of young people in solving medical problems using advanced technologies (with a focus on prostheses).

Why did you want to be involved in this project?
Being in my first year, a greater portion of my research work involves identifying the gaps in the literature on which my activities will be built. Participating in this project means I get personalised help with finding information, as well as the opportunity to be a mouthpiece on the potential hurdles research students face.

What do you hope to learn from taking part?
I hope to gain in-depth knowledge of my own skills in utilising the resources libraries provides for me. Plus, learn of new approaches that will make my work as a researcher easier.

What are the three most useful online tools or websites you use for your research?
The most useful tools I have found are databases such as Medline, ScienceDirect and Scopus.

What do you find most challenging about research?
Probably sifting through the enormous amount of information that is out that might be relevant to my proposed research.

What one thing would improve your life as a researcher?
Hmmm, probably knowing exactly where the information I am searching for is.

What advice would you give to someone about to embark on a research project or career?
Make sure you are passionate about the research you are embarking on, and not doing so just because it’s the next thing to do. Once the passion and determination is present, it is easy to sail through the ups and down of the life of a researcher.

Find out more about Digital research practices: the real user experience and read Charlotte Jais’ Phd profile.