In the Name of Research

Last week I started collecting data for my project. This was unlike any data collection I have ever done before; no longer am I counting colonies on a plate or counting how many antibiotics my E. coli isolates are resistant to and PCR seems like a distant memory! In Science Communication research, it seems that observation is a standard data collection method and I never thought that intentionally watching people would ever be appropriate!

As I’ve discovered before, this course is very good at getting me into some cool places for free and my chosen destination for watching people happened to be the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at M Shed. Luckily, I’ve been to the exhibition before so I wasn’t tempted to spend all my time going around the incredible photos! They were slightly distracting but I kept myself disciplined and focused solely on the people at the exhibition during my observation sessions.

I started at 11am and the amazing staff were very helpful in putting up my signs and letting me in and out of the room between observation sessions. They even offered me a chair and to show me to the staff room!

As I started to walk around the exhibition, I immediately regretted my choice of footwear and winced at every loud step I took on the hard wooden floor. To keep myself out of the way, I tried to position myself in unobtrusive spaces like in the emergency exits and on the two benches in different points of the room.

I was surprised and quite pleased that no one seemed to notice me or care that I was there. This was one thing that I was worried about and despite being the only person with a clipboard, no one approached me and asked me what I was doing. I did get mistaken for staff by a disgruntled woman who didn’t want to pay to get into the exhibition but I dodged that by feigning ignorance. In a way making people pay to get in could be a barrier but £6 is a small fee when you realise that you get to browse the best wildlife photography in the world!

I wasn’t very nervous before I went and any uneasy feelings that I did have immediately slipped away in the calm environment. Without sounding creepy, I really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to observing people in the next phase of my project where I’ll be setting up a small exhibition of the finalists in my photography competition! Exciting stuff!

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