My name is Mercy Wheeler, and I am a senior in the Communication department. My OSCAR project is a survey study that seeks connections and potential correlations between satisfaction in long distance relationships and computer mediated communication channel choice. Computer mediated communication channels are any and all methods of communication that are mediated via a computer, such as instant messaging, Skyping and audio calls; and many long distance relationships rely solely on these methods to communicate. While this may sound somewhat complicated, the reason that I chose the topic is rooted in personal experience. The picture is of myself and my partner, and we’ve been long distance for the entire duration of the relationship. When I began studying interpersonal relationships in my communication courses, I was curious to see if there had been studies done on relationships like mine. To my surprise and sadness, there was and still is an incredible lack of credible research done on long distance relationships. When I was given the opportunity to create my own study, I immediately chose this subject because of the need for research and my own personal experience in the subject.
Over the course of this research project, I’ve learned how to create an effective and ethical survey that has both validity and reliability. This is a skill that I’ve learned to be a relative rarity and incredibly helpful in my internships and current positions when my employers want feedback from their customers, and I expect it to continue to be a helpful skill in the future. I’m hoping that the data collected will be helpful for future studies in long distance relationships as well.
On a weekly basis, my time is dedicated to refining my literature review, working on survey questions and ensuring the validity of the questions asked, and in the coming weeks most of my time will be dedicated to analyzing and verifying my collected data.
One important thing that I learned over the course of this term is that part of research is uncertainty. Even though I’m incredibly invested in my study because of the academic value and the personal nature of the topic, I am still very uncertain about what kinds of responses I’ll have and if any of it will be interesting or surprising. Despite this, I have learned to accept what I cannot control and take my data as it comes, without the expectation that I’ll find anything groundbreaking at first glance. Flexibility and forgoing expectations about results will ultimately make my research less biased and more objective.