As 2019 gets in to full swing, it’s time to get my head down back to my studies and focus on my final placement. But today, I would like to talk to you about my postgraduate research as part of my MSc Occupational Therapy programme. Spoiler alert, it’s something to do with Harry Potter!
Let me start from the beginning, as you may still be in shock about my research project in Harry Potter. In my first year, we were given a list of research areas that we could choose from, and the one that caught my attention the most was called the ‘An Occupational Perspective of Fandom’.
Truth be told, I have never heard of fandom before. But somehow, my intuition and curiosity have encouraged me to find out more about it. I quickly learned that when a group of people that have a mutual interest, such as in music, media, sports or a hobby, that is known as fandom. There are a lot of academic studies on this topic, but mostly are from a cultural, media or psychology prospective - none of them are from an occupational science perspective. After a quick chat with the research supervisor, I made my mind up to take the fandom topic on as my research project.
I began to learn about the different research philosophies, theories and methods, so I could decide how I would conduct the research and put a proposal together. At the time, it was all very overwhelming and once again, I doubted whether I was good enough for this challenge. Thankfully, with a team of very supportive academics and the patience that my research supervisor has shown me, I held onto the belief that it will all make sense to me in the end.
Since fandom occurs everywhere, I needed to narrow down to a specific fandom group so it fit with my tight time-scale. I began to talk about this with a few of my trusted friends, and I realised that not only do I have to pick a group that has a huge fan base, it needs be something that I am interested in as well. One evening, I put the television on, and the penny suddenly dropped when I heard a big bearded man on screen say ‘you’re a wizard, Harry!’
There! Right there! The fandom group for my research project was identified. I wanted to understand people’s experience as a Harry Potter fan and what it means to them from an occupational science perspective. Occupational science often speaks about the importance of ‘participation’, ‘sense of belonging’, ‘community’ and many other aspects makes a human whole when engaging with a meaningful occupation. I want to use this research to explore the personal experience of being a Harry Potter fan and its potential as a meaningful occupation. Every time I tell people what my research project is, I can feel the passion and the enthusiasm in the conversation.
If you are thinking about doing a research project, I have the following tips for you. Find something that you are passionate about, then talk to the industry expert and have a read around to see if there are any gaps or needs for your research focus. If you are not sure yet, then keep an open mind and start questioning why thing happen the way they do - is there any evidence out there that backs this? Does this particular area need a review because of the recent development? Be curious about everything, just like Isaac Newton was - he was inspired to formulate the theory of gravity by questioning why the apple fell from the tree!
Although the journey from this point to the submission date is going to be challenging, I am confident that I can overcome the barriers and learn from what I am about to discover. I still remember what my research supervisor once told me: ‘What you are experiencing [the setback] at the moment, is the evolution of a researcher.’ Looking back, I have no idea how I made it this far. But with the support that I have at the University, I know I will make it to the end.