Peter Yu, SIOP Blogger
Has this ever happened to you? You sit down at a computer, take a deep breath, and open a file that you know you will be unenjoyably and painstakingly working on for a while. This is how I originally felt about coding. For the unaware, coding involves reading a research article looking for numerous items of interest, such as the theoretical background, methods, results, and anything else you’re told to look for, all while keeping records of your findings in a separate file, like a spreadsheet. After finishing one article, you move on to another, whittling away at a seemingly endless list you need to get through to contribute to an extensive literature review or meta-analysis. I loathed coding at first, thinking it was something I had to do to be a responsible student. However as time passed, I realized that coding is one of the best activities I could involve myself in.
One reason why coding has been beneficial is the knowledge of numerous theoretical frameworks I have gained. When investigating a major research area, there are bound to be multiple theoretical models and arguments that give basis towards why certain phenomena occur. For the innately inquisitive, gaining new insights and perspectives this way should be naturally appealing, however for grad students like myself, gaining understanding and familiarity of different theories can help inform your future research projects, account for unexpected data, consider alternative viewpoints, and save you time when it comes to studying for those dreaded comprehensive exams.
At first, I definitely wasn’t too keen about rigorously coding a long list of lengthy research articles, but looking back I realize that I have developed considerably as a student and researcher because of it. Coding is an invaluable and important scholarly activity that I suggest for anyone interested in gaining more knowledge of different theories, research methods, and statistical techniques.
Relatedly, I ask two questions from the SIOP community. What other benefits do you think coding experience provides? Does anyone else have any notable experiences with coding?