Capstone: On to the last hurdle….

hurdleSo this is it, we’ve finally presented our Capstone project “General Practitioners’ Use of Open Access for Information Seeking in Patient Care: An Irish Perspective,” to people outside our little group and we’re down to one last hurdle after this marathon year. I feel like this is a really good time to look back and reflect a bit on the process so far.

This is my second Masters and I distinctly remember my frustration at this stage in the process during the last one. I was frustrated because I was working on a project on my own for such a long time that I was almost completely overwhelmed by it all. It just felt like it would never be over. This time around I have to admit I have felt a very small portion of that frustration but overall the Capstone process has been a much better experience for me. The reason it has been a better experience is because:

1)      I have a supportive and (to be completely honest) pretty awesome team around me.

2)      This project is a proper research project – something to really get our teeth stuck into and we have learnt ALOT and because we’re a team rather than individuals we’ve been able to go bigger and better.

3)      The presentation has reinvigorated my interest in the entire project just in time for that push for the end.

For me, the number one most important thing has been the team element (though in the beginning that was something I was really worried about). We have been involved in teamwork since the very beginning and we are all aware that sometimes teamwork can be a difficult thing; personality clashes, leadership issues, levels of commitment etc. can all make teamwork a little bit stressful. Thankfully, my team for Capstone have been brilliant. I think that comes from the great level of communication between us. Frustrations are raised and spoken about before they become bigger problems. Many of the group have been working and trying to do Capstone at the same time but emails, texts, adding to our blog and both formal and informal meetings have ensured that all members feel included and have avenues to raise concerns. We have also been happy to let people pay to their strengths or take on parts of the project that suit them better rather than all of us trying to do everything. I would go as far as to say if I was asked to speak to the SILS class next year and give them advice, it would be choose your team well or if you can’t choose your team, try your very best to ensure that there is good communication from the very beginning.

The group element has also allowed us to take on a relatively big research project in a short time period. In fact I have learnt so much from the project; we have taken on a literature review, surveys, interviews and of course data analysis. I think because we have 5 people to take on work it has meant we have been able to undertake a project that can really add to the body of evidence needed for the health library service in this country and can make truly relevant recommendations. Being involved in something this big, and hopefully useful, is really exciting.

The presentation, though terrifying, has been brilliant. The only person who knew anything about my previous Masters thesis was my supervisor but the presentation allowed us to show off our hard work and get some feedback. Sometimes, when you are really involved in a project, you can get a bit lost in it. Of course, you’re putting in the hard work so you think the project is interesting and useful but you are constantly nervous that others might not see it that way. I really felt that it was a fantastic opportunity to present our work in a professional manner and to hear from both academics and working library and information professionals. I really appreciated their inputs, as did the rest of the team. The feedback has really helped us to refocus and given us the push that we needed to stay enthusiastic about the project right to the end.

I’m really looking forward to finishing our data analysis and writing up the final report. I hope that our research is really able to add something to the health library service in Ireland because everyday I’m more and more impressed by the work that health librarians are doing in this country especially in the current climate.