I had a brief introduction day last week to get me accustomed to the site and the staff (most of whose names I promptly forgot…sorry!) which was a lot to take in, but definitely got me excited to get started.
Job one would be to sort and analyse the data. However, before this step it was important for me to have a comprehensive understanding of exactly what our research question was, what it entails, and a good background on the topic as a whole, meaning I’ve spent the first week up at the library on campus. I started by researching chronic kidney disease (CKD) and dialysis from a wider view, just to enable me to build up a background of the department I am working in and a better understanding of why it is important for research projects such as this one to be carried out. Due to the focus on the Hepatitis B vaccination within our project my next step was to research this.
After building my knowledge on the area as a whole I began to look more in depth at our specific research question ‘amongst non-dialysed CKD patients who have completed and responded to a full course of hepatitis B vaccination, what proportion continue to have immunity against hepatitis B at 6, 12, 18 and 24 months after initial vaccination?’ I used websites such as PubMed and openAthens to enable me to search for research papers/articles etc already published on this topic area. I used a variety of search terms and looked over titles/abstracts of hundreds of potentially relevant resources, however, the majority of work I found was directly related to patients already receiving haemodialysis treatment. Our target group is specifically undialysed patients, so the amount of literature out there that concerns the same objectives as we do is very minimal, if there at all.
After gathering papers that were of some relevance I started to write what would be the introduction to the paper. For someone that hasn’t done much in this area before I found it quite a challenging task! Scientific writing is very different from that of Humanities or English, it’s very concise and specific and takes a lot of practice to get just right. I re-read and changed it, then re-read and changed it over and over till I felt it was the best I could produce at this stage and something I would be happy to share with my supervisors.
So despite it being a rather lonely, library filled week I feel like I’ve already learnt a lot and picked up skills that will be invaluable for my 3rd year. Next week I will be spending a day in the Labs at Kent and Canterbury Hospital (very exciting!) and also meeting with both Dr Doulton and Dr Strutt to look at what I’ve done so far and discuss the next steps, so i’ll hopefully have something more exciting than literature reviews to share with you next week!