Global Health Thesis chronicles: 5 (not so) common misconceptions about your degree project

Personally, one of the things I was a little concerned about at the start of the Global Health programme was the degree project, and with good reason: in one year, you have to fit multiple courses and a research. While other programmes give students  the chance to take some time to think about their interests and search for what is the most suitable option for them, the time in GH is not that long (you can find more details on the programme here). That being said, there also many misconceptions about this process, some that I had too, before arriving here. Since we’re almost half-way through the second semester, here are 5 of them:

  1. Good luck, you’re on your own.

From the very beginning of the programme, I realized that “on your own” is the last thing you’ll be at KI, at least in the Global Health programme. You get a tremendous amount of support which, to be fair, it can also be a little overwhelming, especially if you come from a completely different academic environment. In my experience, whenever I looked for advice, suggestions or assistance, I got it without any problems, and this is certainly the case for the thesis you have to write. From the very beginning, we were offered projects that we could apply to, and if we chose to pursue our own initiative or find an on-going research somewhere else at KI, we could always book appointments with our professors and discuss. Whether you are accepted into a project or initiate your own research, some hard work awaits you, but you’re not alone. My colleague Raj wrote more about how to choose your thesis here.

  1. You can only do a qualitative/quantitative analysis.

Qualitative and quantitative projects represent a big chuck of your options, but that does not mean that they are the only ones you can opt for. I chose a qualitative research project, but some of my colleagues work on mixed-methods studies, literature reviews and other projects. More about the 2018 class, soon!

  1. Middle or Low Income countries only.

Contrary to popular belief, public health problems are in every country, regardless of income level, size, population or geographical position. So rest assured, (some) high income countries represent an option, especially Sweden.

  1. You MUST travel/leave Sweden.

Initially, I was bracing myself for a busy second semester, where I would have to fly somewhere, find funding sources, gather data in a foreign place that I would have a short time to know, come back, analyze said data … To put it mildly, I was slightly nervous, as I did not know the mechanisms of the Global Health degree project. That being said, you do not have to worry – many of the projects do not involve travelling at all, and if you wish to help collect data, there might be options available to do so in Sweden.

  1. You HAVE to gather your own data.

Right up there with no. 5, this was one the ideas I had about the research. In reality, you can work with your own data, but you can also use primary data that has been previously collected, or work with secondary data. It all depends on the project you will be involved in, the type of analysis, your preferences and their feasibility, the timeframe etc.

I hope this article cleared some things up for all of you wishing to know more about the Global Health degree project. Keep on lookout for more, soon!

daiana.vlad@stud.ki.se

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