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SRDAR Collaborates with SUNY at Buffalo Graduate Student on her Master’s Project
Tues, 13 July 2010

SRDAR Collaborates with SUNY at Buffalo Graduate Student on her Master’s Project

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The Survey Research and Data Acquisition Resource (SRDAR) at Roswell Park Cancer Institute recently completed work with Shannon Sweeney, a Psychology graduate student from the State University of New York at Buffalo, to conduct research as part of her Master’s of Science project. Shannon began her Master’s coursework in August 2009 and upon the completion of her thesis, Shannon will have earned an M.A. in General Psychology.

Shannon’s research project is a follow-up survey to a 2001 survey conducted by SRDAR on cancer and genetics in Western New York. This survey examines the beliefs that respondents have about the need for cancer screening and about the risks and benefits of genetic testing. Shannon completed the research for this project under the guidance of her faculty mentor, Dr. Janice Hastrup.

Shannon and Dr. Hastrup met with SRDAR Director, Dr. Andrew Hyland and SRDAR’s Scientific Director, Cheryl Rivard in November 2009 to discuss her research. Shannon remembers how the SRDAR staff worked with her to organize the details of her proposed research project at this initial meeting: “Dr. Hyland offered SRDAR’s services to collect the data for the study,” she said. “I recall that he said it should take about a month to complete 300-400 telephone interviews.”

Prior to meeting with the SRDAR staff, Shannon was concerned with several obstacles that are common among graduate student researchers. First, her project did not have external funding so she had to collect her data without a supporting financial resource. Second, Shannon needed to conduct her research to meet the deadlines specified by her department. Third, Shannon’s advisor, Dr. Hastrup, had warned her that conducting research such as this often can take twice, or even three times as long as anticipated. Shannon had applied and been accepted into a Ph.D. program at Syracuse University that will begin this fall. She worried that her research would not be completed in time for her to move to Syracuse, NY.

Once she began working with SRDAR, Shannon noted that her expectations were met and exceeded. “My experience with SRDAR was better than I ever could have imagined,” she said. “I had anticipated months of slow recruitment, which may not have been finished before I left to start my Ph.D. program. Instead, the staff completed almost 500 interviews in three weeks. Everyone I worked with at every stage, from programming to conducting interviews, was incredibly accommodating and sensitive to my time limitations.”

Prior to the start of data collection, Shannon met with Lisa Hatch, SRDAR’s Administrative Director. When they met, Ms. Hatch assured her that the data collection would be of high quality and be finished in a timely manner. Ms. Hatch assured her, “You just tell me what you need and how fast you need it, and we’ll make it happen.” This positive attitude was backed up with the poise and support that was needed for the project to run smoothly and successfully.

The path toward completing her project with SRDAR began with the programmers. Barbara Battistella, the Informatics Director of SRDAR and Timothy Olewniczak, SRDAR’s Data Manager, each contributed to the programming of the survey on WinCATI Interviewer. Shannon spoke highly of her experience getting her survey into the field. “I can’t thank the programmers enough for their help in testing my survey prior to putting it into the field,” she said. Shannon described the programmer’s efforts as “fast-paced” and said they “were crucial not only to getting the survey into the field on time, but also to making sure the survey instrument would be as accurate as possible when we did go live.”

Once the survey instrument was programmed and tested by the programmers, it was ready to be launched. Shannon then worked with the SRDAR staff within the firm’s call center. Shannon described the interviewers as “articulate, very well-trained, and interested and passionate about the work they were doing.” She felt that the interviewers embodied these traits in their work and that their team definitely was a factor in the completion of her research project. “I think traits like these really make all the difference when successfully completing interviews,” she said, “and maintaining scientific integrity while doing so.”

While the project was being completed, the SRDAR staff provided daily reports and periodic data exports that Shannon described as “more than adequate” for her research. These reports, which provided productivity information, gave her a glimpse of what was happening with her project on a day-to-day basis.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of working with SRDAR was the opportunity it provided for Shannon to gain research experience. Shannon describes SRDAR as a fantastic learning environment. “SRDAR is a very well-run, well-oiled machine – from the interviewers to programmers to staff and beyond.” She said, “Everything runs smoothly, accurately and with finely-tuned precision. It was a pleasure getting to be a part of it and watch it run.”

Shannon will take her experience working with SRDAR and conducting the research for her master’s project with her when she begins her Ph.D. program at Syracuse University. She plans to continue her studies in psychology with research in alcohol and substance abuse as well as risky sexual behaviors among college and adolescent populations.

When asked if she would consider SRDAR for future research projects or recommend the firm to other graduate students, she said: “Absolutely, not only were my interviews completed accurately and with scientific integrity, but they were completed in an incredibly timely and efficient manner.

Dr. Hastrup was also quite pleased with the experience she had with SRDAR. “SRDAR is an outstanding resource for investigators seeking high quality survey data obtained in a variety of formats,” she said. “The interviewers are highly skilled, and supported by the best technology and wonderful supervisory personnel.”

The Survey Research and Data Acquisition Resource (SRDAR) is designated as a Core Resource within Roswell Park Cancer Institute. SRDAR provides researchers with exceptional data collection and management in a customer-friendly atmosphere. As a nonprofit company, SRDAR values scientific Integrity and high-response rates before profit. For inquiries about SRDAR's services, contact Andrew Hyland, PhD at Andrew.Hyland@RoswellPark.org. Further information can also be found on the SRDAR website: SRDAR.org.

(Timothy Olewniczak)
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