I came home tonight feeling the same euphoria I feel after a really good run. It was a great day all around and it ended gloriously. Like a runner's high, this research high is hard to describe.
I've spent many many years engaged in intervention research. This type of research is very labor intensive and requires recruiting participants, developing instruments, developing the intervention (including producing the actual materials and making them look professional), collecting data (and the entire informed consent procedure that goes with research), and actually implementing the intervention. It can be exhausting but is very hands-on and interactive. I get to work with real people (not just scientists) and I have to learn a variety of skills and interact with professionals that fall outside of regular science.
I've done this work and I've enjoyed it immensely. However, up until today, I did all of this for someone else's intervention; someone else's research. Now I did it for so long I certainly left my mark and I felt a great deal of ownership but it was never my original idea. Tonight I ran the first workshop of an intervention I thought up 3 years ago. I've done all of the formative research to get it to this stage and now we're actually running the study.
Granted we're running it on a small scale. It is the first baby step on a long long path to see if I can actually make a difference in people's lives but it felt great. On top of actually seeing my work come to life I also saw my student research team in action and they were awesome. My other big dream for the past three years has been to do this type of work with students; to work with them in a way that gave them true ownership. I wanted them excited and invested in the work and I wanted them to learn that this type of work exists but most importantly I wanted them to see that they could create something--research or otherwise--that both feeds their passion and helps others.
The design of the study called for us to run simultaneous workshops, so I couldn't be there with them to help them through it. They so didn't need me. They totally rocked and were completely pumped afterwards. Our participants also left the building feeling great and looking forward to coming back next week.
I may be completely burnt by the time this month is over but I'm feeling pretty good now.