Alumna Indeira Persaud and (the) Nuts and Bolts of Research Methodology

Graduate students in sociology at WSU originate from many places inside and outside the United States. Indeira Persaud (PhD, 2012) came to WSU from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, where she has returned and applied her graduate school experiences in multiple data collection methods to co-authoring a methodology text. Indeira’s new book takes students step by step on the journey from conceptualization of one’s research goals and choice of methodology through sampling, measurement, data collection, and analysis. It ends with challenging students to produce a well-written research report.

Unlike most methodology books it does not concentrate on a single way of collecting data but, instead, encourages students to consider various possibilities. We congratulate Indeira and her colleagues for producing an important roadmap for navigating students through the research process. Here, in Indeira’s own words, are recollections of her WSU experience, the writing of Nuts and Bolts, and her recent decision to become associate dean of students at St. George’s University in Grenada.

A photo of Indeira Persaud.
Indeira Persaud (PhD, 2012)
By Indeira Persaud (PhD, 2012)

Equipped with a Fulbright Faculty Development scholarship, over 20 years of experience as an educator, and great determination, I left my island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean in 2010 to pursue my PhD in social psychology at Washington State University. Within the Sociology Department, I met my mentor and subsequent chair of my dissertation committee, Monica Kirkpatrick-Johnson. Through her guidance, I quickly recognized that, instead of just doing social psychology, I would gain an interdisciplinary education, guided by expert faculty. Hence, at WSU, my diverse studies included psychology, sociology, criminology, education, research methodology, survey research, and statistics. In addition, critical thinking was incorporated into every aspect of my WSU experience.

For all the WSU faculty with whom I was in daily contact, teaching, research, and publications went hand in hand. I was particularly grateful for the fact that many of the texts that I used were written by my professors who were respected experts in their fields. I had the opportunity to learn from the best and to witness their determination to be successful in academia and even life itself. I clearly recall being in Jen Schwartz’s class one evening, her finishing the class on time and then… wait for it…having her baby a couple of hours later. She was in labor the entire time she was teaching but was determined that she had to finish the class. Talk about dedication! What was most telling of my WSU experience is that faculty took the time to meet and speak with students, many times without an appointment.

I spent two years doing my coursework at WSU. My final year was spent in St. Vincent where I conducted research and wrote my dissertation. My supportive committee members Monica Kirkpatrick-Johnson, Christine Horne, and Jennifer Schwartz were always an email or phone call away. It was at this time when the culmination of all that I had learned, from my undergrad at Barry University in Florida, my MSc. at Manchester University in England, and PhD at WSU, had to be incorporated into the research process and subsequent dissertation. Don Dillman’s survey course in methodology and teaching featured largely in the surveys that I created, and Don provided wonderful support. I even roped in family members, my mom and sister, to read each chapter and provide feedback.

After the completion of my PhD studies, I returned to my post to teach psychology in SVG. As both a student and a teacher, I know that research is very challenging albeit exciting, and when I spoke to my sister Nadini and our friend Dwayne (also educators), we recognized three important aspects of research that cause great distress to our students, fellow teachers, and other professionals: research methodology books can be quite complex, and many cater only to experienced researchers, rather than novices. Often, several books are required to understand the necessary statistics, methods, and processes required from research conceptualization to write-up.

This affects both teacher preparation and presentation as well as student/researcher understanding. For example, we have many mature students returning to the classroom who cannot find the time, and many younger students who are not inclined to read multiple books.A photo of the cover of the book Nuts and Bolts by Persaud and colleagues.

Students and many professionals feel intimidated by the complexity of the research process. We therefore made the decision to write a research methodology text book to address the aforementioned concerns in a clear, concise, user-friendly way that incorporated our combined teaching skills and experience.

The result of our collaboration is our book, Nuts and Bolts of Research Methodology: From Conceptualization to Write-up (2019).

Since August 2017, and while co-authoring Nuts and Bolts, I made a life-changing decision to move from St. Vincent to Grenada—another Caribbean island which is about a half hour away, as the crow flies, but which, in reality, can take anywhere from five to 15 hours because there is no longer a direct flight. I hold the post of university-wide associate dean of students at St. George’s University in Grenada, which has a School of Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, School of Arts and Sciences and School of Graduate Studies.

I truly enjoy my job, my work environment, colleagues, and the work ethic. My boss and colleagues in the Dean of Students office are exceptional people and we work as a team alongside colleagues from all other departments on campus to increase student success. It is truly a blessing that I can say that I love my job, and that I enjoy going to work every day.