Time management became my best friend - Alan's MSc summer project experience

MSc Demography & Health intercalating student Alan Lim shares his summer project experience and how he was able to finish most of his thesis ahead of his new term.
Alan Lim working on his summer project in Hong Kong, photo by Alan Lim

Hey there, fellow students! Alan here, a medical student from Hong Kong, and I'm super excited to share my summer research project: Exploring the Link Between Family Size and Children's Health and Education Outcomes with you all. As part of my MSc Demography and Health, I delved into the fascinating world of family size and its impact on children's health and education outcomes.


Now, you might be wondering, why did I choose this specific area of research? Well, as fertility rates decrease and families become smaller in today's world, it's crucial to understand how these changes influence our young generation. Are children from smaller families more likely to thrive compared to those from larger families? That's what I wanted to find out!

Data Analysis

Alan Lim with Rebecca Sear at LSHTM Open Evening 2023, photo by Alan Lim
Alan Lim (right) with Rebecca Sear, Programme Director of MSc Demography & Health, at LSHTM Open Evening 2023, photo by Alan Lim

To uncover the truth, I embarked on a thrilling journey of data analysis using a dataset collected in India. With the guidance of my incredible program director, Rebecca Sear, who also taught me in the Population Studies module, I reviewed existing literature, comparing results and contextual factors, and utilised a theoretical framework on child development. Through the use of statistical software like Stata, I conducted regression models to analyse the data and draw meaningful conclusions.

Expectations and Hypotheses

Before diving into the data, I had some hypotheses in mind. I expected to find a quality-quantity trade-off, where children from larger families might face certain challenges due to divided attention and limited resources. Research is all about testing our assumptions, so let's see if the results align with my initial expectations!

Challenges and Time Management

Alan Lim (left) with personal tutor Julio Romero Prieto
Alan Lim (left) with his personal tutor at LSHTM Julio Romero Prieto, photo by Alan Lim

Juggling this research project alongside my medical school responsibilities was no easy feat. With my summer break in full swing, I hustled to finish most of my dissertation before my medical studies kicked off in mid-July.

Time management became my best friend, helping me strike a balance between my passion for research and my commitment to becoming a doctor. I started working on my project way ahead of most of my peers who aren't intercalating medical students. I submitted the CARE ethical application before Easter to ensure timely access to the data by May. This allowed me to briefly explore the data and have preliminary discussions with my supervisor in person before leaving London at the end of May. To stay on track, I've been having weekly Zoom meetings with my supervisor, even after I returned to Hong Kong. It's been crucial to keep her updated on my progress and make sure I'm heading in the right direction.


Alan Lim standing outside LSHTM Keppel Street building
Alan Lim standing outside LSHTM Keppel Street building, photo by Alan Lim

As I wrap up my summer project, I can't help but feel a sense of awe at the intricate connections between family size and children's health and education outcomes. Our findings will shed light on the importance of family planning programs and provide insights into child development in our ever-evolving society. By understanding how family size impacts children's development, we can make informed decisions and implement effective strategies to promote positive outcomes for future generations.

All in all, this summer project has been an incredible opportunity for me to combine my passion for social science and population studies with my career aspirations in medicine. It has allowed me to delve into the world of research, where I have gained invaluable skills in data analysis and a deeper understanding of child development. I'm truly excited about the possibilities that lie ahead in the field of population health, and I look forward to conducting more research in this area in the future.

I hope this little sneak peek into my summer research project sparked your curiosity. Remember, research is all about uncovering new knowledge and challenging our assumptions. Let's embark on this journey together!