Tag Archives: research tools

A Reflection – by Jane Davies

Reflection – Year two, Term two

Having just returned from the Easter weekend to begin the final term of year two, I realise how quickly time is moving. I am now half way through the study with writing, data collection and analysis ahead of me. In many ways this has felt like one of the most productive phases of the work to date.

It began in January when I returned after the Christmas break to finalise the R and D approval from the main site for my research. This had been in the only word I can think of a tortuous process, which became more and more frustrating leading up to the Christmas break. I was fully aware that it was going to be difficult but I think I underestimated my ability to cope with just how much energy it takes to get to the data collection stage. I was well supported throughout the process and many people gave advice and helped.

Nevertheless I was given approval at the main site and my research passport was issued, which meant that I could begin the work at the main site. I still had to wait for approval at the subsidiary site, which did not come until April. I met with my contact for recruitment in mid-January who as always was extremely encouraging and helpful. She offered to have a look through the current patient list and then we could discuss who might be a suitable case, taking into account the inclusion exclusion criteria. She soon contacted me saying that she had two possibly three young people who might be suitable for the study. She offered to give an information sheet to those selected and I waited for her to contact me.

I have to say I have been heartened by the fact that the young people approached so far have been keen to take part. I was of the view that this wouldn’t be the case and that I would have trouble recruiting. I undertook my first interview on 3rd February 2014. I felt nervous and unsure of my ability to conduct the interview successfully. I checked and re checked my tape recorder for fear that it would not work to an almost ridiculous extent. I think this was that I realised how precious these conversations were and that I would be unable to recapture them a second time. It went quite well but I am not sure if I probed enough and felt that I probably could have learned more.

Jane blog 2Even though it was only the beginning of February I was already feeling tired. It was good that I had booked a holiday in February and a short break with friends in March as these trips have since re-energised me particularly with reference to data collection. I was advised that data collection would be tiring and that my sample would probably have some stories that I found upsetting. This indeed was the case. I have spent many quiet moments especially when out walking when I have reflected on the difficulties and challenges which face these young people. This was brought to life more than ever very recently. I was on my way to attend an outpatient appointment for a young man with an osteosarcoma who before his cancer had been a keen sportsman. He had required an amputation just above his knee. As I was walking, I saw a young man in the distance who I recognised I had watched playing school age rugby. He is now a professional player who has an international cap and is a first year student at medical school. The contrast in the two situations really struck me and I thought about how their two lives were so different for young men of the same age.

I have continued to recruit cases and now have three young people in the study. My interviewing is improving as I gain confidence. I have also interviewed family and friends of each case which has provided a different but very worthwhile perspective. I still swing between absolute terror and a feeling that I am coping better and understanding more. It is very uncomfortable (the terror aspect) however I am reassured that this is a normal part of this type of study. I am beginning to write reflexive accounts following the interviews and to try and look for key messages in the transcripts. I have used a small number of codes, which are enabling me to identify specific decision making events within each interview. I have no idea what a lot of it means yet but hope it will start to fit together at some point. It certainly occupies a lot of my thinking time!

I have continued to access training throughout this term and have been to some writing clubs, a rapid reading programme and some seminars in SOCSI. I have also made progress in disseminating my work with a poster accepted at a local and international conference. I have also secured a residency in Geneva next year in July, which will provide an opportunity for writing and sharing my work and ideas with others who are also writing for various purposes. This is something that I am looking forward to enormously. I need to stay focused and ensure that when I go to the residency I am at the right stage to really do justice to the writing that I will undertake there.

I am looking forward to the summer term and the experience of meeting with more young people and their families and to developing some more skills in research data collection. I am also going to try and write alongside this when I can, which will include the submission of a paper which I am currently working on.

An Introduction to Marybeth Smith

Hello,

It’s often the case when you work in a large company or institution that you find yourself contacting people whom you’ve never actually met … sometimes even asking them for work! Although I’ve been covering Research administrative duties since the end of November 2013, and I’ve been in post officially since February 2014, it’s still not been possible to meet everyone in PGR. So if I haven’t met you yet, please accept my apologies and allow me to introduce myself …M Smith_pic_PhDays

 

Research Support Officer
My job is Research Support Officer, providing administrative support (or professional services) to the Research and PGR section. The Research support team is still coming together and there is work to be done on clarifying responsibilities and procedures. But in practice, I can assist with:
• Admissions queries
• SIMS queries
• Academic regulations pertaining to PGR degree studies
• Enrolment and Induction information
• Monitoring reviews process – forms, deadlines, required work, organisation of meetings
• Thesis submission and Viva
• Staff-student query organisation
• Finance and equipment queries – as a first point of contact, refer to other departments
• Liaison with UGC, Grad Centre about training and funding opportunities and events
• Letters (of reference, permission to travel, confirmation of registration, etc.)

I’ve actually worked for the School for 18 months, having joined the School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies (SONMS) in November 2012 as an Admissions Assistant (Undergraduate and PGT). Prior to that, from 2005-2010, I worked in the Schools of European Studies, Architecture, and Physics & Astronomy, primarily in Postgraduate.
Quite a lot has changed over that time — virtual learning and working environments, increased collaboration, paperless processes, etc.–and processes and procedures can vary considerably even across Schools within the University.

But much remains the same – especially in the structure of PGR degrees and in the particular nature of working relationships amongst students and members of staff (academic and administrative). And much has also improved. I’ve seen how facilities, resources and opportunities (both academic and social) have expanded for research students over the past decade. Right now we’re looking forward to the expansion in Eastgate House, which will include new and dedicated facilities and space for PGR/Research.

One thing which cannot be emphasised enough is that students need to take charge of their degrees and take advantage of the resources available in the School and throughout the University. In the coming months, we hope that the PGR community will grow and become even more active and engaged in shaping the PGR experience within the School.

Autobiography:

  • Resident in UK since 2004
  • Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA)
  • First trip abroad – to Ireland, six weeks in July/ August (high school trip) – my first lesson in understanding that the British Isles don’t really have a ‘summer’
  • First trip to the UK — study abroad semester at the School of English and American Studies, University of East Anglia, Norfolk 1993 (when Britpop was sweeping the nation)
  • First degree – BA English and history (concentrations in English language/linguistics and medieval literature/history) from Temple University in Philadelphia (a city campus, like Cardiff). Studied Old English and Latin (also know a bit of German and Spanish). Worked in a bakery, a coffee shop, a department store, catering company, and a book store.
  • Further studies — I’ve since done some Postgraduate studies (not yet completed) at Cardiff University in Medieval British Studies. Main interests – early medieval (Anglo-Saxon and Celt) period literature, archaeology, church history.
  • First real job — corporate communications assistant (General Accident Insurance); since then, I’ve been employed in editorial and marketing for an academic publisher (Harcourt); content management for a software start-up (Kenexa); editing, production and project management for a proposal production group (KPMG Consulting ); and as a freelance writing/editing.
  • Taught English to employees of SanofiPharma in Montpellier, France for a semester internship.
  • Own a bass guitar, guitar and a metal detector – not yet proficient in any of them!
  • Hobbies, interests and side projects– writing; genealogy/genetics and social history research; archaeology; travel; live music (Globe, Cardiff Students Union), performances (WNO, Cardiff Philharmonic, RWCMD, etc.) and theatre; books and film;hill walking;visiting heritage sites; lectures and workshops (Cardiff Lifelong Learning does some great ones, but there are history and civic societies as well as national heritage sites that also deliver worthwhile talks); photography.
  • Pets – currently, one tortoiseshell cat named Olwen whom I found living in the garden of my first home in Cardiff 10 years ago
  • Current challenges – growing veg, learning to drive, cycling

Hope to see you soon.

Marybeth Smith

Introduce your research using Quad of Aims

Yesterday I went to an RCBC Wales away day where we had a talk by Mark Hodder from Academi Wales.  He introduced us to a tool to help simplify the requirements of our research and produce a statement of goals that anyone can understand.

The Quad of Aims is used in business under the heading ‘lean thinking’.  Although this is a buzz word which tends to make me roll my eyes in anticipation of jargon I actually found this session very helpful.  The Quad of Aims is a good way to help focus the mind on why your research is being done and can act as a reference point as the PhD progresses.  It may also help me sound succinct when people ask about my work and what the intended outcomes are.

Here is my Quad of Aims for my research.  The quad is broken into four boxes: Purpose, Impact, Deliverables and Success (we were advised to use the deliverables box to plan our work over three 60-day time periods).

Title:  Perceptions of prostate cancer risk in African and Caribbean men in South Wales: Implications for health policy and supportive care.

THE PURPOSE CITIZEN/IMPACT
To understand group perceptions of prostate cancer risk in black African and Caribbean men in South Wales.The groups under study will be African and Caribbean men and General Practitioners in South Wales. Provide an evidence base of current perceptions of prostate cancer risk in African and Caribbean men in South Wales.Provide an evidence base of current levels of understanding in General Practitioners about risk for prostate cancer in African and Caribbean men, and their knowledge of cultural beliefs in this group.
DELIVERABLES SUCCESS
60 (1)Complete literature review.

60 (2)

Write protocol and make enquiries about publication.

60 (3)

Refine protocol and apply for ethical approval.

Success will be measured by: 

A better understanding of the need for education on prostate cancer risk in the African and Caribbean community

Use the evidence to produce a culturally sensitive education tool to advise African and Caribbean men about their prostate cancer risk.

 

 

 

“So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye. I leave and heave a sigh and say goodbye”

I was always warned that my three years of PhD funding would fly by and while I did not doubt it, I am still amazed at the pace with which it has disappeared.  The exciting news is that I will soon be starting as a Research Assistant in the School of Medicine at Cardiff University, but that means that it is time to say goodbye to theSchool of Nursing and Midwifery Studies.

I know that I’ve said it a lot, but the last three years really have been a brilliant experience.  Not only have I learned how to plan and undertake qualitative research, I’ve also learned all about other research designs and approaches.  I’ve had the boundaries of my knowledge and understanding well and truly pushed, although my partner is fed up of me interpreting everything according to a social constructionist perspective!

I’ve also had the chance to take part in such a variety of other activities and projects.  During the last three years I’ve regularly taught clinical skills, which has been a fantastic opportunity.  I discovered that I love teaching students, particularly when they are at the beginning of their journey to becoming a nurse and you can teach the importance of fundamental care, skills and attitudes.  It’s also been a privilege to teach students nearing the end of their nursing journeys research, seeing their enthusiasm for the profession and their interest in learning how to move the evidence-base forward.

My organisational skills have progressed during my PhD to the point of obsessive, which I made great use of when helping to organise two conferences in the University.  Having attended conferences for several years, helping to plan two was a great and unique experience.  In particular, it was very interesting to work with an inter-disciplinary team to organise the Spotlight on Social Sciences conference, highlighting to me the differences between our research projects and perspectives in general of research.

However, it is the people in the School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies and beyond that have made this PhD such a wonderful experience.  I’ve been lucky to share an office with a brilliant group of people, who I will miss terribly when I can no longer fill them in on the banalities of my everyday life.  I couldn’t have asked for better supervisors, while the support from administrators and IT has been fantastic.  I’ve learned such a lot from the research and teaching staff in the school, who welcomed and supported me throughout.

To conclude, I’ve also learned something very important about myself (that I will have to try and change when I leave): that I write best in my jogging bottoms and no make-up, listening to soft opera, preferably in Italian (so I can’t try and sing along), in the morning.

Thanks everybody and I will see you in the evenings and weekends (maybe) when I return to the PhD office to finish the small task of my thesis…