Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Thursday, September 17, 2015
Ulster PhD student Danielle Roberts discusses the exciting menu of events being organised by post-graduate researchers in social sciences at UU, beginning with a rich account of their first event for 2015/16, 'Ask an Academic'.
Recently the Research Graduate School (RGS) PhD events committee held the first of a programme of events which will aim to facilitate the development of necessary skills to complete a PhD in a collaborative peer to peer setting. We hope to attract a diverse range of post-graduate students from the disciplines related to the RGS, across all Ulster University campuses to forge a supportive post graduate network.
Our first event was entitled ‘Ask an Academic’. We were lucky enough to have three academics volunteer to take the hotseat, Jackie Reilly; Head of the Research Graduate School in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Senior Lecturer in the School of Education, Dr Markus Ketola; Lecturer, School of Criminology Politics & Social Policy, and Dr Anne Moorhead; Lecturer in Health and Interpersonal Communication. Each academic gave us an overview of their route into academia. Their experiences were all different and demonstrated how every post-graduate will have an individual story to tell as we progress in our chosen field. The floor was then open for questions.
Key points coming out of the Q and A session were the importance of time management, the benefits of publishing and encouragement to take up opportunities that are provided during the course of PhD study. The importance of managing competing demands on one’s time was discussed. The benefits of using lists and diaries were extolled, however the need to remain flexible is also important. All of us will have demands outside of our PhD and it is important that we can work in a way that lets us have a work/life balance. Quantifiable goals can be a useful way to keep motivation up and work progressing – for example set a target of a number of words to write or articles to read in a day, and tick off your list when you have completed the tasks! Publications are important as a way of getting your name out there, and demonstrating that you are capable to potential employers. What is appropriate in terms of publishing is different for everyone, so PhD candidates should speak to their supervisors for guidance. Opportunities should be seized! Conferences can be used to develop public speaking skills and meet research collaborators, make the most of them.
There was also some discussion of ‘what next?’, when the PhD is over. It was suggested that while working towards completion, you should check out advertisements for jobs you may be interested in and work towards developing the skills to meet the requirements of the post. It was also noted that we should think outside the box, all the academics had moved between subject areas by applying transferable skills such as teaching experience or methodological approach. There are also jobs outside of academia to consider. Just because you are doing a PhD doesn’t mean that you are pigeon holed into one discipline or career path.
The ‘Ask an Academic’ gave us a chance to hear some practical tips about completing a PhD, as well chance to catch up with other PhD students over lunch which was kindly provided by the RGS. Our next event will be in October. Entitled #PhDChat we will be outlining key milestones in each year of the PhD process. We will have people who have just completed first and second year, as well as someone who has just graduated, for you to pick their brains. In November we will have a ‘Digital Swap Meet’ where we will discuss how to efficiently use online resources, for example organisational tools and social media. Alongside these skills sharing sessions we also have a monthly Critical Neoliberalism Reading Group (contact email@example.com for more information) and plans for an interdisciplinary post graduate conference are underway.
The aim of the RGS PhD events is to provide an informal setting where PhD students and academics from across the faculties and campus can meet up to share skills and best practice, as well as a bit of social time. In future we will hopefully have video links set up so people at other campuses can easily take participate; we will also have events at the Coleraine and Belfast Campuses.
If you are interested in joining the RGS PhD events committee please get in touch with us.
The current committee members are Ciara Fitzpatrick (Fitzpatrickfirstname.lastname@example.org); Alexandra Chapman (email@example.com) and Danielle Roberts (Robertsfirstname.lastname@example.org). We would love to hear from you!
Monday, June 29, 2015
Dr Una Foye has successfully completed her PhD and will graduate Summer 2015. Here Una outlines her doctorate research.
Dr Foye's PhD was supervised by Prof Diane Hazlett and Dr Pauline Irving
Understanding Eating Disorder: exploring the impact of self-esteem, emotional intelligence and health literacy on disordered eating attitudes and behaviours.
Affecting over 1.6 million people in the UK, eating disorders remain a constant concern for those working in healthcare due to the high comorbidity, debilitating physical symptomology and mortality rates that occur with these illnesses (Herzog, Greenwood, Dorer, Flores, Ekeblad, Richards, Blais & Keller, 2000). Worryingly, treatment efficacy for these disorders remains modest at best, with insufficient evidence existing for the effective treatment of Anorexia Nervosa (NICE, 2004). Successful outcomes are blighted by the high levels of ambivalence, treatment dropouts and relapse rates that are observed within this patient population (Williams & Reid, 2010). As a result these disorders observe high rates of chronicity and become incredibly difficult to treat as they are so deeply engrained (Geller, Williams & Srikameswaran, 2001).
This research study aimed to explore the application of self-esteem, emotional intelligence and health literacy to understand how and why eating disorder might develop while providing insight into how interventions can be developed to enhance outcomes.
Based on a mixed methods design which engaged professionals working with eating disorders, support staff in the community sector and individuals with personal experience, as well a general population sample, the results of the study provided insights into the nature of disordered eating onset and development as well as understanding the barriers that delay and impact on help-seeking processes and treatment engagement for those living with an eating disorder. The result showed that, while numerous factors are related to the development of disordered eating attitudes and behaviours, self-esteem and emotional intelligence interact to provide a significant explanation for how and why individuals may develop and maintain an eating disorder. Furthermore, it was found that these factors along with health literacy may provide considerable insight into the barriers and delays that impact on individual’s help-seeking processes when they are in serious medical and psychological risk.
On her time at Ulster University, Una reflects:
'Having worked on the frontline with eating disorders in a number of regional charities I understand the impact that research like this has on everyday practice. The opportunity to carry out this project was a fantastic experience that allowed me to work closely with the fantastic staff at Ulster as well as having the opportunity to do something innovative that was born out of my personal interests. While it was difficult and challenging work it was worth the effort to see an idea develop and take flight, and if I had the change I would do it all over again! Having the chance to do something you love is a once in the lifetime opportunity and without the support and chance that Ulster took on allowing me to do this I would never have been able to go this far.'
Friday, June 26, 2015
IRiSS is delighted to congratulate Dr. Anthony McKeown on award of his PhD.
His doctorate will be conferred in Summer Graduations 2015.
In his thesis, Anthony established a theoretical framework which demonstrates how information poverty can be conceptualised and targeted at three levels: macro (strategic), meso (community) and micro (individual).
A framework of information poverty indicators were developed to demonstrate how it can be addressed at societal, community and individual levels.
The study is innovative, valuable and significant, in that, it is the first time a macro, meso and micro model of information poverty indicators has been developed and applied to illustrate the impact of public libraries at strategic, community and personal levels. Furthermore, the research is topical given the emphasis from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) to address poverty and social exclusion. The study provides recommendations to Libraries NI to improve their capacity to address information poverty. While the study looks specifically at public libraries, it has wider implications and the three-level framework of information poverty indicators can be used within other contexts.
The study revealed that an integrated approach is needed to address information poverty. By developing strategic and community partnerships, libraries can have an impact at addressing information poverty. Community engagement and targeted interventions to specific groups were key to addressing it. Raising awareness of library services was fundamental to reducing information poverty.
Anthony reflects on his time at Ulster University: 'I had a great experience taking a career break and studying at the Ulster University. When I graduate with a PhD I will have a sense of pride and achievement, although being a PhD researcher all feels like a distant memory now that I returned to my previous role within Libraries NI.'
Monday, June 1, 2015
IRiSS's Dr Duncan Morrow, Chairman for the Advisory Group on Tackling Sectarianism in Scotland, recently launched findings and recommendations of their recent study.
Almost three years ago, the Advisory Group on Tackling Sectarianism set out to answer two questions: ‘What is sectarianism in Scotland now?’ and ‘How should we deal with its consequences?’
Dr Morrow maintains that: 'What happened was one of the most wide-ranging and challenging civic explorations of any equalities issue to have taken place in Scotland. That this was possible during a period that included the independence referendum in 2014 is a testament to the health of civic society in Scotland.'
The Advisory Group points out:
Sectarianism matters in three specific contexts: where it is used to discriminate or exclude (establishing Glass Ceilings), where it is used to justify violence or intimidation (signified by Glass Bottles) and where it has left persistent relationships of suspicion fostering prejudice and resentment (represented by Glass Curtains).
Dr Morrow emphasises:
'Sectarianism still has the power to impact negatively on people’s lives. But we have also seen a strong hunger for change across Scotland and a real desire to make sectarianism a thing of the past beyond either avoidance or blame. With goodwill, we have a chance to build a Scotland where the ending of sectarianism is a cause for celebration not shame.'
The full report can be found here:
Duncan's contribution has featured in the following media: