Undergraduate student Amanda Baker, BSC Hons Physiotherapy, is hoping to pursue a career in research, so when she saw the Santander Undergraduate Research Scheme advertised, she jumped at the chance to apply. Thanks to funding provided by Santander Universities, the scheme provides seven undergraduate students the opportunity to take part in real, hands-on research over the summer break. Amanda worked alongside Stewart C. Morrison PhD SFHEA Reader, on a project to examine the impact of foot and ankle pain on the health-related quality of life in children. Amanda tells us what taking part in the scheme has meant to her.
One of the main reasons I returned to university as a (very) mature student was because I wanted to do research. It was with great elation that I saw the opportunity to take part in a research placement, funded by Santander, over the summer. I saw this as an opportunity to not only to get the lowdown on how research projects are put together (from ethics approval and data collection to analysis and report writing) but also to gain insider information from lecturers and PhD students.
When I applied, I didn’t think I would be lucky enough to be awarded the placement but I tried to think clearly about the goals of the projects itself as well as my own goals. How could this chance further my desire to do research? Previously, I was an arts student so, historically, I struggled to write ‘scientifically’. I knew I needed to work on this before I began my final year dissertation. I wanted to find out more about statistical analysis: how to use the relevant software and use it to interpret data. I also wanted to speak to other researchers to hear their hints and tips when they critically analyse articles and synthesise literature. All of this was focused on my short-term goal of writing a good dissertation but with an eye to my long-term goal of undertaking my own research in the future.
I couldn’t believe it when I succeeded with my application. The six weeks flew by but, with my focused goals, I was able to fruitfully work on the project and further my own aims. I have gained so much from this research placement and truly hope that other students have the opportunity to experience one too. As an undergraduate student, it is worth remembering that opportunities like this don’t along very often, so when they do grab them with both hands. You won’t be disappointed!