Research Studentships – Amy’s story

This year the School of Applied Social Science (SASS) launched their first summer research studentships.

The opportunity was available to all second year students in the school and students applied by expressing an interest in a project and giving a brief outline of their skills and why they were interested in the project. Students needed to acheive a mark in the 2:1 grade at the end of their second year to be eligible to take up the studentship.  Cath Holmstrom, Deputy Head of SASS (with responsibility for student experience and recruitment), Head of Social Work and Social Policy, and Hannah Frith, Principal Lecturer, reviewed applications and selected the first two students to take part in the initiative.

Amy Middleton worked on a project called ‘Experiences of body and body image in intimate sexual relationships’ alongside Hannah to analyse a data set and to prepare a research publication.  

Jack O’Byrne worked on a project called ‘Inclusive practice in undergraduate dissertation supervision’, again working alongside Hannah to analyse a data set which explores undergradutate students’ experiences of dissertation supervision, to prepare a research publication and to contribute to a toolkit for students and staff.

As well as the invaluable experience, the studentships offered a salary for the 5 week project which ran in the summer.

Hannah Frith, Principal Lecturer, said,

It is exciting to be working alongside students in these projects. Not only do students gain an insight into social sciences research and the world of academic publishing, but they are an excellent resource providing new insights, ideas and ways of working which have certainly strengthened both of the projects.

We asked Amy to tell us about her experience –

How did you receive the studentship?

An email was sent out to all students advertising four placements for an Undergraduate Research Studentship in the summer holidays. The advertisement stated that I would work directly with a senior academic member of staff on their research project during the summer break, giving me ‘hands on’ experience of research and the chance to gain an insight into scientific research. The benefits for me were the employability skills and the experience for my CV; I felt it would help me stand out as a student with potential for academic study and assist a possible academic career. I had to send my CV and a cover letter explaining why I would like to be chosen which detailed how I had worked on several assignments relating to the ‘sexuality and embodiment’ research, alongside working with senior researchers on another project at the university.

What did you do? What was involved?

I met with Hannah Frith a few times at the university but the majority of my time was spent self managed, working from home or university. Hannah was available for my questions over email at all times. Firstly, I analysed the data from 64 participants, over and over again, before finalising 11 themes. This was a long, hard and somewhat tedious task but it really taught me how to analyse data fully. I had not done a previous literature review on the subject (unlike Hannah, obviously) so it was interesting for me to look at the data from a ‘blind’ point of view. I also created a thematic map and wrote the theme descriptions for the paper.

When did it take place?

5 weeks during the summer holidays (2017). Due to me having two primary school children, Hannah suggested that I worked 2 weeks in June (before they broke up from school) and 3 weeks in September (after they had returned).

What did you like about it? How has it helped with your studies?

I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the studentship! It was obviously nice to be paid for it but overall it was a great experience to work with Hannah as I am really interested in her field of work (she is now my dissertation supervisor and having already worked with her is helping me as I am comfortable with her). I feel I am fully armed for my dissertation and when I come to analyse my own data, I feel I am a step ahead of the game, having done it over and over previously. I am aware of how literature is laid out and in what style it is written. I am delighted to say that the research I helped Hannah with is (hopefully) being published in a journal and this will not only look fabulous on my CV and help me with any job role I go for but I will be able to look back on my university career with immense pride! I am also attending an awards ceremony in December to celebrate my achievements on this.

What benefits are there for future students applying?

  • Great experience of researching, data analysis, writing up literature
  • Building relations with senior lecturers/researchers
  • It will assist with your dissertation
  • It will assist with future job applications (being on your CV)
  • It will keep your head in the game for university/hit the third year running
  • You will feel immensely proud of yourself
  • You may get to be a published co-author
  • You may get invited to an awards ceremony to celebrate
  • You will earn some extra cash

The studentships will continue to run each year.

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