August 2018

By 21st August 2018 September 11th, 2018 No Comments

DTP Matters
20th Edition

Welcome to the 20th edition of the White Rose Social Sciences DTP newsletter; DTP Matters.

The White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership is the new name of the White Rose Doctoral Training Centre, which originally launched in November 2011. The White Rose DTP consists of 7 partner universities (read more)

This newsletter will be issued quarterly and includes NEWS AND EVENTS, TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES, PATHWAY NEWS, ESRC NEWS and FEEDBACK ON FEEDBACK. If you would like to submit an article for a future edition of DTP Matters or provide feedback on any of the featured articles, you can do so by emailing

WRDTP 7th Annual Conference, 19 June 2018, University of York: ‘Working in Partnership: Challenges and Opportunities’

The seventh Annual Conference of the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership took place on 19th June 2018 at the University of York. The theme of the conference was ‘Working in partnership – challenges and opportunities’.

The conference was attended by nearly 150 PhD students from the universities of Bradford, Hull, Leeds, Manchester Metropolitan, Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam and York. Attendees from the six partner Universities travelled to reach the venue and join their York-based colleagues for the day.

It was a packed programme of talks on the topic of ‘Working in partnership – challenges and opportunities’, as well as an opportunity for delegates to meet the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership (WRDTP) Pathway Directors at one of the 7 Interdisciplinary Themed Pathway sessions.

The day opened with a welcome from Professor Matthew Festenstein from the University of York, and the WRDTP Director, Professor Ruth Blakeley.

The keynote speaker for the conference was Rob Warm, Head of External Affairs and Member Relations at the National Housing Federation, who delivered an engaging talk and follow up Q&A session about collaboration and stressed the value of becoming a good storyteller.

The WRDTP TEL Manager, Matthew Wheeler, followed Rob’s session with a brief introduction to the relaunched WRDTP Website and the new Virtual Interdisciplinary Research Environment (VIRE), which will provide a range of learning materials to researchers as they work through their PhD.

The morning session also included a range of talks by former WRDTP Graduates; the ‘My Story’ section including presentations from, Janet McNally (University of Leeds), Dr Gareth Young (University of Sheffield), Sebastian Booth (University of York), and Dr Sarah Smith (University of Sheffield). Each spoke about their work and careers so far and gave the attendees valuable advice on how to pursue their own research project.

After a buffet lunch which included the opportunity to view posters that had been submitted to the exhibition, delegates attended a session hosted by their Interdisciplinary Pathway director. These sessions gave the attendees the opportunity to network with others in their pathway and all had the chance to give a talk to their Pathway Panel using the PechaKucha presentation technique.

The Conference was an excellent opportunity to network with fellow research students and learn from their experiences, successes and challenges. We look forward to seeing many of the attendees at future events and how their research progresses.

The VIRE (Virtual Interdisciplinary Research Environment)

The Virtual Interdisciplinary Research Environment (VIRE) is an exciting new development aimed at offering you resources to enhance your doctoral learning experience.

In this secure area on the website training materials are hosted and videos are available of recent training events.

Also, each of our Interdisciplinary Themed Training Pathways has a bespoke section where students will have the opportunity to participate in academic discussions on cutting edge topics.  Q & A sessions will be advertised as they become available.

As a member of the White Rose DTP you will have been contacted with a login and password so that you can access the VIRE.  If you need help or have any ideas on how we can make best use of this fantastic resource email us at


Tim Else, University of Sheffield PhD research student, reviews the SMP Pathway Conference, 23rd May 2018

In May, the First Annual Sustainable Growth, Management and Economic Productivity (SMP) Conference was held at Sheffield University Management School. Firstly, to set the scene, I’ll run through the structure of the day. Speakers were given a 15-minute slot, with 10 minutes for presentation and 5 minutes for questions and feedback. Lots of time was built in for networking, including a lengthy lunch break. Finally, a closing keynote speech was given on making decisions in research design.

On paper, this sounds great, right?! Except, I’m scared of public speaking, not a fan of networking and, as I am in my first year of the PhD, don’t really know much about conferences in general. Acting on these feelings, I decided the most logical course of action was to sign myself up to present AND to be on the conference organising committee. Although on the surface, I appear to be a glutton for punishment, there was some method in my madness. I felt the fear and did it anyway! So, why did I go through with it? What did I get out of participating in this pathway conference?

Firstly, from a co-organiser perspective, I really appreciated the work that goes in behind the scenes of running a conference. For instance, due to the interdisciplinary nature of the pathways, we had a long meeting on how to split speakers into logical sessions. For those who are interested, we ended up using the pathway name and had “sustainable growth”, “management” and “economic productivity” sessions. In addition to this new-found appreciation, I discovered being on the organising committee gave me an insight into what to expect from a conference. In other words, it made the unknown known and eased my fears over the big day.

When I arrived at the conference, I noticed it was well attended (more people than I was expecting!!) and I was very nervous to get up and present. However, I soon gauged that the atmosphere of the audience was constructive and friendly, who provided very useful and insightful feedback on different presentations throughout the day. After presenting, I had several conversations in the networking breaks to discuss my presentation and research, which gave me a real confidence boost (I was excited that I had actually conveyed something engaging!). Hearing about the research of others was also really interesting and gave an insight into the sheer variety of topics being explored throughout the SMP pathway. I left the conference with a personal confidence boost, a greater sense of identity in the White Rose community, and the desire to get involved in similar events.

In sum, I think you should get involved with your pathway conferences (organising, presenting or both), because:

  • it provides an understanding of how a conference is organised (as well as how much work goes on in the background!)
  • you can get very useful and insightful feedback on your research from a friendly audience
  • you may get a confidence boost (and definitely a sense of accomplishment!)

Follow this link to find out more about the SMP Pathway. If you are thinking about setting up a student led conference and would like support from the WRDTP Office then please email us at

Where are they now:-

Dr Giulia Poerio: Brain tingles: First study of its kind reveals physiological benefits of ASMR


  • Research finds Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) may have benefits for both physical and mental health
  • Those who experience ASMR had significantly reduced heart rates while watching ASMR videos compared to people who do not experience ASMR
  • There are more than 13 million ASMR videos on YouTube which people watch to relax, relieve stress or sleep better – but there has previously been little research into its benefits

Dr Giulia Poerio, of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Psychology, is a White Rose DTC trained colleague.

Her research paper, ‘More than a feeling: Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is characterized by reliable changes in affect and physiology’ has recently been published in the journal PLOS One. Follow this link to read more about her research and watch a short explanatory video.


Giulia also chairs the ECR Women’s Network, a sub-group of Women@TUoS. If you are a female researcher in Sheffield at an early career stage (doctoral and post-doctoral) you can find out more about what this network does and get involved in future talks and events by clicking on the ECR Women’s Network link.

If you would like to tell us about the impact your research project has had and wish for it to be featured in the next DTP Matters, you can submit an article by following this link.

Katharine Bosanquet, NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow, University of York: SAPC Annual Scientific Meeting presentation.

The Society for Academic Primary Care (SAPC) holds an Annual Scientific Meeting. Its aim is to champion expertise in academic primary care and drive improvements in primary care provision. The annual conference brings together researchers and educators from the primary care community in the UK and around the world to showcase their latest studies on any aspect or issues relating to primary care. The 47th Annual Scientific Meeting of SAPC took place in London from 10-12th July 2018 at St Bartholomew’s Hospital and the Barbican Centre.  Its themes focused on Learning from Europe and Populations on the Move (Migration).

This year I presented my own research to the assembled delegates ‘Meeting the physical healthcare needs of people with serious mental illness in primary care.’


People with serious mental illness (SMI) – predominantly schizophrenia or bipolar disorder – die on average 15-20 years earlier than the general population, largely from the same potentially preventable physical conditions such as heart and lung disease. This mortality gap may still be widening and is a major injustice that represents one of the biggest health inequalities in England. As stated, by the late Professor Helen Lester, primary care is the cornerstone of healthcare for people with SMI as it is where most of their physical health needs are met. Consequently this study focuses on exploring what is happening in primary care.


Semi-structured interviews were conducted with people living with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and health professionals (GPs and practice nurses) in the Yorkshire and Humber region, to explore patient and provider perspectives regarding the barriers and enablers of meeting the physical health needs of people with SMI in primary care. Maximum variation was used to purposively select a sample which would include a range of respondents (age, gender, level of deprivation), as well as snowball sampling to engage those who proved hardest-to-reach, younger people with schizophrenia. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analysed using thematic analysis methodology.


Health professionals openly acknowledged that not enough is being done for this group. The main challenges identified included engagement of SMI patients, frequent missed appointments and difficulties following up when problems had been identified, providing sufficient time for adequate consultation, lack of continuity of care due to growing pressure on routine appointment systems, lack of training about mental health for doctors and nurses in primary care and a widening disconnect between primary and secondary care in relation to sharing information and communication. In contrast, nearly all respondents viewed the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) positively, reporting that it had raised awareness and encouraged GPs to conduct physical health checks for this patient group, an example of good practice that has sustained, even after the removal of QOF indicators. Analysis of patient interviews to follow.


This research study will provide new evidence about what is happening in practice by exploring views and perspectives from patients and health professionals. It will offer insider insight and innovative ideas on how to improve practice and inform policy. For example, a number of health professionals identified a missed opportunity in the role of practice nurses in relation to SMI patients. It was recognised that practice nurses could make a valuable contribution to the physical health management and monitoring of SMI patients, yet currently they have little direct contact with them and no mental health training, in stark contrast to their work with groups who have LTCs such as diabetes, COPD, asthma and CVD.

Next year’s Annual Scientific Meeting will take place in Exeter.

Victoria Circus, University of Sheffield PhD research student, reports back from the International Association People-Environment Studies (IAPS) 2018 Conference

Funded by the ESRC’s White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership (WRDTP) Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) Top-Up Scheme

I was lucky enough to recently receive RTSG Top-Up funding to attend and present at the 25th IAPS 2018 conference about environmental psychology in Rome from 9th-13th July. The funding covered my registration fee, accommodation and travel. IAPS was a really interesting and useful conference full of numerous opportunities and experiences. Below is a summary of the main activities I was involved in whilst at IAPS 2018.

  • I caught up with previous work colleagues and my BSc Psychology dissertation supervisor, engaging in lots of discussions (e.g. about future research projects and renewable energy) and I helped arrange and attended casual networking opportunities in the evenings once the conference was over for the day.
  • I attended the IAPS 2018 Welcome Cocktail Party and the Social Dinner and Dancing Party halfway through the week, networking with several researchers.
  • I attended numerous symposiums and sessions about environmental psychology including lectures on conservation, citizen science, restorative effects of nature and urban landscapes, learning outside of the classroom, mindfulness, school gardening, meat consumption, social practice theory, creative arts in environmental education, children and nature, evolutionary psychology, behavioural spillover and low carbon futures. The knowledge I gained from these lectures will be very valuable to my PhD project.
  • I attended the keynote presentations of expert academics within the field of environmental psychology (e.g. Terry Hartig and Wesley Schultz) and shared their presentations on social media.
  • I presented my research in a specialised symposium on behavioural environmental spillover and received some useful feedback to change my intervention as well as lots of insightful questions. This was an incredibly useful experience of presenting and answering questions from the audience and boosted my confidence just before I presented (and passed) my confirmation review.
  • I had my presentation and research promoted through social media by colleagues and other researchers.

  • I promoted colleagues’ and other researchers’ work each day of the conference through social media (see Twitter handle @V_Circus or hashtag #IAPS2018 for further information).
  • I attended one of the poster sessions and promoted my colleagues research on reductions in meat consumption on social media. This is an area I have previously conducted research and published in.
  • I engaged in environmentally-relevant discussions about travelling (i.e. flying versus train) to conferences and the disposable plastic dinnerware and coffee pods used at IAPS 2018 with colleagues and social media.
  • Lots of attendees engaged with me on Twitter, retweeting my posts, asking questions and following me.
  • I spoke to the new president of IAPS 2018, and he shook my hand and said that he enjoyed watching my presentation. He also followed me on social media.
  • I networked with other PhD students about the process of doing a PhD.
  • I networked with researchers about my work (e.g. using social practice theory) and sent follow-up emails when I was home to engage in further discussions about our work. I may be meeting up with one of these researchers in September.
  • I discussed future environmental psychology conferences, including IAPS 2020 in Canada and BrEPS in Surrey.
  • I explored the history and culture of the local area, including visiting the ancient monuments and piazzas in Rome and nearby Vatican City.

Thank you very much for funding such a great opportunity, it was extremely valuable.

Tahir Abass, Postgraduate Researcher, School of Law, University of Leeds; Student Representative for SCJ Pathway

As a postgraduate researcher entering the second year of my PhD programme I really value the support and training that has been made available to us through the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership, and how this has contributed to my academic and professional development. Within the Security, Conflict and Justice interdisciplinary pathway, two of the events that have particularly stood out for me were the Research in Human Rights Violations seminar held by Professor Ruth Blakeley and the Fieldwork and Data Collection in Sensitive or Hazardous Environments workshop which was facilitated by Professor Edward Newman, but involved a number of early career researchers and academics sharing their experiences of conducting research and fieldwork. These events provided fascinating insights into some really interesting research areas and challenges, which included exploring rendition, detention and torture in the War on Terror, urban violence and gangs in Medellín, and conducting research in conflict zones. There was also an opportunity for constructive and informative discussions on issues such as researching sensitive topics and the responsibility of researchers, ethical challenges in the field, effectively engaging with non-government organisations, and building reciprocal relationships with gatekeepers and community groups. Having the opportunity to engage with experienced and established researchers and academics regarding these challenges was really beneficial and I was able to take away plenty of practical guidance which I’ll be able to apply to my own fieldwork in the coming months.

My involvement with the Security, Conflict and Justice pathway has also (and perhaps most importantly) enabled me to start reflecting on the interdisciplinary nature of my own study. My research involves exploring the impact of imprisonment on Pakistani families (in the UK), and while engaging with the pathway during the previous academic year, the need for interdisciplinary approaches to my study has become clear. Despite my background in criminology and criminal justice, the issues associated with familial imprisonment transcend disciplinary boundaries and converge with sociology, law, social justice and politics. Although this presents challenges, as it will require me to step out of my comfort zone, there are also great opportunities as I am able to move beyond traditional barriers to find solutions to the problems that arise in my study and enhance the impact of my research in the real world. This is an outcome I am especially keen on achieving through my research and I look forward to engaging with the pathway and continuing to build networks over the next couple of years in order to accomplish this.


If you are interested in becoming a student representative for your Pathway, then please contact us at

6th Annual Research in Development Network (RiDNet) Conference; Measuring, Evaluating and Documenting Development: Linking Academia and Practice

19th March 2018, University of Leeds

The 6th Annual RiDNet conference kicked off with a welcome note from the co-director of the Leeds Centre for Global Development (CGD), Prof Caroline Dyer. This was followed by an excellent talk from Dr Tony Bromley of Organisational Development and Professional Learning (OD&PL) on ‘how to make the most out of your conference’. Dr Bromley asked all attendees to write down an email address, and three key words describing each person’s research interests on a post-it note. The notes were then stuck to the ‘networking wall’ at the back of the room, where participants could browse and network throughout the event!

Dr Bromley’s talk was followed by the first keynote address from Prof Barbara Evans, co-director of CGD, who discussed the challenges of urban sanitation. Prof Evans highlighted the importance of PGR conferences (such as this), that foster interdisciplinary collaboration and learning. Prof Evans’s talk was followed by Panel 1, ‘Measuring and Evaluating Development’, chaired by Dr Polly Wilding. Three speakers (Lena Jeha, Bianca Van Bavel and Atsiya Amos) introduced their work, and responded to questions from the audience. Panel 1 was followed by a fascinating keynote talk from Hilary Williams, Evidence and Learning Manager at World Vision UK. Hilary outlined the methods used to monitor and evaluate projects, disseminate and communicate findings, including participatory focus-group discussions, ‘story telling’ and visual, web-based platforms (e.g. START Network).

Panel 2, chaired by Rachel Palfrey, kicked off after lunch, with talks from Chris Blois-Brooke, Brendan Lawson and Elle Seaver on ‘Reporting and Documenting Development’. This was followed by Panel 3 on ‘Linking Academia and Practice’, chaired by Thirze Hermans. The session included talks from Ameena Al Rasheed, Lucy Atkinson, Xaman Minillo and Niki Sole. This last panel linked well to the roundtable discussion on ‘Careers in Development Practice’, chaired by Dr Sally Cawood, with insights from Hilary Williams (World Vision UK), Jill Healey (Child Hope UK), Chris Blois-Brooke (The Community Performance Network) and Elle Seaver (The Seaver Foundation). The panellists discussed their journeys into development practice, and advice they would give early career researchers and practitioners, including; gaining as much experience in different roles as possible (especially within large organisations), understanding the language of big donors (e.g. DFID), having an ability to meet targets, and manage budgets effectively, having ‘lived experience’ of development practice and, crucially, a passion for the work.

The final session consisted of an excellent talk from Dr Nilam Ashra-McGrath on ‘A PhD Rollercoaster’. Dr Ashra-McGrath talked about her ups and downs during the PhD process, and gave some important advice to PhD researchers in the audience. The conference then concluded with final remarks and thanks from Prof Evans, who handed out the prize for ‘best received speaker’, given (upon voting) to Brendan Lawson. This was followed by a wine reception and more networking!

Sally Cawood & Thirze Hermans

Emma James, University of York PhD student, on her visit to the Haskins Laboratories, USA

The Overseas Institutional Visit award enabled me to spend ten weeks at Haskins Laboratories in Connecticut, USA, with the goal of developing skills in developmental cognitive neuroscience. My research interests are in language development, and Haskins represents an extraordinarily well-connected network of literacy and language researchers from across the world. My visit host, Professor Ken Pugh, specialises in understanding neurocognitive bases of reading, making his group an ideal place to develop neuroimaging skills that would address my research interests.

Whilst the University of York has many experts in cognitive neuroscience, the research focus is primarily on adult populations. One of the primary goals for my visit was to better understand the challenges of collecting neuroimaging data from younger populations: children are less capable of lying still for prolonged periods of time, and are more likely to find the scanner noise and confined space daunting. Haskins are highly experienced at overcoming such challenges, and I was able to assist with pre-scanner training for their participating children. This primarily involved a mock scanner that could acclimatise children to the scanner environment (without spending hundreds of pounds in doing so), and provide feedback to the children when they were too fidgety!

I also assisted with the data collection itself at Yale Magnetic Resonance Research Centre and had the opportunity to discuss different testing protocols. For example, unlike adults, it was standard practice to keep an experimenter in the scanner with the child, helping them to feel at ease and to communicate information about movement. These procedures are crucial to acquiring high quality neuroimaging data from children, and thus to minimising data loss. I hope that I will be able to implement some of this new knowledge in York.

The second primary goal was to develop skills in analysing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data. I worked under the supervision of the Director of Neuroimaging to revisit the fundamental principles behind fMRI experiments, and build increasingly complex models to analyse some of their data. Haskins uses different analysis software than is used at York, which broadened my knowledge of different programs and their relative merits. I particularly benefited from this opportunity to improve my programming skills, necessary for the new software but also transferrable to other areas of my work.

I also benefited hugely from experiencing a different lab environment, understanding the different ways in which groups work together on projects and also different types of research funding. I enjoyed presenting my ongoing work to the group and receiving valuable feedback on my future plans, as well as meeting Haskins scientists and their visiting speakers. I also made the most of being in the US by attending an international conference that would otherwise have been unaffordable.


I would most definitely recommend the OIV scheme to other students. I am very grateful to have had such an excellent opportunity to experience a different lab, network with high profile international researchers, and expand my academic skillset within and beyond my PhD. Thank you WRDTP!

Experimental Economics PhD Student, Matthew Robson: The Choice Lab, Norway

Last summer I undertook an Overseas Institutional Visit (OIV) at The Choice Lab, Norway. The Choice Lab is a research group at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) which “designs experiments that are implemented in controlled laboratory or field settings […] in order to better understand economics and moral choices”. As my research is within the field of experimental economics, focusing on inequality aversion and self-interest, the Choice Lab perfectly matched my research interests. The OIV gave me the opportunity to embark on a 10 week visit; enabling me to meet world renowned professors, present research from my PhD, run a pilot experiment and be a part of a vibrant overseas research community. It was an experience which both met and exceeded my expectations.

One direct benefit of the OIV was the frequent meetings with the professors at NHH. I benefited immensely from their knowledge, especially in regard to the general way in which to approach research, the consideration of alternate methodological standpoints and the motivation of future papers. I thoroughly enjoyed both the inspiring quick paced debates we had and the highly technical discussions that those debates necessitated. I received valuable feedback and had enlightening discussions through presenting the second chapter of my PhD. I was, further, able run a pilot study for a future experiment, which has provided interesting results and has formed the base for my future research proposals (including postdoc applications).

Though being in such a vibrant and enthusiastic research group it has given me an insight into how different institutions approach research, for example: Monday morning breakfasts, PhD driven discussion groups and coffee meetings for networking, were memorable features. Moreover, being able to network with other PhD students and academics, for a prolonged period (which is often not possible at conferences) has provided a platform from which future collaborations can emerge.

Alongside the formal visit I was able to experience the culture of the host country. Traditions such as matpakke and risgrøt were particular favourites, and hiking amongst the fjells and fjords was spectacular. Bergen is a beautiful city, with (as is true of the rest of Norway in general) incredible opportunities to hike, ski and sightsee just on the doorstep.

I highly recommend an OIV for anyone on the PhD. Being able to study in an overseas institution has been an incredible opportunity, enriching the PhD experience over and above that available through solely studying at your home university. By experiencing other institutions, and ways of research collaboration, it allows you to develop ideas about how you would like to conduct research in the future and to formulate ideas about combining the best practices of either institution.

Alice Welsh, University of York PhD research student, reports on her Internship at the AIRE Centre, London, last year.

Between September and December of 2017, I had the opportunity to take an ESRC White Rose DTP Company Internship. I chose to apply for an internship at the AIRE Centre, a human rights charity that works in the UK and across Europe to ‘promote awareness of European law rights and assist marginalised individuals and those in vulnerable circumstances to assert those rights’. After hearing about their wonderful legal work in EU and human rights law (alongside seeing their name on many important cases in my own research!) I applied and was offered a 3-month internship.

As my own PhD research focussed on how EU part-time and atypical workers access their right to welfare benefits and permanent residence in the UK, I anticipated that the internship would fit perfectly with this and allow me to engage with the law in its application. Straight away I was trained and given the opportunity to get involved with the pro-bono advice service offered by the AIRE centre. This was not a coffee-fetching internship! I was able to work on the advice line and providing written legal advice, with the supervision of the AIRE centre lawyers. Advising real world clients was incredibly valuable for my substantive knowledge as I was able to apply the law in real life situations, enhancing my understanding of some of the slightly murkier areas of practice, rather than the more theoretical consideration of my PhD research. Ultimately, this opportunity encouraged me to adjust parts of my research to focus on the problems I found many EU nationals tackled when accessing welfare benefits or permanent residence in the UK.

Alongside this, I was quickly asked to assist AIRE centre staff with a range of different tasks, including writing case notes, information sheets for their website, preparing bundles and counsel briefs to court and tribunal hearings and assisting with training pro bono advice providers on EU law.

I worked at the AIRE centre with knowledgeable, experienced and friendly staff and alongside a group of around 10 interns; all of them were passionate and dedicated to human rights law, some with exemplary legal practice experience and others with exciting and promising careers ahead of them in legal practice, NGO work or academia. Having the chance to work amongst lawyers and interns in the same area of my PhD resulted in engaging and thoughtful discussions on different legal and political problems as well as establishing some lasting friendships.

Overall, the internship was a fantastic opportunity for both enhancing my PhD research and future career plans. It allowed me build on my own knowledge and abilities while also learning some vital skills and how the law works in practice, alongside meeting new people and exchanging ideas on my research. I would urge any PhD researcher to take up this opportunity to help make your research more applicable to the outside world and gain new perspectives on your studies.

James Gaza, University of Leeds: Internship and Japanese studies conference review

I have recently returned from a very busy but hugely enjoyable five months in Thailand, completing data collection as part of my current Masters by Research in Thai Studies and also undertaking a three-month internship at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in Bangkok. Although not officially part of my Masters I chose to undertake the internship, not only because it was an opportunity to gain vital experience in a sector where I hope to eventually work, but also to lead me to information and contacts that could be useful for my research project.

The data collection aspect of my trip involved interviewing government, private sector and disability activists and academics in Bangkok, as my research looks at accessibility to public transport for disabled people. Although the internship was based in the Policy and Development section of the Transport Division and the work there wasn’t related to my research topic, I also got to meet with UNESCAP’s Disability department. It was a useful introduction as I was invited to observe the first meeting of the Working Group on the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022. This was an exciting opportunity to witness talks being initiated on aviation accessibility for the first time, which linked to some of the themes of my own research.

Another outcome of connections made during the internship was interviewing a blind Thai senator at the Thai parliament: a highlight of my data collection. Whilst this interview was conducted in English, the majority of my other interviews and focus groups were conducted in Thai. Although this was really challenging it ended up being a fantastic way to hone the language skills that I’d developed during my postgraduate studies and increase my confidence in spoken Thai.

In regards to the work I did during the internship itself, whilst it wasn’t directly related to my research project it enabled me to use the research skills I’ve gained in a professional setting for the first time. I was invited to write a conference paper on urban-rural transport connectivity that was published and presented at the Intergovernmental 10th Environmentally Sustainable Transport Forum in Asia, which was held in Laos during March. Writing on an unfamiliar topic for my first publication was slightly scary (!) but eventually rewarding to see it presented in front of 200 government and UN officials and researchers from countries across Asia. Attending the conference also revealed one of the ways in which research can have real impact when disseminated to the world outside of academia, which has helped me to motivate me on my return to the U.K.

Both the data-collection and internship experience in Thailand genuinely complemented my studies and have helped prepare me for future study for a PhD or work in the field of social development in Asia. Five months well spent!

Security, Conflict and Justice Pathway: reflections on the past year, and looking ahead

Edward Newman, Pathway Director.

Since the DTP was launched in October 2017, the Security, Conflict and Justice pathway has organized events on human rights and the ‘war on terror’, new developments in peace research, the challenges of fieldwork and data collection in sensitive or hazardous environments, and the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ civilians in situations of conflict or persecution, amongst other pressing topics. As grand challenges, these demonstrate interlinkages across the security, conflict and justice theme, as well as the importance of interdisciplinarity. However, even though the terminology of interdisciplinarity and problem-focused research is now mainstream, a key reflection of the first year of the SCJ pathway is that interdisciplinarity remains a key challenge, in particular in academic circles which remain defined by narrow epistemologies and traditions. Certain topics – such as terrorism or peace studies – are strongly associated with political science and international studies, and to open up discussion in an inclusive way requires a committed effort. Given that the SCJ pathway includes students from a broad range of disciplinary areas – including socio-legal studies, international relations, and political science – the importance of inclusivity as we move to the second year will be the principal objective of the pathway.

A further reflection that emerged from pathway discussions is the shared understanding regarding the evolving demands upon doctoral researchers in terms of the skills that they now need to compete on the academic employment market, beyond the doctoral thesis. Publications, experience in project management, an understanding of the funding landscape and policy impact, as well as – in some cases – some sort of institutional placement experience, are all a part of the market place.

With these things in mind, provisional plans for the pathway for 2018-19 are well underway, and these include training events related to social justice and the future of democracy, new directions in criminology/socio-legal studies, security training for fieldwork in conflict-affected environments, key debates in armed conflict studies, and a major conference on new directions in security research. These events will be designed to enable students to engage with and deepen their understanding of the economic, political and ethical debates related to economic justice; to explore the cutting edge of security studies, with an emphasis upon theoretical/conceptual debates and interdisciplinarity; to engage in key concepts and debates in conflict studies, and in particular intrastate armed conflict and civil war; and to explore some of the socio-legal perspectives, including criminological, of the SCJ theme.

The overarching commitment of the pathway in pursuing these activities will be threefold. We will focus on ‘grand challenges’ in a way that illustrates the added value of interdisciplinary research, giving particular attention to the broad fields in which pathways students are engaged. We will aim to deepen the understanding of students of these challenges and demonstrate how their own research relates to them, directly or indirectly. And we will explore opportunities for effective policy engagement and impact in the SCJ area, both during and after doctoral research.

AQUALM Taster day

AQUALM Taster day Feb 2018

Last February we hosted a hugely successful Advanced Qualitative Methods Taster Day in Leeds. Over 75 students listened to 12 short presentations covering methodological issues as diverse as covert research, researching sensitive topics, qualitative longitudinal research and researching creatively with children. Speakers also addressed advances in sampling, case selection, qualitative analysis and ethics; methodological issues every qualitative researcher must think about during their research. A survey of participants identified areas of particular training need, which we are addressing in the WRDTP through workshops and developing creative approaches to training delivery in the VIRE.

Next February we plan to hold another taster day to brighten up in the depths of winter. The date and venue will be announced towards the end of the year.

If you have particular advanced qualitative methods you would like to see represented at the next taster day then let us know and we will do our best to make sure they are represented.

Contact Nick Emmel, AQUALM Training & Development Group Director, with any suggestions.

AQM Taster day

The aim of this training event is to provide doctoral researchers with an introduction to a range of advanced quantitative methods and analytical techniques that are commonly used in social science.  It will give participants the opportunity to identify methods relevant to their own research.

Date: Tuesday 22nd January 2019

Location: University if Sheffield, The Diamond Building


Booking for this training event will open shortly. Please keep an eye on the Training page for more information.

Upcoming AQUALM training sessions

In the next couple of months we have 2 exciting training sessions open to PhD doctoral research students from all ESRC Pathways.

Bren Neale, course leader

Introducing Qualitative Longitudinal Research, 18th & 19th October 2018, University of Leeds.

This course provides a detailed introduction to Qualitative Longitudinal (QL) research methods. It is designed to give researchers an appreciation of the methodological issues involved in researching lives through time, and to equip them with the basic tools and techniques needed to design a QL study, and to generate and analyse QL data.

Find out more and book your place by following this link.


Alison James, workshop leader

Lego® Serious Play®, Monday 26th November 2018, University of Sheffield

LEGO®SERIOUS PLAY® is a creative thinking methodology which can be used in any situation where a complex subject needs exploring. It involves a systematic series of building, sharing and discussing metaphorical models in LEGO in order to gather a range of perspectives. It is an inclusive and democratic approach in which everyone participates and all voices and opinions are equally valid.

Places for this course have ‘sold out’ however if you are interested in being entered onto a reserve list and being informed of future sessions please email


Kahryn James, Workshop leader

Ethics to Methodology, 20th November 2018, University of Leeds

Using empirical examples from a range of studies and contexts, this workshop will provide training in how to translate ethical challenges in research into opportunities for more sophisticated methodological engagement. Using a mix of seminar and small group work, participants will be encouraged to develop strategies for using ethical challenges in their own research to further their empirical and theoretical thinking.

Find out more and book your place by following this link

AQUALM/ Data, Communications and New Technologies (DCT) joint training events


Social Network Analysis, 17th October 2018, 12.00pm – 4.00pm, University of Leeds

In this workshop we will look at the components of social networks – individuals and connections between them within friend lists, conversations and other connected content. Represented as nodes and edges within graphs these can represent communities, conversations and content maps and can answer questions about interpersonal connection and communication, influence and power. Using simple tools we will identify and use key metrics that describe positions and roles within networks to interrogate questions about the actors that we identify.

Further details and booking information will be announced on the Training page of the WRDTP website soon.


Digital Ethnography, 28th November 2018, 12.00pm – 4.00pm, University of Leeds

This workshop uses familiar and embedded digital technologies to ask a critical question about the everyday in relation to power politics. Come with your laptop and smartphone, and be prepared to undertake auto-ethnographic, ethnographic and fast ethnographic projects on yourself and others. We start with a brief outline of the ethics and principles of ethnography, before undertaking some rapid ethnography of our own. This workshop is about play, participation, creation and exploration and in so doing we will unveil a range of power politics, ideologies and presumptions you have about yourself and about digital technologies.

Further details and booking information will be announced on the Training page of the WRDTP website soon.

Call for participants

“Doing research in an age of #metoo: Workshop on the impacts and implications for researchers of increasing awareness about sexual abuse and misconduct.” 

Are you interested in how increased awareness of sexual abuse and misconduct might impact on you as a researcher?

Polly Wilding, Deputy Pathway Director for the Civil Society, Development and Democracy Pathway, is looking for a small group of PGRs to feed into the planning for a White Rose DTP training event in November 2018 on research in an age of #metoo to help define the focus and topics. One speaker from Oxfam is already confirmed, and you would play a part in identifying potential speakers and defining the content and focus of the workshop.

If you would like to get involved, please email citing your research topic and methods, your home institution, and a couple of lines on why the topic is of interest to you.

Social Data Science in Evidence Based Policy Making Event – co-hosted by the ESRC and the Alan Turing Institute (11 and 12 September)

The ESRC and Alan Turing Institute are co-hosting an event exploring Social Data Science in Evidence Based Policy Making. The event will explore the opportunities and challenges for social data science to address diverse social and economic issues in the areas of: Cities and Public Services; Health and Wellbeing; Economy and Trade; Crime and Security. The event is hosted by the Alan Turing Institute at the British Library on 11th and 12th September 2018.

There are 5 places available at this event for current ESRC-funded students with an interest and relevance to the subject area and we are offering bursaries of up to £200 per person to support their attendance. Interested students should complete the below application form and submit it to ESRC by Friday 24th August 2018.

Application form

ESRC Funded students only: Media Skills training

The ESRC offers ESRC funded researchers a one-day media training session that provides the opportunity to develop practical media skills in a safe environment.

The training is an opportunity for researchers, no matter what stage of their career, to develop their skills and feel comfortable handling media interviews. Whether a PhD student, postdoctoral researcher or senior fellow, the new practical media training session provides the guidance needed to engage the media with confidence – and plenty of opportunity to practice.

What the training covers

The course will:

  • show how the media can be an effective tool to disseminate research and increase its impact
  • help delegates understand what journalists want from researchers, and the news angle of research findings
  • provide experience of being interviewed by a broadcast journalist in different scenarios
  • offer techniques for taking control of an interview and getting a message across
  • explain how working with the media can support research having an impact on policy and practice.

Dates and locations

The course will be taking place in different locations throughout the year. The forthcoming course dates for 2018 are:

  • 13 September – Leeds
  • 4 October – London – fully booked (reserve list only)
  • 22 November – London – fully booked (reserve list only)

If you would like to attend one of these courses, please register your interest via the online booking form.

Further information can be found on the ESRC website.

Save the date:

WRDTP Welcome Event, 12 November 2018, University of Sheffield, Octagon Centre – welcoming all our new incoming doctoral researchers from Leeds, York, Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam, Manchester Metropolitan, Bradford and Hull Universities to the new Doctoral Training Partnership. There will be an opportunity for current students to present a poster during the lunchtime session. Look out for further information coming up on the NEWS page of the website and for your opportunity to book on.

Data Management and Open Scholarship Day, Tuesday 4th December, INOX, University of Sheffield

This session covers Open Scholarship, Open Access, and Shared Access as well as an afternoon workshop session on Research Data Management where you will have the opportunity to start working on your own Data Management Plan.

Target audience & any previous experience required

White Rose DTP Social Science Doctoral Researchers, who have not attended this course before. We advise any MA Social Research students to attend in their first year of PhD study.

Specifically recommended for all new ESRC funded doctoral researchers.

More information and booking details will be posted on the website soon.

New Student Forum: get involved with the WRDTP!

We are setting up a new student forum which will give WRDTP research students a chance to get involved with events, training, DTP Matters and various other activities such as pathway conferences and networking events. We are currently in the early days of planning this new student group and would love to have your input into what kinds of activities you would like to get involved in.

If you would like to be involved in a student forum and representing the interests of your fellow students then either get in touch via email or by speaking to us at the upcoming Welcome Event on the 12th November.