DTP Matters Newsletter

24th Edition

Welcome to the 24th 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 is released bi-annually 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 enquiries@wrdtp.ac.uk

News and Events

COVID-19 UKRI Updates and WRDTP FAQs page

The WRDTP is committed to ensuring all UKRI updates for current ESRC funded students are brought to you in a timely and understandable manner. We acknowledge that this is an uncertain time for many, and wish to support you wherever we can, providing up-to-date information and advice on how best to manage your award.

To this end, we have set up a Frequently Asked Questions page for you to view, which will be updated with new information from the UKRI as it is released. On this page you can also find links to the UKRI’s updated guidance.

This page is evolving, so if you see any omissions in information which you would like us to include, please contact us at enquiries@wrdtp.ac.uk

If you are concerned about your award, access to funding, or would like to find out if there is any specific support available to you, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

COVID-19 FAQ page

WRDTP Welcome Event 2020

The 2020 WRDTP Welcome Event was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic and held over two days in November 2020. Day one gave attendees an overview of the WRDTP and the support that is available to students, alongside an informative panel discussion on ‘The challenges and opportunities of conducting research during a pandemic.’ This panel talk was hosted by the WRDTP Director, Professor Charlie Burns, and included contributions from Dr Ana Manzano, Dr Hannah Lambie-Mumford, and Dr Liz Breen.

Attendees also heard from Katie Pruszynski, the Faculty Engagement Manager of the Faculty for Social Sciences, University of Sheffield, on Communicating for Impact. The WRDTP organised talks concluded with current PhD students speaking to attendees about their experiences as PhD students within the WRDTP university partnership.

To conclude the first day of the WRDTP Welcome Event, current MA Social Science Research students and PhD students were invited to present their research in the form of a poster and/or presentation talk for the chance to win a £50 Book token. All of the Posters can be viewed here (please note that you will need to log in to the VIRE on the WRDTP website to view these. If you do not know or have misplaced your VIRE login please speak to your university’s WRDTP Link Administrator).

Day two of the WRDTP Welcome Event consisted of introductions to the seven WRDTP interdisciplinary Pathways, with attendees invited to attend the Pathway sessions that most closely aligned to their research projects.

All resources from the Welcome Event, including recorded sessions from both Day one and Day two of the Event can be found here (again, please note that you will need to log in to the VIRE to access these).

Women in Academia

Visit the WIA website

The Women in Academia Group was created within the WRDTP Student Forum to work with Universities and Institutions to improve the conditions in academia for women.

You can now visit the Women in Academia website and join the conversation through their online forum. This is a safe space for PGRs, early career researchers and women working in academia, as well as male allies, to come together and discuss the common concerns and issues faced by women on an academic career path.

You can also download and read the WOmanifesto, a document created during the WRDTP’s Women in Academia event which took place in December 2019. The WOmanifesto considers such things as inclusion within academia, women’s physical and mental health, and power dynamics within academic institutions.

To visit the website and join the discussion, click the link below. In addition, you can be part of the conversation on twitter.

Women in Academia Website


Hillary Place Papers

Call announcement

The purpose of Hillary Place Papers is to give current and former students the opportunity to share their research, ideas, and insights with the wider educational community. Papers can be either individually written or co-authored pieces, including collaborations between students and supervisors. This year’s theme is ‘Learning from the Pandemic: in Research and in Practice’

Abstracts (around 150 words, template here) are welcome for a variety of types of submissions including, but not limited to:

  • Short research papers (4000-7000 words)
  • Think pieces on current issues in educational research and practice (1000-4000 words)
  • Accounts of experience of research or teaching (1000-4000 words)
  • Book reviews (1000-3000 words)
  • Conference reports and reviews (1000-3000 words)
  • Interviews with scholars/academics/teachers (2000-5000 words)

You can find more details and guidance on the website: https://hpp.education.leeds.ac.uk/call-for-papers/

The deadline for the submission of abstracts is January 11th 2021, at 12noon. Abstracts will be peer-reviewed in advance of a full paper. Publication is expected in Spring/Summer 2021.

Please submit your abstracts (or any query you may have) to:  HPPeditors@gmail.com

British Library Open Days 

Jan 2021 – March 2021

The British Library is running a series of online webinars for doctoral students between January 2021 and March 2021. These webinars are a chance for PhD students who are new to the British Library to learn how to make the most of the research materials on offer, get to grips with the practicalities of using the Library and its services, and to find out how to navigate their physical and online collections. This is also a great opportunity to ‘meet’ the staff at the British Library and network with other researchers across a national platform.

Each webinar concentrates on a different aspect of the Library’s collections and most take an inter-disciplinary approach.

Further details regarding this year’s series of webinars can be found here, and a link to the registration form can be found below. See below for the webinar titles and dates.

Student Experience

Postdoctoral Fellowships Reports 2019/2020

Please see below a selection of reports from our 2019/2020 Postdoctoral Fellows on their activities during their Postdoctoral year. The competition for the 2021/2022 Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme is currently open, with Expressions of Interest due by 4pm, Thursday 14th January 2021. For full information please click on the link below:

2021/2022 Postdoctoral Fellowships

Humanitarian Protection in an Age of Asylum

Dr Chloë McRae-Gilgan

This past year, I undertook the ESRC-funded post-doctoral fellowship entitled Humanitarian Protection in an Age of Asylum, with the purpose of building and expanding upon my PhD research findings in order to: (1) contribute significantly to the academic scholarship by disseminating, through publications and participation at academic conferences, the first in-depth study of how the UK understands its international responsibilities for protecting people from mass atrocities; (2) inform, educate and ultimately impact policymakers and practitioners working in mass atrocity policy on the national and international level; and (3)  attend relevant trainings for building my skills and identify and apply for research funding for a project that builds on a key theme of the PhD that liberal states cannot be presumed, just by virtue of their democratic label, to adhere to or implement human rights norms, particularly in the context of asylum seekers. The fellowship provided me with the opportunity to undertake these important objectives towards the goal of establishing myself as a leading scholar in my field. I accepted a permanent post at the University of Lincoln Law School this past September, the overarching purpose of the fellowship. Therefore, as I conclude the fellowship, I have reached most of my objectives and all of my aims and will continue to work on those not yet fully realised as a result of the Covid-19 situation. A discussion of each objective follows.

Dr Chloe McRae-Gilgan

The first objective was the main focus of my fellowship especially during the lockdown. I drafted 4 articles, which were reviewed by my mentor and colleagues before submission to peer-reviewed journals. The first article was accepted for publication in International Journal of Human Rights for 2021. Article 2 will be resubmitted to a new journal on migration law in the next month. Article 3 is currently under review at Journal of Human Rights Practice. I am editing the fourth article for readiness as part of a special issue submission to Cambridge Review of International Affairs that I was invited to join by academics from one of the cancelled conferences that would have taken place in the summer 2020. I am confident that all four articles will be published within the next year.

In terms of the second objective: The dissemination via academic conferences and the network engagement for policy dissemination was severely disrupted given the Covid-19 situation, particularly due to social-distancing and the demotion of mass atrocity policy as a government priority (given the current focus on Covid-19 across many disciplines). Thus, all my conferences were cancelled, and government officials were unavailable to meet with me. I managed to present at two additional conferences during the beginning of the post-doc, so technically, I missed only 2 of the 4 slated conferences in total. Even so, the conferences will be picked up again in 2021 and I plan to participate. I did manage to disseminate my mass atrocity research to policy circles through my published blog for the European Centre for the Responsibility to Protect in spring 2020. Even so, I have continued the policy work I had started with government officials. Most recently, I submitted written evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee’s inquiry on the Xinjiang detention camps and UK mass atrocity policy more broadly. To fill the gap in policy work during the fellowship, I adapted my research focus to fit within the current Covid-19 context by conducting research for the International Detention Coalition on the key concerns around detainment of asylum seekers for international dissemination. I worked on this throughout the summer while finishing the journal articles.

In terms of the third objective: Due to Covid-19, the professional trainings and writing groups I had planned to attend were cancelled as of March. The loss of this training and mentorship on writing my new grant proposal for the new research project delayed my final application draft. However, before the lockdown, I did manage to attend several other relevant trainings on writing grant proposals, so I have a solid first draft to work from as I head into my post at Lincoln. To fill the gap left by the loss of some of these later professional training activities (and some were just unavailable before the lockdown such as the BBC women experts training), I applied for Fellow recognition by the HEA through the York Professional and Academic Development Scheme. This process required me to develop a new project around a pedagogical practice and compile and present all my teaching and research experience. My project involved a micro literature review on decolonising the teaching of migration law and I now have a practical plan for a module I will be leading next academic year at Lincoln. While the project was not new for me, it became very timely given the international movements and university-wide commitments to equality, inclusion and diversity. I am pleased to say my application was successful, and I am now recognised as a Fellow. This was not originally an objective of the fellowship, but I adapted to the loss of the planned engagement and training activities by taking on new plans that would help my overall goal of an academic career.

Overall, the fellowship provided me with the gift of paid time where I could concentrate on building my academic profile in order to bridge from my PhD to permanent employment. The fellowship was a huge success and while some plans did not come to fruition, I was able to adapt and augment my objectives to the environment we found ourselves in which did not deter the aspirations of the fellowship. Despite the hiring freezes at universities across the country, I secured a permanent post at a place that values my contributions and potential. While there was a severe underspend of the grant money on my fellowship due to the lockdown, this is also positive as it can be used in future to help build bridges for future fellows’ careers as it has done for me.

Postdoctoral Fellowship activity report: Variability in Language Learning

Dr Emma James

My main research interests are understanding variability in language learning: how is it that some children come to acquire new vocabulary more easily than others, and how might the learning mechanisms change as we grow older? My PhD research addressed these questions by examining the influence of prior knowledge on learning new words, and one aim for this fellowship was to disseminate these findings further. Moving forwards, I hoped to build my skills towards combining these small-scale experiments with real-world data.

The postdoctoral fellowship scheme provided me with the time and resources to improve my statistical skills, and to collaborate with language learning app Memrise in developing new research questions. Here’s how I achieved those goals.

Dr Emma James

1) Maximise the impact from existing experimental studies.

To reach academic audiences, I published three papers from my previous research over the course of the fellowship (Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry; Journal of Research in Reading; Royal Society Open Science). I also submitted two further manuscripts, which are currently undergoing peer review (pre-prints: https://psyarxiv.com/vm5ad; https://psyarxiv.com/2rbt3/). The fellowship provided valuable opportunities to disseminate these findings at international conferences and broaden my academic networks. Two presentations were accepted for international meetings (Experimental Psychology Society, Beijing, China; International Association for the Study of Child Language, Philadelphia, USA), but unfortunately the meetings were cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

An important goal of this fellowship was to improve communication with non-academic audiences. To work on these skills, I wrote lay summaries of each published paper, and created a new personal website for sharing them online. I also engaged in broader communication activities, such as publishing a Frontiers Young Minds article for children on the importance of sleep for learning, and featuring in a popular science documentary set for broadcast early in 2021. During the outbreak, I took part in I’m a Scientist – Stay at Home web chats, regularly discussing my research with school students and winning Scientist of the Week.

2) Enhance the transparency and reproducibility of my research practices.

The fellowship afforded me the time to improve my research practices, and engage with new networks for reproducible science. In this regard, I completed training as an instructor for The Carpentries, who are a non-profit organisation that support the teaching of data and coding skills. I look forward to using these new skills to support my colleagues in conducting reproducible analyses. Although the pandemic limited my ability to run workshops this year, I organised one Introduction to R workshop (York St. John University), which included the development of new materials. As an alternative to in-person workshops, I used the time to develop an online coding tutorial to support researchers moving to online data collection during the pandemic. I was also invited to speak at the York Open Research event and the BeOnline meeting, providing alternative opportunities to share reproducible research practices both within York and internationally.

3) Advance statistical skills for analysing large-scale data.

I completed a number of online courses to improve my data manipulation and analysis skills, and further completed the DataCamp Data Scientist certificate. I gained valuable experience applying these data skills to openly available datasets in a project with my mentor Prof. Majid, providing additional opportunities to learn from her expertise. I attended two week-long courses to enhance my understanding of modern statistical approaches, including Bayesian statistics and linear mixed effects models. These workshops also provided training in data simulation, which will enhance the reproducibility of my research and play a vital role in developing future research proposals.

4) Develop a funding proposal that combines experimental and big data approaches to understanding language learning.

The final aim of the fellowship was to develop a new line of research that can test small-scale experimental findings at large in naturally occurring datasets. I analysed data from Memrise, a foreign language learning app, and found preliminary evidence of sleep-associated benefits for vocabulary learning.

These findings were presented at the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (July 2020, online), and published in the conference proceedings. I also gave a talk about the research to Memrise (online) and made E. James, ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship report plans for sourcing future datasets. This preliminary work has laid the foundations for developing a fellowship application during my next post.

Birth spaces & Maternity Units: Co-produced architectural design guidance grounded in user experience & communicated in accessible media

Dr Sarah Joyce

Please click on the image above to link to the pdf version and access contained links.

UK Food Aid and Food Insecurity

Dr Madeleine Power

My PhD on food insecurity and food aid came on the back of experience working in policy and campaigning on inequality and poverty. My research has therefore always been policy-oriented, focused on addressing the structural drivers of inequality and poverty. The ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship was intended to embed academic impact from my PhD research but also, and most importantly, create change in policy and practice around food insecurity, particularly as it relates to marginalised groups. This brief report sets out the main activities and achievements of the Fellowship towards this end.

1. Publication, dissemination and development of PhD research findings within both an academic
context and a policy setting.

I secured a contract with Policy Press for a book entitled ‘Hunger, Racism and Religion in Neoliberal Britain’ and will submit a full manuscript by the end of October 2020. The book will be published in 2021.

Dr Maddy Power

I submitted the article ‘Disciplinary and Pastoral Power, Food and Poverty in Late-Modernity’ to Critical Social Policy in March 2020; I have since submitted revisions and am waiting to hear the outcome. In addition, I have published two further articles, one book chapter, and an article in The Conversation on inequalities, food and poverty: Pybus, K, Power, M & Pickett, K 2020, ‘A mixed-methods, participatory study of food and insecurity in the context of inequality’, Journal of Poverty and Social Justice (Accepted/In press); Power, M, Doherty, B, Pybus, K & Pickett, K 2020, ‘How COVID-19 has exposed inequalities in the UK food system: The case of UK food and poverty’, Emerald Open Research, vol. 2, 11; Power, M 2020, The Hungry City: A Growing Resistance to Britain’s Food Poverty Crisis. in J Dobson & R Atkinson (eds), Urban Crisis, Urban Hope: A Policy Agenda for UK Cities. Anthem Environment and Sustainability Initiative (AESI), Anthem Press, pp. 11-17; Power, M. Why some people are being put off food banks, The Conversation, 5 December 2019. I originally intended to co-produce a policy toolkit on food insecurity with Bradford Metropolitan District Council Public Health team. The landscape of food insecurity and food aid in Bradford and the UK more broadly was disrupted significantly by Covid-19. As a consequence, Bradford Council, Feeding Bradford (the main coordinating body for food aid in Bradford), Born in Bradford/Bradford Institute of Health Research (BIHR) and I modified the planned to work to assess the change in existing provision and usage, and develop policy to reflect the new context. We recruited an intern for four weeks to assist with a mapping exercise. This work directly informs and is written into Bradford Council’s Sustainable Food Strategy as well as Feeding Bradford’s ongoing organisational work.

2. Develop and consolidate academic and non-academic partnerships around ethnicity and religion in the food aid sector, and improve the inclusion of ethnic and religious minorities within the food aid arena.

I originally intended to hold a workshop at the University of York on ethnic inequalities in food insecurity. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, this was co-organized as a webinar with the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN). Given the immense demands placed on food aid coordinating bodies at this time, IFAN were renumerated for their work. A briefing note on key issues addressed in the webinar and recommendations for inclusion in food aid will be published in October 2020. IFAN, in conjunction with the University of York, is organizing a follow-up webinar due to the high interest in the topic. In addition, I co-organized the workshop, ‘Questioning the role of religious faith in UK food provision’ at the ENUF Household Food Insecurity Conference, 2020. A summary of the workshop was published as a multi-authored blog, ‘Denning, S, Williams, A, Power, M, Pemberton, C & Cullen P. Questioning the role of religious faith in UK food provision, Life on the Breadline, 1st July 2020’.

3. Advance my inter-disciplinary and mixed-methods skills, and improve my research leadership capabilities, with a view to leading a larger grant application.

I have received training and mentoring from leading researchers in inter-disciplinary social science, including Professors Hilary Graham and Neil Small. I was shortlisted for a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship for a mixed-methods, inter-disciplinary study on ethno-religious differences in food insecurity. I have been awarded a Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship in Humanities and Social Science (£245,970.96) for a project entitled: Understanding ethnic variations in the prevalence and experience of food insecurity, and its interaction with mental health: A mixed-methods longitudinal research programme. This will run from 2020-2024.


2021 ‘Compulsory’ Training dates for ESRC funded students

ESRC-funded PhD students are required to attend the following training during their funded period, ideally within their first PhD year. Non-ESRC funded students are also welcome to attend the following training for their own research benefit.

Advanced Quantitative Methods Taster Day

26th January 2021

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. Most of the techniques discussed here are then examined in depth at training workshops later in the academic year, so by attending this session you can determine which further sessions to attend.

Advanced Qualitative Methods Taster Day

10th February 2021

The aim of this training event is to provide doctoral researchers with an introduction to a range of advanced qualitative methods for social science research.  It will give participants the opportunity to identify methods relevant to their own research. Most of the techniques discussed here are then examined in depth at training workshops later in the academic year, so by attending this session you can determine which further sessions to attend.

Data Management and Open Scholarships Training

16th February 2021

White Rose DTP Advanced Research Training – sessions on Open Scholarship, Open Access, Shared Access as well as an afternoon workshop on Research Data Management.

The following training is compulsory for all ESRC funded MA Social Science Research Students, and any non-ESRC funded MA Social Science Research student undertaking the Working Beyond Disciplines Module.

Working Beyond Disciplines: MA Social Science Research Students

24th February 2021

The Working Beyond Disciplines training day introduces students to the ‘grand challenges’ within the thematic fields of their Interdisciplinary Training Pathway, and highlights the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to research. It prepares students for the cutting edge debates they will encounter at doctoral level.

In the morning students will be able to watch and interact with an expert panel, speaking on ‘Post-Pandemic Futures.’ The panel will aim to discuss this theme in relation to Social Science research.

For all upcoming AQM, AQUALM and Pathway specific training please visit the WRDTP Training and Events page


ESRC Funded students – Funding Schemes 2020/21

First call for applications

The White Rose DTP are pleased to announce the first call of the academic year 2020/21 for applications to the various additional funding schemes available to ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) funded doctoral researchers who commenced their studies after October 2011. More information can be found in the ‘Managing your ESRC Award‘ section of the VIRE.

We are pleased to confirm that we are again able to consider applications which involve overseas or UK-based travel, including fieldwork, institutional visits and conference attendance. However, all travel must take place in accordance with your institution’s guidance and the UK Government’s travel advice.

If you have any queries, please email enquiries@wrdtp.ac.uk and we will get back to you.

Latest UKRI guidance

11th November 2020

For those few of you who may not have already seen, the UKRI updated their guidance for students with a funding end date after 31st March 2021. The full information can be found here. The WRDTP are endeavouring to continue to keep students up to date, and we have set up a new FAQ page on the website to hopefully answer as many of your questions as possible – please see the link at the top of this page.

If you have any questions which are not answered by the FAQ, please don’t hesitate to contact us via enquiries@wrdtp.ac.uk

ESRC Review of the PhD in the Social Sciences

Interim Report

The ESRC is currently undertaking a review of the PhD in the Social Sciences, conducted by CFE Research in partnership with the University of York. The review will investigate the skills needed by social science PhD graduates for careers within and beyond academia and the optimum ways to develop them. The full report will be issued in Spring 2021, but you can read an interim report by clicking the link to the right.

Student Representation

2020/2021 Student Forum

Find out more about the WRDTP Student Representatives for the 2020/2021 academic year. The Student Forum will be meeting to discuss the operations and development of the DTP on the following dates:

  • Wednesday 27th January 2021
  • Wednesday 17th March 2021
  • Wednesday 12th May 2021
  • Tuesday 6th July

If you have anything you wish to raise with the Student Forum at these meetings please contact one of your Student Forum Representatives.

Danielle Beaton

University of Sheffield, WHC

Jialu Bai (Presley)

University of York, SMP

Alex Kirby-Reynolds

University of Sheffield, CDD

Alice Wilson

University of York, CEL

Sophie Phillips

University of Sheffield, ECY

Richard Remelie


Alex Ricketts

University of Sheffield, CEL

Richard Watson

University of Leeds, SMP

Ella Hubbard

University of Sheffield, CEL

Hussain Bari

University of Sheffield, SCJ

Stephanie Segura

University of Sheffield, SMP

We are still interested in recruiting Student Forum Members from Sheffield Hallam University and from the University of Hull. If you are interested in becoming a Student Forum representative, you can email training@wrdtp.ac.uk or complete an Expression of Interest form here.

2020/2021 Postdoctoral Fellows

The 2020/2021 Postdoctoral Fellows are now half way through their Postdoctoral year. To find out more about them and their research click on any of the images below to go to the Postdoctoral Fellowships page:

Nicola Antaki

University of Sheffield, ECY

Amy Atkinson

University of Leeds, ECY

Marketa Dolezalova

University of Leeds, CDD

Gill Francis

University of York, ECY

Charlotte Kitchen

University of York, WHC

Emma Long

University of York, SCJ

Laura Towers

University of Sheffield, WHC

Lauren White

University of Sheffield, WHC

Oznur Yardimci

University of York, CEL

Choo Yoon Yi

University of Sheffield, CEL