DTP Matters Newsletter

22nd Edition

Welcome to the 22nd 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

WRDTP Welcome Event, 18th October 2019, University of York

On 18th October 2019, over 200 new doctoral researchers from the Universities of Hull, Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, Sheffield Hallam, York and Manchester Metropolitan came together at the White Rose DTP Welcome Event at the University of York, for a full day of talks, networking and Pathway meetings.

As usual, this was the first of the ‘All Pathway’ WRDTP events for 2019/2020 for researchers within the Social Sciences and forms part of a wide range of training events and courses offered to our post graduate research community.

The day began with a warm welcome from the Director of the WRDTP, Professor Ruth Blakeley, followed by a ‘Question Time’ style Panel on the topic of ‘Impact for Research.’ This year’s Panel speakers were:

The Panel speakers were invited to describe their experiences as researchers and their tips and techniques for identifying and driving impact within their own research.

Katie Pruszunski concluded the first session of the morning with a talk on communication for impact and the methods which could be employed to broadcast your research to a wider audience.

After a short break, two current PhD students, Tahir Abass and Tamara Satmarean, gave short presentations on their experiences as WRDTP PhD students and their ambitions for employment both within academia and in industry/ Public sector environments.

The morning session was rounded up with a talk on the White Rose University Libraries, presented by the University of York’s Social Sciences Faculty Librarian Tony Wilson.

After a break for a networking lunch, the new students attended Pathway meetings; this was a chance for students to meet the Directors and Deputy Directors of their Pathway, as well as other students in their Pathway. This was an opportunity to network with students at the same stage of their PhD and to learn more about the upcoming Pathway specific training on offer later in the academic year.

We really enjoyed welcoming you to the DTP Social Sciences Research community and are already looking forward to seeing you again at our events throughout the year.

Photos from the WRDTP Welcome Event 2019

Women in Academia

Friday 13th December 2019, 9.30am – 3.30pm
The Octagon Centre, University of Sheffield

All women PhD Social Sciences Doctoral Researchers from the Universities of Bradford, Hull, Leeds, Manchester Metropolitan, Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam and York are warmly invited to attend the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership Women in Academia event, 13 December 2019, at The Octagon, University of Sheffield.

This is the first WRDTP event for women in academia. The event aims to provide a space for women within the postgraduate research community to reflect on their positionality within academia, and to come together as a collective to provide advice, support, and encouragement from and for other women within the DTP.

Doctoral Researchers need to register with a Discussion Group when they book a place at this event. The following Discussion Groups will take place before the buffet lunch between 11.15am and 12.30pm (please see the event page for further booking details):

  • Group 1: Women’s Health (Periods, Pregnancy, Transitioning)
  • Group 2: Inclusion within the Academy
  • Group 3: Mental health and Wellbeing
  • Group 4: Gender power dynamics in Academia (navigating supervisory relationships, publication process, progression in academic careers, teaching)

Join the conversation: #WRDTPWomen

New VIRE username and password

We have recently update the VIRE username and password for all WRDTP students. Your username is unique to the institution in which you study; you should not try to log in with your personal university username and password. Please find below the corresponding username and password for your institution:

Institution Username Password
University of Sheffield sheffield@wrdtp.ac.uk SocialSCIENCEdtp20
University of Leeds leeds@wrdtp.ac.uk SocialSCIENCEdtp20
University of York york@wrdtp.ac.uk SocialSCIENCEdtp20
University of Hull hull@wrdtp.ac.uk SocialSCIENCEdtp20
Manchester Metropolitan University manchester@wrdtp.ac.uk SocialSCIENCEdtp20
University of Bradford bradford@wrdtp.ac.uk SocialSCIENCEdtp20
Sheffield Hallam University hallam@wrdtp.ac.uk SocialSCIENCEdtp20

The VIRE is a secured area which provides students with access to unique resources created exclusively for the WRDTP as well as recordings of training sessions and workshops.

Once in the VIRE you can find dedicated sections for each interdisciplinary pathway, as well as an area for resources and training suitable for all. There are also sections for both Quantitative and Qualitative research methods, information about using the WRDTP branding and information and application details for funding and awards.

The VIRE will be updated with new resources over the course of the year, so make sure to check back regularly to see what is new.

Student Experience

Victoria Circus; University of Sheffield; Education, Childhood and Youth (ECY) Pathway

Report of activities at North American Association of Environmental Education (NAAEE) 2019 Research Symposium and 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 North American Association of Environmental Education 16th Annual Research Symposium and 48th Annual Conference about environmental education in Lexington, Kentucky (USA) from 14th -19th October. The funding covered my registration fee, accommodation and travel. The trip was really interesting and useful and full of numerous opportunities and experiences. Below is a summary of the main activities I was involved in whilst away on the trip.

Victoria Circus

ESRC funded PhD Student, ECY Pathway

  • I caught up and networked with my PhD project collaborative partner who also attended the event. We discussed the environmental education projects featured at the event as well as our project and the structure and content of the evaluative report I’ll be providing her with at the end of the project. We also discussed with some American attendees how her resource might be adapted for an American audience.
  • I attended numerous sessions about environmental intergenerational learning in families, optimism in environmental action, school and community gardening, managing waste responsibly in schools and exploring nature with school children. Some of these were hands-on with attendees encouraged to play with plants and seeds during the talk. I also attended a keynote presentation by a professor of environmental education who discussed international environmental education. The knowledge I gained from these talks will be very valuable to my PhD project and future career in environmental education.
  • I went on several field trips, including exploring the local area of Lexington to hear about the cultural and historical heritage and different environmentally-friendly projects happening, such as a community garden. This session was lead by the founder of the Sustainable Communities Network. I also went walking round the Raven Run Nature Reserve and kayaking down the Kentucky River to the Palisades with other environmental educators. My collaborative partner sang some songs to them from her resource. I learnt about some of the local wildlife and land restrictions. This was a great hands-on experience which helped me reconnect with nature.
  • I attended a researcher networking dinner at a local diner and networked with several environmental researchers, discussing our different research projects and global environmental social movements such as Extinction Rebellion and how these are youth-led.
  • I met lots of environmental researchers and educators from across America and the rest of the world (e.g. Taiwan, India) over lunch and in sessions, and discussed our work and my collaborative partner’s resource and its accessibility in other countries.
  • I made use of the Conference’s buddy system and met and networked with a veteran NAAEE goer.
  • I promoted the work of others and tweeted my experiences of the Research Symposium and Conference on social media, with several attendees engaging with me on Twitter and following me.
  • I attended the opening reception of the Conference, where they opened the show with a rap by a local artist, educator and writer who works in the field of urban agriculture.
  • I presented my research at a poster session in the Research Symposium. I verbally introduced my topic to attendees, inviting them to come and view my poster. Here I discussed my work with several attendees, answering any questions they had, receiving business cards and handing out several of my own. I also spoke with two researchers who were also studying environmental intergenerational influence in families following education. Since returning home, I have been in touch with one of them, and she has shared her publication with me which I will use in my thesis. The differences between the impact of mine and her project will be useful to reflect upon.
  • I attended a movie showing about Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique where a colleague of mine is doing his research. They showcased how music can be used in education on family planning and innovative ways of protecting communities and wildlife.
  • I attended a Kentucky Bourbon and Blues social event which celebrated the local culture, as Kentucky Day was coming up and sampled some local seasonal fall produce.
  • I discussed future environmental psychology conferences, including NAAEE 2020 in Tucson, Arizona (USA).

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

Rebecca Newman; University of York; Cities, Environment and Liveability (CEL) Pathway

Beekeeping workshops for overcoming challenges and adding value to beekeeping livelihoods in the Taita Hills

I was awarded 1+3 PhD funding with the WRDTP and during my MSc year I did research in the Taita Hills Kenya on challenges and benefits for beekeeping across different climate regimes in a mountain landscape. I found that beekeeping had the potential to improve income and that profits largely contributed to purchasing household commodities and schools. However, it was noted that beekeepers did not utilise profits from other bee products such as beeswax, propolis or royal jelly. There were also emerging challenges that warrant further attention; these included: decreased bee populations due to an increase in pesticide use, decreased habitat and forage due to deforestation, water stress in times of prolonged drought and land use conflict between neighbours and livestock keeping. To support farmers to increase profits from beekeeping and overcome challenges training I organised dissemination and training workshops in coordination with Bees Abroad.

The aim of the training was to address the challenges raised by participants who were interviewed to mitigate against the effects and to teach new skills in using beeswax to make different products that could be sold locally so that incomes are enhanced. Three workshops were carried out it total across the highlands, midlands and lowlands – this meant that training could be targeted to the challenges raised in the different areas. The training captured local interest and facilitated discussions above overcoming challenges not just between the trainers and beekeepers but also between the beekeepers themselves. Beekeepers were able to share their experiences and strategies for overcoming challenges. They also had an opportunity to advertise their services such as hive inspection, harvesting and hive making. A total of 88 beekeepers attended across the three days and each group was mixed in gender.


  • “The training really has credit, because we have had theory and we have had practical, so we really appreciate”
  • “The training was well organised, well facilitated and now we have more knowledge about bee products, thank you”
  • “I am grateful for the knowledge of cream making and on all that we were trained”
  • “May god be praised and be with you all, the training we really appreciate, and we apricate for the cup of tea and food”
  • “I am satisfied with today’s training, I am so grateful, in fact I have never seen such things”
  • “The meeting was good and I found myself fully empowered”
  • “today’s training has been of great importance”
  • “I am happy for getting trained and it will help me greatly”
  • “I am very happy because I have never been to such a training”
  • “I am very happy indeed for today, technical teachers and organiser”
  • “Thank you so much, we appreciate and would want you to come back for more training”

Future training
Following the training I wrote an application with Bees Abroad to their trustees to try and obtain further funding to support more technical training the Taita Hills. They were awarded £6000 and have continued to work with the beekeepers in the Taita Hills.

Arran Ridley; University of Leeds; Data, Communication and New Technologies (DCT) Pathway

Report on Overseas Institutional Visit (OIV) to the University of Utrecht, Netherlands

My trip was designed to coincide with a return visit to the design studio first visited last year whilst being based at the Utrecht Data School, in particular the ‘Datafied Society’ research group. I am already linked with a partner in the country through my network PhD so have visited twice over 2018 and 2019. I have also made previous connections with members of the Data School through a book I have been involved in writing a chapter for. The discussions around my visit started last year during a seminar for this book before becoming formalised for this trip. The research of the particular institution also made my visit worthwhile, one of their research outputs is ‘tool criticism’ and this has become an increasingly relevant aspect of my research.

The intention of the trip was to communicate my findings from last year with the members of the design studio and canvas their opinions on a piece of software that I have developed. On my first day in Utrecht I attended the end of year get-together of the Data School which took the guise of a BBQ at Mirko Tobias Schäfer’s (head of the Data School) house. At this BBQ I was able to talk with the other members of the team and introduce my research and intentions for my visit. The session on tool criticism provided me with valuable insight into how to conduct tool criticism and the methods I might incorporate to undertake this.

Arran Ridley

PhD Student, University of Leeds

This session will lead directly to the completion of one of my chapters for the thesis. I will also be adapting some of this for a presentation at a conference in September. One unexpected outcome was as the result of a conversation with Mirko. He discussed the work of Nick Couldry and then introduced me to Nick via an email.

This OIV has made an impact on both my PhD research and my future career. I was able to further my research goals by undertaking further research within the Design Studio and work on a co- design session. I was also able to gain insight into tool criticism within the Utrecht Data School which will contribute to my thesis. I also made professional connections for the future both at the design studio and the data school. I hope that this will prove invaluable for my future options upon finishing my PhD.

I believe that visiting another country, culture (inclusive of the research culture not only national or regional culture) and another institution is invaluable in terms of the benefits it provides. You can gain develop extending networks and open up the options available to you upon completing a PhD.

Lulu Pinney; University of Sheffield;

Arran Ridley; University of Leeds;

Jill Simpson; University of York

Data, Communication and New Technologies (DCT) Pathway

‘Relating to data through visualisation’ Network – Impact workshop findings

About the Network
In 2016, Prof. Helen Kennedy at the University of Sheffield set up the ‘Relating to Data’ White Rose ESRC Network. We are now nearing the end of this. The network was proposed to enable three PhD projects, one based at each of the three universities that were then in the White Rose DTC. The overall goal of the network has been to develop new knowledge about how people relate to data through their visualisation. The three students recruited all had different levels of pre-existing experience such that the three projects started at 6 month intervals. The three projects have been:

  • Project 1: Data visualisation know how, Lulu Pinney, University of Sheffield
  • Project 2: How meaning is made through data visualisation, Jill Simpson, University of York
  • Project 3: How to measure data visualisation effectiveness, Arran Ridley, University of Leeds

The supervisory teams for each student included one academic from their own university, and one from one of the other universities in the network. The network also included two external, non-academic partners, with relevant expertise. The network proposal detailed the level of support agreed with the two non-academic partners, involving both financial and in kind contributions. This varied for each project according to what the project’s focus was to be. Another key feature of the network was to have three network meetings per year, involving all students and supervisors, with at least one of them including the both external partners too. They were to be hosted by each university in turn. The students also met up themselves in-between these network meetings.

Lulu Pinney

PhD Student, University of Leeds

What the Network has achieved
Through the content of our theses, which are all still work in progress, we are confident we will be able to say that the network has achieved its academic goal of developing new knowledge about how people relate to data through their visualisation.

This academic knowledge is the richer for having had the opportunity to discuss our evolving projects over the course of this work with a range of other networks in our universities. This includes the Digital Society Network at the University of Sheffield, the Science and Technology Studies Unit (SATSU) at the University of York and White Rose DTC/P activities, training and events. Between us we have also discussed our work with national and international academic associations including the BSA (British Sociological Association), ECREA (European Communication Research and Education Association), the Utrecht Data School, the Data Justice Lab in Cardiff and Data Power (an international conference on (big) data and power).

In addition, we have benefited from Kennedy’s involvement in the Indvil international network (Innovative data visualisation and visual-numeric literacy), led by the University of Agder in Norway. This collaboration has seen us attend a 2-day workshop in Norway as well as all contributing chapters to the forthcoming book ‘Data visualization in Society’, due out late-2019.

As we are all now in the writing up phase of our projects we have recently begun to explore the collective implications of our research for practitioners. The White Rose kindly funded a workshop for us three PhD students to dedicate three days to doing this. As a result, we are planning a dissemination workshop for practitioners, in Leeds, at the end of 2019. We are hopeful this will also lead to us producing a resource for practitioners that we can share more widely online.

How have we found our Network?
We have found the network to have many advantages, as well as a few challenges.

A key benefit has been having a ready-made network of two other students specialising in the same subject area. Through the regular meetings, training and events we have attended together we have developed supportive relationships. This has also been useful for sharing experiences beyond the academic content of our projects. Being able to compare the process and practicalities of doing a PhD with each other has also been a help.

The regular network meetings have been good too. Firstly, they have provided milestones to work towards for sharing our thinking at regular points throughout the projects. Secondly, by bringing together an interdisciplinary group of people, us students have benefited from receiving a range of perspectives from the range of fields represented by everyone in the network, academic and non-academic. Thirdly, having external, non-academic partners has constantly challenged us to think about what our research might mean or do beyond academia.

Having both financial and in kind contributions from non-academic partners has been a benefit. This has helped to subsidise both fieldwork and training. In addition, being able to hold conversations with the external partners outside of formal meetings has been beneficial at different stages in our projects.

There have been a few challenges associated with being part of the network. Firstly, having one supervisor in a different city makes it difficult to have informal chats with them in between supervisions. Secondly, working with external partners has led to a tension for the students between producing your own project and something of use to partners. However, learning from these experiences will no doubt be helpful when we (hopefully) undertake future research. On a more practical note, it was not at all clear how to access the financial contributions made by the external partners. In the event this was handled directly between student and external partner.

Despite such challenges, undertaking a PhD as part of a White Rose ESRC network has been very rewarding.

Jessica Wild; University of Leeds; Civil Society, Development and Democracy (CDD) Pathway

Report on Overseas Institutional Visit (OIV) to the University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires

My 6 weeks stay in Buenos Aires, studying at the University of Buenos Aires, provided me an invaluable and very timely opportunity to broaden the scope of my research and learning, which had innumerable benefits. I was able to engage in a range of learning and research opportunities which included participating in two multidisciplinary conferences addressing themes related to my research; one held in conjunction with the Argentine government office for human rights and another 3-day conference on social work interventions (with a focus on gender) in the context of neoliberal government policy. I also participated in a weekly comparative studies and theory seminar series for post-graduate and early career researchers within the Gino Germani Institute which was incredibly beneficial as it introduced me to new bodies of literature and theoretical frameworks which consequently led me engage with my data in new ways and enabled me to synthesise a lot of my prior learning.

In addition, I took part in training and workshops including a three-day workshop on addressing gender-based violence within the academy which engaged with some of the approaches I currently investigate in the UK. I also had the opportunity to take part in a multi-disciplinary workshop on Trans-feminisms and anti-punitive measures to address gender-based violence in the community as well as in institutional spaces, in which both NGOs as well as academics participated.

My attendance at a number talks and presentations facilitated within the School of Social Sciences, the Gino Germani Insitute as well as the Faculty of Latin America Social Sciences, also proved to be very enriching.

During these activities, I was able to meet and learn from a range of academics and students working on themes similar to that of my own research interests. I benefited from their knowledge and expertise which provided an insight into new methodological approaches to sociological research, particularly in an environment with alternative or in some cases, reduced resources. These relationships also allowed me to forge links within the community, and as such I attended presentations facilitated by local NGOs and service providers as well. This enabled me to meet with non-academic practitioners working in the field of domestic violence service provision in Buenos Aires which shone a light on the local context, giving rise to points for comparative learning, pertinent to my work in the UK. Finally, I took the opportunity to observe a number of lessons and seminars facilitated by colleagues in the Institute in order to get a better insight into the operations of the School, and the teaching styles and methods used.

This simultaneously provided me a good opportunity to widen my understanding of the Argentinian sociological and political landscape as well as its history.

One of the most significant as well as challenging aspects of the visit was my participation in a departmental seminar series, in which I gave a 20-minute presentation on my own research to faculty and PGRs from the School. I was keen to present my work in a way that addressed some of the key themes currently being addressed by the academics working in the department (such as issues around the welfare state, and gendered social policy initiatives to address violence against women), in the interest of building links and opportunities for future collaborative working with members of the faculty. The presentation entailed translating sections of my data for presentation, as well as conducting some new analysis for the purposes of the presentation. I received valuable feedback and a range of questions, which helped me to interrogate my research further, as well as gain valuable insights from the academics in the room. This was a challenge for me as despite speaking Spanish fluently, I had not worked in a formal or academic Spanish speaking environment prior to this trip. It was however for this reason that this visit was so valuable because not only did it allow me to broaden my scope for learning and engagement, but it also enabled me to advance my Spanish academic vocabulary.

The present socio-political and cultural moment in Argentina is arguably one of the most important of the last ten years for women’s rights and feminist activism, which has precipitated a notable shift in the public discourse and response to violence against women and girls, which given my area of research, has provided me with a unique insight and perspective into these issues. Furthermore, academic institutions in Argentina are highly politicised spaces, with the student and staff bodies actively engaged in social movement activism, and they occupy a key role in bringing about social change. For this reason, my visit to UBA gave rise to new learning opportunities not only within the academic institutional space, but also beyond it, within the local community and socio-political space, given that the boundaries between the two were so porous. I also had the opportunity to participate in and observe several large-scale protests and political organising as part of the university school cohort.

In light of this, the confluence of political social movement activism, and academic study, during this trip, gave rise to what might be considered more unexpected benefits, in so far as I did not anticipate the level of politicisation within the university, or among its students and staff, nor did I expect for gendered based violence to occupy such a prominent position in the dominant public discourse. The University space was because of this, a vibrant and dynamic space in which to work, which provided a refreshing insight into an alternative way of working within the academy.

I was also provided an important insight into methods for advancing and broadening my research impact beyond the boundaries of the academic institution, and thus, bridge what is often a significant gap between academic research and its application to the community it strives to positively impact.

Buenos Aires is a large and busy city with a very rich cultural heritage so apart from the academic activities, I was able to attend a number of plays, music and theatrical productions, in a city which is absolutely mad on theatre and books!

Marion Oveson; University of Sheffield; Civil Society, Development and Democracy (CDD) Pathway

Report on Overseas Institutional Visit (OIV) to the California State University Monterey Bay, USA

Marion Oveson

PhD Student, University of Sheffield

My aims for visiting CSUMB revolved around learning, have grounded experience, establishing a partnership or relationship with CSUMB, and sharing my research. More specifically, I wanted to experience, observe, and learn about service learning (SL) and how it was presented and framed to academic staff, students, and community partners. I then wanted to find out how it was perceived by these three stakeholders (staff, students, and community partners) and whether they found it beneficial or not. I also hoped to learn from the director, Prof. Seth Pollack, and from everyone working at the Service Learning Institute in order to gain a picture of what it was like behind the scenes. In addition to these aims I had hoped to share my research as well as to establish a relationship between my department and the Service Learning Institute.

Through attending new faculty workshops, faculty welcome talks, and other faculty-focused meetings, I was able to see how the institution and the leadership portrayed and framed service learning and its place within the institution.

At the same time, I was able to chat with faculty, both new and returning, about their views on service learning and whether they knew very much about it and what their thoughts were on it. This gave me an insight into how it was perceived in general. Attending these workshops and meetings also taught me about the history of CSUMB, the demographics of its student body and faculty, and about their overall student-centred and social justice philosophy.

In addition to attending faculty-focused things, I also sat in on different SL classes across many disciplines including environmental science, education, liberal studies, and others. Being able to observe lecturers who were all so committed to their topic, to the students, and to social justice was a privilege and I gained a lot from seeing different teaching styles and how people played to their individual strengths. I saw lecturers from different walks of life engage with students in a thoughtful, honest, and powerful way. They demonstrated this through the way they taught, the way they shared their own experiences, and how they encouraged the students to reflect critically on themselves, what they were reading, and what they were seeing. As a result students paid attention, participated, and seemed to be enjoying their classes. Hearing and watching lecturers who were truly passionate about what they were teaching was so inspiring. I had not anticipated being so moved by this aspect of my visit, but it has rekindled my own enthusiasm for teaching.

Another benefit from attending the lectures was getting ideas on how to teach, activities to do, and that it is good to have high expectations for your students (showing up isn’t enough). The classes also gave me a flavour of the classroom element which accompanies the place-based element of service learning.

Another unanticipated outcome was gaining more of an understanding of the problematics around service learning. I was impressed with the level of self-reflection and open dialogue about service learning and its critiques within the Institute and its faculty. This greatly enriched my learning by adding the nuances present in service learning. Additionally, I was able to share my research and my interests with students and faculty, which was greatly helpful. I hope that as a result of my time in CSUMB, a relationship will continue between our two institutions and that people from CSUMB will be able to come visit with an aim to learn from one another and perhaps work collaboratively at some point if possible! My visit has given me a different perspective on what I’m looking at, and has also given me different ways of framing my research. I think my experience will inform different parts of my thesis in a way that wouldn’t have been possible without having this opportunity to learn experientially. I also hope that I can either teach/be part of service learning in my future career, or that I can use the principles and values that I saw enacted at CSUMB.

Georgia Thomas-Parr; University of Sheffield; Education, Childhood and Youth (ECY) Pathway

Japanese Maid Cafes – research and presentation of findings at the Cultural Typhoon conference, Keio University, Tokyo

Georgia Thomas-Parr

PhD Student, University of Sheffield

As part of my PhD, my research explores the creative practices of fangirls in the UK who have an interest in Japanese media and culture, of which this summer’s activities marked a fulfilling end to my fieldwork. During this time, I was able to make valuable discoveries and connections which have shaped the direction of my thesis considerably.

One of the areas of focus in my project includes a case study of Japanese-style maid cafés, where its members dress up as anime-inspired personas to serve food/drink and perform to its patrons. I wanted to immerse myself in this community in order to consider what the phenomenon might reflect about social identities and practices in the digital age. During the last six months, I observed a UK-based maid café in its activities on tour around a variety of different anime conventions in the UK and Europe. Thanks to the RTSG, I was granted many insights into maid café culture during the “high-season” of anime cons. On top of this, I was lucky to make some important connections with the members and founders of different UK-based maid cafés, which led to other important observation and interview opportunities.

Being able to both travel and share accommodation together with my participants allowed for a greater intimacy and understanding which was so important to my ontology as a feminist researcher. Moreover, in visiting a European-based anime convention, I was able to observe anime fandom in light of its place in a wider global context. One of these occasions included visiting a Netherlands-based maid café (along with the members of the British maid café that I was shadowing), in which we all noted the differences between the two cafés in our experience as customers together.

Thanks to the funding, I was also able to attend events in which I was able to film (with their permission) many different maid cafés, of which the footage will be available to view at the exhibition I am running in November – ‘The Secret World of Fangirls’ – as part of The Festival of Social Science.

This June, I visited Japan in order to present a paper at the Cultural Typhoon conference at Keio University in Tokyo. While I had already secured funding to for my flights, travel and accommodation, I was interested in experiencing maid café culture in Japan as supplementation for my observations of Japanese-style maid cafés in the UK. However, maid cafés are notoriously expensive (due to the fact that its patrons are paying for the unique effectual experience that its maids provide) so I was really lucky to be granted the money by the ESRC’s Overseas Fieldwork Expenses in order to visit 6 maid cafés. During my observations, I was joined by two fellow PhD students who are based at universities in Tokyo, of which their research is similar to my own (maid cafés and idol groups). Being able to go to a maid café together meant that we could compare our methodologies as well as discuss global maid café culture. We hope to produce a joint publication together from our experience, of which the ESRC will be duly acknowledged.


The Semester 1 training listed below is classed as compulsory training for all ESRC funded students and recommended for all non-ESRC funded students within the WRDTP universities of Sheffield, Leeds, York, Sheffield Hallam, Manchester Metropolitan, Hull and Bradford.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)places strong emphasis on the provision of broad-based social science research training that equips doctoral researchers with the skills to manage a successful research career and/or to contribute to the wider society in other ways. It is expected that this will include formal training as well as opportunities for research students to integrate with established researchers and to benefit from a rich and diverse research training environment.The training offered by the WRDTP is designed to meet the ESRC Postgraduate Training and Development Guidelines 2015.

Data Management and Open Scholarships day

Monday January 27th 2020, 10.00am – 3.00pm: INOX Dine, University of Sheffield

Advanced Research Training for all MA Social Research Students and Postdoctoral Researchers

Target audience & any previous experience required
Social Science Doctoral Researchers within the WRDTP institutions of the University of Sheffield, University of Leeds, Sheffield Hallam University, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of York, University of Bradford or University of Hull, who have not attended this course before. We advise any MA Social Research students to attend in their first year of PhD study.

Working Beyond Disciplines – MA Social Research Training

Wednesday 26th February 2020, 10.00am – 4.00pm: INOX Dine, University of Sheffield

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.

Target audience & any previous experience required
It is compulsory for all ESRC funded MA students registered in September 2018, to attend this training day. It is also open to self-funded MA students registered on the common framework WRDTP MA Social Research programme.

AQM Taster Day

Tuesday 21st January 2020, 10.30am – 3.30pm: Lecture Theatre 8, The Diamond, University of Sheffield

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.

Target audience & any previous experience required
This training is compulsory for ESRC funded 1st year PhD students in the 2019/20 academic year.

Further information about all of the WRDTP ‘all cohort’ and ‘Pathway specific’ training events can be found on the training pages of the WRDTP website. If you are a WRDTP student and would like to suggest an idea for a training event, student led seminar or similar within your Pathway which could benefit from WRDTP funding, please contact your Pathway Director.


ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowships

Call for applications now open

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is please to announce the call for applications to the third Postdoctoral Fellowship (PDF) Scheme aimed at providing a career development opportunity for those in the immediately postdoctoral stage of their career, to provide the opportunity to consolidate their PhD through developing publications, their networks, and their research and professional skills.

The fellows must be located on an accredited DTP or CDT pathway and have completed their PhD at a research organisation that is part of a DTP or CDT. Applicants are not required to have previously held an ESRC-funded studentship in order to be eligible to apply.

To be eligible applicants must:

  • Have been awarded a PhD or have passed their viva voce with minor amendments by the application date of 23rd March 2020 and have been awarded their PhD by the fellowship start date of 1st October 2020
  • Have no more than 12 months active postdoctoral experience since passing their viva voce (allowing for career breaks) by 23rd March 2020

For full details on eligibility criteria, and how to apply, please visit the WRDTP Fellowships page

New ESRC logo

The ESRC have recently updated their official logo. ESRC funded students should bear this in mind when adding ESRC branding to any report, poster, presentation or similar. A downloadable copy of the new logo can be found in the VIRE under ‘Managing your award.’ Alternatively please head directly to the ESRC website where you can find guidance on adding branding when required.

ESRC Student Survey 2019

Thank you to all of the WRDTP ESRC funded students who completed the 2019 ESRC student survey. This year saw an increase in responses, and overall a positive trend for areas of student satisfaction with the WRDTP.

The ESRC Student Survey is designed to help inform the ESRC about the experience of both their Masters students and funded Doctoral Researchers.  The results of the survey form part of the supporting evidence for the Mid-term Review Exercise (MRE) of the DTPs which took place in November 2019. Feedback from the Mid-Term review will be detailed in the next edition of the DTP Newsletter.

The ESRC gathered 576 survey responses across the 14 DTP’s within it’s scope. A summary of the findings can be found by clicking on the button to the right.

Society Now, Issue 35, Summer 2019

The latest issue of Society Now, the ESRC’s regular and topical social science research magazine, is now out.

You can choose to subscribe and receive printed copies of this magazine direct to your door for free. Or, you can view the magazine online on your computer or mobile device by visiting the ESRC’s website and downloading the content. The ESRC also keeps back issues of the Society Now magazine online if you have missed any previous publications.

Student Representation

2019/2020 WRDTP Student Forum Members

Thank you to everyone who applied to become a member of the WRDTP Student Forum this year. We had a fantastic response and have appointed several new members to the Forum. We will be gathering profiles and photographs for the new members over the coming weeks and adding them to the Student Forum Web page.

If you have not received an email from us, and you did apply to be a Student Forum member, then please accept our apologies. We were unable to appoint everyone who applied, but please do apply again next year.

WRDTP Student Forum Members

Danielle Beaton, University of Sheffield, WHC

Arran Ridley, University of Leeds, DCT

Carina Mueller, University of York, SMP

Alice Wilson, University of York, CEL

Tamara Satmarean, University of Sheffield, WHC

Alex Kirby-Reynolds, University of Sheffield, CDD

Alex Ricketts, University of Sheffield, CEL

Sophie Phillips, University of Sheffield, ECY

Mark Proudfoot, University of Leeds, CEL

Claudia Ferriera, Manchester Metropolitan University, ECY

Richard Remelie, Manchester Metropolitan University, ECY

Marina Christofide, University of Leeds, DCT

Lana Ghuneim, University of Sheffield, SCJ

Amna Kaleem, University of Sheffield, SCJ

Marine Gueguin, University of Leeds, SCJ

Jailu Bai, University of York, SMP

Jihad Al Wahshi, University of Sheffield, DCT

Jana Busch, University of Hull, CEL

Anna Warrington, Manchester Metropolitan University, ECY

2019/2020 ESRC Postdoctoral Fellows

After a rigorous competition, the 2019/2020 ESRC PostDoctoral Fellows were selected by peer review panel.

The ESRC WRDTP Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme is aimed at those in the immediate postdoctoral stage of their career, to provide an opportunity to consolidate their PhD through developing publications, their networks, their research and professional skills.

If you are interested in applying to become an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, please visit our Fellowships page on the website. PLEASE NOTE: You do not need to have had previous ESRC funding to apply.

To find out more about the 2019/2020 Postdoctoral Fellows, see below.

Dr Madeleine Power

University of York, WHC

Maddy is an ESRC WRDTP Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Health Sciences, University of York. The Fellowship expands her previous work on food aid and food insecurity in multi-faith, multi-ethnic contexts. This includes the completion of a monograph, Hunger, Racism and Religion in the UK; the development of a network around race, food insecurity and food aid; and further impact-related work in Bradford.
Maddy is an expert in UK food aid and food insecurity, in particular its relationship with wider economic and ethnic inequalities. She has published widely on food insecurity in developed countries; food aid, including food banks; and food insecurity and food aid in relation to ethnicity and religion.
She is founder and former Chair of the York Food Justice Alliance, a cross-sector partnership addressing food insecurity at the local level, and Co-Chair of the Independent Food Aid Network, a representative body of independent food aid providers. She is a regular commentator on food insecurity, food aid and surplus food on local and national media.
Maddy has previously held research positions in academia – most recently within IKnowFood – and the Third Sector, including The Equality Trust and the Resolution Foundation. She trained in Social and Political Sciences at the University of Cambridge and Social Policy at the London School of Economics. Maddy holds a PhD in Health Sciences from the University of York.
Research interests: The demography and lived experience of food insecurity in the UK; ethnic and religious variations in food insecurity and the use of food aid in the UK; the interaction of neoliberalism, food insecurity and food aid; mixed methods; co-production and participatory action research.

Dr Eleanor Bland

University of Leeds, SCJ

Eleanor Bland is an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Law at the University of Leeds. She was awarded her PhD at the University of Sheffield in January 2019, having previously completed a BA in History and MSt in Modern British and European History at the University of Oxford.
Eleanor’s research examines policing practices in 18th - and 19th -century Britain, and particularly focuses on the police targeting of individuals who conformed to criminal stereotypes based on suspicion. In this fellowship, Eleanor will focus on drawing connections between the historical policing of suspicious persons and contemporary police practices such as the use of stop and search powers.
Research interests: criminology, policing, historical criminology, criminal profiling, police history

Dr Chloe McRae Gilgan

University of York, SCJ

I am currently an ESRC WRDTP Post-doctoral Fellow at York Law School (YLS), University of York. I joined YLS and the Centre for Applied Human Rights in 2014 when I commenced my ESRC-funded PhD in law. My PhD thesis examined the UK responses to Syrians fleeing mass atrocities in order to uncover and understand the gaps between the theory and the practice of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) norm, particularly how it interacts with refugee protection, thus contributing to the on-going debate of how to implement policies designed to prevent and respond to mass atrocities in practice. During my PhD studies, I provided legal policy advice to the UK government and to NGOs on matters of humanitarian intervention, R2P and refugee protection. I completed the PhD in 2019 while working as an Associate Lecturer in Human Rights at YLS where I developed and convened modules in my research areas of interest and expertise.
This year, I am undertaking the ESRC-funded post-doctoral fellowship entitled Humanitarian Protection in an Age of Asylum, which builds and expands upon my PhD 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) 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. Through my ongoing association with the European Centre for R2P and through connections with NGO partners, my PhD research has been presented at various government offices, published as Written Evidence by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, and will soon be translated into policy briefs for government and NGOs during the post-doctoral fellowship.
Prior to the PhD, I graduated cum laude with a juris Doctor of Law (JD) from New York Law School and cum laude with a BA degree in Urban Studies and Film from Barnard College, Columbia University. I was awarded the Professor Lung-Chu Chen Award for Excellence in the Field of Human Rights for four public interest fellowship awards during law school. The fellowships enabled me to provide legal assistance to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, the Crown Prosecution Service in London, the Women’s Rights Project at the national office of the American Civil Liberties Union in New York, the New York State Division of Human Rights and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. I was admitted to the New York State Bar in 2009, and then worked at Laura Devine Solicitors, a boutique London law firm handling US and UK immigration.
Research Interests and Expertise: Public international law, particularly in the areas of international human rights, international refugee law, use of force law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law. My research is interdisciplinary as it often adopts an international relations and foreign policy framework for understanding issues around the practice of global laws and norms often in the context of conflict, security and transition.

Dr Sarah Joyce

University of Leeds, WHC

arah is an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow working with Dr Joanne Greenhalgh in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds.
Sarah completed her PhD at the School of Architecture at the University of Sheffield and was jointly supervised by Dr Rosie Parnell and Professor Penny Curtis in the School of Nursing and Midwifery. She is a ARB-registered architect (most recently working at www.nichedesignarchitects.com), and previously an NCT antenatal educator and course co-leader (lead on research module) for the interior design and architecture degree at Sheffield Hallam University.
Sarah trained as an architect at the Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL) gaining distinctions for her RIBA Part III (qualification for statutory registration) and RIBA Part II (Masters degree). She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The birth of her own children and her experiences of maternity care and various birth venues inspired her to also train with the NCT as an antenatal educator. She is a Parent Representative for the Leeds Maternity Voices Partnership (www.mvpleeds.com) and has undertaken various voluntary roles as an NHS maternity service user representative on local MSLCs and auditing midwifery care for the Local Supervisory Authority. With local NHS Trusts, she has completed audits of facilities using the NCT Better Births Audit Toolkit and secured funding from the 2012-13 Department of Health Capital Fund for improving birthing environments in her support of local maternity services.
As a researcher, she finds birth spaces fascinating as the intersection between architecture, women’s experience and maternity care. She takes Franck & Lepori’s ‘attitude’ that people are ‘the very reasons for architecture to exist at all’ (2000, p. 5) and seeks to understand architectural space for labour and birth through lived experience and social interaction; as a uniquely human experience. Her work is not a disinterested act of scholarship, and she is active in the hope of engaging in scholarly debate and evidence-based practices to facilitate better birthing experiences for all women.
Research interests: Childbirth; woman-centred maternity care; humanising architecture; interior architecture; lived experience; critical spatial practices; qualitative visual research methods.

Dr Ian Shannon

University of Leeds, SCJ

Ian is an ESRC White Rose Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Leeds. Ian completed his PhD at the University of Liverpool in 2008. Ian’s work at Leeds builds on his thesis, which explored how chief police officers in England and Wales understand the right of police to exercise power. The chief officers interviewed invoked duties to protect the public (particularly the most vulnerable), policing by consent and explanations based in law and associated checks and balances. However, Ian found that these accounts are confused, conflicted and, above all, convenient in helping chief police officers assert a privileged position when making decisions about the use of power. The Fellowship will be used to disseminate the findings of this research to academics, police officers and police policy makers and to those responsible for police oversight, with the intention of improving policing in the interest of citizens. In part this will be done by writing a book based on the thesis and by producing articles exploring a policing discourse of vulnerability and examining the precarious position that police chief officers reported they are in, and the implications this has for civil liberties. Some additional research will be conducted to underpin this work. The findings will also be disseminated and exposed to scrutiny at international conferences and in a symposium focused on police leadership.
Ian served as a police officer from 1981 – 2013 in London, Merseyside and from 2005 – 2013 in North Wales as Assistant Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable and Temporary Chief Constable. After retiring from the police, he completed his PhD and was also an Associate with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, recently leading the team conducting the thematic inspection Leading Lights: an inspection of the arrangements for the development and selection and development of chief officers. Ian also worked as an Associate Management Consultant for RSM UK.
Research interests: police legitimacy, police chief officers and the use and abuse of police power.

Dr Emma James

University of York, ECY

Emma is an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of York. She previously completed an undergraduate degree in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford, and then spent one year as a Research Associate for Professor Kate Cain at Lancaster University. Emma moved to York on an ESRC 1+3 studentship in 2014, first completing an MSc in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, before continuing onto her PhD research with Dr Lisa Henderson and Professor Gareth Gaskell in the Sleep, Language, and Memory Lab.
Emma’s primary interests lie in understanding variability in language learning: how is that some children come to acquire new vocabulary more easily than others, and how might the learning mechanisms change as we grow older? Her PhD research addressed these questions by examining the influence of prior knowledge on learning new words, and how it changes as sleep-based processes strengthen the new words into long-term memory. Emma also has particular interests in children with reading comprehension difficulties, and understanding the nature of their vocabulary weaknesses.
During her fellowship, Emma seeks to bridge the gap between small-scale lab studies and day-to-day learning in practice. In particular, the time will be used to develop statistical skills for analysing big data, enabling her to test theories of language learning at scale in app-based data (with Memrise). Emma is also a keen advocate for open science, and will dedicate some of her fellowship time to improving the reproducibility of her research practices.
Research interests: vocabulary; language learning; literacy development; reading comprehension; memory development; sleep and memory consolidation

Dr Eric Hoddy

University of Sheffield, CDD/SCJ

Eric is an ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, University of Sheffield. He has a background in development and human rights, with an emphasis on small-scale fishing and farming, rural poverty and social change. Eric completed his PhD at the Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York, in 2018 on a study into the needs and priorities of sharecropping farmers in post-authoritarian Tunisia. Prior to this, he held a position at the Natural Resources Management discipline of the WorldFish research centre (Malaysia) and consulted for the CGIAR’s research programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).
Through his fellowship at Sheffield, Eric seeks to consolidate his PhD research by contributing to and developing a research and practice agenda for ‘transformative justice,’ which is concerned to address structural and systemic violence in societies transitioning away from conflict or repression. In particular, he seeks to demonstrate and establish how knowledge production activities might interface with and support a new transformative practice.

Staffing Update

Our current WRDTP Director Ruth Blakeley will be stepping down from the 1st February 2020, we will be very sad to say Goodbye, but would like to thank her for all her hard work and wish her well in her future endeavours. She will take a period of study leave and will then take on new duties in the Politics department at Sheffield. We are however, delighted to announce that Professor Charlie Burns (University of Sheffield) will be taking over WRDTP Director role. She is Professor of Politics with expertise in Environmental Policy. We look forward to working with her as she leads the DTP through its next stage of development.

The WRDTP Office has had some welcome additions and the full team is as follows:

WRDTP Manager – Charlotte Massarella

WRDTP Scholarships & Funding Officer – Charlotte Smith

WRDTP Training & Administration Officer – Louise Todd

WRDTP Clerical Assistant  – Katie Lewis

WRDTP TEL Manager – Matthew Wheeler