DTP Matters Newsletter

26th Edition

Welcome to the 26th 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.

WRDTP Covid-19 FAQs

WRDTP 10th Annual Conference

20th October 2021

The 2021 WRDTP Welcome Event was held as a hybrid event, with the morning information sessions delivered online, and in the afternoon students were invited to attend face to face networking sessions at their home institution. In the morning, online attendees were given an overview of the WRDTP and the support that is available to students. Attendees heard from Katie Pruszynski from the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Sheffield, on Communicating for Impact. An introduction to Faculty Library Services was presented by representatives from the 3 largest WRDTP institutions; Maria Mawson (University of Sheffield), Tony Wilson (University of York) and Sally Dalton (University of Leeds). The WRDTP organised talks concluded with current PhD students and a Post Graduate Fellows speaking to attendees about their experiences of being part of the WRDTP university partnership.

After the morning online session, students of all 7 universities were invited to attend informal networking sessions organised within their home university. These sessions were held ‘cross-pathway’ and students were encouraged to attend and discover their local PGR community. Pathway Directors and Deputies were in attendance to introduce themselves.

All resources from the Welcome Event, including recorded sessions from the morning of the event can be found here. Please note that you will need to log in to the VIRE to access these. If you do not know your VIRE password, please contact the WRDTP Link Administrator at your institution. A list of link administrators can be found here.

WRDTP 2022/2023 Studentships and Post-doc fellowships

Call for applications now open

The 2022/2023 call for student applications for ESRC funded scholarships is currently open. The closing date for student applications is January 26th 2022, with subsequent application packs and nomination forms due by 23rd February 2022.

For full details on the available scholarships, eligibility criteria and application guidance, please visit out Studentships page.

Expressions of Interest are invited from potential Post-doc Fellows; the deadline for EOIs is Tuesday 13th January 2022. EOIs are invited from both ESRC funded and non-ESRC funded students.

For full details on the available Post-doc fellowships, eligibility criteria and application guidance, please visit out Fellowships page.

Beyond sensitivity: staying well during emotionally challenging research

Laura Towers and Kate Reed

Research can often be an emotionally challenging experience for researchers, especially when the subject under study is sensitive. In June 2020, Laura Towers and Kate Reed spoke about emotional well-being in research as part of an opening panel discussion at the WR DTP 9th Annual Conference. Laura is an ESRC funded postdoctoral fellow, while Kate is a professor of Sociology, both are based at the University of Sheffield. The theme of the conference was ‘Well-being in Research’ a timely subject given the conference fell when the UK was just coming out of the first COVID related lockdown. Short talks were given by academics from institutions across the White Rose Partnership on various topics relating to researcher well-being.

Kate and Laura each gave 5-minute presentations about sensitive research and its effects on the emotions of researchers and research participants. Kate used her experience of conducting an ESRC funded research project on baby loss, and Laura her doctoral research on sibling bereavement. The session was highly stimulating, provoking Kate and Laura to think more extensively about the emotional challenges and benefits of doing sensitive research. As a result of participating in the WR DTP conference, they were inspired to write an article on this subject. The article ‘Almost Confessional: Managing Emotions When Research Breaks Your Heart’ has recently been published in Sociological Research Online.

Throughout the article Kate and Laura have sought to show how emotional challenges can arise for the researcher at any point in the research process- from recruitment through to impact, publication and research-led teaching. As examples from Laura’s research on sibling bereavement show, researchers can experience sadness at the start of research when they must turn away potential participants because they don’t meet the sampling criteria. Emotional issues can continue to arise for researchers even after a project is completed. For example, as Kate’s experience of conducting research methods training shows, students can pose pertinent questions about personal experience and rapport building which may require academics to think emotionally on their feet. While the paper sheds light on these emotionally challenging aspects of research, however, the authors were also keen to illuminate some of the more productive and life affirming aspects of doing sensitive research. For example, both Laura and Kate received heart-warming comments and testimonials from participants and interested members of the public. This helped to reinforce the value of both their research projects.

The article concludes by outlining a potential strategy to help researchers manage their emotions in sensitive research. Existing literature on the subject often emphasises the importance of researcher reflexivity and confessional style narratives. As Kate and Laura point out, however, disclosing personal experience through confessional narratives can sometimes add to, rather than alleviate researcher trauma. The paper ends therefore by recommending an ‘almost confessional’ approach to emotional research. Such an approach recognises the importance of reflexivity while stopping short of full personal disclosure. The authors hope that this approach will be useful for researchers engaged in sensitive and emotional research at any career stage.

WRDTP launch YouTube Channel

The WRDTP has recently launched a YouTube channel to accompany our video resources on the VIRE. The channel will host selected extracts from the VIRE, that will help to promote the work of the WRDTP and our academics and researchers. In addition to our own, created resources, WRDTP pathway leads are also curating playlists of videos specific to their pathway that can help and support your research. This will begin with the DCT Pathway and AQUALM training.

Student Experience

Overseas Institutional visit UC Berkeley’s Department of Geography

Rafaella Simas Lima

From August to September 2021, I completed an overseas institutional visit at UC Berkeley’s Department of Geography, funded by the WRDTP’s Overseas Institutional Visit scheme, which really enriched my PhD experience. I chose UC Berkeley because a mentor and former supervisor of mine is based there and the Geography department is renowned as a leading centre of scholarship. I felt it would be a stimulating environment in which to attend events and exchange ideas with other researchers, especially after many months of isolated work due to the Covid-19 pandemic. During the visit, I was able to meet with my mentor to discuss my doctoral research and receive feedback, which helped me to significantly progress in my thesis writing. I also outlined a journal article for which we discussed possible avenues for publication. The visit allowed me to participate in some departmental and university events including lectures, colloquia and social events on a range of topics which inspired me to reflect on and refine my own research. I also met other graduate researchers with similar research interests and we were able to discuss our work and encourage each other in our writing. It was also very beneficial to be able to experience a different academic setting with stimulating events that helped to reinvigorate my own research.

The visit was very valuable in moving my PhD research forward and thinking about ways to communicate and disseminate my research. I was able to expand my network of international researchers based in the US, UK and internationally. I would definitely recommend the OIV scheme to other students. It is an excellent opportunity to experience another academic institution and culture, to meet other researchers and make connections that can help in advancing your research and career. It can also be an enriching moment to exchange ideas and feedback with other established or early career researchers in your field or in other disciplines.

While I would have liked to do a longer, perhaps three-month visit, this was not possible due to previous Covid restrictions and my own teaching commitments in Sheffield this term, therefore I did a five-week visit instead. Unfortunately the limited time and uncertainty around Covid restrictions meant it was difficult to meet the other aim of my visit which was to organise a formal seminar or workshop to share some of my research and also receive feedback. Still, I feel the visit was a very worthwhile experience as it allowed me to reconnect with Dr. Fields, who is an important mentor to me, and to meet some promising graduate researchers in my field. It was also very beneficial to be able to experience a different academic setting with stimulating events that helped to reinvigorate my own research.

ESRC WRDTP Fellowship – Dr Ian Shannon QPM PhD

Ian Shannon has just finished an ESRC funded research Fellow at the University of Leeds. He was awarded his PhD at the University of Liverpool in 2018. From 1981 – 2005 he served as a police officer in London and Merseyside. From 2005 -2013 he was assistant chief constable, deputy chief constable and temporary chief constable in North Wales. He was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in 2013. From 2013 – 2019, as well as his PhD research, he worked for HMICFRS, the University of Liverpool, and RSM UK.

Ian’s primary objective during the Fellowship was to disseminate findings of his thesis through high quality publications, this resulted in:

Shannon, I. (2021). Chief Police Officers’ Stories of Legitimacy: Power, Protection, Consent and Control.  Palgrave Macmillan (due to be published in December 2021 or early in January 2022).

Shannon, I. (2021). ‘Democratic oversight and political direction of chief police officers in England and Wales: Implications for police legitimacy.’ Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 15(2): 912-926.

A summary paper is also due to be included as a supporting paper as an annex to the Police Foundation’s Strategic Review of Policing. Shannon, I. (2021). Legitimacy, Leadership and Government.

A further paper is also being prepared for submission to a peer reviewed journal on the implications of the application of the concept of vulnerability to policing for police legitimacy.

Ian also disseminated his findings through conferences and seminars, although this was disrupted by the Coronavirus disease pandemic, he made the following contributions:

  • Presentation at N8 PRP Conference Workshop on 23rd November 2020.
  • Presented at and helped arrange a ‘Police Leadership Symposium’ on 8th June 2021. This was organised by the Police Foundation and supported by the University of Leeds and the N8 PRP.
  • Presentation to academic colleagues at the University of Leeds on 29th October 2020, A veneer of vulnerability: Chief police officers’ legitimating tales.

Ian also intends to attend future BSC and ESC conferences to disseminate his findings. He has also sought to generate impact by engagement with police leaders and those responsible for police governance and his published paper has been read by civil servants responsible for the Home Office review of police and crime commissioners’ responsibilities.

The Home Affairs Select Committee secretariat have circulated the same article to committee members. He intends continuing with this impact work after the end of the Fellowship. During the Fellowship Ian conducted six additional interviews conducted, these informed the monograph and the ongoing work on the remaining paper.

He also had the opportunity to extend his teaching experience and delivered seminars on ‘Rethinking Police Leadership’ for the Rethinking Policing Masters Module at the University of Leeds in 2020 and 2021.

A Crisis in Common: How Eco-Anxiety is Shared Across the Country

Justin Robinson, University of York, CDD Pathway.

In the run-up to COP26, I was given the opportunity to work alongside the think tank Global Future Partners (https://globalfuturepartners.com/thinktank), contributing data analysis to a report exploring climate change concern, environmental beliefs, and lifestyle changes amongst the UK population (the report can be found here – https://ourglobalfuture.com/reports/a-crisis-in-common/). As a first year PhD student researching the role of emotion in environmental attitude formation and behaviours, this opportunity offered exciting potential for my own research interests, alongside the chance to gain valuable insight into the contemporary character and distribution of emotional responses to climate change in the UK – a valuable (if somewhat daunting) introduction to the world of research.

Regarding the content of the report and the work I carried out, perhaps the headline finding was the striking prevalence of climate-related fear and anger across the UK. 78% of survey respondents reported experiencing some level of fear in relation to climate change, along with 75% experiencing some level of anger, demonstrating that climate change is a pressing concern in Britain.

The report also unpacked these emotions to reveal their distribution across demographic groups. Of primary interest here was the finding that environmental consciousness is no longer a preserve of the middle classes. Instead, we established that concern about climate change cuts across social boundaries in the UK, with 42% of middle class respondents and 39% of working class respondents reporting significant anxiety when thinking about climate change.

The report’s findings also revealed that pessimism frequently accompanies this climate concern in the attitudes of UK citizens. Only 25% of respondents reported feeling hopeful about climate change, a negativity that was accompanied by a lack of faith in political leaders. When asked about their opinions on the likely impact of COP26, which was weeks away from beginning when the survey was conducted, only 18% thought that it would have a large impact in addressing environmental issues.

This identification of a prominent and uniform level of climate concern across the UK holds political significance. In highlighting that the fundamental threat posed by climate change is recognised by the British electorate, and that current political leadership is failing to alleviate these climate concerns, the report suggests that voters may be receptive to the implementation of transformative environmental policies needed to combat environmental destruction.

Turning back to my own experience, my involvement in the report was a personally beneficial process. It honed my communication skills for a non-academic audience and provided valuable experience in working outside of the university context, as well as providing the personal satisfaction of recognition from the Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/31/eco-anxiety-over-climate-crisis-suffered-by-all-ages-and-classes) and the New Statesman (https://www.newstatesman.com/environment/2021/10/climate-concern-doesnt-divide-by-income-politicians-should-stop-portraying-it-as-a-class-war). Coming so early in my PhD, this work provided an enjoyable introduction to primary research and left me enthused at the prospect of further activity over the course of my studies.

Exploring Assumptions about the Role of Play in Children’s Development

Dr Gill Althia Francis

A recipient of the WRDTP ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, I took up the award at the University of York during the academic year October 2020 through to September 2021 and in the middle of the Covid19 global pandemic. The challenges of lockdown meant that I had to change how I implemented some of my proposed plans, but I was able to achieve the following aims: (1) disseminate the findings from my PhD; (2) undertake new and advanced research methods and quantitative data analysis skills; and (3) develop grant writing skills to apply for an early career fellowships to conduct new research in relation to my interest in exploring assumptions about play and child development.

Disseminating the findings from my PhD involved writing a research article, as well as, presenting the findings to selected research labs interested in the project. I gave four online talks presenting the key findings of my PhD to academics at the University of Birmingham-UK, University of California-Berkeley USA, University of Villanova-Pennsylvania USA, and the University of York-UK. As the project evaluated the adequacy of a newly proposed theory, this approach to dissemination allowed me to critically engage with the proponents and critics of the theory tested by engaging in reciprocal critical discussion about the theory viz a vis the empirical evidence from my PhD project. The online talks substituted the in-person research visits and resulted in spending a month attending online research meetings with the different labs.

This was a considerably longer period than what I would have spent in the in-person research visits initially planned. In the end, as my PhD was a single major piece of basic research, I synthesised the findings in one publication submitted to the Journal of Child Development.

Additionally, to develop the skill of writing for publication, I attended a workshop hosted by the International Journal of Educational Development. To broaden my research network outside of academia, I also engaged with play practitioners with the Children’s Play Policy Forum – on issues relating to play and policy relevant to early-years providers. Lastly, I joined the UKRI Early Careers Forum and participated in events supporting early career researchers.

To further explore assumptions about the role of play in children’s development, I collaborated with my mentor to explore new ideas for investigating children’s play. The fellowship opened a unique opportunity to learn about the methodologies my mentor uses in his research. One such application involved the use of behavioural genetics to study neurotypical and neurodivergent populations. From this exposure, I developed a novel proposal to apply behavioural genetics methodologies to study play across childhood through to adolescence. To learn this new methodology, I successfully completed: (1) an ‘Introduction to Behavioural Genetics Course’ online with Coursera.org in the Autumn term and (2) the online ‘Amsterdam Summer School – Nature and Nurture: Twin Research and Human Genetics’. I also participated in a self-study R course in August with Harvard online Courses to conduct quantitative genetics analyses.

As priority, I wanted to do new research that I could implement during and beyond the WRDTP-ESRC Fellowship. I pre-registered a new research project on the ‘Etiology of Play and psychopathology’. For this project, I sourced secondary data from the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS). The project was further revised to include data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).

Importantly, one of my main goals was to learn grant writing skills and to apply for an early career fellowship grant. Towards this aim, early in the fellowship, I attended a grant writing bootcamp hosted by the University of York in December 2020. Drawing on my new learning about behavioural genetics and my original interest in investigating play and children’s development, I applied for a Leverhulme Early Careers Fellowship grant and was successful! My new role at the University of York as a recipient of Leverhulme Fellow (2021-2024 cohort) affords me the opportunity to undertake a significant piece of publishable work studying ‘play’ – a topic I am deeply passionate about.

Roma in Northern England: Creating Interventions towards a Better Quality of Life

Marketa Dolezalova

During my ESRC-funded postdoctoral fellowship titled Roma in Northern England: Creating Interventions towards a Better Quality of Life I have worked on building and expanding upon my PhD research in order to further disseminate my research findings, to increase my engagement and impact experience and to apply for funding for further research. I have achieved, or am working towards achieving, the majority of milestones and outputs I set out in the initial plans for my fellowship. However, I had to make some changes to my project. These were mostly caused by the upheaval of the Covid-19 pandemic, which had an impact on conference attendance and on my plans for organising a stakeholder event and an academic workshop. The pandemic also impacted my planned timescale and I had to delay some of my milestones. On the other hand, the shift to online conferences and meetings allowed me to participate in more conferences and workshops that I initially anticipated. I presented my research at two international conferences, and gave two invited talks, all online. I also participated in a workshop at the Association of Social Anthropologists conference.

My fellowship proposal included plans for additional data collection, which was planned to consist of ten in-person interviews with migrant Roma living in Yorkshire. The planned focus of the interviews was Roma access to the EU Settlement Scheme and the views of migrant Roma on the impact Brexit on their lives. Because I was not able to conduct in-person interviews, in January 2021, I decided to change the planned data collection. I was able to appoint a research assistant who conducted expert interviews with Roma-facing charities and organisations. Through these expert interviews I collected data on the impact of the pandemic and of Brexit on Roma communities and on their ability to access support when applying to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Together with my mentor Dr Roxana Barbulescu, my colleague Dr Noreen Mirza, and Mihai Bica from Roma Support Group, I published a policy brief based on the data from the interviews  conducted during my fellowship. We also organised a webinar to launch the policy brief to which we invited non-academic stakeholders. The policy brief was published shortly after the closure of the EU Settlement Scheme (which closed to applications at the end of June 2021) and focused on the ongoing issues that are likely to arise in connection with the scheme in the coming years. I am currently finishing a draft of a co-authored article based on these interviews which will be submitted to an academic journal with a focus on migration in January 2022.

In terms of my other objectives, I submitted a book proposal to an academic publisher and after waiting several months I received positive reviews in April 2021. I am currently working on my manuscript which I will send to the publisher for review in 2022. My single-authored article Praying through the pandemic: religion, uncertainty, and care was accepted by the Romani Studies journal and will be published shortly. As well as the policy brief published with Policy Leeds mentioned  above, I published another policy brief, based on the material from my PhD research, with the  equality Act Review commision who disseminated it to relevant stakeholders.

My plans to hold a stakeholder workshop in Leeds in spring 2021 were disrupted by the pandemic, however, as I mentioned above, I organised a webinar that coincided with the publication of our policy brief in July 2021. The workshop was attended by local, regional, and national stakeholders and generated a lot of discussion on social media. My plan to host an academic workshop was also disrupted by the pandemic and because many events that had initially been planned for 2020 ended up being rescheduled and hosted in 2021, I had to put my plans to host the workshop on hold.

The fellowship gave me an opportunity and time to develop new funding applications for future research. I submitted two grant applications in spring 2021, but unfortunately neither of them was successful. I reached the interview stage for one of the applications (MSCA Fellowship) and am currently on a list of reserve candidates. Even though my funding applications were unsuccessful, I managed to secure further employment at the University of Leeds and I am currently working as a Research Fellow on the ESRC-funded project Labour Mobility in transition: a multi-actor study of  the re-regulation of migrant work in ‘low-skilled’ sectors.

Despite the disruption caused by the pandemic, there were still opportunities for professional development. During my fellowship, I took part in a variety of workshops and other opportunities for training and professional development. Specifically, I participated in two sessions held by the Knowledge Exchange unit at the Parliament which provided training for ECR for engaging with policy makers and on how to write for policy makers. I also participated in a workshop that focused on using visual methodology for social research.

Training

2022 compulsory training events for ESRC funded students

Please note all of the below training is classed as compulsory for PGR students who are funded via the ESRC. Non-ESRC funded students are of course welcome to attend all of our training opportunities, and should discuss with their supervisors whether this training would be of use to you in your studies.

Advanced Quantitative Methods Taster training

Tuesday 25th January 2022

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.

This Advanced Quantitative Methods training is compulsory for ESRC funded PhD research students who have just embarked on their first year of PhD

Advanced Qualitative Methods Taster training

Wednesday 26th February 2022

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.

This Advanced Qualitative Methods training is compulsory for ESRC funded PhD research students who have just embarked on their first year of PhD study

Working Beyond Disciplines – MA Social Research Students

Wednesday 2nd March 2022

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.

Students will be introduced to one of the ‘grand challenges’ by way of a morning panel of experts, after which students diverge into ‘Pathway Groups’ which fit their research interests, and are led in a workshop discussion to identify how the ‘grand challenge’ affects their chosen field, opens up avenues of research and connects within the wider interdisciplinary research community.

It is compulsory for all ESRC funded MA students registered in September/October 2021, to attend this training day. It is also compulsory for non-ESRC funded MA students registered on the common framework WRDTP MA Social Research programme. You will be informed if you are required to attend.

Results of the Training Format poll

With the constantly shifting landscape of training in the COVID era,  and with institutions opening up more and more face-to-face training opportunities, the WRDTP surveyed ESRC funded students as to their thoughts on the future of our training offer. The following survey results are to be presented to the PGR Forum and the Training Group for comments, and the WRDTP will formulate a response to students in the New Year. If you have not been able to have your say, and would like your comments to be included in the final report, please follow the below link to complete the survey – ESRC and non-ESRC students are now welcome to complete this form. Please note all plans made by the WRDTP for face-to-face training will follow the current guidance from the government and within institutions, and are subject to change depending on the measures in place at the time.

Training format poll

Further comments from respondents (please note this is a sample of responses; all responses given will be included in the final report and response in the new year).

Online training has been very well provided, I just believe face to face would be more conductive to conversation

I am housebound with a disability, so events coming online due to COVID has made a lot more accessible to me than before. Please consider keeping an online option for future events

As someone who has been categorised as 'clinically extremely vulnerable' and asked by the Gov/NHS to take additional precautionary measures, I would be grateful for any face-to-face teaching to also have an online option so people like me are not excluded

By delivering online training I have been able to attend more training as it is less expensive to travel and fits in better with caregivers and their responsibilities. I really wouldn't want to see an end to online training. I feel very uncomfortable travelling during the current pandemic

I would be open to hybrid formats of training that students can attend both in-person while they are also streamed online

I would love to attend face to face training again - although I think there should be some COVID-19 safety measures besides the use of masks as wearing them for how long training sessions (sometimes days) go on for can be uncomfortable

Face-to-face is nice to meet other PhD students and discuss what we have learned

I am clinically vulnerable so I chose remote sessions to avoid potential risks during sessions, and using public transport to get to sessions. The remote sessions have helped me academically, but also helped me to maintain contact with others during the past 19 months when my contact with others has been almost non-existent

I started my PhD in September 2020 and feel like missing all face to face teaching has been of detriment to my degree, based on conversations with 3rd.4th year students who I have only recently been able to meet. I would hope that in person learning, meeting and collaborating is now prioritised, particularly for 1st and 2nd year students

Going forward, there should be an option to attend online if you do not want to attend in person. All lectures and group events can be easily live streamed using the same technology as we've used the past 2 years - doesn't need to be a fancy recording. Some of us are vulnerable and not able to be vaccinated, so should not be discriminated against. We have seen that there is no less dedication from those attending online and the online offer allows flexibility for those with more complex lives (whatever the reason), so the online function should remain - it is the most inclusive and supportive option. Inclusivity is key

For training outside of my university I prefer it be online as it's more convenient (no travelling etc.) but the downside is you miss out on meeting people. However, I'm happy to do face-to-face things at my university and online things for anything else, getting the best of both worlds

Online sessions are more effective, less time consuming and provide greater equity to students with additional needs

It is good for my mental health to meet face to face

It would be nice to get back to face to face training sessions where possible as it is easier to network with others in person than online

I believe a blended option could be for the best. Face to face is much more enjoyable for workshops and "hands on" training, but streaming or at least recording the event would allow those who are too far/busy to attend

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