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DTC Matters Issue No4. October 2013

November 1, 2013


Welcome to the fourth edition of the White Rose Social Sciences DTC newsletter; “DTC Matters”. This is the first newsletter for the academic year 2013-14.

The White Rose Doctoral Training Centre was launched in November 2011. Read more

This newsletter is issued quarterly and includes NEWS AND EVENTS, TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES, PATHWAY NEWS, and ESRC NEWS. If you would like to submit an article for DTC Matters or provide feedback on any of the featured articles, go to ‘News’ and click ‘New Article +’ button.



White Rose DTC Induction Event – 2nd October 2013, University of York

P1000649-1The White Rose DTC welcomed new social scientists from Leeds, York and Sheffield with an Induction Event at the Ron Cooke Hub,

Feedback from students on the day said that:  “Networking was excellent. We got to know students from the three universities and the topics they will be working on” and “Building the community is very useful, especially the aspect of exchanging knowledge of methodology”

Favourites of the day were:

Celia Kitzinger’s talk on Qualitative Methods – her energy and excitement made the area accessible and fun”

Stephen McGlynn’s talk on his first year PhD experience was great, I really liked that he gave very personal advice on the ups and downs of what we may encounter and how we may feel during our PhDs”

“Swap Shop and networking – it was useful to share research ideas and discover fellow students research interests”

Presentations and videos from the day are available on the WR DTC website at the following link: http://wrdtc.humanstudio.com/wrdtc-induction-event-2013/

The next main DTC event will be the annual Spring Methods Conference on 20th May 2014 in Sheffield. Booking and more details will be available on the WR DTC website in April.



30 students from Leeds, York and Sheffield spent 2 days at the White Rose DTC Seaside Summer School at the Scarborough campus of the University of Hull in early September, attending a fast-paced course on quantitative software. The course was led by Tim Croudace and Jan Boehnke (University of York) as part of the offering of the Advanced Quantitative Methods Development Group. Here is a report from York student Dima Al-Malahmeh:

Quantitative Summer School: Multivariate Data Analysis for Social Sciences with computing exercises using R (free software)

Almost every researcher has to work with statistics in a way or another; especially if your study is quantitative. However, it might not be easy for some researchers from disciplines who are not very much familiar with statistics. Here comes the role of White Rose DTC to serve the need of many postgraduates from different backgrounds and fields with regard to statistics. White Rose DTC organised a very useful summer school in September 2013 for a number of doctoral students from the University of York, University of Leeds and University of Sheffield to provide them with the needed knowledge in statistics and relevant softwares.
ScarboroughIn the three-day summer school, we learnt not only terms and models in statistics but also how to run them. A lot of people registered for this free of charge (for PhD students) summer school to learn about the modern stats software R, and the sessions ran smoothly and were very useful in terms of how to use R Gui, how to code your data, run stats, and analyze the results. It served as a great basis for anyone who wants to work with R. We learnt about regression (linear regression model, logistic regression model, etc), factor analysis of binary data and in multiple dimensions, we worked through assignments on R Gui, and many other things. Not only that, but the cooperative instructors, Jan Böhnke and Tim Croudace, also introduced new softwares to us, such as Factor. In the summer school, we were taught how to use a variety of models using these modern softwares that would meet the needs of postgraduate students in social sciences in the three universities.

It is worth mentioning that the place, University of Hull (Scarborough Campus), is a spectacular place to stay in. The facilities provided, including the accommodation, food and the service itself, was beyond expectations. We cannot thank the White Rose enough for this great, memorable and beneficial opportunity. We had fun and we made the most of our time there without paying for anything except our travel expenses, I believe!

WRDTC Advanced Training Series

The White Rose DTC Advanced Training Series workshops and masterclasses took place in June and July in Leeds and York. For a report on Leeds sessions please click here.

The 2013-14 Advanced Training series will offer some of the most popular courses from summer 2013, as well as newly designed sessions (such as Nvivo, longitudinal analysis, etc.).

Please check the DTC training pages for dates and information.

Advanced Qualitative and Quantitative Methods

York MasterclassIn addition to core and discipline-specific methods courses, two new development groups for Advanced Qualitative Methods and Advanced Quantitative Methods have been established.

The Advanced Qualitative Methods Group (AQUALM), led by Celia Kitzinger (York), has planned a series of lectures and workshops. All details and booking forms are on the training pages of the DTC website, and will be constantly updated.

Forthcoming sessions include Assessment in Conversation, Gatekeepers and Participation in Qualitative Research and Photo Elicitation for Qualitative Analysis.

In addition to the Seaside Summer School last September, the Advanced Quantitative Group (AQM) led by Tim Croudace (York) will also be offering training and events. Please check the DTC website regularly not to miss information on training and events.

Focus on: Impact

Leeds PhD student Ibrar Bhatt (Education Pathway) has been focusing on personal development and impact activities to enhance his research profile, by using digital media for networking and focusing on publication, including collaborative publication.

Here is what Ibrar says about his activities:

“My ‘strategy’, if we can call it that, has been to write for academic and public audiences whilst completing the bigger and ongoing thesis project. For example, when I completed my pilot research as preparatory work for my upgrade, I wrote a few blog posts on the piloting/upgrade process, a conference presentation, followed by refereed paper, then a published paper; the latter was a type of summation of the previous activities. Tweeting (@linguistics12) has also been a useful way for me to write about my work as I do it.

These residual activities are a useful way for me to test my developing ideas with a range of audiences in a kind of ‘continual networked conversation’ in Facebook and Google groups, blogs, Twitter, etc. Following some of these networked conversations, I discovered other PhD students adopting the same methodological approaches and theoretical perspectives as I. Some discussions then lead to collaborative writing opportunities, and I then wrote a paper with another PhD student in the US where we reflect on our methodologies and how they constitute a valuable contribution to our fields.

This experience has been particularly interesting as collaborative writing is always a challenge, and even more so when it is carried out at a distance. For one thing there is the issue of revision history which needs to be monitored so that modifications writers make are clearly labelled, if you are collaborating in this particular manner. Otherwise, you could each write a section, but may still need to combine insights in the Discussion and Conclusion sections. I found the integrated comment system of Google Drive a useful way to weigh up arguments between us about a specific aspect or part of the text without modifying it immediately – a crucial part of long-term collaborative writing and editing.

I worked quite well with my co-author and, since that paper, we have now teamed up with another researcher based in Japan for our next publication (most likely a book chapter), as we continue to expand our continual networked conversation.”


P1000728-1Sheffield student Stephen McGlynn (Management and Business, Accounting and Finance, and Work Psychology Pathway) has recently been awarded a prize by international psychometric company cut-e, as winner of a competition for an innovative idea that could improve the fit between people and their jobs. Stephen’s project, called ‘Keeping Track of your Development’, consists of a mobile app which can be used by employees to keep records of their informal development activities. Stephen won a prize of 5,000 euros, which he plans to use to develop his idea, and a trip to the cut-e annual HR conference in Hamburg. Stephen’s idea has generated great interest both for its applications for employees and organisations, as well as for research as it will help keeping track of informal learning within workplaces (read more here).

Focus on: Internships

In addition to his impact activities, Ibrar Bhatt is also undertaking an internship with Cyprus-based NGO CARDET:

“This opportunity came through a combination of contacts gained through conference experience and ESRC encouragement for scholar internships. CARDET is a Mediterranean NGO which does a lot of interesting research on digitally inspired forms of educational practice, with a social justice ethos. My work will involve supporting CARDET with its current suite of projects on digital literacy, conducting research activities, and delivering workshops on topics directly related and tangential to my PhD.

I chose to apply for the internship because, being an NGO, CARDET’s work has direct and demonstrable impact on those who need it most in the classroom, radically transforming learners’ lives. I will gain first-hand experience of how research should adopt this kind of perspective from its outset to completion, whilst working with an international team of experienced professionals with extensive global expertise in technology-enhanced learning design and educational reform and innovation.”

Coming soon: new internships opportunities will be offered via the DTC in addition to the ESRC opportunities.



Management and Business, Accounting and Finance, and Work Psychology Pathway Conference – 2nd-3rd July 2013, University of Leeds

The first White Rose Doctoral Training Centre Business and Management Doctoral Conference was held at Leeds University Business School on 2-3 July 2013. The conference brought together oral and poster presentations from Postgraduate Researchers at Leeds, Sheffield and York, alongside keynote speakers and round-table sessions. Richard Bruce (University of Sheffield) was awarded the prize for best paper presentation, while Danat Valizade (University of Leeds) won the first prize in the poster competition.

There were a number of interesting keynote speeches from leading academics at the three institutions on themes such as career management, as well as round table discussions on the themes of ‘impact’ and ‘ethics in research’. In total, 37 posters and 17 presentations were presented over the two days.

The event proved to be an excellent opportunity to foster networking and academic discussion for PGR students and their supervisors who attended from the business and management schools of the three universities.

This was the inaugural conference of the Management and Business, Accounting and Finance, and Work Psychology Pathway, which aimed to enhance student training and fostering networks across the three White Rose universities. The annual conference will take place in York next year and at Sheffield University Management School in 2015.

Psychology Pathway Conference – 28th August 2013, University of Sheffield

1This summer, PhD Psychology students hosted the first White Rose DTC Psychology Summer Conference at the University of Sheffield. The day comprised of two poster sessions (showcasing research by PhD students from Sheffield, Leeds and York), a series of short talks from academics and students, and stalls from the Careers Service, The British Psychological Society and PsyPag.

Seline Ozer (Leeds University) and Ciara Kelly (Sheffield University) won prizes for their excellent posters. Ciara was chosen by an academic panel, and Seline was voted for by students in the ‘People’s Choice Award’. Read more about the conference and the general interest sessions at this link.
The conference was a student-led initiative organised by a group of five 1st year PhD students in Psychology (Giulia Poerio, Emma Blakey, Carla Chivers, Simone Croft and Abby Dickinson). The students suggested this event at the WR DTC Induction event in October last year, as a way to open up communication and collaboration between Sheffield, Leeds and York.

Feedback from participants described it as “Very well organised. The general theme and topics discussed were highly relevant and speakers appeared to be very knowledgeable on their talk.” and “Really great conference, particularly enjoyed the talks, and as a second year PhD student I found the viva and post-doc talks really useful.”

Reflection by the Psychology conference organisers: The trials and tribulations of organising a conference

What does it take to organise a conference on this scale? And what do you do when it all starts going wrong?

2Designing the conference was a lot of fun. We decided to focus on poster presentations with the talks to be more general, highlighting a range of things around the topic ‘things you didn’t know you needed to know about’. But organising the conference wasn’t all smooth sailing. We encountered occasional bumps in the road, including a planned refurbishment of our chosen venue, and an initial slow influx of abstract submissions. After a swift change of venue and a full-on advertising campaign, numbers were up and we were well on our way to planning a successful conference.

The day itself was a huge success. The warm and friendly environment that we hoped to create was reflected in the way that students asked speakers questions and engaged in lively discussion during poster sessions. We were keen to get feedback about the conference so asked delegates to complete a questionnaire. Everyone said they found the talks informative and entertaining, and most importantly, 100% would recommend the conference to a colleague. We celebrated the success of the conference with a wine reception, and festivities went on into the night continuing back at the Psychology department.

Organising a conference isn’t easy but it is worthwhile. One thing we learned is that a positive ‘can-do’ attitude is essential. The difficulties we faced made us think bigger and do better and this was reflected in an extremely successful event. Our intention was to create a student-led conference with the potential to become a regular fixture on the White Rose DTC calendar- we hope that new students pick up where we left off!

Coming up: RidNet conference (International Development Pathway) – 7th November 2013, University of Leeds

The Researchers in Development Network (RiDNet) at the University of Leeds is organising its second annual conference “Conducting Fieldwork in Development Contexts: Practical Experiences of Data Collection and Analysis” on the 7th of November 2013 in Leeds. The conference will focus on practical experiences of the challenges of conducting research in development contexts. The day will include sessions on methods, ethical issues, working with organisations, security and safety and the researcher’s role in difficult contexts.



ESRC Student Conferences

ESRCThe ESRC First Year Postgraduate Student Conference is coming up in Nottingham on 27th November. Find out more on the DTC pages.

The ESRC Final Year Postgraduate Student Conference will take place on 25th April 2014, hosted by the Scottish DTC.

ESRC Festival of Social Science – November 2013


The programme  of the November 2013 Festival of Social Science is available on the ESRC website and includes a number of events taking place in Yorkshire.

Other News:

British Library Open Days (Social Sciences: 2nd and 13th December)

The British Library have just launched their popular Doctoral Open Days series for this academic year, which introduce new PhD students to the British Library. Find more information here.


WRDTC Director – Open Meetings

Professor Martin JonesThe new DTC Director, Professor Martin Jones, will hold open sessions at each of the three Universities to introduce himself to social sciences staff and students and discuss any DTC-related questions. The dates will be:

Details and booking forms will be available on the DTC website.

New funding opportunities for cross disciplinary Student-led and Staff-led Networks  

The White Rose Doctoral Training Centre (WRDTC) is promoting interdisciplinary activities for postgraduate research students and academic staff by offering a small amount of funding for students/staff to run activities/events etc to develop their own Networks. Find out more…..