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DTC Matters Issue No5. January 2014

January 31, 2014


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.


‘Meet the DTC’, Nov/Dec 2013

Professor Martin JonesIn November and December 2013, the new director of the WR DTC, Professor Martin Jones, visited each of the three White Rose institutions and held open meetings with staff and students. During each session, Martin presented a summary/update on the DTC to members of academic/support staff in the morning, and to DTC students in the afternoon, with plenty of time for questions and discussion. The meetings were lively and engaging with some super ideas from the audiences on how to improve communication with students and staff, how the DTC can offer more methods-related events and support cross-Pathway collaboration. There were also plenty of interesting ideas on how to improve distance-learning provision through online platforms.

Watch this space later this year for developments in all of these areas.

WRDTC Pathway Leaders Meeting, University of York, 13th December 2013

hughdyerHugh Dyer, Director of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Education Social Sciences and Law, University of Leeds, AQC member

On 13 December 2013 a White Rose Social Science DTC ‘Pathway Leaders’ meeting was held at the University of York, one of two meetings held annually. Aside from providing a structured opportunity for institutional leads in each pathway to meet collectively, these plenary meetings help to share good practice in developing pathways and meeting delivery promises (with a view to the future of course!), and also allow ‘leads’ whether new or established in the role to get up to speed with developments. In the spirit of sharing, practices and experiences from a sample of pathways were presented, with many more emerging from comments, queries and discussion.

rcss1Among the suggestions emerging and being taken up is the development of a monthly email for pathway leads, which it is hoped will start around the end of January 2014. This will include some of the highlights from the meetings and new information to support pathway leads in their role, such as funding news, the latest ESRC news, and models of engagement to share.  Other information forthcoming in support of pathway leads will be a copy of the director’s PowerPoint slides from the meeting, a ‘role and responsibilities’ reference document along with a pathway leads contact list, some ‘strategic steer’ bullet-points that leads can use locally to demonstrate the strategic added value of the DTC, and also guidance on the use of the pathway pages at wrdtc.ac.uk – and much of this will constitute an induction pack for new pathway leads.

Other larger issues, arising from pathway meeting discussions, will be part of ongoing Academic Quality Committee (AQC) planning and development work to press the interests of pathway development at a wider institutional level. Naturally the success and future prospects of the DTC hinge on having vibrant pathways of research training activity, which it is hoped regular cross-pathway meetings will help support.


ESRC First Year Student Conference – Nottingham, 26th-27th November 2013

PhD student Joanna Elvy (University of Leeds, Planning Pathway, Transport Studies) attended the conference and provided a report for DTC Matters:

ESRC First Year Student Conference 2013

‘As a first year PhD student at the University of Leeds in receipt of an ESRC studentship, I was invited to attend the ESRC First Year Conference hosted by the University of Nottingham on 26th and 27th November 2013. The conference began with a networking buffet on the evening of 26th, which was a great way to meet other PhD students. At my table were other WRDTC students from Leeds and Sheffield alongside students from as far as Stirling and Swansea.

esrc first year conferenceThe main conference itself took place on 27th November with approximately 300 delegates from all over the United Kingdom. It began with a welcome and introductions from Professor David Greenaway, Vice Chancellor of the University of Nottingham and Professor Paul Boyle, Chief Executive of ESRC. Then we began to focus on one of the core themes of the day, which was the ‘impact’ of research. Dawn Woodgate (ESRC) provided some case studies of impact in her own research and invited a wider discussion about impact amongst the delegates. This presented additional opportunities for networking, both at individual tables and across the room via a live twitter feed (#esrcphd) which was relayed onto a projector screen throughout the event. This was a great way to network with people undertaking research on similar themes and to engage in open debates and discussions during the conference. However, in the interests of balance I should also report that some delegates found it a little distracting during the talks and presentations. Continuing the theme of research impact, Dr Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz (University of Nottingham) gave a really interesting presentation about the impact of his research on elephant conservation in Malaysia.

ESRC First Year ConferenceIn the afternoon session, we were given an opportunity to find out more about the opportunities that ESRC provide for PhD students in terms of making the most of our studentship and international engagement. In these breakout sessions we heard from a number of PhD students who had taken advantage of the various schemes and opportunities available. From January 2014 a number of these schemes, such as the Overseas Institutional Visits (OIV) scheme, will be administered directly by the WRDTC rather than through the ESRC. The final part of the day involved two entertaining and occasionally controversial panel sessions where senior academics from the University of Nottingham (including Professors Phil Cowley, Stephen Fielding, Pat Thomson, Brigette Nerlich and Claire O’Malley, Dr Paul Greatrix, and Dr Janathan Rose) discussed engagement, impact and ‘the 21st century PhD’. The main message to come out of these discussions was the importance of communicating your research in the wider world and the importance of skills and training in addition to the everyday PhD research activity.

If you have the opportunity to attend a similar event in the future then I would strongly recommend it. As a final note I would like to thank the ESRC and the University of Nottingham for providing some of the best facilities, accommodation and catering that I have enjoyed at a conference.’

Find out more…….

Poster Exhibition at ICOSS in Sheffield

Poster ExhibitionAn exhibition displaying 20 posters from WR DTC research students took place during the whole of January at the ICOSS building at the University of Sheffield, and was visited by Directors of DTCs across the country on 13th January 2014, and by members of the WR DTC Academic Quality Committee on 14th January. AQC members judged their clarity and visual impact, and the author of the most successful poster will win a £50 Blackwell’s gift voucher.  An announcement will be made shortly.

Find out more……….

WR DTC Student Representatives

A very warm welcome to the new student reps joining the Academic Quality Committee from October 2013: Robin Morris (Socio-Legal Studies, Sheffield), Marianne Hvistendhal Allday (Psychology, Leeds), and David O’Reilly (Education, York). The new reps will join colleagues who have already been in the role for one year (pictured below).

student repsSome additional roles are also available to join the DTC Team in other areas. This is a unique opportunity to represent your fellow students’ voice within the DTC, influence DTC processes, and have your say in the organisation of training and events etc.

We are currently looking for representatives for the Advanced Quantitative Methods (AQM) Development Group and the Advanced Qualitative Methods (AQUALM) Development Group. If you are interested in this opportunity, get in touch with enquiries@wrdtc.ac.uk.

Opportunities will also be offered soon for Communication Officers and IT Officers, so please check the DTC website regularly where more details will be coming soon.


WRDTC Advanced Training Series

All sessions are advertised on the Training page of the DTC website.

Upcoming sessions include:


AQUALM Advanced Training

Workshops in the AQUALM (Advanced Qualitative Methods) series are continuing at the three White Rose universities.

Upcoming sessions include:

Advanced Training

Don’t forget to keep an eye on the DTC website for the latest news on training opportunities. You can also keep up to date by following the WRDTC on Twitter: Follow @wrssdtc 

AQM Student Network

e_IMG_6710A group of DTC students with an interest in Advanced Quantitative Methods has set up a new student led network for postgraduate researchers who use quantitative methods in all social sciences disciplines. This interdisciplinary network will provide a space to exchange ideas and expertise, and will also organise and advertise events.

The WRDTC has been pleased to offer some financial support for their next event: a one day  Methods Workshop, 13 February 2014, Sheffield.  To find out more and join the network visit their website: http://aqmn.wordpress.com/

WRDTC Student Seminar Series – Hosted by LSSI

LSSIThe first series of White Rose DTC student seminars is being organised in Leeds, building on a previous Leeds Social Sciences Institute interdisciplinary seminar series. The seminars are student-led and aim to offer a space for WR DTC students to practise presenting their work in a friendly and supportive environment. Presenters and attendees will be able to exchange ideas about their work in progress with other PhD students from Leeds, York and Sheffield who might be working on related topics or using similar methodologies.

A call for papers has been circulated, and details of dates and topics will be advertised as soon as available on the DTC website. All DTC students are invited to attend the seminars, even if they are not giving a presentation.

The seminars will take place in Leeds starting in February/March 2014 and more information will be available soon.

For any queries please contact the organising committee directly at LSSIseminars2014@gmail.com

Funding Opportunities for Interdisciplinary Networks

Funding is available to WRDTC students and staff to support initiatives and events addressing substantive, multi-disciplinary themes and involving colleagues within the DTC and beyond. Further details, including an application form, can be found on the DTC website.

Essay Competition on Doctoral Research Collaboration

Essay CompetitionThis competition is open to all DTC students who have worked, are working, or will work in collaboration with a non-academic organisation, for example through a placement, fieldwork or knowledge exchange initiative. To participate, entrants must write a 750-word essay describing one or more aspects of their collaboration experience. The winner of the competition will be awarded a £75 cash prize and will be invited to read his/her essay at the WRDTC Spring conference on 20th May 2014.

The deadline for entries is 25th April 2014. All details are on the WR DTC website.

Note: The Booking Form for the WRDTC Spring Conference will go live in the next few months – keep a close eye on the website

Focus on: Impact

University of Sheffield PhD researchers Sarah Brooks and Peter Crellin (Management and Business Pathway) participated in the latest edition of the ESRC Festival of Social Sciences last November and organised a public event related to their topic of research. Here is Sarah’s report on their experience:

Festival of Social Science logo‘On the evening of 4th November 2013, myself and Peter Crellin hosted an event as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Sciences.  We are both doctoral researchers at the Institute of Work Psychology, which is now part of the Sheffield University Management School and the talk was titled “Is there anybody out there? Why bosses don’t always listen.”  For the talk, we combined our research interests to provide a unique look at the ways in which managers prevent their employees from speaking openly and honestly about organisational issues. My area of research is workplace silence which is effectively the result of poor communication between employees and their managers.  Pete’s research is looking at the leadership behaviours which do harm to the organisation and its employees, an area of research known as destructive leadership.

We designed our event for a general audience because we wanted the discussions to be shaped by people with a whole range of different experiences.  In the end, we had 20 attendees comprising public and private sector business people from around Sheffield, undergraduate students, MSc students and PhD students.  Whilst planning the event, we weren’t sure where we might find people who would be interested in our talk.  At the event itself we were surprised to find that some people had picked up a flyer for the event in their local pub and even the launderette which just goes to show that you just never know who might be interested in your research!

training courseOur event was two hours because we thought this would give the right mix of input from us and time for the audience to discuss what they had heard with each other.  We also hoped that people would be willing to share their own personal experiences of workplace silence and destructive leadership to highlight the practical importance of our research.  It turned out that this idea worked really well and in fact people suggested that next time we host an event, we leave even more time to talk about what they had heard so that they could apply this to situations they were facing in the workplace.  One of our attendees wrote an excellent summary and review of our talk on her blog.

Being awarded funding to take part in the ESRC Festival of Social Science was a real privilege. As doctoral researchers we are passionate about our subjects and being able to share our thoughts and ideas with other people, who in turn are able to give us their thoughts and ideas about how our research could help people in their working lives, is for us, what being a researcher is all about.  This experience gave us the opportunity to practice public speaking, engage with diverse audiences, shape our ideas even further, and build business contacts for the future.’

ESRC festival

Focus on: Internships

The White Rose DTC is delighted to announce that three DTC students have been selected to undertake internships under the prestigious ESRC scheme. Congratulations to William Vittery (University of York, Politics), Helen Saddler (University of York, Education) and Eleanor Carter (University of Sheffield, Human Geography), who will have an opportunity to work with the Government Innovation Group of the Cabinet Office.

Below is a report from Sarah Brooks, an ESRC-funded doctoral researcher at the Institute of Work Psychology, University of Sheffield.  Sarah completed an ESRC internship at the newly formed What Works Centre for Crime Reduction at the College of Policing between June and September 2013.  The College of Policing is the professional body for policing in England and Wales and one of its main remits is to develop evidence-based professional practice guidelines for police forces.

‘During the three month period, I undertook a number of research activities which were designed to not only help develop my research skills, but also to introduce me to the range of work that I might get involved in as an applied researcher.  My principal role involved carrying out a literature review to determine the characteristics of an evidence-based policing environment.  I worked with a large number of researchers, all of whom had both individual and group responsibilities for research projects.  One of the things I found most surprising was the large number of research activities that everyone in the team was working on at the same time.  Each of them was under great time pressure to complete each research project to tight deadlines and to a high standard.

P1000796sAs the ESRC internship scheme is primarily focused on an individual’s development as a researcher, I received a lot of support from two managers who helped me through each stage of the research process and encouraged me to reflect on the learnings and how this might change the way I do my PhD research. In fact, one of the main things I began to appreciate whilst I was there was the benefit of creating a research plan. This reminded me of the original scope of the research and allowed me to keep track of the changes to research questions and literature searches as they developed over time.  This turned out to be an invaluable tool primarily because working on multiple things I found that I was quickly forgetting where I was up to and what I had already done.

The second thing I now appreciate more is the importance of the impact agenda and the practical application of research.  During the internship, I was looking for evidence to support policing policy and tactics but much of the literature was theoretical.  I now realise that it is important to me to be involved with producing research which answers very real problems for policing practitioners and provides empirical support to advance policing practice.

The ESRC internship also brought with it a change of working location. My office was in a 300 year old mansion on a country estate in Hampshire.  Apparently, the mansion house is the 3rd most haunted house in England with 14 ghosts roaming the 300 acre estate, although thankfully, I never saw any of them!

ESRC internships are available to ESRC funded students in any year of study. If you would like to know more about Sarah’s experience, contact her directly at s.brooks@sheffield.ac.uk.’


RidNet Conference (International Development Pathway) – 7th November 2013, University of Leeds – Conducting Fieldwork in Development Contexts:  Practical Experiences of Data Collection and Analysis

The University of Leeds Researchers in Development Network (RiDNet) held its second conference on 7 November 2013. RIDNet brings together PhD students working on international development across departments at the University of Leeds. We aim to share ideas and build links among PhD students in different faculties, and organise events throughout the year, including seminars, discussions, workshops and socials.

Andy tweeterThe conference aimed to share practical experiences of development research – going beyond what it says in the textbook! International development research can bring particular challenges, for example, communication difficulties related to cultural differences or ethical issues resulting from stark differences in position between the researcher and participants. The conference was space to share difficulties, dilemmas, and things that worked well.

Tickets for the conference were sold out well in advance and over 70 people came on the day. Many came from within the White Rose consortium, but we also had participants Edinburgh, Durham, London, Sussex and other places across the country.

We were delighted to have presentations from four excellent keynote speakers. Paul Jackson from Birmingham spoke about research on conflict and the difficult choices that sometimes arise, based on his work in different conflict zones. Paul has undertaken research with a very varied range of political actors, and he raised questions about the position of the researcher and the difficulty of maintaining impartiality when working with different sides. Andy Dougill from Leeds discussed trans-disciplinary and participatory research. He provided very practical careers advice for PhD students around developing specialist skills that can contribute to interdisciplinary teams and support research in different subjects. In the afternoon, we had a very interesting presentation from Katie Willis of Royal Holloway about learning from emotions in fieldwork. Katie discussed the emotions experienced by the researcher and different approaches and strategies to deal with these. Finally, Barbara Evans from Leeds drew on her long experience of work with development agencies to look at the use of evidence in policy making and strategies for impact.

Panel presentations from PhD students were the central focus of the day. We had an excellent set of abstracts from which to select, and the students who presented all raised very interesting issues. In the morning, panels looked at qualitative and quantitative methods; working with organisations: managing access and relationships; and working in difficult contexts: the researcher’s position. Afternoon sessions looked at participatory research; ethical issues in research with organisations; and working in difficult contexts: issues of security and safety.

Around the formal sessions, we had plenty of time for discussion over lunch and coffee breaks. It was a good opportunity to make connections with students from other universities, as well as meeting new people at Leeds.

Nelly tweeterThe initial feedback on the conference was very positive, with participants saying: “very friendly atmosphere”; “very well organised”; “great keynote speakers” and “extremely refreshing to be at an academic conference that is positive about impact!!”. More feedback can be found on Twitter at #RiDNet2013.

We would like to thank all those who funded the conference for their support, including the Leeds Social Sciences Institute (LSSI), the LEAP Training Hub, the Sustainability Research Institute (SRI), the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP), and Africa College. In particular we are very grateful to the White Rose Doctoral Training Centre (WRDTC) for providing a substantial proportion of the funding from the Interdisciplinary Development Fund.

Coming soon: Health and Wellbeing Pathway and Advanced Qualitative Methods event: Technology For Data Collection and Analysis in Health Research, University of Leeds, 26th February 2014

Health WellbeingOn Wednesday 26th February 2014, the Health and Well-Being Pathway, with the support of the AQM Development Group, will hold an event at the University of Leeds.

The programme includes talks from Jeremy Wyatt (University of Leeds), Jan Boehnke and Ada Keding (University of York), Sarah Smith (PhD student, University of Sheffield), and Suzanne Skevington (University of Manchester), on the topic of Technology For Data Collection and Analysis in Health Research.

Places are limited and priority to attend will be given to students in the Health and Well-being Pathway, and students with an interest in Advanced Quantitative Methods. To find out more and book your place please click here.


ESRCESRC Student Conferences 

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

Overseas Institutional Visits (OIV) [ESRC-funded students] 

Starting from 31st January 2014, claims for Overseas Institutional Visits (OIV) will no longer be processed by the ESRC, and will apply via the DTCs. Check the ESRC website for further details, and keep an eye on the News section of the DTC website for further announcements. 

Overseas Fieldwork Expenses [ESRC-funded students] – Unexpected Expenses

ESRC-funded students who claimed Overseas Fieldwork Expenses from the DTC now have the opportunity to claim for further Unexpected Expenses – details will be posted on the WR DTC website.


Have Your Say!

An on line questionnaire will be circulated to all our DTC students in March 2014 to help us evaluate how we are doing. We will be grateful for all your responses!