Marianne Davies, a first-year Social Analytics student, describes her CUROP placement at DECIPHer
I initially applied for a CUROP placement because I was really interested in the scheme itself – the chance to gain an insight into social research and to develop my own skills seemed like a brilliant opportunity. I chose to apply for the SHARES (Self-HARm provision in Emergency Services) project in particular, as I have a special interest in mental health. SHARES aims to explore the experiences of children and young people who present to emergency departments following self-harm, and how these experiences might impact upon future self-harm and help-seeking. This study consists of: a) a systematic review of qualitative evidence reporting on individuals’ and carers’ experiences and b) use of interviews to gather primary qualitative data to gain a more in-depth account of experiences. My placement focussed on the systematic review, which explored experiences of short-term self-harm management and prevention provision, following presentation for self-harm.
It was invaluable learning more about the topic of self-harm from
One of my tasks during my placement was data extraction. I looked at papers that explored patient and carer experiences of visiting the emergency department following self-harm, and I coded any relevant information and categorised this into themes, subthemes etc. The literature itself was so interesting and in-depth, and the process allowed me to get to grips with NVivo – software often used when analysing qualitative data. I was then able to look at the papers from a whole new perspective when I undertook quality appraisals, which involved critiquing the papers and examining how reliable and trustworthy the findings were. This really gave me the chance to put the skills I had learned in lectures into a real world context, and to see how those skills were useful in the working world.
What was really invaluable during the placement was the ability to learn more about the topic of self-harm from the perspectives of not just the individual, but that of parents, carers, health professionals etc. It also examines many of the stigmas and assumptions attached to the issue of how mental health is handled within the health system.
It made me realise how much time and work really goes into a research project
Aside from the SHARES project, I also contributed towards a project on coproducing health-based interventions in schools. I conducted a screening of title and abstracts as well as some full paper reviews. Throughout the first half of my placement I participated in data collection sessions for the WISE (Well-being in Secondary Education) project, which meant engaging in fieldwork within secondary schools. These opportunities really added another dimension to my placement, as it was interesting to see other research projects at different stages of completion, and made me realise how much time and work really goes into a research project.
DECIPHer has been a great place to work, with friendly staff, stimulating tasks and constant opportunities to learn and engage. I wasn’t sure what to expect before I began my placement, but throughout my time here I’ve had plenty of support and guidance – I settled in so quickly that I’m not sure where eight weeks has gone! Hearing about the projects that other CUROP students, PhD students and members of staff are working on is really interesting, and provides a constant opportunity to continue learning.
Overall I’ve really enjoyed my time at DECIPHer, and it’s led me to consider a placement year (and even an international summer placement) in order to extend my professional working experience even further. It’s also added another dimension to my degree, as I was able to see the practicality of my theoretical learning, as well as realise the important part social sciences has to play in the real world.
For anyone who is looking to add to their CV, make valuable contacts, gain work experience, expand their knowledge on social research and be part of a worthwhile and enjoyable project, CUROP is the perfect opportunity.