Elpida Petrovits is a second-year Human and Social Sciences student. During summer 2019 she took a CUROP placement at DECIPHer.
My plan during the first year of my degree was to find an opportunity to gain some real research experience. I was searching for a summer placement which would give me experience in research and help me to expand my skills. A CUROP placement at DECIPHer was the perfect opportunity for this. After being interviewed, I was thrilled to be given a placement working on the CHARMING study with Dr Kelly Morgan and Dr Jemma Hawkins.
The CHARMING project is a primary school role model programme that aims to promote sustained physical activity in girls aged 9-11 years old. Some early field testing suggested that involvement of peer role models would be an important addition to the programme and so my placement focused on trying to understand how best to engage secondary school students in CHARMING. My supervisors worked with me to arrange for opportunities to explore this, including setting up a consultation meeting at a local secondary school to talk to some of their students. Part of my role involved drafting information sheets and consent forms for parents and students for the consultation meetings. I also read a lot about participatory data collection methods from multiple recourses to inform what methods we should use in the consultation meeting.
Shadowing was an amazing chance for me to witness another type of research method during my placement
During my placement, I had the opportunity to meet with several other DECIPHer staff who really helped me to get the most out of the work I was doing. I met with one of the DECIPHer PhD students, Amy Simpson, who talked to me about creative research methods that she had learned about on a recent training course. These are methods I was not previously aware of which helped me to prepare for the consultation meeting. I also met with DECIPHer research assistant Jordan Van Godwin who had worked on the CHARMING development study. I took a lot away from this meeting including a better understanding of the project. Jordan also provided with me an opportunity to shadow some of his work on another project for which he was conducting some semi-structured telephone interviews. This was an amazing experience which allowed me to witness another type of research method during my placement.
I also had a meeting with DECIPHer’s Public Involvement Officer Peter Gee. He gave me a lot of information about the ALPHA young people’s involvement group and his role within this, as well as other public involvement information. I had the opportunity to attend one of the ALPHA sessions which gave me some insight into research with young people and children first hand.
DECIPHer is a fantastic place to work with academics who are extremely passionate about their work
I also had the incredible opportunity to attend a few of the sessions on the DECIPHer short course on developing and evaluating complex interventions. These sessions introduced me to key frameworks and principles that guide complex intervention development and evaluation in DECIPHer. Moreover, I began to understand the objectives and approaches to developing complex public health interventions. I learned about the values of ‘transdisciplinary’ approaches and ‘health improvement networks’ for intervention and research co-production. Finally, I had the opportunity to sit in a talk about Feasibility & Pilot Studies, which helped me understand why health improvement scientists use pilot and feasibility studies.
Having the opportunity to be around such inspiring individuals was an invaluable experience. From the outset, I was given a warm welcome and was made to feel part of the team. From start to end, the team at DECIPHer was very supportive. DECIPHer is a fantastic place to work with academics who are extremely passionate about their work. I would like to thank the DECIPHer team for an unforgettable placement, for their time and for sharing their expertise. It has been the most rewarding experience. My time in DECIPHer has helped me realise that research is the field I want to be working in. I wish to come back in the future!