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‘An invaluable experience!’ Aleks’ CUROP placement

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Aleksandra Goudie, third-year joint honours Law and Sociology student, recommends her CUROP placement at DECIPHer 

I was actively seeking to obtain a summer placement which would help me to develop my skills and experiences in research – CUROP offered me the perfect opportunity. As the final CUROP student to be starting my placement, I was apprehensive and unsure about what to expect, but the team at DECIPHer were extremely welcoming and helpful throughout my placement.

The National Student Advisory Group project immediately caught my attention, as throughout my academic life I have always had an interest in representing a collective student voice.

Crucially, this project will promote the views and voices of young people who have long been absent from the priority setting process

The proposed project’s overarching goal is to ultimately conclude with the development of the first public health research priority setting exercise. Crucially, this will promote the views and voices of young people who have long been absent from the priority setting process.

Throughout my placement, I had the chance to develop a variety of new skills, all whilst benefitting from the wealth of theoretical and methodological expertise in DECIPHer. My overall task was to identify public health research priorities and determine sustainable practice and structure for ongoing research engagement with young people across Wales. To achieve this, I was also assigned other tasks, such as; producing literature reviews, designing evaluation and consent forms, identifying security procedures for data storage, ensuring participant confidentiality, creating involvement presentations and aid in the content creation of an online activity platform. Assessing the feasibility and appropriateness of different involvement models by identifying potential barriers, cost implications and usability formed my other significant tasks.

I have really enjoyed being involved in the practical aspects of research within an academic centre

Weekly progress meeting with my mentor (Public Involvement Officer, Peter Gee) highlighted my improvement and progress throughout the eight weeks. I began my placement with no prior research experience and limited knowledge on research methods and data collection. However, by the end of my placement I was contributing to funding application research, assisting with the design and development of involvement models and supporting the ESRC Festival of Social Science engagement event.

In September, I attended an ALPHA (Advice Leading to Public Health Advancement) group meeting, to see the positive impact young people can have on public health issues. Furthermore, I have been offered the opportunity to continue my work with DECIPHer by becoming a field worker for the JACK Trial with Dr Honor Young – collecting data across numerous schools in Wales. This has enabled me to experience first-hand the practical elements of research alongside my theoretical knowledge.

I cannot recommend CUROP strongly enough to those considering how to gain research experience next summer. My CUROP placement has offered me invaluable experience in developing a variety of transferable skills and qualities. I have particularly enjoyed being involved in the practical aspects of research within an academic centre, and seeing the different branches of a project come together. I look forward to once again seeing all the other placement students from DECIPHer at the CUROP poster exhibition event in October.