Category / Featured academics

Academic publishing and numbers

Yesterday our team published new paper on academic writing, this time the focus was on the various indices in the field.  Academics from three different departments in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences collaborated on the paper ‘Publishing, identifiers & metrics: Playing the numbers game‘ [1].  The three BU scholars, Dr Shovita Dhakal Adhikari, in the Social Sciences and Social Work Department, Dr. Pramod Regmi in the Department of Nursing Sciences, and Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen in the Department of Midwifery and Health Sciences co-authored the paper with former BU staff Dr. Nirmal Aryal, now researcher at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, Alexander van Teijlingen, PhD student at the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow), and Dr. Sarita Panday, Lecturer in Public Health in the University of Essex.

This a the latest paper in a long line of publications on aspects of academic writing and publishing [2-16].

References:

  1. van Teijlingen, E.R., Dhakal Adhikari, S., Regmi, P.R., van Teijlingen, A., Aryal, N., Panday, S. (2021). Publishing, identifiers & metrics: Playing the numbers game. Health Prospect20(1). https://doi.org/10.3126/hprospect.v20i1.37391
  2. Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen E., Hundley, V., Simkhada, BD. (2013) Writing an Abstract for a Scientific Conference, Kathmandu Univ Med J 11(3): 262-65. http://www.kumj.com.np/issue/43/262-265.pdf
  3. van Teijlingen, E, Hundley, V. (2002) Getting your paper to the right journal: a case study of an academic paper, J Advanced Nurs 37(6): 506-11.
  4. Pitchforth, E, Porter M, Teijlingen van E, Keenan Forrest, K. (2005) Writing up & presenting qualitative research in family planning & reproductive health care, Fam Plann Reprod Health Care 31(2): 132-135.
  5. van Teijlingen, E, Simkhada, PP, Rizyal A (2012) Submitting a paper to an academic peer-reviewed journal, where to start? (Guest Editorial) Health Renaissance 10(1): 1-4.
  6. van Teijlingen, E, Simkhada. PP, Simkhada, B, Ireland J. (2012) The long & winding road to publication, Nepal Epidemiol 2(4): 213-215 http://nepjol.info/index.php/NJE/article/view/7093/6388
  7. Hundley, V, van Teijlingen, E, SimkhadP (2013) Academic authorship: who, why and in what order? Health Renaissance 11(2):98-101 www.healthrenaissance.org.np/uploads/Download/vol-11-2/Page_99_101_Editorial.pdf
  8. Simkhada P, van Teijlingen E, Hundley V. (2013) Writing an academic paper for publication, Health Renaissance 11(1):1-5. www.healthrenaissance.org.np/uploads/Pp_1_5_Guest_Editorial.pdf
  9. van Teijlingen, E., Ireland, J., Hundley, V., Simkhada, P., Sathian, B. (2014) Finding the right title for your article: Advice for academic authors, Nepal Epidemiol 4(1): 344-347.
  10. van Teijlingen E., Hundley, V., Bick, D. (2014) Who should be an author on your academic paper? Midwifery 30: 385-386.
  11. Hall, J., Hundley, V., van Teijlingen, E. (2015) The journal editor: friend or foe? Women & Birth 28(2): e26-e29.
  12. Sathian, B., Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E., Roy, B, Banerjee, I. (2016) Grant writing for innovative medical research: Time to rethink. Med Sci 4(3):332-33.
  13. Adhikari, S. D., van Teijlingen, E. R., Regmi, P. R., Mahato, P., Simkhada, B., & Simkhada, P. P. (2020). The Presentation of Academic Self in The Digital Age: The Role of Electronic Databases. International J Soc Sci Management7(1), 38-41. https://doi.org/10.3126/ijssm.v7i1.27405
  14. Pradhan, AK, van Teijlingen, ER. (2017) Predatory publishing: a great concern for authors, Med Sci 5(4): 43.
  15. van Teijlingen, E (2004), Why I can’t get any academic writing done, Medical Sociol News 30(3): 62-63. britsoc.co.uk/media/26334/MSN_Nov_2004.pd
  16. Wasti, S.P., van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada, P., Hundley, V. with Shreesh, K. Writing and Publishing Academic Work, Kathmandu, Nepal: Himal Books

Reflections on examining a PhD by Publications or hybrid PhD

Writing for publication in peer-reviewed journals is increasingly recognised as important for postgraduate students’ career development.   To encourage PhD students to write and submit during their thesis research, more and more UK universities has formally started to accept PhD theses by publication, or a hybrid model of both academic papers and purposely written chapters in a PhD thesis.  For example, both the University of Bath and Bournemouth University offer a hybrid thesis [1-2], whilst Bournemouth University offers separately the opportunity to submit a PhD by Publication.   The paper included in such theses can be: (1) published; (2) accepted/published online first; (3) submitted; or (4) in final draft form for submission.  Published papers, due to the nature of journal word limits are usually much shorter and less detailed than traditional PhD chapter.  The specifically written chapters, of the Introduction, Discussion, Conclusion and Recommendations chapter, and occasionally a Methods chapter will provide the reader (read ‘the examiner’) with further insights into the background of the research and offer details the student had to omit from published papers due to word limit restrictions.  Students may also opt to offer a short explanatory text before or after individual paper.  The overall Discussion chapter should aim to fully contextualise and integrate all papers into the thesis.

It is easy to see that these new format theses may require some adjustment from UK academics examining them.  Below I have listed some of the key issue a PhD examiner may want to consider in a PhD by Publication, such as the notion of integration and repetition, how the critique published papers, especially in quality peer-reviewed journals, and the nature and content of purposely written chapters.

Integration/duplication

Individual papers are free-standing, i.e. they must give enough information about the research question and methods to make sense to the reader.  This means that four papers from the same study in a thesis may appear as both disjointed and repetitive at the same time.  Moreover, details on background and methods are often minimal in papers presenting results.  This offers the examiner an opportunity to ask questions such as:

  • How do the included papers relate to each other in terms of subject matter or theoretical underpinning?
  • Do the included papers together result in a cohesive narrative?

It is worth looking at difference between the included papers.  One of my former students included two qualitative papers, both originating from the same dataset (i.e. the same interviewees) but each paper presented the data analysed in a different way.  The reviewers of the second paper had suggested a different approach to the analysis and the candidate had decided that it was worth the considerable amount of extra work.  This was obviously a topic for debate in the viva.

Peer-reviewed journal articles

It can be daunting for a less experienced examiner to critique an included paper that has been peer-reviewed and published in a prestigious journal in one’s discipline.  Perhaps a starting point could be to ask the candidate what the peer reviewers said when the manuscript was first submitted.  Did you receive and conflicting comments from reviewers or the editor?  The examiner may want to ask for further details of published paper, e.g.  “I know you probably had word-length issues for paper X, but why didn’t you expand on the detailed analysis in the Discussion chapter you included in the thesis?”  Interestingly, the University of Bath states that “Examiners are entitled to specify corrections to any part of the thesis… including parts submitted for publication, or already published” [1].  The latter does not mean changing the published paper, but perhaps adding a comment or explanation to the Discussion chapter or to the text introducing that particular paper.

In many discipline academic papers as co-authored, hence you would expect co-authored papers in a PhD by Publication.  This offers to examiner the opportunity to ask about the candidate’s unique contribution to that paper.  Occasionally, one of the included papers may not list the candidate as first author.  If this is the case in one of the four or five included papers this is not problem per se, but worth asking the same question to the candidate: “What is your unique contribution to the paper?”

Another potential issue to look out for in a PhD by Publication is so-called salami-slicing [3], especially if the candidate has published several small parts of the thesis study in different small papers where a single paper would have been more appropriate.

Written chapters

The examiner may want to start by focusing on the candidate’s Introduction, Discussion, or Conclusion chapters.  Or the overall Methods chapter if there is one.  Typically, a PhD by Publication has an Introduction, four or more papers, an overarching Discussion perhaps a short Conclusion.  What is often missing is a Methodology and Methods chapter.  Since individual papers have only basic methods section of a few hundred words, there is little detail in each paper, let alone nuance in the methods. Often methodological issues and reflections are missed, as are more subtle aspects of research ethics.  These are key topics to raise in the viva.

 

Professor Edwin van Teijlingen

CMMPH (Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health)

 

Acknowledgements: I would like to thank my colleague Dr. Ann Luce, Associate Professor in Journalism and Communication at Bournemouth University for her encouraging me to write this blog post.

 

References:

  1. University of Bath: https://www.bath.ac.uk/publications/guidelines-for-research-examiners/attachments/Guidelines_for_Examiners_of_Doctoral_Degrees_Nov19.pdf
  2. Bournemouth University (2021-22) 8A Code of Practice for Research Degrees (Policy, Procedure and Guidelines). https://intranetsp.bournemouth.ac.uk/pandptest/8a-code-of-practice-for-research-degrees.pdf
  3. Tolsgaard, M.G., Ellaway, R., Woods, N. et al. Salami-slicing and plagiarism: How should we respond?. Adv in Health Sci Educ 24, 3–14 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10459-019-09876-7

Midwifery paper co-produced with BU students

Congratulations to Faculty of Health & Social Sciences (FHSS) staff and students on their latest publication in the international journal Midwifery (published by Elsevier).   FHSS Professors Carol Clark and Vanora Hundley, undergraduate student researcher Guste Kalanaviciute and CMMPH PhD student Vanessa Bartholomew and Professor Helen Cheyne from the University of Stirling recently had the following paper accepted: ‘Exploring pain characteristics in nulliparous women; a precursor to developing support for women in the latent phase of labour’ [1].

 

Reference:

Clark C, Kalanaviciute G, Bartholomew V, Cheyne H, Hundley VA (2021) Exploring pain characteristics in nulliparous women; a precursor to developing support for women in the latent phase of labour. Midwifery (in press) 

Writing references: The hidden work of academics

Halfway through October I have written several academic references for three people already.  This is one of the more hidden aspects of an academic job.  Writing a good reference is often time consuming for good reasons, including: the reference needs to be tailor-made for the specific job and the candidate; you may not have seen the candidate for several years and finding relevant details, such as ‘when did the candidate work for your organisation?’ takes time;  and last but not least, the employer asking for a reference has its own system.  The latter is a more recent addition to the burden of writing a reference.  Gone are the days of writing a structured letter about the candidate, a letter which you could tweak for different jobs the candidate applied for.  Most employers have their own reference system which may make the job easier them but creates far more work for the writer of the reference.

To illustrate each these points with an example.  One reference I write on an online form automatically assumed I was writing as the most recent employer, the electronic form ‘forced’ me to write as if I was the most recent employer and then explain in the text box for another question that I had worked with the candidate some years ago.  Another request was for a reference for a former colleague whom I had worked with 15 years ago in Aberdeen.  She was returning to a research post and had looking after children and working in clinical practice in the intermediate period.  Lastly, a former BU M.Sc. student  is applying to several universities for a Ph.D. place and each university offered a different thesis topic and required me to complete its own online form, and, of course, each form is slightly different!

 

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

CMMPH

Ada Lovelace Day 2021 at BU: celebrating women in STEM – Professor Jane Murphy and Dr Sue Green

A portrait of Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace

 Tuesday 12th October is Ada Lovelace Day: an international celebration of women’s achievements in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Often referred to as the ‘first computer programmer’, Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) inspired Alan Turing’s work on the first modern computers in the 1940s. Find out more about her here.

All week we are profiling a selection of the women who work in STEM disciplines at BU, in areas as varied as games technology, sport psychology, electronics and clinical nutrition. Today we feature Professor Jane Murphy and Dr Sue Green.

Professor Jane Murphy, Professor of Nutrition and co-lead for the Ageing and Dementia Research Centre

Prof Jane Murphy

Prof Jane Murphy

Jane’s work focuses on key nutrition-related problems in older adults and how to translate nutrition science into practice. At a national level, she has led knowledge exchange projects commissioned by Health Education England to provide innovative education and training to improve dementia care across the health and social care workforce.

Dr Susan Dewhurst, Head of Department and Principal Academic in Exercise Physiology, who nominated her, says:

“Jane is a role model as a research leader committed to solving key nutrition problems in older adults. She has won funding from prestigious organisations like the Burdett Trust for Nursing and NIHR. Jane’s research has direct impact in practice through her clinical lead role in the Wessex Academic Health Science Network. She influences high standards in education and practice in her role as an elected council member for the Association for Nutrition and is a recognised mentor.”

What does Ada Lovelace mean to you?

Ada Lovelace was clearly a mathematical genius, ahead of her time and a trailblazer for women in science in the 19 century, working with scientists much better-known at the time, such as Babbage and Faraday.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career in a STEM subject?

Good nutrition is fundamental to support health and wellbeing and live a long and rewarding life. Through some early influences, I developed a keen interest in nutrition, and recognising how it related to ill-health and preventing disease thus paved the way towards my career in a STEM subject.

Moreover, learning about Elsie Widdowson – a pioneer nutrition scientist and dietitian – inspired me. She pushed boundaries to advance the science of nutrition in so many respects, including how the UK population could live with food rationing through the challenges of WW2 and creating the first UK food composition tables.

What would your advice be to girls looking at STEM subjects as a possible career?

Go for it! Research in science works best (and is more fun!) in collaboration and when working in partnership, regardless of gender, to solve fascinating problems and co-create real-world solutions. Keep focused on doing the best you can.

What would you like to change as a result of your research?

I’d like to see a better appreciation of the role of good nutrition across society to optimise health and wellbeing, particularly as we age and for older people, ensuring everyone receives evidence-based nutrition advice that’s appropriate to their needs.


Dr Sue Green, Associate Professor and Deputy Head of Department for Nursing Science

Dr Sue Green

Dr Sue Green

Sue has held funded clinical academic posts combining research and clinical work and has been at the forefront of developing clinical academic careers for nurses.

Sue’s research programme focuses on aspects of clinical nutrition, particularly nutritional care by nurses. Her initial research focused on laboratory-based approaches to study appetite. She has since focused on research to develop evidence for nursing practice, including nutritional screening, and how to apply that evidence to patient care.

A registered nurse with experience in acute and continuing care environments, Sue continues to work clinically as a nutrition nurse seconded to Solent NHS Trust.

Prof Stephen Ersser, Head Of Department For Nursing Science and Professor Of Nursing And Dermatology, who nominated her, says:

“Sue is an amazing leader in clinical nutrition related to nursing, especially nutritional screening and is recognised in her field.”

What does Ada Lovelace mean to you?

Ada Lovelace’s reputation supports efforts to raise the profile of women in science, technology, engineering, and maths.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career in a STEM subject?

A childhood spent observing animal behaviour and organisms’ responses to different environments inspired me to study a STEM subject. I followed my first career as a registered nurse by studying for a Zoology degree, before focussing on nutrition and health at masters and PhD level.

Have you faced any challenges in your chosen field because you’re a woman?

It is very difficult to be recognised as a woman in science if you are also a registered nurse. The two are seen as different fields, where in fact there is great synergy between the two.

What would your advice be to girls looking at STEM subjects as a possible career?

Go with your passion and your curiosity. Studying a STEM subject can lead to a wealth of career opportunities.

What would you like to change as a result of your research?

My hope is that my research will improve patients’ nutritional care and care delivery.

Ada Lovelace Day 2021 at BU: celebrating women in STEM

Ada Lovelace

Tuesday 12th October is Ada Lovelace Day: an international celebration of women’s achievements in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Often referred to as the ‘first computer programmer’, Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) inspired Alan Turing’s work on the first modern computers in the 1940s. Find out more about her here.

All week we are profiling a selection of  the women who work in STEM disciplines at BU,  in areas as varied as games technology, sport psychology, electronics and clinical nutrition. Today we feature Dr Rebecca Neal and Dr Amanda Wilding.

Dr Rebecca Neal

Dr Rebecca Neal, Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology and Programme Leader for the Sport and Exercise Science degree programme. Rebecca teaches physiology and research methods units across the Department of Rehabilitation and Sport Sciences and the Department of Sport and Events Management. She has conducted research in the Extreme Environments Laboratory at the University of Portsmouth in the areas of exercise and environmental physiology and sports performance for the English Institute of Sport, British Triathlon, GlaxoSmithKline and the Ministry of Defence.

Susan Dewhurst, Head of Department and Principal Academic in Exercise Physiology, who nominated her, says: “Rebecca is an early career researcher excelling in the traditionally male-dominated field of sport and exercise science. Her work in the field of extreme environmental physiology is published in prestigious physiology journals and she has been the recipient of external and internal grants to advance her work. [She] contributes greatly to transferring her research findings to the end user, through public engagement events, magazine articles and podcasts aimed at raising the awareness of the issues and needs of individuals exercising in extreme environments.”

What does Ada Lovelace mean to you?  

“The vision that Ada Lovelace had, to create and use a computer that would produce an answer that has not been pre-programmed, is fundamental to research in STEM. I’ve been interested in understanding how the body works since trying to develop athletic skills as a child. I chose to follow this up with a degree in sport and exercise science, where the lecturers and my desire to adventure inspired me to dig deeper into what happens to our bodies in different stressful environments, whether that was exercise, disease or different extreme environments. Now, research from sports science and environmental physiology, like that of my PhD research on heat and hypoxia, is being used to explore therapeutic treatments to aid clinical populations.”

What sparked your interest in male-dominated sports and extreme environmental physiology?

“Growing up, my drive to be involved with sports stemmed from wanting to explore, learn new skills, and compete. When you’re competitive, you want to achieve, no matter what sport it is, so I would train with anyone who thought the same – often men. The same was true for exploring science throughout school and my degree, and these experiences led to me completing a PhD in Environmental Physiology, working with a team of like-minded people.

 What do you consider to be your biggest achievements so far in your career?

“So far, I’m particularly proud of the series of publications that came out of my PhD, as the experiments were demanding, involving about 40 different types of whole-body and molecular physiological measurements, with human participants visiting the laboratory over 30 times across several months. More recently, I led the successful launch of a new degree programme at BU, during a pandemic, which we are excited to see develop now our new students are back on campus and in the Human Performance Laboratory.”

Have you faced any challenges in your chosen field because you’re a woman? 

“Exercise physiology is a STEM area that combines topics that have historically been led by men: science and sport/exercise. We have progressed in many ways, but in both areas, there is much work to do for equal opportunities. Support exists for women researchers and educators in exercise physiology, however there is not equal representation yet at international conferences, and the focus of this research is often on male physiological responses. Still, the ability of women to lead complex studies is often underestimated. There is a drive in current research, which our research at BU is a part of, to include and focus studies on female physiology both during exercise and at different stages of their life – to better serve more people and further our knowledge.”

Dr Amanda Wilding

Dr Amanda Wilding, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Psychology. Amanda has supported athletes, coaches and parents in hockey, rugby, fencing and athletics, from county to international level, including athletes at their relevant world championships. She is also visiting lecturer at the Azerbaijan Sport and Physical Education University

Her colleague, Susan Dewhurst, Head of Department and Principal Academic in Exercise Physiology, says: “In addition to teaching, Amanda works as a sports psychologist in professional male football and army rugby. Her involvement in male-dominated sports led to her being invited to lead a workshop on Women in Sport to women at the Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University in Saudi Arabia.”

What does Ada Lovelace mean to you?  

“As a child I was always told I was no good at maths. I’m the fanciful Ada that wanted to fly, not the logical one. I never imagined I would end up in a STEM subject.”

 What or who inspired you to pursue your career in a STEM subject? 

“As a child, I was a runner. My father pointed out a woman once and told me: ‘She’s the lady who went to the Olympics’. ‘Wow!’, I thought. How do you do that? I’m never going to be a professional athlete but how do I ensure others are?’ At the end of my undergraduate degree I still hadn’t found my passion, but I knew the woman still worked in athletics so I contacted her. She told me that on her way home from the Olympics, she asked a man what event he did. He told her he was a sports psychologist, and helped ‘people to be at their best under pressure’. She told him: ‘I wish I’d met you three days ago, I could have been sat here with a medal. I underestimated myself and just ran my slowest time of the season.’ That was when I knew I was destined to be a sport psychologist.”

 What sparked your interest in male-dominated sports?

“I fell into it. When the Premier League started the Elite Player Performance Plan, football clubs were required to hire a registered sport psychologist. Southampton FC contacted me and 11 years later I’m still there. It’s been an accident rather than design, but I love it.

Have you faced any challenges in your chosen field because you’re a woman? 

“I’m working on a project called ‘Women in elite football: have you got the balls for it?’, investigating female experiences of operating in a male-dominated environment. I’ve previously been told not to stand on the side-lines as it’s ‘not your place, go to the grandstand’, I’ve been to places with no changing facilities as there are ‘no women in football’. The challenge is to be taken seriously without compromising my own identity and philosophy.”

Tell us about your area of work/research

“It is all about getting the best out of people, whether that’s an elite athlete striving for the Olympics, a stroke patient trying to walk again, or a student getting a first in their degree. My work is about people, helping them to understand themselves and the environment around them. It about educating the next generation, and also working directly with those in the sports arena: athletes, coaches, parents etc. I research the real world to drive up professional standards. I currently work with Southampton FC Ladies first team, the Royal Signals Rugby team and England Athletics coaches to support integrating sport psychology into their high-performance teams.”

What would you like to change as a result of your research?

“I’d like to see more women working in the elite context as scientists. The perception that women wear suits, not tracksuits, is something I’d like to see change. My goal is to help males feel more comfortable with women entering their domain, so women don’t feel the need to mould themselves into something they’re not. I don’t want a female to feel like she can’t enter the field because of her gender. ”

What do you consider to be your biggest achievements so far in your career?

“Getting my PhD was amazing. I had two children during this period and thought it was never going to happen. I remember being on stage and as I went to walk across, I got so overwhelmed I cried. It suddenly hit me how much I had given to it.”

What was it like leading a workshop on Women in Sport to women at the Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University in Saudi Arabia?

“The trip was petrifying and amazing. Getting into the country was so intimidating as I was travelling alone but the country, the people, and the whole experience was fantastic. The ladies were so engaged – I learnt just as much from them as they did from me. We compared and contrasted our different cultures, our approaches to sport and where women fit into this picture. This trip sparked my interest in examining female experiences in elite sport and male-dominated environments.”

What would your advice be to girls looking at STEM subjects as a possible career? 

“There is much more to STEM subjects than what we are taught at school. You can go down avenues you never knew existed. Keep going until you find the right path for you. Ask questions, seek experiences, and go for it – you never know where it will take you.”

Ada Lovelace Day 2021 at BU: celebrating women in STEM

Ada Lovelace

Tuesday 12th October is Ada Lovelace Day: an international celebration of women’s achievements in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Often referred to as the ‘first computer programmer’, Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) inspired Alan Turing’s work on the first modern computers in the 1940s. Find out more about her here.

All week we are profiling a selection of  the women who work in STEM disciplines at BU,  in areas as varied as games technology, sport psychology, electronics and clinical nutrition. Today we feature Dr Roya Haratian, Dr Vanessa Heaslip and Dr Michele Board.

Dr Roya Haratian

Dr Roya Haratian, Assistant Professor in Electronics in the Department of Design and Engineering. Roya works in multidisciplinary topics such as Mechatronics, Signal Processing and Control System Design applied across different industries. Roya is the co-lead for Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network) in her department and submitted their application for the SWAN bronze award with the aim of supporting women in their career development. They have also formed an inclusivity committee to address diversity and equality.

Dr Diogo Montalvao, Deputy Head of the Department of Design and Engineering, who nominated her, says: “Roya has led the department’s submission to Athena Swan and championed the Women in Engineering Society at BU, [launched in 2019]. Her contribution to raising the profile of women in engineering aT BU has therefore been of the utmost importance. She has been challenging gender stereotypes by being the most qualified engineering professional we have in Electronics. She is our ‘in-house’ specialist in a range of fields… traditionally dominated by men, namely mechatronics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, with applications to biomechanics.”

Please tell us a little about your area of work/research

“My research is currently focused on, but not limited to, on-body sensing and signal processing systems for the development of new algorithms to improve the quality of life… [The aim is] to bring awareness to the early signs of issues and provide biofeedback for stress management by collecting physiological signals. My research looks at how awareness of user experience affects the human-machine interaction (HMI), in areas such as utility, ease of use, and efficiency. The machine’s ability to recognise users’ experience during user-machine interaction would improve the overall HMI usability and such machines could adapt their speed, for example, based on the user experience.”

What would you like to change as a result of your research?

” My research is mainly centred on the design and development of assistive technologies for long-term monitoring of mental well-being.”

What would your advice be to girls looking at STEM subjects as a possible career?

“My advice to women who are considering a career in STEM is to believe in their abilities and power to break the gender stereotypes which still exist in the 21st century. Although now it is more subtle in comparison to decades ago, we need to be aware that still it exists.”

 

Dr Vanessa Heaslip

Dr Vanessa Heaslip, Associate Professor and Deputy Head of the Department for Nursing Science. Vanessa was nominated by her colleague Professor Steven Ersser, Head of Department for Nursing Science, who describes her as an “amazing leader in nursing related to disadvantaged and vulnerable groups [especially] that of the health of the Romany/travelling community.”

In 2019, she was honoured as a Woman of the Year at the prestigious annual Women of the Year Lunch and Awards held in London. She was named for her commitment in ensuring health and educational equity for individuals from marginalised communities. Vanessa’s educational research in widening participation and fair access in higher education, alongside her clinical research in vulnerability and vulnerable groups in society, whose voices are not traditionally heard, is nationally and internationally recognised.

Her current and recent research includes her role as principal investigator on a project funded by the Burdett Trust to co-produce a technological solution to support rough sleepers to self-care by locating and accessing services, and leading a systematic review exploring experiences of vulnerability among adult male prisoners. She also worked with BU archaeology colleague Professor Tim Darvill on the Human Henge project at Stonehenge, which investigated the impact of immersive experiences of prehistoric landscapes on the well-being of participants with mental health issues.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career in a STEM subject? 

“My research interests in health equity and addressing health disparities faced by many socially excluded groups derived from my clinical experience as a nurse working in both hospitals and community settings. I find it simply unacceptable that those who need healthcare services the most often face the most barriers in accessing it, and feel compelled to raise this educationally, clinically and politically.

“I am honoured to be recognised in this way and recognise I stand on the shoulders of women like Ada. who came before me, those who dared to follow their passion and ask questions of the world in which we live.”

Dr Michele Board

Dr Michele BoardAssociate Professor and Deputy Head of the Department for Nursing Science. Michele, who is the deputy lead for the Ageing and Dementia Research Centre.  was also nominated by colleague Professor Steven Ersser, who says: “[Michele] is an “amazing leader in gerontological nursing, with specialist expertise in the field of dementia care and frailty.”

Michele describes herself as being “passionate about caring for the person, not the diagnosis”.  She has been an adult nurse since 1985 and has had a broad range of clinical experience, with a specific focus on nursing the older person. She started lecturing in 2003, and has also led the development of dementia education programmes for health and social care staff working in the NHS and the private sector.

Michele’s general research interests are in the field of nursing older people and people with dementia. As a qualitative researcher she uses creative approaches to collect and present research data. A recent grant from Alzheimer’s Research UK enabled her to evaluate their app, A Walk Through Dementia – designed to put people in the shoes of someone living with dementia – for its effect on learners’ understanding of the lived experience of dementia.

Her other research work includes widening participation and nurse education, as well as consideration of the impact of changes to nurse education funding on recruitment and retention of staff. She also works one day a month with the Dorset Memory Advisory Service, contributing to the assessment of people with a cognitive impairment.

BU celebrates Ada Lovelace Day 2021

Ada Lovelace, 1815-1852

To commemorate Ada Lovelace Day today Heads of Department have nominated colleagues who are leading in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). These women are being profiled all week on the Research blog and across social media channels.

Yesterday we featured Professor Wen Tang and Dr Melanie Coles from Creative Technology and Computing respectively.

Tomorrow the spotlight will be on the areas of sports psychology and exercise physiology with profiles of Dr Amanda Wilding and Dr Rebecca Neal.

Thursday highlights Dr Roya Haratian from Electronics, as well as Dr Michele Board and Dr Vanessa Heaslip from the Department of Nursing Science.

We close the week on Friday with a post featuring Professor Jane Murphy, Professor of Nutrition and Dr Sue Green, also from the Department of Nursing Science.

Who was Ada Lovelace?

Ada Lovelace Day is named after Ada Byron, the Countess of Lovelace, who is often regarded as the first computer programmer for her work in machine programming. Born in 1815 to the poet Lord Byron and Lady Anne Byron, a mathematician, Ada collaborated with inventor Charles Babbage on his general purpose computing machine, known as the Analytical Engine. She was the first to recognise that the machine had applications beyond pure calculation, and to have published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine.

Ada Lovelace Day is now an international celebration of the achievements of women in STEM subjects. It aims to raise the profile of women working in these subjects and, in doing so, encourage more girls into STEM careers, as well as supporting women already working in STEM.

Find out more about Ada Lovelace day celebrations on the Finding Ada website.

Ada Lovelace Day 2021 at BU: celebrating women in STEM

Ada Lovelace

Tuesday 12th October is Ada Lovelace Day: an international celebration of women’s achievements in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Often referred to as the ‘first computer programmer’, Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) inspired Alan Turing’s work on the first modern computers in the 1940s. Find out more about her here.

All week we are profiling a selection of  the women who work in STEM disciplines at BU,  in areas as varied as games technology, sport psychology, electronics and clinical nutrition. Today we feature Professor Wen Tang and Dr Melanie Coles.

Professor Wen Tang

Professor Wen Tang, Professor of Games Technology in the Creative Technology Department. Wen is Director of the Centre for Smart Immersive Technology and the lead developer of the BU Games Analytics Platform.

Her colleague, Fred Charles (Head of Department of Creative Technology) says, “Throughout her career as an academic in Computer Science, Wen has provided leadership and mentoring to staff and students in Mathematical Modelling, Algorithmics, Physics in Simulations, Computer Games Programming, Virtual and Augmented Reality. She is inspiring as a teacher and a researcher, and her funded projects have led to positive impacts on society.”

Wen has an impressive list of research funding awards to her name, including, most recently, £2 million worth of projects for which she is BU’s PI, such as H2020-MSCA-RISE-2018:iGame, looking at gaming techniques for e-health and m-health apps, Interreg 2 Seas Mers Zeeen PATH, aimed at improving perinatal mental health, and Interreg Channel ASPIRE, creating tools for healthier lifestyles.

What does Ada Lovelace mean to you?  

“Ada Lovelace is a great inspiration and a towering figure for women in all walks of life, especially in STEM subjects. She is proof that women are equal to men in STEM subjects –  in creativity and in practice. I am inspired by both Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie, for their love of science and their intellectual power of thinking.”

What or who inspired you to pursue your career in a STEM subject?  

“When I was a young girl growing up in China during the cultural revolution, my father taught me to pursue knowledge and to have intellectual curiosity.  As an engineer himself, he advised me to study an engineering subject in my first degree.  I was also greatly inspired by a Chinese female poet from the 9th century Song dynasty, Li Qing Zhao, who is revered as one of China’s greatest poets.”

Have you faced any challenges in your chosen field because you’re a woman?  

“Although women are increasingly studying STEM subjects at school and university, there is still a very low glass ceiling in China for the employment or promotion of woman in companies or universities after their education. And there are still barriers too in Europe. For 15 years I was the only female on the committee of the European Association for Computer Graphics. During my academic career, I was one of very few female members of my teaching group, and for a very long time I was the only female in my department. It can be lonely and there can be barriers when communicating over different issues, but this does not detract from my love of computer graphics-related subjects (games, VR, AR) and the enjoyment of researching and teaching in this area.”

What would your advice be to girls looking at STEM subjects as a possible career?  

“I would very much encourage girls to look towards STEM subjects as possible career paths, and am always very happy to meet girls studying games, software engineering and games design courses. I tell them during open days that girls are just as good as boys in computer programming.  The situation is slowly improving, but the UK digital industry really still needs more woman and girls.”

Please tell us a little about your area of work/research. 

“My research area is concerned with digital games, virtual reality and augmented reality technologies. While I research novel algorithms and frameworks to address specific technical questions, I am also interested in how the technologies can be used to address societal challenges through interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary collaborations. My recent large European projects have been focused on digital technologies for healthcare.”

What would you like to change as a result of your research?   

“By working within large consortia of project partners across different countries, I have gained an understanding of gaps in digital technologies in real-life applications. These gaps require new ways of research thinking… we need to think and work more creatively and imaginatively to put emerging technologies to real-life use.”

Wen is clearly an inspiration to young women in computing. A former student of hers, who now works for a Cambridge-based company as a user interface designer, recently wrote to her: “I gave a presentation for International Women’s Day, describing my experience in the industry as a woman. I also discussed [what] it was like going through university, and that you were the only female professor on our course. I would like to thank you for being a wonderful inspiration to me personally too.”

Photo by David Latorre Romero on Unsplash

Dr Melanie Coles, Deputy Head of Department in Computing and Informatics. Her colleague Dr Vegard Engen describes her as “one of the most experienced, knowledgeable and pragmatic problem solvers we have in the department, often being a key person both academic and professional support staff reach out to if they have a problem. As one of the deputy heads, Melanie is the only female in such a leadership position in the computing department.

“She continuously champions gender equality, and challenges gender stereotypes through her leadership role, teaching and Athena SWAN contributions. While having moved into management and leadership, she retains her technical curiosity and involvement with students, and makes a real difference to our department – for students and staff alike.”

Melanie’s research in computing began in the early 1990s, putting her in the vanguard of women studying computing and information systems. She received her MSc in Distributed Information Systems from the University of East London in 1994, having attained a BSc (Hons) in Psychology prior to that. She was the recipient of Technology Strategy Board Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) grants in 2009, and worked alongside computer scientists at Morning Data Limited and Hark Solutions.

Her teaching experience has informed her research and, as she explains, “[my research] has impacted upon subsequent teaching and learning developments. I have taught programming for a number of years, with different sized cohorts, at different levels, on different degrees and it was this experience that led me to explore why programming can be difficult to both learn and teach, and what can be done to improve the student experience in learning to program.”

Combining her expertise in psychology, pedagogy and computing/information systems, Melanie’s research is powerfully demonstrated in publications she has co-authored on subjects such as the application of innovative technologies and practices in remote learning, undergraduate students’ learning approaches in programming and brain types as programming aptitude predictors.

Melanie continues to teach Principles of Programming, Persuasive Technology and Behaviour Change, and Cyberpsychology. She also mentors several members of staff and, in the words of another colleague, Dr Gernot Liebchen, “always looks at the best interest of the students in a student-centric approach, while focusing on academic integrity”.

Profiles by Nicolette Barsdorf-Liebchen

A small or a large national survey?

Congratulations to Dr. Pramod Regmi and Dr. Nirmal Aryal on the acceptance of their paper ‘Risk of kidney health among returnee Nepali migrant workers: A survey of nephrologists’ [1].  This paper has been accepted by the Asian Journal of Medical Sciences, after having been rejected previous by another scientific journal . The reason for rejection was the small sample size of 38 nephrologists (=medical specialists in kidney disease).  We think one of the reasons for acceptance of this research by the Asian Journal of Medical Sciences is the high proportion (74.5%) of all Nepal’s nephrologists who participated in this national study.  Although the absolute number of participants is low there are only 51 kidney experts in the whole country and three-quarters took part in this study!

Dr. Nirmal Aryal was until recently based in the Department of Midwifery and Health Sciences and he will be starting later this month as a Research Associate at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust.  Dr. Pramod Regmi is Senior Lecturer in International Health in the Department of Nursing Sciences.  This paper was also co-authored with a nephrologist Dr. Arun Sedhai based in Chitwan (Nepal) and a public health expert based at the UN organisation, International Organization for Migration (IOM).

This paper which will be Open Access and hence freely available for any reader across the globe adds to the growing research evidence published by Bournemouth University’s researchers on migration and health, especially of migrants from Nepal [2-21].

 

 

Well done!

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH)

 

References:

  1. Aryal, N., Sedhain, A., Regmi, P.R., KC, R.K., van Teijlingen, E. (2021) ‘Risk of kidney health among returnee Nepali migrant workers: A survey of nephrologists’, Asian Journal of Medical Sciences (accepted).
  2. Simkhada, B., Vahdaninia, M., van Teijlingen, E., Blunt, H. (2021) Cultural issues on accessing mental health services in Nepali and Iranian migrants communities in the UK, International Journal of Mental Health Nursing (accepted).  https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12913
  3. Adhikary, P., Aryal, N., Dhungana, R.R., KC, R.K., Regmi, P.R., Wickramage, K.P., Duigan, P., Inkochasan, M., Sharma, G.N., Devkota, B., van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada, P. (2020) Accessing health services in India: experiences of seasonal migrants returning to Nepal. BMC Health Services Research 20, 992. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-020-05846-7
  4. IOM [International Organization for Migration]. (2019) Health vulnerabilities of cross-border migrants from Nepal. Kathmandu: International Organization for Migration.
  5. Aryal, N., Regmi, P.R., van Teijlingen, E., Trenoweth, S., Adhikary, P., Simkhada, P. (2020) The Impact of Spousal Migration on the Mental Health of Nepali Women: A Cross-Sectional Study, International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health 17(4), 1292; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph1704129
  6. Regmi, P., Aryal, N., van Teijlingen, E., Adhikary, P. (2020) Nepali migrant workers and the need for pre-departure training on mental health: a qualitative study, Journal of Immigrant & Minority Health 22, 973–981.
  7. Adhikary, P. van Teijlingen, E. (2020) Support networks in the Middle East & Malaysia: A qualitative study of Nepali returnee migrants’ experiences, International Journal of Occupational Safety & Health (IJOSH), 9(2): 31-35.
  8. Simkhada, B., Sah, R.K., Mercel-Sanca, A., van Teijlingen, E., Bhurtyal, Y.M., Regmi, P. (2020) Health and Wellbeing of the Nepali population in the UK: Perceptions and experiences of health and social care utilisation, Journal of Immigrant & Minority Health (accepted).
  9. Regmi, P., van Teijlingen, E., Mahato, P., Aryal, N., Jadhav, N., Simkhada, P., Syed Zahiruddin, Q., Gaidhane, A., (2019) The health of Nepali migrants in India: A qualitative study of lifestyles and risks, Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health 16(19), 3655; doi:10.3390/ijerph16193655.
  10. Dhungana, R.R., Aryal, N, Adhikary, P., KC, R., Regmi, P.R., Devkota, B., Sharma, G.N., Wickramage, K., van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada, P. (2019) Psychological morbidity in Nepali cross-border migrants in India: A community-based cross-sectional, BMC Public Health 19:1534 https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-019-7881-z
  11. Aryal, N., Regmi, P.R., van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada, P., Mahato, P. (2019) Adolescents left behind by migrant workers: a call for community-based mental health interventions in Nepal. WHO South East Asia Journal of Public Health 8(1): 38-41.
  12. Aryal, N., Regmi, P.R., Faller, E.M,, van Teijlingen, E., Khoon, C.C., Pereira, A., Simkhada, P. (2019) ‘Sudden cardiac death and kidney health related problems among Nepali migrant workers in Malaysia’ Nepal Journal of Epidemiology 9(3): 755-758. https://www.nepjol.info/index.php/NJE/article/view/25805
  13. Adhikary P, van Teijlingen E., Keen S. (2019) Workplace accidents among Nepali male workers in the Middle East and Malaysia: A qualitative study, Journal of Immigrant & Minority Health 21(5): 1115–1122. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10903-018-0801-y
  14. Simkhada, P.P., van Teijlingen, E.R., Gurung, M., Wasti, S. (2018) A survey of health problems of Nepalese female migrants workers in the Middle-East & Malaysia, BMC International Health & Human Rights 18(4): 1-7. http://rdcu.be/E3Ro
  15. Adhikary P, Sheppard, Z., Keen S., van Teijlingen E. (2018) Health and well-being of Nepalese migrant workers abroad, International Journal of Migration, Health & Social Care 14(1): 96-105. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMHSC-12-2015-0052
  16. Adhikary, P, Sheppard, Z., Keen, S., van Teijlingen, E. (2017) Risky work: accidents among Nepalese migrant workers in Malaysia, Qatar & Saudi Arabia, Health Prospect 16(2): 3-10.
  17. Simkhada, P.P., Regmi, P.R., van Teijlingen, E., Aryal, N. (2017) Identifying the gaps in Nepalese migrant workers’ health and well-being: A review of the literature, Journal of Travel Medicine 24 (4): 1-9.
  18. Aryal, N., Regmi, P.R., van Teijlingen, E.Simkhada, P., Adhikary, P., Bhatta, Y.K.D., Mann, S. (2016) Injury and Mortality in Young Nepalese Migrant Workers: A Call for Public Health Action. Asian-Pacific Journal of Public Health 28(8): 703-705.
  19. Sapkota, T., Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E. (2014) Nepalese health workers’ migration to United Kingdom: A qualitative study. Health Science Journal 8(1):57-74.
  20. Adhikary P, Keen S and van Teijlingen E (2011). Health Issues among Nepalese migrant workers in the Middle East. Health Science Journal.5 (3):169-i75 DOI: 2-s2.0-79960420128.
  21. Adhikary, P., Simkhada, P.P., van Teijlingen E., Raja, AE. (2008) Health & Lifestyle of Nepalese Migrants in the UK, BMC International Health & Human Rights 8(6). Web address: www.biomedcentral.com/1472-698X/8/6

Research Fundamentals: Why should they fund me?

Professor Melanie Klinkner.

There is so much advice, guidance for beginners and information available that it is hard to write anything original on the subject. Ironically, that’s exactly what grant writing is about: crafting an original, timely, (socially) relevant, scientifically robust, considered and impactful project often in conjunction with great partners. And that pretty much sums it up. But it may take a bit of time for it all to come together…So where might the journey start?

Mine your expertise. For me this still means on occasions returning to the roots of my PhD. I developed my first full-blown funding application during my PhD. I spotted what I thought was an exciting gap, I found a funder interested in post-conflict research, I teamed up with my supervisor and together generated support from the then President of the International Criminal Court for the Former Yugoslavia. And off we went to develop a proposal. We made it through the first round and then, a change of guard at the Court meant we could no longer rely on their support. We withdrew the application. Bad luck, but lots learnt. Particularly not to get deterred by a snooty Professor asking ‘why ever would you like to develop that for?’ or a research administrator ‘but that has been done before, right?’ In fact, the same core idea, arguably, far better conceived with a different approach, validated by experts, a multidisciplinary team and virtual technological know-how is presently under consideration as a science communication project. This is 12 years after the original submission; an ‘up-cycling’ of sorts.

Checks & Balances. My second funding application submitted in collaboration with my colleague and mentor Dr Howard Davis was thankfully successful. And it resulted in a co-authored book. A funder recommendation was the creation of a steering group for the project, something that I have since adopted for other applications resulting in lovely, continuous engagement with colleagues beyond the institution for the purpose of project delivery. A steering committee or advisory group is well worth having and they will make the most wonderful advocates for your research expertise.

Look through Examples. Assuming that I am in the initial planning phase where I know

  • what the research aim is;
  • which funder to go for;
  • and who I would like to collaborate with;

then, apart from notifying RDS and your departmental lead with the Intention to bid and thinking about a suitable internal peer reviewer, I visit the Brightspace library of prior successful funding applications. And I look through those. Every funder has different structural requirements and it is helpful to see how others have approached it.

Pro-act, not re-act. Subscribing to Research Professional means that every Friday an email with the latest funding calls matching my keyword search arrives. And that helps you get a rough idea of the funding landscape and what are recurring themes and calls. And I put notes in my calendar if I think that a call might be of interest to me in a year or so. Responding de novo to a sudden, non-recurring funding call seems like a tall order to me unless you have some prior ideas, established links and method expertise that you can build on.

Finally, try to convince the reviewer at every opportunity that you, your idea, project plan, team and network are best and uniquely placed to conduct this study now! I’d like to hope that the journey has an element of linear progression and that one gets better at answering every aspect of the question ‘why should they fund me?’

Risk of kidney problems in migrant workers

Congratulations to Dr. Pramod Regmi, Lecturer in International Health & Global Engagement Lead, Department of Nursing Sciences, and Dr. Nirmal Aryal, formerly of the Centre of Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH), whose editorial “Kidney health risk of migrant workers: An issue we can no longer overlook” has been published today in Health Prospect [1].  Further co-authors (Arun Sedhain, Radheshyam Krishna KC, Erwin Martinez Faller, Aney Rijal, and Edwin van Teijlingen) work in India, Nepal, the Philippines and at BU.  The study was funded by GCRF.

This editorial highlights that low-skilled migrant workers in the countries of the Gulf and Malaysia are at a disproportionately higher risk of kidney health problems. The working conditions are often Dirty, Dangerous and Difficult (referred at as the 3Ds) include physically demanding work, exposure to a hot environment, dehydration, chemical exposures, excessive use of pain killers, and lifestyle factors (such as restricted water intake and a high intake of alcohol/sugary drinks) which may precipitate them to acute kidney injuries and subsequent chronic kidney disease.  

References

  1. Aryal, N., Regmi, P.R., Sedhain, A., KC, R.K., Martinez Faller, E., Rijal, A., van Teijlingen, E., (2021) Kidney health risk of migrant workers: An issue we can no longer overlook. Health Prospect 21(1): 15-17.