Below is a link to the latest published editorial in Family Practice, including parts of my work on primary care diversity data and its challenges. Many thanks to Carolyn Tarrant and Emma Angell.
The annual CLAHRC team-building day took place last week and was attended by both researchers and administrative staff members working within the collaboration. The task this year was for each team to plan, record, edit and present a video production of a five minutes based on an aspect of the CLAHRC of their choosing. The judges of the videos were part of Patient Public Involvement (PPI) groups within the area (PPI’s are open for all patients or members of the general public who are interested in health research, providing them with a platform to voice their opinions on the health services within their locality). As the judges were not health researchers themselves, it was important for all teams to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively. I’d say that the greatest challenge was the actual creation of a video from storyboard to screening in the space of a few hours, with so many team ideas to choose from and work into the final production. The idea that my team decided on was related to the importance of transferring health research into practice, communicating the value of CLAHRC-influenced health interventions to the patients. The judges were thoroughly impressed by all efforts but there could only be one winner! Many thanks to Kevin Quigley, Adelle Horobin, and Shona Aggrawal for their ideas and expertise which made the video the product of a great team effort.
The training covered essential Word document tips that I think everyone working on a report, paper, thesis or any other long document should be aware of. Navigating within reports or papers-in-progress can be difficult and time-consuming if you are unaware of the Headings features. All the features can be customised and saved ready for use on different parts of the document. They help to create a structure for your work whilst maintaining the flexibility you require within the drafting and write-up stages. The short course was a brilliant overview and is bound to save me hours of unnecessary formatting!
I found a similar, shorter tutorial-style course is available from the Microsoft Office Support page.
On the 15th November I attended the first of a two part course on the qualitative analysis aid software NVivo9. I hadn’t used the software before and I thought that it would be worth finding out how it could help me to organise my data for analysis. After conducting some more interviews, I was looking for a tool that could facilitate the analysis of my interview transcripts. On first glance, the ‘dashboard’ didn’t appear to be quite as confusing as I thought it would be, with elements such as the Ribbon toolbar reminding me of parts of Microsoft Office:
By the end of the day, I had learned the basics on how to code data (or assign category labels to texts that with enable similar comments by interviewees to be grouped together) using ‘Nodes’ on a ficticious dataset, and how to query the dataset (asking the software to display certain data based on specific characteristics chosen by the user). As is the case with most computer software, it is only as useful the user makes it and NVivo9 is simply a tool to help you with your anaylsis – it will not do any analysing for you!
I’m now in the process of applying the same techniques to my own interview data ahead of the next session so that I have real data to work with during the training.
On the 30th October, I attended the Project Management training conducted by the University of Leicester. I think it was successful in its aim of providing attendees with skills and tips to help manage their own projects, and this was down to its practical nature. I’m sometimes sceptical of theory-laden presentations on practical methods as I feel that they aren’t very good at relating well to the topic at hand; there’s only so much you can get out of reading about applied techniques, but how are you to get a feel for them without giving them a go? So I was really glad that, for this course, this wasn’t the case.
The discussions within the teams were a good way of finding out about everyone else’s project and it was interesting to see the variations from one project to another. I put my project and all its sub-tasks through SMART and recieved constructive feedback and tips from the course leader and my team. For example, the time it would take me to carry out some parts of my current project (the extensive literature review) first seemed hard to measure as I had not previously carried out a literature search of that scale. Having a statistical method of double-checking my rough estimates through PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) was therefore useful and will be beneficial if I am ever in a situation of producing a new project proposal in future.
The course was full of simple yet key points (or what I term ‘project gems’). A favourite of mine was the importance of acknowledging the difference between ‘Plans’ and ‘Planning’. Allowing for changes to the overarching ‘plan’ through ‘planning’ doesnt necessarily mean that the original ‘plan’ was wrong, the two are simply different in nature with one being more dynamic than the other.
Summary deadlines, personal deadlines, departmental meetings,staff meetings, progress meetings, workshops, seminars research project chats, appointments -the list seems endless. How would I juggle it all?? Strangely enough organising and forward planning is very moi but the intial juggling at work did prove to be a bit of a struggle – that was before I met Outlook at work and began using it to its full potential. A be-lated first encounter I hear you cry, but I simply cannot imagine worklife without my new companion. So useful, so handy, so….me! So Outlook – this one’s for you.