Gaining Confidence from attending CREST PhD Summer School

Now in its fifth year CREST Summer School is shaping up to be an interesting event that will bring together people with different research backgrounds and open up new opportunities. It is an opportunity to gain insight into the wider application of research and exchange ideas with fellow PhD students and researchers from outside Academia.

Sarah Lawson was one of the attendees of the 2017 CREST Summer School and is sharing her reflection on the event:

‘’I am an Occupational Therapist, , MPhil/PhD student at Wrexham Glyndŵr University and out of my comfort zone…

I was lucky enough to be awarded a place to attend the CREST 2017 PhD Summer School, held at the CREST offices in London. I must admit that I wondered what I had got myself into. Although the agenda for the two days looked interesting, this was something very new for me. I am comfortable within my professional world of occupational therapy but before this event I was worried that I would be found out as a fraud, that I am too old, or too early into my research journey, that I don’t know or understand enough about the ‘ology’s’…

How wrong could I have been? There was a real mix of people, from a variety of research institutions with wide and varied areas of research. Everyone was friendly, willing to chat and share, and, even if their area of interest was not my own, it was fascinating to hear about the variety of research going on and the possible impact, collaborations, and links that might result.

The subject of my research is Continuing Professional Development, so it was important to me that I fully engaged in the summer school to gain the most for my own learning and development. We had excellent speakers who encouraged us to consider how to widen our networks, the impact of our research, and how to engage with others.  

There were a variety of talks including from publishers with a wealth of hints and tips, including helpful ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ for publishing in academic books and journals. The importance of research impact and public engagement were key themes. We were encouraged to think about audiences – having poured all this effort in to the research, why let it fester on a shelf? We were prompted to consider disseminating and sharing our work with others outside of our specific area – not only via traditional publishing but also via other routes, such as blogs, infographics, social media, videos, and podcasts. We were introduced to and recommended to register for an ORCiD – a personal and unique digital identifier to include in all publications which make you and your work identifiable. Whilst I actively use social media, particularly Twitter (@SLawsonOT), I had not previously considered the importance of some of the other ways I can make my work visible and discoverable to those who I could engage with.  

The showcasing of key resources was a particular highlight. Amelie Roper, Research Manager at the British Library introduced us to the library collections, how they support research and researchers and how to make the most from being a Reader of the library. Amelie provided information about how their staff can help on a practical level, the training available for doctoral students, their events and exhibitions. The British Library is easy to access, a stone’s throw from the venue, situated between Euston and St Pancras rail stations.

We also spent some time at the Wellcome Trust. I thought I ‘knew’ about the Wellcome Trust; I had previously visited their free exhibitions and shop whilst waiting for trains to depart from Euston Station. I, wrongly, thought that the Wellcome Trust were only interested in and only funded science. I was surprised to find that their interests, reach, and research grants are far beyond tradition views of science and include health, humanities, and social sciences. We had fascinating talks and tours of the building including from their resident Wikimedian, Alice White @HistorianAlice I had no idea what a Wikimedian is, it turns out that Alice is finding and contributing to open knowledge. I have always been advised not to use Wikipedia to look for information but it’s the fifth most accessed website and as Alice suggests, as experts in our fields we should be ensuring that we actively engage in ensuring that the information on Wikipedia pages are accurate, up to date and ‘correct’.

We had an interesting talk from Sky Yarlett @SkyYarlett who is Student Engagement Officer in Parliament, it was enlightening to hear about the workings of government and parliament, how various committees engage with experts – and how to find out information about select committees and departments within parliament who may be interested in different areas of research. A new  web hub has been launched with information aimed at encouraging researchers to engage with Parliament.‘’

Sarah began her Post Graduate studies in January 2017, her research is exploring the nature and process of continuing professional development and how this relates to TRAMmCPD. For more information about Sarah’s research you can visit her  ResearchGate or Linkedin page or say hello @SLawsonOT.

The 5th CREST Summer School will take place at Mary Ward House Conference Centre on 3-4 September 2018.