ECR conference 13/07 update – What our PhD students are working on?

In this session, we heard from four PhD students who briefed the group on their proposals, what they have done, what they plan still to do, and what they have learnt that could be useful to others.

Leah Jayes, University of Nottingham – Smoke-free policies in English Prisons

This innovative university funded project involves measuring particle concentration levels (PM2.5) in a sample of prisons in England and then again once a smoke-free policy has been implemented. The aim is to evaluate the impact of a smoke-free policy in a small number of prisons which will provide evidence to the UK government for rolling out the policy across the prison network in England & Wales. The results have already influenced decision makers. Preliminary work now published in BMC Public Health. 2016 Feb 4;16:119. doi: 10.1186/s12889-016-2757-y
More information:

Inge Kersbergen, University of Liverpool – Cognitive processing of alcohol advertising

Inge spoke about her UKCTAS funded PhD, which consists of 8 studies assessing cognitive processing of alcohol-related persuasive messages, involving responsible drinking messages and alcohol advertising.

Sustaining motivation
Her presentation contained a fascinating insight as to what she did around her PhD – teaching/co-supervision, involvement in other publications, conference workshops and being a reviewer of papers. Time management and sustaining motivation were seen as essential for Inge, and it was easy to ‘waste’ too much time on paperwork such as ethics applications, recruiting subjects and writing/submitting papers. So what is the solution?

Plan well in advance and don’t things until the last minute/hour/day/week.
Motivation can be difficult to sustain in experimental work and the key is to manage these emotions with Inge advising to take some time off (tea  break, one full day) as things are likely to look better after some time out. Some suggestions for preventing de-motivation:

  • Keep strict working hours
  • Network with other PhD students, not just in your department
  • Keep a variety of things that need to be done – not just the same old stuff
  • Recognise when you are procrastinating
  • Take some time out regularly to recharge

More information:

Paul Weate, University of Bath – Alcohol, social media and young people

Paul prepared a presentation on his PhD funded by the University of Bath, which studies the role of images and text relating to alcohol on social media with regard to young adults’ social identities.
The aim of the project is to 1) socially situate the role of alcohol consumption and social media use in young adults’ social lives and 2) assess how young people make sense of these factors in shaping their own social identities. This involves mainly qualitative work using 9 focus groups and 16 interviews, together with qualitative methods of analysis. Paul’s challenges in his PhD include:

  • Recruiting over 150 participants
  • Coordinating and transcribing focus groups/interviews
  • Carrying out thematic analyses

More information:

Daisy Thompson-Lake, Queen Mary University, London – Alcohol, obesity  and behavioural change
Daisy’s UKCTAS funded PhD is on the topic of distress tolerance (DT) – an interesting factor not widely mentioned in addiction literature. DT relates to the strength of an individual to withstand uncomfortable experiences in order to achieve greater goal. Level of DT may be a predictor of person’s ability to quit/cut down/lose weight. There are various ways of measuring DT, and one of the ways is holding the breath, an examination of which forms part of Daisy’s PhD.
More information:


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