Viet-Hai Phung attends KCL social science research summer school

Viet-Hai Phung, research assistant and doctoral student at CaHRU recently attended the summer school, ‘Doing social science research in healthcare settings’ at King’s College, London, 13-14 July 2017. This is his account of the course.

vhp2“It was a pleasure to attend this two-day summer school that was run by King’s College, London aimed at Early Career Researchers and PhD students. The five sessions spread over two days covered a range of topics of particular interest and relevance to me. First up, we looked at using theory in applied health research. This started off with the basics of comparing positivism, with its emphasis on objective reality, and interpretivism’s accommodation of multiple realities. The session continued by linking micro, meso and macro-theory. A key focus was Bourdieu’s logic of practice which explores how context and structures affect decisions.

The afternoon session examined how reflexivity can be used at different stages of the research process. Reflexivity also has its place within positivism and interpretivism. There then followed a discussion of the merits of ethics committees. Do they ensure that research is conducted to the highest standards or are they too risk averse? The session concluded by examining the role of the researcher in data collection.

sunflowerThe final day’s morning session continued to discuss the role of ethics committees. It discussed the way research governance has evolved within the healthcare sector and universities. In particular, we discussed the research governance process, particularly, the role of the Health Research Authority. The way they operated was compared (unfavourably) with university ethics committees, which from personal experience, I would agree with. The second morning session discussed the types of social science research that is likely to attract funding. Researchers are encouraged to publish to benefit their institutions in the Research Excellence Framework (REF). Increasingly, PhD students are encouraged to publish papers from their thesis. Deductive projects are particularly attractive to funders because they start with a clear research question, while the initial lack of clarity inherent in inductive research is less persuasive to potential funders.

The final session of the summer school examined the process from an initial idea to it becoming implemented. Apparently, this process normally takes around 17 years, with many pitfalls that can potentially slow the process down.

As a healthcare researcher and a PhD student, I found the summer school to be highly useful and relevant. The sessions were delivered clearly, in an engaging manner and with great enthusiasm. I would definitely recommend it to others in similar career situations.”

By Viet-Hai Phung



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