The seven “deadly traps” for an early-career researcher (from my own notebook)

Maria Rosaria Galanti is a Professor in Public Health Epidemiology at the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden. In this article, she provides her insights into the seven “deadly sins” that she feels she could have avoided as an early career researcher.

And suddenly I was full-time in research… September 1992, 38 years old and an honorable career as a Medical Doctor behind me. Three and a half years later I was a graduate, thereafter a licensed researcher and with time a respected member of one of the most prestigious medical universities in the world. All this went so quickly that I did not have the time to consider my mistakes or to complain for what I could have done better.

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‘Public Health PhD Symposium 2016’ – reflections on organising and delivering a postgraduate research conference

Rebecca Crook is a postgraduate researcher at the Public Health Institute at Liverpool John Moores University in the UK. In this blog post, she describes her recent experience of organising a one-day symposium for postgraduate researchers and shares her lessons learnt for others who might find themselves in a similar position.

The following blog post is a reflection on my recent role as Symposium Director for the 2nd Public Health PhD Symposium at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). I chose to focus on this topic for the blog hoping that it might encourage other postgraduate and early career researchers if they are considering organising a networking event, and give some hints and tips along the way.

Flyer used to advertise the symposium (© Public Health Institute, Liverpool John Moores University)

Screenshot of the PDF flyer used to advertise the PhD Symposium (© Public Health Institute, Liverpool John Moores University)

The invitation

The idea for the ‘Public Health PhD Symposium’ came about last year. Following a successful event in April 2015, it was decided that this would become an annual affair organised by a student from the Public Health Institute (PHI) at LJMU. Earlier this year the Director of the PHI, Jim McVeigh, approached me and asked if I would be interested in organising this summer’s symposium. Having attended and presented at the event last April, I accepted and looked forward to taking on this new role. Continue reading

Substance use in Brazilian migrants in the UK: the role of acculturation

This month’s contribution comes from Martha Canfield, who is a researcher at the National Addiction Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College in London, UK. In this blog, she describes her research about substance use of Brazilian migrants in the UK, and how acculturation is associated with this behavior.

I am taking the opportunity to describe here some of the findings from my PhD research which explored the extent to which the process of acculturation is placing Brazilian migrants in the UK at risk for substance use1. Although this study looked at a population of Brazilians aged 18 and over residing in the UK, it presents findings that have the potential to be translated to other migratory groups, younger populations of migrants and minority ethnic groups, and to different contexts (e.g. countries).

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  1. Canfield, M. (2016). Predictors of substance use in Brazilian migrants in the UK: The role of acculturation. Unpublished PhD thesis. University of Roehampton. []

Reflections on sober raving: alcohol free fun for further research?

Dr Emma Davies is a lecturer in the Department of Psychology, Social Work and Public Health at Oxford Brookes University.  In this article, she provides some reflections on alcohol free events, such as sober raves, as a topic for research in drug and alcohol misuse.

Background

Strategies for reducing drug and alcohol misuse tend to focus on encouraging people to either stop or cut down in order to reduce harms.  But substance use is often driven by the pursuit of pleasure, rather than by the avoidance of harm (Global Drug Survey, 2015; Hutton, 2012), and drugs and alcohol are present in many social situations.  People are very often already aware of the risks associated with their behaviour, but on balance they decide it is worth the risk to have a good time.  Furthermore, and especially in social situations where alcohol is flowing, people’s good intentions often fail to map onto their behaviours (Sheeran, 2002).

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Blog posts switch to once a month

We hope you have enjoyed the first couple of months of our EUSPR Early Careers Forum blog. We certainly have!

It has been a great experience for us receiving and reading our contributors’ submissions. So here’s a big thank-you to all our contributors so far for sending us really interesting posts, and on time! 🙂

We hope you’ll agree with us that the blog has already managed to fulfil its aim of providing a platform where early career members of the European Society for Prevention Research (EUSPR) can present themselves and their work online, as well as openly share their thoughts on the fields of prevention policy, research and practice. We hope it will continue to do this for a while yet.

What you may not realise is that there is a lot of work going into each individual post, as contributors thoughtfully prepare their posts and our small editorial team reviews draft submissions and provides feedback. As of June, we are therefore switching our publishing frequency to once a month (previously every two weeks). This should allow us to maintain the high quality that you’ve come to expect of our blog posts by now.

So, please continue to come back every month or so to check out our latest post, and if you have any feedback on the blog, or you would like to submit a blog post yourself or join our editorial team, please get in touch with Angelina Brotherhood at a.brotherhood@ljmu.ac.uk.

Thanks for reading!

The non-existent bridge between research and practice

In today’s contribution, Miriam Blikmans, research master student at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, shares some thoughts on how she has experienced the gap between the worlds of research and practice during her first year in the academic world.

How it all began

My first serious encounter with research took place while I was conducting my bachelor thesis abroad. During a period of three months, the University of Örebro in Sweden gave me the opportunity to take a look into the world of research. I learned a lot: how to come to an innovative research topic, how to conduct more advanced statistical techniques, but most of all it taught me the power of research. During my study on the effectiveness of parenting programs for children with externalizing behaviour, I found that the reduction in children’s problem behaviour was partly due to a decrease in parenting stress. Although being overall effective, not all families benefit from these programs. I thought this insight into parenting stress as a working mechanism might help increase the effectiveness of these parenting programmes and therefore it could make a difference in the lives of certain families. Of course, I was a little naive Continue reading

Challenges with implementing effective school-based prevention – the Estonian experience

In today’s contribution, Karin Streimann, senior specialist of child and adolescent health at the Estonian National Institute for Health Development, describes one of the activities that her Institute undertakes to improve the quality of school-based substance use prevention in Estonia. She also reflects on some of the lessons that she has learnt along the way.

According to Brotherhood & Sumnall (2011), many people wrongly believe that drug prevention means informing young people about the effects of drug use. In reality, the focus of drug prevention should be on strengthening protective factors and reducing risk factors associated with higher likelihood of substance use (National Institute on Drug Abuse 2010). As social contexts influence substance use (Galea, Nandi & Vlahov 2004), measures to influence the school as a social setting are an important part of substance use prevention. That could include a combination of activities such as increasing the school engagement and connectedness, partnership between school and parents and policies to reduce substance use.

However, it is still a common practice in Estonian schools to conduct lectures about the dangers of substances or to invite ex drug-addicts to schools to talk with children. Teacher’s relative lack of knowledge about what is effective in prevention and their personal experiences can offer some explanation to the current situation. Continue reading

Why you should care about reflexivity in prevention research

In today’s post, Angelina Brotherhood, doctoral researcher at the University of Vienna, invites us to reflect on ‘why’ we conduct our research and how our own values and beliefs influence our research. She argues that being clear on research purpose and underlying values is especially important in fields such as prevention research.

As a full-time doctoral student, one of my favourite things is having the opportunity to think, read, listen, and talk about things that are not strictly project-related. Though I might receive my degree sooner if I focussed solely on ‘getting the job done’, I take the view that the doctorate is not just about completing a research project. Ultimately the doctorate (and the early career phase generally) should be about determining what kind of professional you want to be, right?

Sometimes it is worth going a bit slower but having time to breathe and look around (picture © Mike Brotherhood, used with permission)

Sometimes it is worth going a bit slower but having time to breathe and look around
(picture © Mike Brotherhood, used with permission)

In this post, I summarise where my thinking has led me thus far. I highlight some questions that I found useful and illustrate how answering them has helped me in my research. Continue reading

Looking beyond randomization to estimate the effects of interventions in RCTs

This month’s contribution comes from Sinziana Oncioiu, who is a public health researcher affiliated with Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. In this article, she will provide an in-depth delineation of her research which she presented at the EUSPR conference in Ljubljana in 2015. Her research targets complementary analyses to intention-to-treat analysis in an effectiveness study that was conducted at Karolinska Institutet.    

At the 6th annual conference of the European Society for Prevention Research (EUSPR), I had the chance to present the results of my Master’s thesis. Its focus was on alternative methods to intention-to-treat (ITT) for a better understanding of the effects of interventions evaluated using randomized controlled trials (RCTs). The data I worked with came from the FRITT study which stands for “Free from tobacco in dentistry”. It is an RCT designed to evaluate the effectiveness of a brief counselling on tobacco cessation in dental clinics in Sweden1. The ITT analysis showed that the brief advice was effective in reducing the amount of tobacco used at baseline, but not in achieving abstinence1. In this post, I will walk you through the main lessons learnt during this study. Continue reading

  1. Virtanen, S. E., Zeebari, Z., Rohyo, I., & Galanti, M. R. (2015). Evaluation of a brief counseling for tobacco cessation in dental clinics among Swedish smokers and snus users. A cluster randomized controlled trial (the FRITT study). Preventive Medicine, 70, 26–32. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.11.005 []

Early career preventionists in North America: Who are they and what do they hope for?

The EUSPR’s Early Careers Forum is not the only network for early-careers preventionists. A similar network has been existing in North America for over two decades: the Early Career Preventionist Network (ECPN). We have invited the current chair, Marie-Hélène Véronneau, Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), to introduce this network and reflect on current debates and developments among early-career preventionists in North America.

In this first North American blog post, I would like to introduce the Early Career Preventionist Network (ECPN). This network is part of the Society for Prevention Research (SPR), which is more or less the North American counterpart of the European Society for Prevention Research (EUSPR). ECPN is something like the “sister organization” of the EUSPR Early Careers Forum from across the Atlantic. I will first outline a brief history of ECPN and explain its structure, then I will give you an overview of who is currently involved in our steering committee, and finally I will say a few words on our hopes for the future of prevention science.

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