In this blog post, Laura Castillo-Eito, PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield (UK) shares with us the experience of the first webinar of the EUSPR Early Career Forum.
Technology! We are surrounded by it: computers, smartphones, tablets… We use technology every day in our private life and, if you are a researcher or a practitioner, you are likely to use it every day for your work. I know I do, and I could not imagine doing research without it. I don’t know how they did it before!
As prevention researchers and practitioners, we use technology and the Internet for a range of different things and technology could be used to deliver affordable training to everyone’s office and house. Some institutions have done it for years but others are still reluctant. I can proudly say that the European Society for Prevention Research Early Careers Forum (EUSPR-ECF) -host of this blog- has recently started to offer some online training.
A couple of weeks ago I attended the first ever webinar organised by the EUSPR-ECF. For those who do not know, webinars are live training sessions, where everyone who has the link can join and listen to the speaker. The speaker can show slides and other documents, and can also use a webcam. There is usually a chat where attendants can type their comments and questions at any point during the talk without interrupting the speaker and the speaker can decide whether to answer the questions when they are asked or in the end. The chat can also be used to exchange details to share resources and keep in touch.
In this webinar, Prof Maria Rosaria Galanti did an exceptional job talking about study design in intervention evaluation research. This webinar was meant for Early Career Researchers, who are often stuck deciding which design is the best for their research question. In this hour webinar, Prof Galanti did an overview of different designs: from cohort studies to randomised controlled trials, and highlighted their pros and cons.
She made a case for triangulation, which in intervention evaluation would be using two different designs to assess whether a particular intervention works. Doing that counterbalances the disadvantages of both designs, and makes the conclusion more robust. She will be talking about this in the EUSPR 2019 conference, so don’t miss her talk if you are interested!
Triangulation, however, is not always possible, especially in small projects. Therefore, among all the designs, Prof Galanti chose to focus on Cluster Randomised Trials (CRT). In a CRT, groups are randomised to the intervention or to a control group, which makes it pragmatic if the intervention is delivered to groups, such as classrooms. However, they present several challenges, such as:
- The need for larger sample sizes
- The similarity of individuals in the same cluster
- Slow recruitment
- Cluster attrition
During the webinar, Prof Galanti gave some fantastic advice for recruitment, data collection and preventing attrition in CRT. She answered all of our questions and told us some of the difficulties that she still faces despite her experience. I am very grateful to her for that. Learning that senior academics face the same difficulties that we -early career researchers- face is always motivating, as the thought that we are not good enough is frequent.
I found this webinar very useful and I really hope that the EUSPR-ECF continues organising webinars in the future. Face to face courses are usually expensive and even if they are not, the costs of travelling prevent many people to attend. With webinars, affordable training can be delivered not only to researchers, but also to practitioners, and they are also a great way to network with people with similar interests.
About the author:
Laura Castillo-Eito is a teaching fellow and PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield (UK). She is a psychologist interested in adolescence and behaviour change. At the moment, she is looking for the best way to reduce peer aggression among adolescents using health behaviour techniques. If you want to hear more about her and her work, follow her on Twitter at laucaseit. You can also contact her at LCastilloEito1[at]sheffield.ac.uk.