Representing the voice of early-career preventionists: introducing the new Lead of the EUSPR Early Careers Forum

In today’s blog post, we introduce Samuel Tomczyk, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Greifswald, who will be the new Lead of the Early Careers Forum (ECF) of the European Society for Prevention Research (EUSPR), starting in September 2017. We also say good-bye to the outgoing Lead and initiator of the Forum, Angelina Brotherhood, doctoral researcher at the University of Vienna. Through a written interview, they both reflect on their careers so far and their role within the ECF.

How did you start working in prevention research?

Samuel: Well, having finished my master’s degree in psychology, I was interested in continuing the academic track. Continue reading

Informing prevention through big data – The Global Drug Survey

This month’s blog post comes from Larissa Maier, who is voluntarily involved in the Global Drug Survey (GDS) besides her actual job, believing that this engagement can make a difference. In this blog post, she describes how she joined the GDS and shares the very first results from the GDS2017. She concludes with her view on how these results relate to global drug prevention. 

Most early career researchers start their careers by focusing on one main research question to become an expert in that specific area of research. In my case, my PhD studies addressed the prevalence and patterns of substance use for cognitive enhancement. However, after having developed a questionnaire on recreational drug use in Swiss nightlife settings as part of my master thesis, I remained connected to the Swiss projects aimed at early detection of harmful substance use. Having been a regular clubber myself back then, I could link my personal observations in the field to the data derived from the questionnaires. My knowledge about local and national drug use habits of recreational drug users increased sharply. A logical next step was joining the Global Drug Survey (GDS) to understand the superior picture and to put my findings into context. In this blog post, I will tell you more about how I became a member of the GDS Core Research Team and how our findings contribute to the prevention of harmful substance use among youth and adults across the world. Continue reading

How to motivate incarcerated youth? Issues of an early-career researcher

This month’s contribution comes from Aniek van Herwaarden, who is a graduate student at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. She is involved in research projects which address behavioral problems in youth with mild intellectual disabilities. In this blog post, she evaluates her experiences as an early-career researcher in this field.

As I am currently working as a student assistant on a project for youth who are resident in juvenile institutions, several ethical, practical and societal issues cross my mind. In this blog post, I will describe some of these issues. In particular, motivation of incarcerated youth and being an early-career researcher are two of the major difficulties I encountered during my work at the juvenile institution.

How to make your participants as excited as you are about your research?

Within the research project “Change Your Mindset! – Forensic Care”, a newly developed, short-term, on-line intervention program is being carried out. This project is a collaboration between the University of Amsterdam and Pluryn in The Netherlands, by principal investigator Petra Helmond. The intervention targets at changing the participant’s mindset from a fixed mindset to a so-called “growth-mindset”. The latter includes a way of thinking in possibilities and growth, rather than pessimism and disabilities (see also: Yeager & Dweck, 20121).

As a researcher, you would think this program sells itself: it is on-line, it contains fast videos and interactive animations, it involves peers who have been in prison as well, and gadgets (rewards) are provided after each session. Unfortunately, practice shows differently. Continue reading

  1. Yeager, D. S., & Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindsets that promote resilience: When students believe that personal characteristics can be developed. Educational Psychologist, 47(4), 302-314. []

Prevention science in its struggle for a better reputation

In this month’s blog post, Sanela Talič will share her experience in her work as a prevention scientist. Sanela is the Head of Prevention at Institute for Research and Development UTRIP in Slovenia and currently also a PhD student of prevention science at University of Zagreb. In this blog, she will address the importance of acknowledging prevention research as a distinct science.

The year 2006, the time when I first entered the field of prevention. When I look back, it was like a love at first sight. But beginnings are often not easy. Imagine a baby taking his first steps. Awkward steps, lots of downs and ups but determined to continue mainly due to the richness of this field. People I met at this “first stage” of my prevention career were talking in specific jargon and I admit… back then a special “prevention dictionary” would have saved me from unenviable situations. Often I was giving the impression that I totally understand them and agree with them but at the same time there was only one question in my head: “For God’s sake, what are these people talking about?” But that didn’t stop me from “digging deeper” as I wanted to broaden my horizons. Because very soon I realised that prevention is one of those fields where learning never ends. Continue reading

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.

Continue 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

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

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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Reflections on integrating multiple professional roles: where do I go from here?

Dijana Jerković is a practitioner, a policy-maker and a researcher in drug prevention. In this article, she introduces herself and her work, using this opportunity to reflect on the specific challenge of closing the gap between research, policy and practice at an intrapersonal level.

“Lifelong learning” and “investing time and energy in personal beliefs” are leitmotifs that have guided me through life since my childhood. As a result, today I have different professional roles, and therefore I’ve decided to write a few words about challenges that arise from this multiplicity. In line with that, in the following text I write about my experience and present it as a simplified version of a case study. Continue reading