Careers: Work experience with the SAPPHIRE research group – Heather Thorley


SAPPHIRE recently had the opportunity to have a Sociology undergraduate student, Heather Thorley, do a work experience placement with us. Below, Heather writes about her time with SAPPHIRE and what she’s taken away from the experience.


In early January, I began my work placement alongside the SAPPHIRE research team. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working amongst them and have a lot to reflect upon once I leave. As a second year Sociology undergraduate with an aim to pursue a ‘research’ related career upon graduation, working in such an environment has really opened my eyes to this area of academia.


Although I have little background in health science, I received plenty of literature reviews to help change that! I read through some articles related to the OPTI-PREM project, analysing the content to see whether they were relevant or contained any useful information that was worth referencing in future. To help collect some information for a new module, I did some literature searching on the topic of ‘Human Factors and Ergonomics (HFE)’ and HFE based healthcare systems. I also extracted information from an author about their modern take on Marxist theories for a PhD student. I still enjoyed reading up on all these topics, as I do quite like background reading.


Whilst being around researchers, I began to understand a bit more the processes of research projects: I had several meetings with members of the SAPPHIRE team who mentioned the many, many processes of research projects, from initial plans to ethical submission processes, to publication. This may be something that I look forward to after graduation.


I was also invited to attend lectures and partake in seminars related to Diversity, Equality, and Equity and Inequalities in Health. This was also interesting for me, as I could easily relate to the sociological theories that were used in the lectures, and could apply sociological knowledge to the discussions that took place in the seminars.


I was also invited to a Research Excellence Framework (REF) meeting, and I learnt the ways in which academic papers were reviewed and ranked according to their grading system. I watched some Masters students present a presentation on patient safety for an assessment. And finally, I did some editing and referencing work on SAPPHIRE’s pages on the University website.


Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed working alongside the SAPPHIRE team, and I hope they didn’t mind me hanging around either! The team were very friendly and my time flew by. I feel far more confident in my decision to pursue research after graduating after completing this work placement.

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