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New article

I have somewhat neglected this blog of late, but hopefully will return to it more regularly soon. I am now back in clinical practice, working as a health visitor in central Scotland, although still interested in and looking to be involved in research.

In the meantime however, another article from the qualitative research project I was involved in at the University of Edinburgh has now been published, and so I am delighted to be able to provide a link to it:

Lawton J, Kirkham J, Rankin D, White DA, Elliott J, Jaap A, Smithson WH, Heller S. (2016) “Who gains clinical benefit from using insulin pump therapy? A qualitative study of the perceptions and views of health professionals involved in the REPOSE (Relative Effectiveness of Pumps over MDI and Structured Education) Trial”, Diabetic Medicine, 33(2): 243-251. Link to article.

I really enjoyed the interviews I did with the diabetes educators working on this trial, and am delighted that we have (thus far) published two articles from these interviews.  My grateful thanks to all who participated.


Our recent articles

I am getting ready to leave my post at the University of Edinburgh, as my contract is finally ending (I am very grateful to the funders and to the University that I was able to see the contract through its final few months, after having to take time out for maternity leave. I know that not all researchers on fixed-term contracts are so lucky). I do intend to keep up with this blog, although it will probably change focus a little as I will be returning to clinical practice, at least in the short term, although I am not abandoning academia entirely and still hope to write a bit here and there.

I did want to provide links, though, to a couple of articles that have been published recently from the qualitative work that I have been involved in. I haven’t written about the project up till now, and won’t go into detail as the trial is still ongoing (with final clinical and statistical data due to be collected later this year), but this article in BMJ Open by my colleagues outlines the REPOSE trial, the qualitative sub-study of which has been my work over the last nearly 3 years. REPOSE is a randomised controlled trial which is seeking to compare two types of treatment for Type 1 diabetes (multiple daily injections of insulin, or MDI, and insulin pumps) alongside structured education (the DAFNE – Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating – course) for both sets of patients. The qualitative study involved interviewing both patients and DAFNE educators about their experiences, with the hope that our findings can help with interpreting the final trial findings and add value to the overall trial outcome, as well as potentially influence good practice in both diabetes care and in clinical trials more generally.

The first qualitative article we published is in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, and is titled “Perceptions and experiences of using automated bolus advisors amongst people with type 1 diabetes: A longitudinal qualitative investigation”. This article is open access.

The second article, also open access, was published in Trials journal last month and quickly became highly accessed, something of which we are very proud, as clearly we have tapped into a very pertinent and important issue in trials work. The article is titled “Uncovering the emotional aspects of working on a clinical trial: a qualitative study of the experiences and views of staff involved in a type 1 diabetes trial”.


Happy New Year! I’m feeling a bit new year-ish (not hungover, but maybe a little bit slow!) so wanted to note down some aims for the year in order to hopefully slide gently into a good 2013.

I’m not going to particularly recap 2012 (though there is a blog on the ECRchat blog about the ‘my best of 2012’ chat I hosted in December – you can read that here), other than to say that there were lots of positives for me, not least getting my job and finding myself in a great team with supportive colleagues with whom I’m looking forward to working over the coming year.

Now that I feel a bit more established as an academic and in life in general, I do want to be a bit more focused both in work and in not-work. So here are a few, hopefully realistic, goals for the coming year:

1. Read more

This will relate to point 2. below, but I am hoping to read a lot more, both work-related and not. When I read something well-crafted it is energising and inspiring, and one day I hope that my own writing might have a similar effect. I’m not going to put specific goals (x journal articles and y books per week), but I think one of the things I learned from my failed #acwrimo was that without reading, the writing won’t happen, so I do want to increase the amount I read. For work I need to read more around diabetes, the body, technology and chronic disease (amongst others), and I also have a pile of post-PhD-related reading around gender, sexuality, reproduction and eastern Europe which will all be helpful for expanding my thinking ready to get seriously publishing from the PhD. Which leads me nicely onto:

2. Write more

Although #acwrimo didn’t work for me, it did show me that I need to incorporate writing more systematically into my working life. I have several articles in various states of being-written, and others in my head, so I have put in my diary space to try and get them finished over this year. I also need to write for my current project, something I am being encouraged to do (we are hopeful to have a couple of articles ready to submit in the next 2 or 3 months), so the reading and writing will be a big part of working life this year. I’m looking forward to that – I like writing, and I will have the new experience this year of joint-authoring articles, as well as continuing the single-authoring writing from my thesis. The first priority for me will be to write the papers on which I will be basing my talk for the BASEES conference in April.

3. Technology/internet

There are a few bits of technology/internet I’d like to get more up to speed with this year – I have found storify not particularly intuitive and so after hosting the #ECRchat end of year twitter chat (link above) I had to rely on somebody else to produce the storify, so one thing to do will be to play around with that and try and get my head round it. Another site which I think looks interesting is, which I think will be a useful way of sorting out all the links, posts and videos I keep picking up and hopefully making my internet bookmarks a bit more manageable! There are other sites which I haven’t really connected with – LinkedIn and pinterest in particular – which other academics have found useful. I’m still to be convinced about them, but am happy to be persuaded otherwise. I’m thinking about buying an eReader of some description, which will hopefully help me with my aim of reading more. And I will try and blog a bit more frequently this year – so I will be thinking more carefully about my responses and reactions to issues with a view to writing more.

4. Teaching

My job is research-only, but I am also of course teaching with the Open University. I want to continue to learn what works well in both face to face and online learning environments, and hopefully see progress and good results in my students! I also want to start thinking about possibilities for teaching in future jobs – although I have over a year left on my current contract, and we are thinking about applying for other fellowships, so this is not an immediate requirement, I want to at least have a good plan so that should a position come up I am not taken by surprise!

5. Conferences

I have had a paper accepted for the BASEES (British Association of Slavonic and East European Studies) conference in April, so that will be a great chance to engage with the area studies community. I hope I’ll also have a chance to present some findings from the work project too, as up until now all of my conference presentations have been from my PhD, so it will be good to increase my experience outwith area studies conferences.

6. Relaxing

I’m not convinced that ‘work-life balance’ is quite the phrase I want – given that work is such a huge part of life – but I do want to get a better balance between work life and not-work life. I think the biggest key to this will be to be more efficient in my use of time, something I keep telling my students but which I need to be much better at doing myself! I will be rejoining the gym which is a good way (for me) of relaxing and feeling good, also spending time at the allotment, and hopefully getting in some non-work-related reading too. All that is relatively easy – the biggest challenge for me I think will be avoiding the temptation to procrastinate!

I think that will do for now – I will sit down and try and work out in a bit more detail (monthly) what to do when, and hopefully at the end of the year I can look back on this post and not be too shamefaced!