Tuesday 3 November 2015

researcher looking through a microscope

​​Researchers at the University of Northampton are being invited to give sixth-form students hands-on experience of a professional research environment.

The University has joined forces with the Nuffield Foundation to offer researchers the chance to oversee Nuffield Research Placements in 2016.

The placements are for AS level students who have just completed their first year of an advanced or higher level course in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subject. All placement students will be selected by Nuffield and matched with appropriate researchers.

They will be set a self-contained research project within the University during a four-to-six week period in summer 2016. The project needs to be a genuine research project which contributes to the researcher’s ongoing work.

Kevin Deane, Lecturer in International Development at the University’s Northampton Business School, supervised a student as part of the Nuffield scheme in the summer.

He said: “The project that the student worked on aimed to explore the relationship between HIV testing and wealth in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The student’s role was to access data, organise the data for analysis, and produce tables and bar charts to show the relationship between wealth and access to HIV tests, wealth and test-refusals, and HIV prevalence rates by wealth quintile and testing status.

“The supervision process involved weekly meetings and support via e-mail, with the student working from home for the majority of the time. From my perspective, this arrangement was beneficial for both parties – the data mining that the student did for me has progressed the research project and will eventually form the basis for a journal article, and it was also a good opportunity to provide some mentorship to a potential researcher.”

The student who undertook the placement added: “This experience gave me a fantastic insight in the world of research, with Kevin answering all my questions regarding what actually happens in a research project, but also teaching me many of the skills used by researchers and using them to investigate the project given.

“This expanded my horizons as it made me use skills learnt in school and use them in a real life situation.”

The University’s STEM steering group is keen to encourage colleagues to consider having Nuffield Research Placements. More information, including suitable projects, can be found by visiting the Nuffield Foundation website or by contacting Cheryl McCarthy Cheryl.mccarthy@leics-ebc.org.uk.

Researchers are also welcome to contact Kevin Deane at Northampton Business School for more information about his experiences of the programme, by emailing kevin.deane@northampton.ac.uk.

Download our Frequently Asked Questions and Guidance for more information.

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