The Bees Knees

Data Bee and Discourse Bee are groups facilitated by PGR students in the College of Medicine and Health. We meet together regularly to share qualitative data and discuss ideas.

We set up the groups as we were all looking for ways to improve our data analysis, problem solve issues that arise out of our data and ‘check-in’ on our thinking about the work we’re doing. We meet every fortnight or so and have looked at interview data, focus groups, naturally occurring data and even film clips. Nothing is off the table.

The groups work like this: one person brings along some data in the form of a transcript and (ideally) an anonymised sound or video file. The presenter explains a little about their project and their stage of analysis and what they’d like to get from the session. We listen to the extract and then take ten minutes or so to re-read the transcript and make any notes. We then discuss interesting features of the data which might include potential themes, areas of discursive interest or our emotional responses to the data. We encourage each other to root all our comments in the data – it’s easy to let the data trigger our own favourite thoughts and theories – and to listen well to each other so we can build on points that are made. Sometimes we disagree on our interpretations of the data, and this can lead to a good reflective discussion on how we can see data differently.

Data Bee tends towards working with thematic analysis (although this is led by the researcher bringing data) whilst Discourse Bee (as you might imagine) is rooted in types of discourse analysis, primarily conversation analysis.

We’re always open to new people coming along and find that a new voice can really help to challenge habitual ways of thinking. Those of us who attend regularly have found it’s a great way to expand our thinking about data, learn from others and also get informal feedback on our work, without the pressure of delivering a PowerPoint!

If you’d like to go on our mailing lists, do get in touch. Alternatively if you’d like to set up a group in your own department, we’re happy to chat with you about the benefits and pitfalls.

We’re also running a qualitative data analysis event in Exeter in May – working title Doing Quality Qualitative Research – with support from Exeter’s Researcher-led Initiative Awards, The British Sociological Association and The British Psychological Society. Follow us on Twitter to keep up with progress.

Data Bee is convened by Jennie Hayes

Discourse Bee is convened by Daisy Parker


IHR Early Career Researcher Network Focus Day

Written by: Susi Sadler (@SusiSadler) and Sarah Walker (@Sarah1003Walker)

“You need to show you can get funded, so start small”

“Publications are important, make sure your work is published, but also collaborate with others as much as possible”

“Work on something you’re interested in”

Words of wisdom were thrown out like sweeties to attendees at the Institute of Health Research Early Career Researcher Network’s recent Focus Day. The theme being “Things the University is Doing that you Don’t Know About, that you Might Want to Know About, that Might Help you Progress your Career. Plus Helpful Career (and Life) Advice from People who’ve Been Where you are and Survived”. Or something like that.

Other, more (or perhaps less) practical advice included…

“Don’t follow your dreams [like I did]”

“Don’t work weekends [like I did]”

And even “You may not want to return to work three weeks after childbirth, but it worked for me”

On arrival to the Focus Day, attendees were given a copy of “Self-care for academics: a poetic invitation to reflect and resist” by Siobhan O’Dwyer, Sarah Pinto and Sharon McDonough. After a gentle start to the day, with colouring and refreshments, the thirty-five attendees were inundated with useful advice on a range of career-related topics, including: The Exeter Academic and how it relates to progression and promotion, the University of Exeter Doctoral College and how it supports development for early career researchers, the purpose and achievements of the Positive Working Environment Board and how to get the most out of mentoring and other one-to-one career support.

But equally valuable was the insight into the somewhat stochastic and unexpected career paths of those who have, somehow, navigated the world of the early career researcher and made it to the heady heights of mid-career researcher or even senior academic. Most would not have been able to predict where they have ended up, had they been asked. Many described similar traits which they identified as important for career success – being proactive enough to pursue your interests and ambitions, getting good support structures in place, and being bold enough to make the first steps into job and funding applications despite the seemingly universal “imposter syndrome”. Although difficulties with work-life balance were a common theme, all the contributors found their academic careers rewarding, interesting and challenging.

The highlight of the day was, without doubt the very hotly-contested Cake Competition, with eight delcious entries shared by attendees and presenters after a buffet lunch, ensuring that everyone left with full minds and full stomachs at the end of the day.

The IHR Early Career Researcher Network would like to thank all the presenters: David Llewellyn, Katharine Harris, Jo Thompson-Coon, Angela Shore, Karen Leslie, Andrew McRae, Kate Lindsell, Nicky Britten and Sarah Dean. The Focus Day was funded by a Researcher Led Initiative Award, applied for by Sarah Walker, Becky Whear and Susi Sadler. Thanks also go to members of the IHR ECRN for their input in planning this event.

The impressive cake competition winners were: 1st Krystal Warmoth, 2nd Paulo Landa and 3rd Rachel Burn – Congratulations all! Each winner received a Princesshay gift voucher; Krystal also received a ‘Star Baker’ cake tin.

Dontations were also collected for Sands ( throughout the day. A £30 donation has been made in memory of Hamish Robin Wilkins and for all those other families who have lost their babies too soon.

As well as bi-monthly meetings which are open for all early career researchers to attend and discuss any issues or concerns, the network is planning to arrange a number of more focussed seminars and workshops over the next few months, so please contact Tristan Snowsill () to be added to the mailing list and find out about future events.

From inception to inaugural launch: Exclamat!on: An Interdisciplinary Journal

Exclamation Journal

A new postgraduate journal supported by the University of Exeter’s College of Humanities and Doctoral College’s Researcher Development team.

Our decision to start a new journal for Postgraduate Research and Taught students in the disciplines of English, Creative Writing and Film at the University of Exeter was rather a spontaneous one. As we state in our editorial introduction to the journal, the initial idea was conceived in a corridor, and within six months or so, we were delighted to present the first edition. We named it Exclamat!on: An Interdisciplinary Journal, and set no thematic constraints for the first issue, so as to appeal to the widest range of contributors possible. Our initial mission for the journal was simple. We sought to create an innovative space in which PGRs and PGTs could engage in current debates and interdisciplinary discussions; we wanted to bring together divergent and creative ideas, and fundamentally showcase work via a new publishing platform within the Department of English.

Starting a journal was certainly a challenge, especially as neither of us (the editors) had any prior experience in publishing.  We sought initial advice from academics about what they felt a postgraduate publication should contain, how we should proceed, and how it should present English at the University of Exeter to the wider world. One of the key messages was that, to be forward-facing and in keeping with other academic publishing ventures, it should be online and open-access. However, we also felt that such a monumental venture deserved something a little more special for its inaugural edition than simply being uploaded onto the internet.

We applied for, and were delighted to receive, funding in the form of the Researched-Led Initiative Award from the Researcher Development team, and the PGR Activities Award from the College of Humanities. As a result, we were able to commission a limited print run of the journal, and to hold a launch event. We wanted to ensure that as many PGRs and PGRs as possible could benefit from the event. To this end, we invited Ben Doyle, the English Editor from Palgrave Macmillan, to join us, to talk to students from across the Humanities about the publishing process, and to answer their questions about preparing and submitting a manuscript. These conversations were then continued informally over a drinks and canapes reception.

The event was attended by over forty postgraduate students and academic staff from the Departments of English, History and Classics (to name but a few), the Sabbatical Officers from the Students’ Guild, as well as senior members of the Doctoral College, and received wider support from across the University. The event was appreciated by the audience who described it as a “very useful overview of how to get published” and a “very useful and enjoyable session”. Students felt that they had a better understanding of the publishing process and several mentioned feeling more confident about approaching a publisher once they had finished their PhD. Staff attenders commented on the fact that they now felt able to better advise their PhD students about publication. The link to employability was also noted, with students appreciating the introduction to the world of publishing as a possible profession: “I will look more into publishing as a career prospect” was the action identified by one attendee.

The event in its entirety was extremely successful – much more so than we had envisaged or possibly could have hoped for – and a wonderful way to celebrate the beginning of a new journal. The production of physical copies cemented, for us, the reality of the process, and can now be utilised as an important marketing tool. The funding awards meant that we were in a position to put on a “very, very good” session and create a “fabulous, helpful afternoon”. More importantly, the whole process – from the journal’s inception to the finished product – crucially created opportunities to network, inform, and, most importantly, to celebrate the vibrant and diverse postgraduate community within the Humanities at the University of Exeter. This was our ultimate aim.

Even if we do say so ourselves, the journal also serves to exemplify the hard work and achievements of the editors, editorial team and contributors. We hope, too, that it demonstrates just some of the possibilities and opportunities that can occur beyond the PhD thesis. This is most evident, we feel, in the fact that, from beginning to end, it has been a distinctly postgraduate endeavour. The innovative and accessible nature of the journal has also meant that many of the conversations outlined above have continued beyond the first edition. As we now look ahead to the second edition, we hope that our venture will inspire other postgraduate students to get involved, as contributors, peer-reviewers or on the editorial board. As this pilot year, too, was such a success, we now have greater ambitions, and are looking to open up the journal in terms of submissions to all UK institutions. Following on from this, we will be sending out a call for submissions for the second edition, as well as opening up positions on the editorial team in the new academic year, so watch this space!

To view the journal please click here.

Written by:
Sarah-Jayne Ainsworth- Year 3 PhD English Student
Teresa Sanders- Year 2 PhD English Student

For more information and/or any queries, please feel free to contact us at:

Exclamation Editors

Institute of Health Research Early Career Researcher Network Event

The Early Career Researcher Event was held on a warm sunny day on St Luke’s Campus. A sense of anticipation was in the air, as the attendees caught sight of the burgeoning tables, overflowing with offerings for the cake competition later that day.

Cake 1 Cake 2Cake 3

A few of the entrees to the competition

All Early Career Researchers on bands E and F were invited to attend, along with people who had recently been promoted to G grade. We were especially eager to make the event open to research facing professional service staff and people based in Cornwall and Plymouth University.

Our Speakers:

Jane Slaven, an Advisor from the HR department started off the day by talking to us about the structures that are in place within the University to support us during our career progression. She highlighted the importance of working alongside our line managers to ensure we could identify and meet the targets required for progression. She also signposted us to the University webpages where we might find a range of useful resources to help us manage our physical and psycho-social wellbeing:

Our second speaker was Professor Michelle Ryan, Professor of Social and Organisational Psychology/ Dean of Postgraduate Research and Director of the University of Exeter Doctoral College. She discussed the role and structure of the Doctoral College and emphasised the importance of Early Career Researchers in providing feedback to her regarding particular issues which affect us. This will help the developing Doctoral College listen to the voices of Early Career Researchers and ensure that the support they provide is representative of our needs.

The Vice-Dean of Research, Professor Angela Shore then talked about how our roles as ECRs are funded; primarily through individual research grants and teaching opportunities. The importance of gaining lecturing experience was discussed in an interactive session, with audience members contributing various other ideas, such as contributing towards funding bids, which could aid in our career progression. Attendees found this session highly useful and it highlighted the need for the peer-network to also consider how individuals without a PhD could also progress with their careers.

Professor Nicky Britten (Professor of Applied Health Care Research) built on the theme of being proactive. Talks focused on the need for ECRs to flag any concerns about the way we are managed with our Heads of Research. This led to a discussion later on that afternoon about the need for a suitable feedback system so that ECRs knew what actions had been taken after they had raised concerns. Nicky also outlined how ECRs contribute towards the IHR.

Afternoon Discussion:

The afternoon discussion provided the opportunity for ECRs to discuss what they would like the future of the peer-network to look like. Whilst we agreed that it was useful to have a space to come and share concerns, it was suggested that it would be constructive to also have a positive focus during meetings. Various ideas which were put forward included:

  • Having the opportunity to talk about the work that we are all involved in.
  • Inviting external speakers to occasionally attend part of a session and deliver talks on agreed topics for the development of ECR peer network members.
  • Structuring sessions around particular topics e.g. C.V. construction.

Inspired by the talk from Michelle, there was a high degree of interest in using a peer-network meeting to identify key issues of importance for ECRs at Exeter University to feedback to the Doctoral College. A preliminary date for this has been set for 5th July, during the next face-to-face Early Career Researcher Meeting in South Cloisters.

Our attendees from Plymouth indicated that they would like to be involved with the Exeter Peer Network via video-conferencing. This is a very exciting expansion of our peer-network and we look forward to getting to know each other more in the future.

When asked about what they had found most useful from the event, attendees said:

  • “All speakers provided very useful information”
  • “Loved the cake competition!”
  • “Finding out that whatever level, people have similar concerns”
  • “Understanding overall what the perspective of the university is around ECR’s”
  • “Talking to other ECRs!”

Winning Cake

Winning entry to the cake competition: Jo Varley-Campbell (Research Fellow: University of Exeter Medical School PenTAG Systematic Reviewer) with her beautiful white chocolate and raspberry creation.

Overall, the event was a welcome opportunity to meet colleagues at a similar stage in their careers and share experiences over cake. We look forward to doing the same again next year.

Written by : Dr Liz Shaw -Research Associate: University of Exeter Medical School HS&DR Systematic Reviewer

Liz Shaw

The Researcher Led Initiative awards are intended to enable postgraduate research students and early career research staff to be creative, proactive, and empowered, through the process of initiating, designing, managing, and delivering new professional development activities for their peers that will develop the skills and experience needed to progress their careers. The awards support short-term, well-defined initiatives that develop and deliver transferable skills training experiences and/or resources to the applicants’ peers across the University.

Research Workshop: The F-Word

 Topic of Workshop: The F-Word: Facing the Challenges of Feminist Research in the Social Sciences

Wednesday, 1st June 2016

This one-day interdisciplinary workshop was organised by three postgraduate research (PGR) students in the School of Law: Jennifer Mike, Janet Keliher, and Mathilde Pavis. It was open to undergraduate students, postgraduate students, and staff across the College of Social Sciences and International Studies (SSIS) and College of Humanities.

Organisers of the event (L-R): Jennifer Mike, Mathilde Pavis, Janet Keliher

Organisers of the event (L-R): Jennifer Mike, Mathilde Pavis, Janet Keliher

The aim of the event was to create a platform for discussions on the use and application of feminism concepts and gender-related theories in research context. Also in this regard, the event was designed to build a forum for experienced academic staff to reflect on their own scholarly engagement with feminism or gender studies as a conceptual, methodological and/or empirical approach in a research.  The event provided an important learning opportunity for students and staff to engage in scholarly discussions and generate insights into the use of feminist theories in research.

Keynote speaker: Professor Michelle Ryan

Keynote speaker: Professor Michelle Ryan

At the event, Professor Michelle Ryan (Psychology) provided a thought-provoking keynote address on her research involving the “glass cliff” and work/life balance. Other participants included: Professor Susan Banducci (Politics), Professor Christine Hauskeller (Sociology), Dr Mitchell Travis (Leeds, Law and Social Justice), and Professor Jane Spencer (English). Several PGRs/early career researchers presented the challenges they face in the application of feminist theory in their research in a series of 10-minute presentations (chaired by Dr Charlie Bishop and Dr Fae Garland, Law).Picture 3 - Femmes Crea(c)tives

The event was extremely well-attended, a total of 32 participants were in attendance. The efforts of the organisers were very much appreciated, as the feedback attests:

  • “Great initiative – thanks a lot for organising”
  • “Fabulous work!”
  • “It was a great session”
  • “Thank you for putting this together”
  • “Very informative and well organised”
  • “More please”.

We hope that further interdisciplinary sessions organised around the theme of feminism or feminist concerns will be organised in the 2016-17 academic year, so please look out for these events.