Our professional practice module provides the opportunity to find out about working in different roles and settings. Here’s what one student said after a guest speaker shared her experiences of working in applied research:
Why I had initially thought research work wasn’t for me
Prior to the session, I expected that I wouldn’t feel engaged, as I had no plans to have a career in research after this MSc. The reason for this was that I had some experience of being a Research Assistant during my undergraduate degree. I had found the experience off putting as one of the negative aspects of the role was its isolating nature. Due to this experience, I decided that when I was looking for jobs, I would focus on ones that were more practical and would involve working with people. This experience also reduced the appeal of doing a PhD.
I realised how practical research can be
From the first part of the session, I realised that research can be applied. Isher explained that applied research at ARC-HLI had led to the design and implementation of an intervention in the form of a Smartphone application that aimed to increase young people’s use of sexual health services. I found this interesting, as sexual health is one of my main research interests. Additionally, Isher linking how the development of the intervention had translated into practice, made me recognise the importance of research. It is a fundamental process that allows methods practised in health psychology, such as interventions, to be theory and evidence – based.
A balanced view of the researcher’s role
Isher then described what it is like working in applied research, including both positive and negative aspects. At the time, I appreciated that Isher gave a balanced view. A positive aspect that was prominent was that, in fact, it does involve working with people, as often the process of research is a team effort. I also became aware that it can involve communicating with the public and other professionals at conferences. The negative aspect that Isher had outlined that I found particularly concerning is that it does heavily involve individual desk work.
A word of thanks
The guest lecturer on this topic was our former student and Coventry colleague Isher Kehal. We are very grateful for what was clearly an inspiring session.