Early career researchers become prestigious journal club leads

Two early career researchers from GCU’s Substance Use research group are leading the world-wide Society for the Study of Addiction (SSA) qualitative journal club for six months.

Dr Elena Dimova and Dr Matt Smith will be leading these vital online journal club sessions which have previously involved researchers from as far afield as Nigeria, Australia, Canada and Denmark.

Research group lead, Professor Carol Emslie, is delighted two of her early career researchers have been given the chance to take the lead on such an important research platform.

She said: “It’s great news that GCU’s Substance Use research group has been invited to lead this prestigious journal club. For the first time in its history, we have chosen to move the journal club online to connect with colleagues who feel isolated or who may benefit from connecting with others to discuss a research paper in these difficult times – we even had a colleague from Nigeria zooming in.

“The journal club highlights high quality research papers with the aim of increasing knowledge of qualitative research practice.

“Elena and Matt will write up a report on each session, particularly aimed at helping PhD students and early career researchers learn more about qualitative research, which will then be posted online.”

Dr Dimova said leading the journal club is helping her improve her skills in promoting and leading discussion which she admits she normally finds quite nerve-wracking.

She added: “The journal club has been an amazing opportunity to discuss excellent qualitative research papers with fellow researchers on a friendly, multi-disciplinary platform.

“For me, each monthly journal club meeting is a way to learn new things and meet new people in an informal and enjoyable way. It allows qualitative researchers to see examples of excellent research and to discuss how it relates to their own work.

“I think it’s important for quantitative researchers to see the meetings may be relevant to them too. It’s also a great way for quantitative researchers to become familiar with qualitative research and its value, and to ask questions about it in an informal way.”

Dr Smith said the journal club has helped him to rekindle his passion for research, and he comes out of the sessions feeling inspired, invigorated and aspirational.

He added: “The journal club has been a great excuse for me to get back to something I really love about being a researcher: discussing innovation in qualitative research in depth.

“It’s a really friendly and mutually supportive group, with a wide range of people from diverse disciplines and research career positions, from first year PhD students to eminent professors, but we are all connected by our passion for qualitative research and how important we know it is in developing knowledge.

“I often think qualitative research can be side-lined for what might look like more traditional quantitative approaches, but the journal club continues to show that some questions can only be answered by the depth and nuance that qualitative research provides.

“I’ve already learnt a lot from my fellow researchers, and the forum is fantastic for allowing people time, space and support to bring their own perspectives, and ask questions of an experienced group of people. Picking really high quality work to think about and discuss has already helped me re-consider some approaches I’m taking in my own research and writing, and helped me look to where I can innovate. I think key in this is how mutually supportive the sessions are.

“But more than that for me personally, it’s just a lot of fun to geek out about the work we do and be proud of our knowledge and skills, in a field which can often be very challenging and isolating. Journal club has helped me to re-kindle some of the passion I have for research, and I come out of the sessions feeling inspired, invigorated and aspirational”

The next journal club session is on Thursday, January 14, 2-3.15pm. Register for free and invite your colleagues and students along here. More information on the journal club here.

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