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Welcome to PHIRN

The aim of PHIRN is to increase the quantity and quality of public health improvement research that is relevant to policy and practice.

We aim to achieve this by increasing the number of natural experiments within the roll-out of new initiatives; developing high quality collaborative research proposals for research grant funding; developing high quality collaborative research proposals linked to emerging initiatives; and developing a critical mass of specialised methodological capacity in the design and conduct of community based trials of complex interventions.

Supported by: Cardiff University, Welsh Government and National Institute of Social Care and Health Research.


Social Research Association: Training Courses

Dr Christina Silver will run the following two courses:

Date: Friday 12th September 2014MAXQDA for applied research

This one day course introduces the principles of Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data AnalysiS (CAQDAS) and provides comprehensive foundation level training in the workings of the software.

Date: Monday 21st & Tuesday 22nd September 2014NVivo Intensive Introduction (please note that this is a 2 day course)

NVivo is a well-known product which is extensively used across a range of sectors, including applied and policy research.

The courses are £195 for SRA members (£260 for non-members) per day and include lunch and refreshments.

Full details on the SRA website – http://the-sra.org.uk/training/

Please don’t hesitate to contact the SRA team if you have any queries – sradmin@the-sra.org.uk or lindsay.adams@the-sra.org.uk

Vacancy: Scientific Editor at MRC Epidemiology Unit

Close of applications: Sunday 3rd August 2014

Applications are invited for a fixed-term Scientific Editor position in the Physical Activity and Public Health group at the MRC Epidemiology Unit, a department within the Clinical School at the University of Cambridge. The group studies the effects of environmental and policy changes on population travel and physical activity behaviours. Your main task will be to prepare a 50,000-word project report for submission to the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in February 2015. This will be the final report of the Commuting and Health in Cambridge study, a project that has produced 18 scientific publications to date with a further 12 manuscripts currently in progress, using a variety of quantitative and qualitative, epidemiological and social science research methods (www.cambridgecommutingstudy.org.uk). The secondary tasks are to organise a stakeholder workshop to present and discuss the findings and to prepare the ground for similar future reports.

You will have an impeccable standard of written English, with experience of writing and editing scientific material for publication and preparing and managing complex documents using Microsoft Word and EndNote or similar reference management software.

The post is available until 28 February 2015. For informal enquiries please contact Dr Jenna Panter at jenna.panter@mrc-epid.cam.ac.uk or telephone 01223 746884.

Closing date: 3 August 2014

Interviews: 18 August 2014

Full details at: www.jobs.cam.ac.uk/job/4463

Cardiff Q-Step Centre Conference: Mainstreaming Quantitative Methods – Opportunities and Challenges

Date: Thursday 18th September 2014
Venue: Council Chamber, Main Building, Cardiff University

With the establishment of fifteen Q-Step Centres across the UK, teaching and learning in quantitative methods has entered a new and exciting phase.  A step change in attitudes and practices is underway that will change the nature of social science teaching and also the kind of social science future graduates will do.  The first step on any journey is the most important, but also possibly the easiest.  In the next few years, the Q-Step Centres and quantitative methods teaching will face many challenges of pedagogy, resources, long term commitment and even opposition to the project itself.  The first annual Cardiff Q-Step Centre Conference will begin to focus on some of these challenges and our speakers will discuss a range of issues – some controversial, that will face us.

We would like to invite you to participate in the conference which will take place on September 18th at Cardiff University. This event is free, but places are limited and registration is required. To register or for more details please complete the registration form below and e-mail qstep@cardiff.ac.uk

Cardiff Q-Step Inaugural Event September 18th booking form

Order of Proceedings (running times subject to change)

10:00 – Refreshments and registration

10:30 – Welcome and Introduction.  Professor Malcolm Williams, Director Cardiff Q-Step Centre.

10:45 - Sharon Witherspoon, Director of Nuffield Foundation, Making numbers normal: is Q-Step enough?

11:15 - Professor Patrick Sturgis, University of Southampton, Director, National Centre for Research Methods, Why should undergraduate social science students choose quantitative methods?

11:45 - Professor Mike Savage, London School of Economics, The Great British Class Survey as a methodological experiment

12:15 - Keynote Address. Professor Sir Ian Diamond, Principal of University of Aberdeen, Some challenges for Mainstreaming Quantitative Methods Teaching.

13:00 – Lunch

14:00 - Professor John MacInnes, University of Edinburgh, ESRC Strategic Advisor on Quantitative Methods Training, Theory, Faith and Evidence.

14:45 - Dr Geoff Payne, Newcastle University, Clapping with One Hand? Sociology’s response to the National Strategy for Quantitative Skills Consultation.

15:30 Refreshment break

16:00 - Panel discussion

16:45-18:00 - Wine Reception

Call for abstracts: Quality in qualitative research and enduring problematics

Event date: Tuesday 27th January 2015
Deadline for abstract submission: Monday 22nd September 2014

The Qualitative Methodology Forum at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Bath, is holding a one-day symposium entitled: Quality in qualitative research and enduring problematics.

The symposium will take place at the University of Bath on 27 January 2015. They invite abstracts on the topics below or other related issues. Contributions from all disciplines within the social sciences are welcomed. The papers (duration:15 minutes) should aim to:

  • offer a clear and rigorous conceptual navigation through the issues raised
  • provide engaging illustrations from real-life experiences
  • suggest a way forward, for example in the shape of proposed consensus statements, good practice guidelines and future research.


Is there room for hypotheses in qualitative research design?
What is the role of theoretical knowledge and imagination in qualitative research design? Is there a dichotomy between theoretically informed/driven and inductive design? To what extent is inductive design a possibility? What level of pre-conceptualisation and hypothesizing is compatible with emergent analysis and discovery?

Theorising: ‘mystery as method’?
How do qualitative researchers theorise from data? What is the adequacy and defensibility of abductive reasoning as a method? What are the practices for documenting and reporting the theorising process? What still needs to be achieved to open the black box of theorising? Is there ever a good reason for not theorising from empirical data?

A ‘good round number’? In search of a rationale for sample sizes.
Is there a ‘right’ sample size in qualitative studies (interviews, recorded interactions, setting and frequency of observations, focus groups, documents, etc.)? If there is, how is this established? How important is sample size to the applicability of emergent theoretical insights?  How useful is the idea of saturation to determining sample size? How might the tension between methodological requirements and practical constraints be addressed?

The quest for quality in qualitative research
What are the key challenges to methodological rigour in qualitative research design and conduct and how should these be addressed? What needs to be done to expound the credibility and usefulness of qualitative research in the worlds of academia, policy and practice? Does the perceived value and credibility of the qualitative paradigm vary between disciplines and policy areas?

Suggestions for related topics not included in the brief are also welcome. Please send your abstracts to: z.tomlin@bath.ac.uk
More details can be found at: http://www.bath.ac.uk/sps/events/news_0073.html

The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Bath would like to develop a database of qualitative researchers within the GW4 collaboration and UWE who are interested in methodology and may want to be involved in future events and initiatives. If you are not submitting an abstract but would like to be added to the list, please contact one of the organisers below.

Selda Ulucanlar (z.tomlin@bath.ac.uk)
Jenny Hatchard (j.hatchard@bath.ac.uk)
Fiona Fox (f.fox@bath.ac.uk)
Susan Johnson (s.z.johnson@bath.ac.uk)

2 day short course – Health Economics for Public Health Practice and Research

Date: 4pm, Monday 23rd- 2:45pm Wednesday 25th March 2015
Location: Management Centre, Bangor University

Bangor university will be running a 2 day short course in March 2015 looking at health economics for Public Health Practice and Research, led by Professor Rhiannon Tudor Edwards.

At the end of this short course delegates will have gained an appreciation of the concepts, methods and application of health economics to public health, be able to critically appraise a published economic evaluation of a public health intervention and feel confident in speaking about potential return on investment from public health programmes in the NHS and other settings such as schools and work places.

The course will cover:

  • Public Health Preventative strategies
  • An overview of Health Economics and Economic Evaluation
  • Challenges of Applying Health Economics to the Public Health
  • Can we use RCTs in the Economic Evaluation of Public Health Interventions?
  • Decision Modelling for Economic Evaluation and Application to Infectious Diseases
  • Decision Modelling in Public Health
  • The role of pharmacists in Health Promotion
  • Cost Benefit Analysis in Public Health
  • Social Return on Investment (SROI)
  • Programme Budgeting Marginal Analysis (PBMA)

Registration closes 31st January 2015
Cancellation fee 10% prior to 31st January 2015, 50% cancellation fee after this date)

If you would like to register and pay, please contact:

Mrs Ann Lawton, Tel: 01248 382153 or Email: cheme@bangor.ac.uk

For credit card payments please click here.

Research Associate Vacancies at Queens University Belfast

Deadline for applications: Monday 28th July 2014

Due to the successful attainment of research funding there are 2 vacancies for Research Associates at Queens University Belfast.

The successful applicants will be working on a large NIHR funded cluster RCT investigating the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a novel physical activity loyalty card for behaviour change. The posts are due to start in September. The application deadline is 28th July 2014.

For more information about the 2 roles, please follow the links below.

A: 42 month post doc in physical activity:


B: 2 year post doc in behavioural economics:


If you have any queries, please contact Ruth Hunter on 028 906 32947 or e-mail ruth.hunter@qub.ac.uk

Healthy Ageing: The importance of a healthy lifestyle Conference and Public Lecture

Date: Thursday 30th October 2014
Conference: 1.00pm to 5.30 pm
Public Lecture: 7.00 pm to 8.30 pm
Venue: All Nations Centre, CF14 3NY

The Background:

Wales has been described as ‘the sick man of Europe’. The Wanless Report ‘Securing Good Health for the Whole Population’ stated that health services are unsustainable in their current form unless members of the public are ‘fully engaged’ and take responsibility for their own health.

The Evidence:

A thirty years research study in Caerphilly has shown that the following of a healthy lifestyle is associated with reductions of over 60% in a number of chronic diseases, including dementia, together with the postponement of disease for up to 12 years. Yet, when the study was set up in 1979, less than one percent of the subjects in the study followed a fully healthy lifestyle, and thirty years later the Welsh Health Survey, commissioned by the Assembly, shows that this proportion has not changed.

The Conference

The healthy behaviours – non-smoking, a low body weight, regular exercise, a healthy diet and drinking within the guidelines – will be examined. Possible ways of increasing uptake , and possible new initiatives will be considered.

The Conference will be chaired by Julie Williams, Chief Scientific Officer, Wales and speakers will include: Professor Sir Mansel Aylward, Professors Longley, Steve Rollnick, Colin Dayan, Rhodri Martin, Tony Bayer, John Gallacher and Peter Elwood.

The Public Lecture

Professor Mark Drakeford AM, Minister of Health and Social Services will give the evening Public Lecture:‘HEALTH – our responsibility’. The Minister will describe his strategy for the improvement of public health throughout Wales, and will present new initiatives which will, given acceptance by the people in Wales, transforming health across Wales.


To register for this event, please visit:

Abstract submission open – Welsh Public Health Conference 2014

Deadline for submissions: 1st August 2014

Abstracts are now being accepted for posters at the Welsh Public Health Conference 2014 – A Prudent Approach to Healthier, Happier, Fairer Wales, 6 and 7 October 2014.
The main themes are:

  • Reducing harm and minimising avoidable harm
  • Tackling inequalities at a local and a national level
  • Promoting equity between the people who provide and the people who use services
  • Achieving better value in healthcare by doing some things less
  • Avoiding unnecessary interventions

For further information on how to apply, visit the Public Health Conference website: http://www.publichealthwales.org/publichealthconference#poster 

Welsh Health Survey – Have your say!

Consultation deadline: Wednesday 13th August 2014

The Welsh Health Survey (WHS) provides unique information about the health and health-related lifestyle of people living in Wales.  The Welsh Government is consulting to seek views of WHS users on the future approach to the survey. The consultation runs until 13 August, details can be found at the link below.


A short user event was held during the consultation on 2 July, at Cathays Park, Cardiff. This provided an overview of WHS and some key results, examples of how users have used information from the survey, and an outline of the key questions being asked by the consultation and the chance to give your views on some of these.

Running alongside this consultation is a wider review considering future options for carrying out large-scale surveys in Wales, including WHS, which will consider whether there is scope to combine or streamline some surveys. Information from the WHS consultation will be considered alongside this wider review of surveys to determine the future approach.

The Welsh Health Survey Team hope you will take the opportunity of this consultation to let us know your views and help shape the future direction of the survey.

Call for applications to the Tenovus PhD Studentships 2015

Deadline: 4pm, Wednesday 15th October 2014

Tenovus are pleased to announce that they are continuing our tradition of supporting young and early career researchers by inviting applications for PhD studentships in cancer research, both in the laboratory and in the social sciences. They are looking for projects that address the issues faced by people affected by cancer today, and the best methods of preventing and treating cancer in the future.

These studentships are scheduled to commence in October 2015 and will be for a period of up to four years at a maximum of £30,000 per annum for laboratory based projects, and £20,000 per annum for non-laboratory projects.

Where can I find more information?

For further information about the call, please download and read the PhD call document. If you would like additional advice, please contact phd@tenovus.org.uk or call Anita Howman on 029 2076 8895.

How can I apply?

Applications must be submitted using the online form by 4pm on Wednesday October 15th, with decisions expected by March 2015.

If you are interested in applying for a PhD application and would like to work with DECIPHer then please contact us decipher@cardiff.ac.uk or 02920 879053.

To see some examples of current Tenovus PhD projects, click here.