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ITEMS - Identifying Trends in European Medical Space

Project: Non-funded ProjectProjects


The Lancaster workpackage involved investigating the training needs of PhDs and post-doctoral fellows in humanities and social studies of health and medicine across the EC network

The Institute for Health Research and the Centre for Science Studies at Lancaster University were collaborating centres within the ITEMS network and leaders of Work Package 4. Our task was to investigate the training needs of PhDs and post-doctoral fellows in humanities and social studies of health and medicine across the 25 member network using:

i) An electronic survey of PhD and postdoctoral training across network members

ii) Arranging for PhD students to visit member centres to follow up on information provided in the surveys

Respondents were asked 17 questions relating to PhD and post-doctoral training and circulation. As well as seeking information about current policy and practice, we were interested in hearing about collaborative European initiatives members may already be pursuing or ideas about what would enhance such circulation for the future.

The questionnaire was circulated to key persons in 25 centres across the network. We received 22 responses in all. All the responses were collated and circulated to network members. This document was circulated within each member centre with a view to encouraging international collaboration between colleagues with similar interests.

Student visits The purpose of the visits was to follow up in more detail on responses in the survey questionnaire, and to obtain the views of PhD students and postdoctoral fellows themselves about the value of increased circulation and collaborative training across the network.

Participating centres (13 in total) were asked to nominate a student for the visit. Nominated students were asked to state their preference for which centre they wished to visit; these often corresponded with their research interests. Although it was not possible in all cases, we tried to match students with centres of their choice.

Each host centre was asked to arrange opportunities for the visitors to meet with PhDs and postdocs and to make respondents available for the visit. Hosts were also asked to nominate a student to look after the visitor during their stay. From the reports, we know that these arrangements varied in practice across the network as students met with strikes, sabbaticals, vacations or absences, but in general these visits worked well.15 students visited 13 EC centres across the network between January and May 2004.