Since joining the University of Lincoln as an undergraduate student, I’ve developed a passion for research, which I didn’t even consider prior to starting university. During the first year of my BSc Sport and Exercise Science degree, I started to attend the Sport and Exercise Psychology Journal Club, which was advertised through my first-year psychology module. This involves reading journal articles on a range of topics and then meeting to discuss our thoughts and opinions on the papers with other students and staff. I joined as a way to develop my critical thinking and engage in wider reading. Being a part of the Journal Club has been really beneficial for my own academic writing and made me aware of the different types of research that can be carried out.

After reading more and more papers, I decided that I wanted to learn more about the research process, but had no idea how to go about that. Fast forward to October 2019 – the start of my second year – when I was brainstorming ideas for my dissertation, I found myself reading into topics surrounding mental health and well-being. At the same time, one of my lecturers sent me a link to an opportunity to join the student mental health research network (SMaRteN) as a member of their student research team. SMaRteN is a national research network funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), led by King’s College London, focusing on student mental health in higher education. Their student research team is involved in co-producing research and guiding any new projects.

Since finding out I was successful, I’ve had the chance to take an active role in some of the network’s research projects. This has encompassed a range of tasks, some of which I had more experience in than others. For example, previous research methods assignments, and journal club meetings had equipped me with the skills to effectively carry out literature searches and critique the papers I was reading. I have also been involved in conducting focus groups and some qualitative analysis. These were a great way to develop my skills as they are processes that are taught as part of our research methods module, but I hadn’t had the chance to put them into practice.

On top of my role at SMaRteN, I am currently involved in conducting a study as part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Scheme (UROS). Again, this has been a great way to develop my skills, gain experience in conducting research, and figure out areas that I want to pursue further, once I finish my degree.

All of these experiences were only made possible through conversations with lecturers in the School of Sport and Exercise Science and have really enhanced my experience at the University of Lincoln. They’ve allowed me to apply the knowledge and skills taught on the degree program in varying contexts. I would encourage other students to approach staff with their own areas of interest as it may lead to some great opportunities that will compliment your studies.

Eadie Simons – 2nd year BSc Sport and Exercise Science