Tag: student research

Author spotlight: how do crystals protect our drinking water?

Author spotlight: how do crystals protect our drinking water?

Chemistry student Laura Lo has recently published an article about her research in our student research journal Fields. We caught up with her for a chat about her work and her experiences getting published.

If I was to explain my research to someone new to the subject, I would firstly ask them if they ever thought about the process of clean tap water. We wash, drink and cook with it, but this water has been recycled for 4.6 billion years. You would hope it’s clean! Now, my project is not just about water, it’s also about growing big shiny crystals. Now I know what you’re thinking, how do crystals have anything to do with water? Well, you see, water travels through pipes to reach our taps; however a time before lead poisoning was more understood, houses built before the 1970s used lead pipes that connected to the mains. At present most pipes have been replaced, although water companies will also use a water treatment called phosphate dosing which stops traces of lead leaching from any remaining lead pipes – there are still quite a few! This action results in the formation of a white precipitate which coats the inner pipe, therefore protecting the water. This white precipitate is the crystals! So in a nut shell my project was to develop a new method to grow pure large versions of these crystals in a controlled environment to enable future research in understanding their properties and how they act in the way they do to protect the water and inevitably, us.

I have to admit, the process for Fields was very quick in terms of getting published, before you know it 6 months have passed and you’re handed your final proof albeit lots of back and forth communication and changes that need to be made to your article. The whole experience was one of a kind, you spend your time writing a piece of work that was originally only meant as an essay or dissertation to be read by one or two people, but then it gets chosen to go forward to Fields, and your work suddenly gets critiqued and peer reviewed by experts who decide whether your paper is publishable. But it’s all worth it, seeing how far that piece of work has come, from final year dissertation with a few spelling mistakes here and there (I’m a scientist!) to published journal worthy; it’s a great motivational story to tell.

It’s a massive accomplishment for me, as it’s a rarity to get your paper published as an undergraduate and I am very grateful I have been given this opportunity to share my research and findings. I found this project fascinating and gratifying throughout, therefore I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Read Laura’s article in Volume 3 of Fields

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Author spotlight: why is social entrepreneurship on the rise?

Author spotlight: why is social entrepreneurship on the rise?

Social Sciences student Gemma Humphris has recently published an article about her research in our student research journal Fields. We caught up with her for a chat about her work and her experiences getting published.

When I first discovered the term ‘social enterprise’ I had no idea what it was. I researched the term and discovered that a social enterprise is what it says on the tin, a business with a social purpose. Any profit made by the company would be reinvested into its social purposes. As a student wanting to start their own business I was fascinated by this idea and loved the fact that a business can be about more than just profiting the owners. So, when it came to writing my dissertation this seemed like a natural topic to research. Some of my friends didn’t understand the benefits of social enterprise, therefore I wanted to learn more about the people who set-up and run social enterprises and what makes them different to typical entrepreneurs. What I learnt was extremely interesting, making the process of writing the dissertation easier!

When I was asked if I was interested in publishing my dissertation I was surprised and honoured. I had to make plenty of changes to get it to a high enough quality and suitable for publishing. This included cutting down the words from 10,000 to 5,000 which seemed near impossible at the outset! It taught me to refine and perfect my writing, ensuring that I covered my points in as little words as possible.

Although going back to my dissertation multiple times was difficult, I learnt the art of perfection and persistence. Continuing to work on it and making sure that it was at a high standard, which I had not had to do with my other work. This gave me a fresh perspective on the effort that my lecturers and university researchers must put in, to get their work published. This understanding of how research is carried out and developed over time takes a lot longer than I would have ever guessed.

Read Gemma’s article in Volume 3 of Fields

Author spotlight: how important are nuptial agreements?

Author spotlight: how important are nuptial agreements?

Paralegal Helen Newman has recently published an article about her research in our student research journal Fields. We caught up with her for a chat about her work and her experiences getting published.

I am not a writer, not really. I am a case loaded paralegal working for a specialist criminal practice. I may write the occasional blog post for work based upon cases I have managed but for the most part my writing is restricted to Briefs to counsel, Statements and Letters with the occasional Application to court. I returned to University as a mature student to do the Graduate Diploma in Law – urged to do so by my employer and family – so getting my head around writing from an academic perspective was a challenge in itself. The article on prenuptial agreements is based upon my dissertation on the same subject. I have to admit that my choice of dissertation subject was guided by my desire to structure my study – this felt like a topic I could remain focused on – unlike something like medical negligence where I feared I could end up going off on a tangent. Working in a criminal practice I had no involvement in family law to be aware of the increasing desire of parties to protect their assets ahead of marriage and very much thought of ‘pre-nups’ as something for the rich and famous, for celebrities, but as I researched the subject I was fascinated to discover the popularity of them across Europe and found I really got into the topic. It did seem nonsensical that business partners can sign a contract but life partners couldn’t, or rather that the court would consider them differently.

My research involved me becoming familiar with a new area of law, and a new style of writing. In Criminal practice I may read a few articles but the focus is more on court judgements, so I had to get used to reading family law journals and books on the subject – often with quite political undertones. It was interesting to have the opportunity to consider different viewpoints on the same case – though in many ways it appeared that the judgement itself was welcomed, more that the authors differed on the difference it would actually make going forward. I had also never had to read government white papers before – this in itself was an experience – as there seemed to be several all saying the same thing for much of the papers. Nor was I used to things being so open at the end of a matter – in the criminal law a higher court gives its ruling and that stands until challenged – this was about investigating the possibility of a required change to the law – with the final outcome seeming to be that there was no actual outcome and that further consultation may be needed in the future.

The opportunity to develop my dissertation into an article for publication was an exciting, if not daunting, one. Not only did it require a different style of writing, free of legal jargon, but it also needed me to expand upon some areas whilst removing others as I still had a word count limit! It was a brilliant experience, especially having the copywriter’s feedback to highlight where I needed to make things clearer. I would certainly urge anyone who is given this opportunity to go for it!

Read Helen’s article in Volume 3 of Fields