How has the public’s perception of midwives changed over the last couple of decades, and how has this change been reflected in social media? This is one of many questions I anticipate answering during the Media and Midwifery research project being conducted at Bournemouth University- a project which I wanted to join as a research assistant to contribute towards filling a void caused by a lack of previous research surrounding the link between specifically social media and childbirth. Not only will this opportunity be beneficial for the university, the scientific community and the research team, but also for myself; the research skills I’ve already learnt from bootcamp will no doubt prove to be essential in the future when I participate in studies or collect references significant to the project. The skills I have learnt will also prove useful later in the summer when I begin working on my EPQ (Extended Project Qualification), which is an independent research project that I hope to base around the use of bacteriophages. I am currently studying biology, chemistry, geography and English literature, and have joined the project on a Nuffield Research Placement. As I would like to study biomedical sciences or neuroscience next year at university, I’m looking forward to working with the team on the project, because studying how the influence of social media impacts the decisions of pregnant women and their experiences of childbirth, for instance, will provide me with a greater understanding of the role of the general public and society in one sector of biomedical science.
Arriving at bootcamp and having made our introductions, we proceeded to begin by searching Twitter to first discern important hashtags or trends relating to pregnancy, midwifery and childbirth, which included observing the impact that particularly influential websites and TV shows (such as One Born Every Minute) had on such results. Following this, a session in the university library led by Ian Marsland specifically gave Grace G and I the knowledge we need in order to conduct searches which will go on to yield citations from reliable sources, and also the know-how required to use the library’s vast and various resources. As Scopus encompasses articles and journals within the social sciences domain, I envisage it as being one of the most useful databases for use during the project, although a variety of databases are likely to be used to provide a diverse array of sources. As we are likely to spend a lot of time immersed in academic journals, I found the sessions led by Kathryn on the Harvard referencing system, and Professor Teijlingen on the structure of academic essays to be crucial for future research; knowing how to correctly cite from different sources took some time to get to grips with, and will likely require frequent reference to the ‘BU Guide to Citation and Referencing in the Harvard Style’ for the next couple of weeks! Over the course of the next couple of months, I anticipate working with Dr Luce, Professor Teijlingen, Professor Hudley, Kathryn and Grace to eventually draw conclusions from our research which will undoubtedly be significant in potentially leading to changes in how childbirth is presented in social media.