Current Student Research
Denise Harris – 3rd year PhD student
Project: An exploration of living with motor neurone disease; receiving health care and the impact on self and identity
There are four recognised types of motor neurone disease (MND). Prognosis and the nature of illness trajectory are different for each person depending on type of MND diagnosed. Types of MND include progressive bulbar palsy (PBP); amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); primary lateral sclerosis (PLS); progressive muscular atrophy (PMA) (MNDA, 2012). There is a definite variance in the care pathways required for a patient with PBP MND and ALS MND. Yet it is not clear through the current evidence whether the findings relate to people with PBP MND or ALS MND. To emphasise this point, people with PBP MND may have already lost their speech, their prognosis may be months and not years, and they have to make end of life care decisions within weeks. They may be forced to cope with existential concerns of loss: relationships; autonomy; and temporality (Murata and Morita, 2006). In contrast, people diagnosed with ALS type MND may have years to live and therefore professionals may not discuss end-of-life care decisions early in their illness trajectory. Continuity of self and loss of temporality has relevance to the way participants talk about living their trajectory of MND. The focus needs to shift from the person and their illness in the present. Equally important is the impact of MND on a person’s biographical self (past), as well as the impact of MND on their future. Understanding the impact of MND on a person’s biographical self will help health care professionals interpret what it means to be a person in and of the world. Understanding their existential concerns for life and death will help health care professionals interpret their end of life choices and plans for when they are no longer a being in the world.
Training and Skills
All postgraduate research students are expected to attend the College’s research methods seminars during your first year of study, covering subjects such as conducting a literature review, methods of data collection, research governance and ethics, and analysis, presentation, interpretation and rigour in qualitative research.
The Rehabilitation Research Group has an annual programme of seminars including student and staff presentations.
In addition, the University offers all postgraduate research students an extensive range of free training activities to help develop your research and transferable skills. The Salford Postgraduate Research Training Programme (SPoRT) has been designed to equip researchers both for your university studies, and for your future careers whether in academia, elsewhere in the public sector, or in industry and the private sector.
As a postgraduate research student at the University of Salford, you are required to meet a number of milestones in order to re-register for each year of study. These ‘progression points’ are an important aid for both you and your supervisory team and it is essential that you complete them on time.
Learning Agreement: this is completed by you and your supervisor collaboratively in the first 3 months of your research programme. It encourages both of you to develop a thorough and consistent understanding of your individual and shared roles and responsibilities in your research partnership.
Annual Progress Report: this report is completed by your supervisor at the end of each year of study, and reports on your achievements in the past year, the likelihood that you will submit on time, confirmation of the Learning Agreement and relevant training undertaken.
Self Evaluation Report: this is completed by you at the end of each year of study. It asks you to comment on your academic progress, supervisory arrangements, research environment, research training, and relevant training undertaken.
Interim Assessment: this is an assessment of your progress by a panel. It takes place towards the end of your first year, and is designed to ensure you have reached a threshold of academic performance, by assessing your general progress. The assessment comprises a written report, presentation and oral examination by a Panel. You must successfully complete it in order to register for your second year.
Internal Evaluation: this will take place towards the end of the second year and successful completion is required in order to continue onto your third year of study. You will be expected to show strong progress in your PhD study reflected in the submission of a substantial piece of work, generally at least 4 chapters of your thesis.