York St John University
The Bridge
July 2009
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hinking of doing a PhD?

If you are thinking about doing a PhD related to occupation and mental health please email RCOMH and we may be able to put you in touch with someone who can help.

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Bridging the gap between research and practice

Welcome to the latest edition of the Research Centre for Occupation & Mental Health’s e-bulletin, The Bridge. We hope you have been able to enjoy the sunny days we have had and are not too distressed that it has not been the barbecue summer we were promised. This edition of The Bridge reports on developments in relation to a possible research programme associated with forensic mental health and provides two reflections for those of you who are still trying to become more research orientated; the first is about how you can keep up to date with the literature in your field and the second is about research careers.

Possible forensic research programme for RCOMH?
Dr Katrina Bannigan, in her capacity as Director of RCOMH, met recently with Dr Louise (Lou) Farnworth from Monash University to discuss the possibility of setting up a research programme related to occupation and forensic mental health. Lou was able to report that she had already been working with Dr Crystal Grass, Dalhousie University and Dr Eddie Duncan, University of Stirling, to look at how to bring researchers interested in occupation and forensic mental health together. The meeting with Lou has been a springboard for wider discussion with Crystal and Eddie and the hope is that RCOMH could provide a focal point to bring researchers together to capitalise on/ maximise the efforts of those engaging in research related to occupation and forensic mental health across the world. Nothing has been agreed yet, the discussion is in its infancy, but we are aware that a number of you have an interest in forensic mental health so if you have any comments or views about this please get in touch RCOMH@yorksj.ac.uk

To find out more about those involved in these discussions see

Dr Lou Farnworth (Associate Professor, Monash University) and Dr Katrina Bannigan (Reader in Occupational Therapy, York St John University)

Keeping up to date
Keeping up to date with current research is critical for evidence based practitioners. Hannah Spring provides an insight into how you can do this by explaining how we do it for the spotlight on research slot …

Research articles are published in abundance but for the ‘Spotlight on Research’ feature there are very special requirements about what we include! (Just as you will have your own requirements for your particular area of interest). In order to provide our audience with summaries of the most recent research studies that are also relevant to The Bridge readership, we have set out some very clear criteria about what we are looking for, and good old technology helps us find it!

We use a combination of online current awareness services which very efficiently alert us to new research articles as soon as they are published.  We use ZETOC (a British Library alerting service) to give us details of the contents pages of a large set of journal titles we have specified as being relevant to the RCOMH agenda, and NHS Evidence developed search interfaces to carry out automatic keyword searches for us on a weekly basis.  This helps keep all bases covered!  If a relevant article were to be published in a journal other than those we have listed in our ZETOC alerts we would miss it.  To combat the possibility of this happening the keyword searches we have set up are not restricted to particular journal titles – they search everywhere.  Not only does this allow us more flexibility with our searches in relation to the specification of relevant RCOMH related keywords, it also helps us to pinpoint articles from elsewhere in the literature that we might otherwise miss.  Our searches are run automatically and on a weekly basis on all the key health, medicine and social care databases, and like clockwork each week, the alerts come flooding in!  From the alerts we receive we can scan contents pages of new journal issues, and the abstracts of any new articles that have met our search criteria.  Those that sound promising are sought out in full text.

Using automatic alerting services such as these ensure we are ahead of the game and that when new research is released, we will be the first to know!  As a result of this we now have a very interesting pile of articles beginning to build up which we hope to include in future Spotlight on Research features and keeping our The Bridge readers happy for many issues to come!

If you are unsure about how to use ZETOC and NHS Evidence get in touch with your local librarian and they can show you how. You only need to so this once and you will receive regular updates to your inbox.


Thinking about a research career?
Last year McKay and colleagues published a book about advancing occupational therapy in mental health practice. It is an interesting text generally but there are two chapters in the book that will be of interest to those of you interested in research but not sure what it involves or how to go about it. Both chapters provide an honest and personal account of a research career in mental health from two researchers at different stages in their careers. In the first chapter Eddie Duncan (pp189-203) shares his experiences as a mid-career researcher and in the second Thelma Sumison (pp204-214) provides the perspective of a distinguished scholar. Their journeys have been very different which is reflected in the titles of their chapters; ‘Twists and Turns - The development of a clinical-academic career pathway’ and ‘Researching within mental health Slow and steady – a Canadian Tour’.  The lessons they share are very helpful and provide a valuable insight to anyone who is thinking about a research career. The questions at the end of Eddie’s chapter are a useful starting point to reflect on your own career and personal development, particularly in relation to research. Thelma’s chapter is a lovely account of how a field of research develops. I commend these chapters to you and, who knows, you might be sharing your own research journey before you know it?

McKay EA, Craik C, Lim KH, Richards G (2008) Advancing occupational therapy in mental health practice Oxford: Blackwell Publishing ISBN  978 1 4051 5852 7
See http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1405158522.html for more information


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