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Digital Research Ambassador Scheme

Welcome readers! The aim of this blog is to help inform you about the Digital Research Ambassador Scheme internship offered by the University. It’s a fantastic opportunity to dip your toes into the growing field of digital research , and to apply your research skills into multidisciplinary action. Such applications include web scraping, working with large datasets, and the application of machine learning algorithms.  And, it’s a great chance to make a bit of extra money and boost your CV along the way. In summary; win-win.


I took part in this scheme myself back in 2021/2022. I worked with Tianyi Yang, a Physics and Astronomy PhD researcher on a project led by Dr Gian Marco Campagnolo of the School of Political and Social Science. And our project was on football. If that is not a working metaphor for multidisciplinary, I don’t know what is. Our task was to examine the interaction between cohesion and diversity in predicting Premier League Performance, and our digital data was supplied by FIFA , containing 10+ years of information regarding player movements, nationality, club history. This involved working through and merging three separate datasets, scraping club performance data from the web, to ensure our analysis was reflective of our research questions.

Individually, it would have been a mammoth task, with so many unknowns, that I would hardly know where to start. Thankfully, the mixed skillset of the team meant we could effectively work together to play to our strengths and weaknesses – really putting diversity and cohesion of the research question to the test in our own lived experience. Gianmarco’s experience as a supervisor kept us on track as a team. Tianyi’s experience of working with large data and Python allowed for the preparation and tidying of the data. My experience of working with R and statistics ensured that the analysis was appropriate, and the data visualisation was clear and informative.

As for the conclusions of the research – cohesion was vital for consistency in performance, whilst diversity was vital for peak title-winning performance. Ultimately, a high-performance team needs to manage and balance both to do their best. Diversity with no cohesion is miserable and unpredictable for the team. Cohesion with no diversity leads to stagnation and the absence of creativity. Somewhere along the lines, there may be another metaphor there that could be applied to other domains?

But the project aside, the key element I want to highlight at this point is how important taking part in the digital ambassador scheme was for my career development. As a quantitative-leaning researcher, I have long been interested in the application of statistical methods. Yet finding the opportunity to test, develop and apply these skills to practice is difficult to find. Which in a world that is increasingly reliant on digital skills, can make it very difficult to climb the career ladder. Being a Digital Research Ambassador provided these opportunities for me.

The contacts and working experience gained through the internship allowed me to tutor a course on applied data visualisation through the School of Political and Social Sciences . In addition to gaining experience of working with different subject areas, the opportunity allowed me to build my data visualisation skills, and provided me with teaching experience in a programming based subject. This in turn boosted my statistical skill set, and provided the digital teaching experience to work at the Centre of Data, Culture and Society as a Training Fellow. Beyond that, the confidence built through applying and developing digital skills has led me on a journey where I can now create my own webpages to share my analysis – I can use fancy QR codes and hyperlinks to promote my research communication at conferences!

To summarise, this was an amazing opportunity which has opened up doors for my career development. The contacts and the skills have been vital in getting me where I am now. The Digital Research team are incredibly supportive, and should be utilised by any student who wants to develop their skills in this area – regardless of where they currently are. If you are also interested in developing your digital research skills/career, then I do recommend applying for their intern position and checking out the other services they provide.


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