Reflections on my Research Image

Sarah Steeg is NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow in the Institute of Brain, Behaviour and Mental Health, Faculty of Medical & Human Sciences. Here she reflects upon her shortlisted image in the 2015 Research Image Awards.

I decided to take part in the PSRS 2015 Image Competition to see if I could communicate my research in a way that would provoke interest and encourage a fresh view of large database studies. As well as communicating to others, I wanted to remind myself that there are real human experiences behind the numbers I work with each day. To forget this would be to lose the main path of the research project. Regularly reminding myself of the ‘big picture’ is helpful.

The image invites viewers to see simultaneously the numbers in black and white in the foreground and the people in the background. The idea came when I was thinking about the image competition while working on some data analysis. I thought that showing human forms in the spaces between the data points might motivate people to think about ‘big data’ in a new way. Fortunately, I found some colleagues who were very obliging and let me arrange them in front of my computer with a spotlight shining on them.

The area of research relating to the clinical management of self-harm and the prevention of suicide is rich and diverse, particularly within the University of Manchester. The results of my research project are intended to add to the growing evidence base relating to the routine management of self-harm in hospitals and its relationship with patient outcomes. This is the ‘action’ in the ‘Research in Action’ theme.

The PSRS this year was a pleasure to take part in. The event itself was impressive and I would encourage researchers from any discipline to get involved. It enables researchers to start thinking about communicating research beyond traditional academic routes.