Your experiences and opinions are needed!

Hi lovely people! It seems I’m inviting you to take part in research once again! This time, your experiences and opinions are needed by Queen’s University Belfast. The researchers want to know people’s views on excess weight in today’s society.

They’re particularly interested in hearing from people who’ve been pregnant.

If you’re experiencing research survey fatigue, I apologise! It’s a really positive sign how far we’ve come that researchers aren’t just looking into issues around high BMI, but we’re regularly asked questions about our views on the subject too.

I advocate getting involved in as much research as possible that looks at our experiences, and gives us a platform. This is why I regularly publicise research on here.

As I see it, the only way to effect change is to make our voices heard. Your experiences and opinions are needed so the people making decisions know what’s really happening, and what we think about it! Change is slow in coming, but it is coming, and you can help make it happen!

Queen's University Belfast logo - Your experiences and opinions are needed!

Here’s the blurb:

Your experiences of having excess weight in today’s society

Have you ever had excess weight? Would you like to share your experiences and opinions?

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast invite you to complete a questionnaire about your experiences of excess weight and your opinions on different terms used to describe weight/size.

We are looking for men and women who are over 18 years old to complete the questionnaire. We are also particularly interested to hear about the experiences of women who are or have been pregnant.

Please click on the link below to find out more about it and to complete the questionnaire: https://qubpublichealth.fra1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2nUDx0DJGg8kFKZ.

They say the survey should take about 15 minutes.

Image courtesy of the World Obesity Federation
Image courtesy of the World Obesity Forum

Are You A Researcher?

Are you looking to publicise your study, or trying to find participants?

BigBirthas.co.uk is always happy to publicise relevant research on the topics of BMI and pregnancy.

Are you struggling with working out what terminology to use? Do you want to check you’re not missing something with the people your research actually concerns? Want to just check your thoughts and assumptions with some people with lived experience of the thing you’re studying?

If you’d like to run a focus group, we can help with that via the BigBirthas Facebook group.

It’s a friendly, welcoming space for people to discuss the issues surrounding higher BMI pregnancy. There’s healthcare professionals and doulas on board, as well as people who are, have been, or would like to be pregnant. We’re also happy to facilitate Q&A sessions. It’s generally better if these happen in the evening once children are (theoretically at least) in bed!

If you’re looking for members of an oversight committee or similar, we can probably help with that too. Lots of our members have experience with conducting research!

You can get in touch via the Contact BigBirtha page.

No excuse for COVID-19 review delay #BlackLivesMatter

The BigBirthas site has been reasonably quiet on subject of Covid-19. The situation is changing so rapidly, every time I find relevant research, it seems it is almost immediately contradicted. I don’t want to add to anyone’s confusion. But the news reported today by Sky that the review into affects on the BAME community is on hold because of protests is unacceptable. There is no excuse for COVID-19 review delay. #BlackLivesMatter.

Responding to the delay, shadow equality secretary Marsha De Cordova said: “BAME communities need answers.

There is a gross irony in delaying the release of a report into the unequal suffering of the BAME community, on the basis of global events that relate to the suffering of black communities around the world.

If anything, recent events make the release of this report all the more urgent. If the government is serious about tackling racial injustice, they should not be shying away from understanding into why these injustices exist.”

I can’t say it any clearer than that. To deliberately hold back this information because it might be politically sensitive beggars belief. It precisely shows why the #BlackLivesMatter movement is so important. People’s lives are not pawns in a political game. People need this information and they need it NOW.

There is no excuse for COVID-19 review delay. #BlackLivesMatter.

***EDIT***

The report has now been published. It’s underwhelming.

It doesn’t really offer much useful info for anyone who is concerned. It shows correlations between ethnicity, obesity and other factors with severity of COVID-19, etc. but nothing more than providing data on that which has already been widely observed. Nothing useful is offered in the way of advice.

If you like data, this study of 17million adult NHS patients is impressive, as with such huge numbers, they’ve been able to better adjust for confounding variables. It just hasn’t been formally released yet as it’s undergoing peer review at the moment:

https://opensafely.org/outputs/2020/05/covid-risk-factors/

Research Continues!

The world may have practically stopped in a lot of ways, but behind the scenes, research continues! The ever-effervescent WRISK Project is attempting to map all the COVID-19 pregnancy research that’s happening right now. Anyone doing research in this field is invited to add their project details to their google doc: http://tiny.cc/pregnancyandcovid19.

BigBirthas has also had contact from quite a few academics and researchers. They are continuing with pre-COVID-19 research and need our help. There are a few in the pipeline I’ll be publicising soon. I can’t share all the details of the other projects yet, but I can remind you about the LARC Project, which I brought to your attention in January, and which would now like you to complete a short survey, if you’re able:

LARC Project Research Continues

Image showing forms of LARC (long-acting reversible contraception) and Lancaster University and BPAS logos along with the words "Have you been encouraged to use LARC?" - their research continues

LARC stands for Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives, things like the implant, coil or IUD, injections etc. This is being run by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) in conjunction with Lancaster University.

They’re interested in hearing about people’s experiences with LARC or LARC services. If you take part in their short survey you can win a £20 High St voucher. (it says it takes 10 minutes to complete, but I think that’s an exaggeration, it took me much less!)

You do not need to have used a LARC type of contraception to complete this survey. They’re interested in your experiences with the services that provide LARC. It doesn’t matter whether you have tried the methods or not.

I’ll let you know more about the other research projects and how you can help and get involved as I know more myself.

Until then, stay safe.

x
Big Birtha

Accessing research documents for free

I’ve read quite a bit of research while writing articles for this site. But accessing research documents for free can be an issue. I understand that the publications and authors deserve remuneration for their work, of course I do, but the simple fact is if you’re trying to research your birth and maternity care options, most individuals don’t have the budget to pay for journal access. Even if we did, every article that might be worth reading seems to be in a different journal!

A friendly librarian pointed me in the direction of an article she’d written with tips and tricks to access this information for free, so here is the benefit of her wisdom:

Get The Research.org

Get The Research owl logo

gettheresearch.org is a search engine that makes academic information both discoverable and easier to digest. You can use it instead of Google.

Get The Research flags each article with its “level of evidence” when they know it. Is the article just a report about a single incident (a “case study”) or a more trustworthy analysis combining the results of many studies (a “meta-analysis”)? Click on the tags above the article titles to learn more. They rank articles with higher levels of evidence higher in the search results to make them easier to find.

Advantages:

  • user friendly interface
  • evidence based quick overviews

Disadvantages:

  • new so there’s likely some bugs to iron out
  • it’s not clear what information is updated automatically

Open Knowledge Maps.org

Open Knowledge Maps logo

Open Knowledge Maps describes itself as “a charitable non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the visibility of scientific knowledge for science and society.”

It provides a visualisation tool, demonstrating topics and the relationships between them. Use it to get an overview of the most relevant areas of a topic and papers related to those concepts.

Advantages:

  • generates visualisations for your search terms
  • it has an option to visualise results of searches just from PubMed

Disadvantages:

  • still in development
  • it only analyses the first 100 papers based on relevance ranking

Open Access Button.org

Open Access Button logo - - accessing research documents for free

openaccessbutton.org allows you to search for an Open Access version of a paper using it’s URL (web address), DOI (permanent Digital Object Identifier) or title. It’s helpful with accessing research documents for free as you can use it when you’ve found a journal article you want to read, but the publisher tries to charge you to access it.

Advantages:

  • easy to use
  • no installing or configuring, unlike Unpaywall

Disadvantages:

  • it relies on academics submitting a copy of the article

Core.ac.uk

Core Logo

Core.ac.uk is a not-for-profit service delivered by The Open University and Jisc. Institutions store publications created by their academics and CORE allows these to be simultaneously searchable through a single interface. It can be used when you have a keyword search and want a more in-depth, systematic overview of a topic or problem.

Advantages:

  • search a lot of credible information, fast
  • there’s an API for text mining

Disadvantages:

  • you aren’t searching ALL the repositories that exist in the world. It’s possible you will miss a source

Directory of Open Access Journals

Directory of Open Access Journals logo

DOAJ is a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals. DOAJ is independent, and all DOAJ services are free of charge including being indexed in DOAJ. All data is freely available. It’s searchable by title or article. Can be used to follow a specific journal that consistently produces articles about a topic of interest.

Advantages:

  • all of the journals included are Open Access — no paywalls

Disadvantages:

  • there is a small chance of encountering a predatory (scam) journal – however, each journal does undergo over 40 checks before it is listed.

Directory of Open Access Books

Directory of Open Access Books Logo

All books listed in DOAB are freely accessible and therefore free to read, but this does not mean readers are free to do anything they like with these books. The usage rights of the books in DOAB are determined by the license. Please check the license if you want to re-use the contents of a book. Generally speaking, all books listed in DOAB are free to read and share for non-commercial use.

Advantages:

  • avoid annoying previews, this is the whole textbook, for free!

Disadvantages:

  • the idea of Open Access textbooks is still a fairly new movement, so there’s a limited selection.
  • you will have to buy the book if you want to own a complete physical copy of the material. Printing could infringe UK copyright law.

I’m sure this won’t always work to get you access to the article you want to read, but hopefully it will bring more research info easily within reach than before!

x Big Birtha

with thanks to Sheldon Korpet who wrote the article “How to access academic papers online, for free!” on which this post is based. Licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0.