Congratulations to our newest CASS PhD student!

We are excited to be welcoming Craig Evans to the centre in October, as the recipient of a PhD studentship which was awarded to CASS for winning the Queen’s Anniversary Prize. Here is a little about Craig, and the project he will be working on, in his own words:

Craig Evans photoI am delighted to have been offered the opportunity to study for a PhD at Lancaster University from October. The PhD is part of a studentship funded by the Queen’s Anniversary Prize, and will involve working with a 40-million-word corpus of NHS patient feedback forms. A primary aim of the research will be to identify ways of improving patients’ experience of the NHS using corpus-based discourse analytic approaches.

I developed an interest in corpus linguistics and discourse analysis during my undergraduate degree in English Language and Linguistics, which I studied at the University of the West of England. There, I used corpus methods in a number of projects. A particular highlight was a study of the media representation of state care for children, where I investigated keyword differences between corpora using tabloid and broadsheet articles. This formed part of my undergraduate dissertation on the topic of care leaver identity, which helped to cement my interest in how social reality is constructed in discourse, especially in relation to care practices.

I am currently studying for an MA in Discourse Studies at Lancaster. When I’m not studying, I like to go walking in the countryside, mostly in the Forest of Bowland which is near to where I live. Other things about me: I enjoy watching films, in particular documentaries and psychological thrillers. I like the novels of Graham Greene, although my favourite novels are Sartre’s The Age of Reason and Mann’s The Magic Mountain. I spent my early teens living in Muscat, Oman. I like to visit different European cities when I get the chance. I like comedy, especially satire. And finally, I love music: I have varied tastes, but must admit that I listen to more 80s electronic pop than I probably should.

Beyond the checkbox – understanding what patients say in feedback on NHS services

In 2016 I will be working on a new project in CASS, which has received funding from the ESRC (£61,532 FEC). The purpose of this project is to help the National Health Service better understand the results of patient feedback so that they can improve their services. The NHS gathers a great deal of user feedback on its services from patients. Much of this is in “free text” format and represents a rich dataset, although the amount of text generated in the thousands of feedback forms patients fill in each year makes it unfeasible to undertake a close qualitative analysis of all of it. Categorisation-based approaches like sentiment analysis have been tried on the dataset but have not found to be revealing. In this project we will be working with the NHS to first identify a set of research questions they would like to be answered from the data, and then we will use corpus-based discourse analysis to draw out the main themes and issues arising from the data. We will focus on four key NHS services – dentists, GP practices, hospitals and pharmacies. From these services alone we have around 423,418 comments to analyse, totalling 105,380,697 words. Some of the issues we are likely to be focussing on include: what matters most for patients, the key drivers for positive and negative feedback, indicators in comments that might trigger an alert or urgent review and differences across providers/services or by socio-demographic group.