Visualising Research Blog 2024, Dr Gwennan Hâf Barton

The Visualising Research competition has been a common thread throughout my PhD journey and beyond at Wrexham; it is an asset to the research community at the University. I have submitted several entries over the years and was fortunate enough to be awarded first prize on one occasion. To me, it’s very much a creative outlet throughout the research process that has allowed me to reflect on my journey. Each new entry has enabled me to think about my research from a different perspective as it evolved and generate new ideas of how to communicate my research to new audiences through the lens.

I was mindful when submitting the entry last year that it would be my last from the perspective of a PhD researcher, so it was important for me to capture this in its essence. The entry was titled “Navigating the journey of PhD research: key landmarks and development”. The image can be found in the Gallery above reception on Mold Road campus alongside the entries from researchers at Wrexham University.

The inspiration for the photograph was derived from experiences throughout my PhD journey and research development. A wise person once said that a PhD is about the journey to becoming a well-rounded researcher. My PhD research focused on how individuals of differing personality types navigate a journey and remember environments using landmarks. I felt it fitting to portray my journey in reflection of my research topic, showcasing some of the key landmark points throughout the PhD. I also wanted to convey the importance of individual differences, such as personality, that lie at the heart of my research and encourage individuals to reflect on their own journeys. Many of us may encounter shared environments and situations, such as undertaking a PhD, that require the use of the same cognitive functions, attention, planning, decision making and memory to navigate it. The role of individual differences, however, enables us to understand what makes the experiences and perceptions of the journey memorable and unique for each of us.

The photograph depicts my personal research journey using these key landmarks. The image is set within a ‘corridor’ of books at the university library, where I spent a great deal of time as a PhD researcher. The rows of books are symbolic of the vast volumes of knowledge that I acquired throughout the research process. The photograph created highlights important landmarks throughout my journey. The lightbulb showed the development of my research idea. The virtual environment, eye-tracker, and technology to record memory recall showed my data collection phase where I harnessed new skills. The poster presentation symbolised my conference presentations and the researcher development grant I received to present my work in Glasgow. I recorded a podcast at the University studio to broaden my research audience. Finally, the end of the corridor has a bright window with me holding my thesis on the day I passed my viva, symbolising the end of my PhD journey and the start of new beginnings as a Lecturer in Cognitive Psychology and researcher.