Paul O’Dwyer who is investigating the prevalence of institutional racism wins panel award in HEA/Irish Independent 2016 Making an Impact competition
A self-funded postgraduate researcher in the School of Humanities at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), Paul O’Dwyer, is one of the winners of this year’s ‘Making an Impact’ competition organised by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) in conjunction with the Irish Independent.
Two awards of €2,500, sponsored by the Irish Independent, were awarded to two individual winners, one of whom picked by the panel and the other by second level students in the audience by vote. The final took place at The Helix, Dublin City University, where each researcher had a maximum of ten minutes to make their presentation, followed by a brief question and answer session with an expert panel.
Paul O’Dwyer’s Masters is investigating the prevalence of institutional racism in Ireland via Irish workplaces. His communication of this research saw him win the panel’s choice award.
Paul competed against four finalists including a colleague from the School of Humanities, Dayna Killian. Prior to starting out as a researcher at WIT, he completed the Honours Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Studies programme, graduating in October 2015. He was Humanities Student of the Year award in 2015.
“I don't think words have been invented yet to describe how I feel about being the panel's choice!! A big shoutout to my supervisors Jonathan Culleton and Jennifer O’Mahoney is necessary, I'd be lost without them regarding my research progress. Hopefully today’s event will start the public conversation towards improve race relations and diversity in Ireland,” he told WIT after the event.
Paul added that the €2,500 award will help towards his fees – his research is self-funded.
He explains how he is undertaking his research: “I am using a mixed methods approach to my research; a large scale case analysis of complaints brought before the Workplace Relations Commission (formerly the Equality Tribunal and other organisations) and the Labour Court, and participant interviews of Commission staff and legal professionals identified through the case analysis. This original research will be paired with a review of literature that aims to chart the development of institutional racism in general and in Ireland specifically, as well as the various factors that are connected to institutional racism.”
Paul explains why he chose to do research at WIT
“One of the most important reasons is the staff available to assist students and researchers. My lead supervisor, Jonathan Culleton, was a big influence on my decision to stay with WIT for my Masters. I was in a number of his modules during my undergraduate studies, and he was my supervisor for my independent study in semester two of third year, so it made sense to have him be my lead supervisor for my Masters. My co-supervisor, Dr Jennifer O’Mahoney, has also been a major influence on my work. Dr O’Mahoney has provided another viewpoint to my research, which is important so I can cover all the bases properly.”
The research experience
Since starting my Masters back in October 2015, I feel I have improved skills I gathered in my undergrad studies and learned new skills, my abilities to articulate ideas and information is constantly improving and my planning skills have definitely improved. With a Research Masters, it’s up to me to do the work, no one else is directly responsible for it. My supervisors are there to keep an eye on my work and to let me know if I’m behind or ahead of schedule and if my research is being conducted properly. Self-imposed deadlines are important and help build discipline in planning, so this Masters has definitely improved skills that I will use in the near and distant future, either in academic or employment, or even both!! Having other research colleagues in the office with me is big bonus, their knowledge, wisdom and insight are invaluable. Talking to other researchers within WIT is a great way for me to get second and third opinions on my work, as their opinions may open up another point of view to be examined.
Advice for future Research Masters students
I would recommend a Research Masters to anyone who is committed and wants to get into the nitty-gritty of a subject. There is one warning I would give though, it’s all on the researcher to do the work, and there will be times where you’ll feel like you’re after falling so far behind in your progress, but these times are few and far between. A Research Masters, in my opinion, is a brilliant way to develop as an academic and a person in general, and when you are researching a subject you are interested in, that makes the process even more rewarding.
Connect with Paul
Twitter handle @WaterfordPaulyD