Over the last 18 years I have enjoyed creating and delivering research methods training for practitioners, postgraduate students and academics. This has ranged from one-day workshops to courses lasting several weeks or months, and has covered a multitude of subjects. Lately, I have been teaching online although I hope to return to in-person teaching soon.
My courses use a combination of examples, exercises, discussion groups and Q&A sessions to demonstrate and emphasise key learning points. Besides being informative I try to make courses fun and delegates often find them useful networking events. I would characterise my teaching style as practical, imaginative and collaborative.
I present here an overview of my most popular courses, a selection of client organisations and some testimonials from students and course commissioners. I am happy to discuss your training needs and to develop bespoke courses or course components that meet your specific requirements. Please use my Contact page to get in touch. Upcoming training courses are listed on my Events page.
Over the years I have delivered training in many facets of research methodology including interviewing, data coding and analysis, monitoring and evaluation methods, thesis writing and writing for publication. However, four courses in particular have become very popular and these are outlined below. I can also provide bespoke training, tailored to your requirements, in most areas of research methods, research ethics and academic writing.
Creative Research Methods
This course will outline creative research methods and show you how to use them appropriately throughout the research process. The course assumes that you have a good working knowledge of conventional research methods, and builds on that knowledge by introducing arts-based methods, embodied methods, research using technology, multi-modal research, and transformative research frameworks such as participatory and activist research. Any or all of these techniques can be used alongside conventional research methods and are often particularly useful when addressing more complex research questions. You will have several opportunities to try applying these methods in practice. Attention will be paid to ethical issues throughout. The course will include plenty of practical advice and tips on using creative methods in research. See the taster video here.
Creative Academic Writing
Learning the necessary skills for academic writing is essential but challenging. This course will combine practical information and advice on the craft of writing, creative writing techniques, and ‘shut up and write’ sessions to clarify, improve, and accelerate your writing process. It will teach you how to become an effective and productive writer, whether you are working on a thesis or dissertation, blog posts or book chapters, journal articles or a book. See the taster video here.
Radical Research Ethics
This course is designed to raise your awareness of why and how you need to think and act ethically in practice throughout your research work. The current system of ethical review by committee can lead to the misleading sense of having ‘done ethics’. This course shows you how to conduct research which is truly ethical. It also provides the opportunity for discussion of your own ethical dilemmas, if you wish. See the taster video here.
Documents as Data
This course will explain when and why to use documents as data for research, and how to gather and analyse documentary data. We will discuss how to find different kinds of documents such as personal, official, and historical documents, mainstream print media documents, virtual documents, and self-published documents. We will consider how to assess the quality and usefulness of documents for research purposes, and how to analyse documentary data. By the end of the course you will have an action plan for using documents in your own research. See the taster video here.
“Helen’s extensive experience and knowledge of social science research is evident in her workshops. I have hosted both the Creative Methods and Radical Ethics Workshops run by Helen for the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership since 2020 (both workshops are always fully booked). Helen is always inspiring, approachable, friendly, and can answer questions from doctoral students on a wide range of research issues. Helen runs the workshops in an inclusive way, allowing students to participate in a supportive environment.” Sue Caton, Research Fellow, Department of Social Care & Social Work, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2022
“Helen Kara has been teaching short courses for the National Centre for Research Methods for many years and is a valued member of our regular presenting team. She is very organised, flexible and a pleasure to work with. Helen’s expert knowledge is evident and her courses are in demand with consistent positive feedback from participants. She rose to the challenges posed by NCRM’s switch to online teaching during the pandemic with ease and continued to deliver her courses with confidence.”
Jacqui Thorp, NCRM, 2022
“Helen is simply fabulous! She has delivered engaging and productive Writing Retreats and Writing Intensives, both in person and online, for many years now which are a highlight of our doctoral education programme. Helen builds on her significant professional experience and research expertise to tailor these courses to an extremely diverse and unique cohort of doctoral researchers. We have had overwhelmingly positive responses for every session; our researchers feel so much more informed, confident, and empowered to write—in a multiplicity of modes—in the context of their doctorates. I hope she remains a regular fixture of our programme for many more years to come!” Dr Jacqueline Taylor, Birmingham City University, 2022
“Dr Helen Kara is amazing. She is knowledgeable and passionate about the subject, she is a good teacher and she is very dynamic. I hope she can give more of these training sessions in the future.” Attendee, Coventry University – Bespoke Training on Qualitative Interviewing, 2018
“This course was very enjoyable and really provided me with helpful strategies to improve my writing skills. One of the other students at my desk said it was like therapy! Thank you for a useful and insightful day.”
Doctoral writing course participant, University of Stirling
“I went to your SRA Creative Research Methods training in June. It was very inspiring! I’ve been wanting to use these kinds of methods for a while and the training gave me confidence to make greater use of participatory and creative approaches. Since attending your course we have won two projects, using some of the ideas and thoughts from the training – one for the Arts Council of Wales and a Big Lottery funded programme, both working with young people. For both projects, we will be using social media, creative and participatory approaches.”
Heulwen Hudson, Senior Consultant, ERS Ltd
“This was a very helpful and informative session on creative research methods which enabled me to think outside the box! It was well structured and perfectly presented with many examples of different methods.” Student, Liverpool John Moore’s University, Creative Research Methods course, 2021
“I particularly liked the presenter’s clarity and her easy confidence in her knowledge on the topic.” Attendee, Methods@Manchester – Documents as Data 2021
“The content and structure far exceeded my expectations. I know it will have a great impact on my thesis. I am not a fan of online training, however this has changed my perspective. Obviously, it is not the training it is how it is presented.” Participant, NCRM – Creative and Productive Thesis Writing, 2020
“Helen was so much fun and shared so much with us … she tapped into my most intimate fears about showing people my words and putting them out for (my perceived) judgement.” Student, Birmingham City University
“The workshop was great – I thought Helen’s advice was superb.” Researcher, Birmingham City University
“Today has been brilliant. I wrote 3100 words across the writing sessions which is unheard of for me!! Really useful to get tips of day to day writing as well.” Student Birmingham City University