GCU student wins the 2021 UK Data Service Dissertation Award

Tue, 07 Sep 2021 17:19:00 BST
Eimear McCoy on campus celebrating her graduation
Eimear McCoy on campus celebrating her graduation

A GCU student has received a prestigious industry award for her dissertation which focussed on Scottish women’s intake of folic acid
Human Nutrition and Dietetics student Eimear McCoy’s work was recognised by the UK Data Service as part of an awards programme that is available to students who have used data from the organisation’s website to complete their research.

Final year student Eimear’s work was acknowledged after she used findings from the Scottish Maternal and Infant Nutrition Survey. Eimear discussed how one of her lecturers suggested that she put forward her dissertation to be in with a chance of winning.

She said; “One of my lecturers, Dr Yvonne Brogan, flagged it up to me because she knew that I had used one of the surveys from their website in my dissertation.

She said to me ‘Why not apply for it and see if anything comes out of it!?’”

After receiving the email to confirm that her dissertation had been shortlisted for the award, Eimear described how it felt to have her work highly praised by industry professionals.

She said; “It was a really great feeling.

They do get a good number of applicants because it’s all across the UK.

I know this year they brought in new judges who were quite ‘high up’ I suppose - working in some of the big universities in London and Bristol.

So, the fact that my dissertation was chosen as the winner and it was judged by some of these professors felt really good!
It was also a nice way to get Glasgow Caledonian University’s name up there as well!”

For those without much prior knowledge of the dietetics field – we asked Eimear to summarise her study.

She explained; “My dissertation looked at folic acid supplement use amongst women in Scotland.

I wanted to see which groups of women in Scotland were least likely to be taking folic acid.

Currently there’s a recommendation that prior to pregnancy, women are advised to take folic acid supplements to help with their pregnancy and the development of the baby – so I wanted to see which groups of women in Scotland were taking the supplements and who weren’t.

Over the last decade or so there’s been a debate as to whether folic acid should be put into our flour, like flour would be fortified with folic acid so that way women would be getting their intake.

It’s been done in a lot of countries through the world but the UK still haven’t done that.

So – it was to work out if we would actually benefit from going through with this process here in Scotland.”

Being a student who has not only been through the dissertation process start to finish, but actually received an award for her research – we asked Eimear to share any advice she may have with those who are about to embark on their final year projects.

She said; “Try and not get really overwhelmed with the process.

The idea of writing a dissertation can feel extremely overwhelming.

In reality – it’s just about choosing the topics that you’re actually interested in – subjects that you’re going to be spending a bit of time looking into.”

She added; “Don’t put too much pressure of yourself for it to be brilliant.

As I was writing mine, I wasn’t really intending for it to go anywhere, I was just focussing on getting it done and choosing to focus on things I enjoy.

Just don’t be too hard on yourself - it’s only your undergraduate degree and you’ve never done anything like this before.”

By Rebecca Meechan

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