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Dr Olivia Maynard - Experimental Psychology

Dr Olivia Maynard, Senior Research Associate in Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol, writes about her experience of  presenting a poster as a PhD student at an event hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Medical Research.

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"As a PhD student at the University of Bristol based in the Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group (TARG), I had the opportunity to present my research at a reception hosted by the APPG on Medical Research. The reception aimed to bring together researchers, patients, Parliamentarians and Government ministers to discuss how long-term support and investment by the Government can ensure that the UK's medical research sector continues to make a huge difference to the health and wealth of the nation.

The APPG were looking for case studies that demonstrate the benefits of investing in medical research, and in particular, those that had benefited from charitable support. As my PhD research examined the likely effects of standardised (i.e. plain) packaging of cigarettes, and was in part funded by the charity Action on Smoking and Health UK, I submitted an abstract entitled ‘Using objective research methodologies to examine the effectiveness of standardised packaging of tobacco products'. Along with 15 others, my abstract was chosen from 93 entries to be presented at a poster session at the APPG on Medical Research's Summer Reception, held in the Members' Dining Room in the House of Commons.

On the day, the biggest difficulty was getting through the airport-like security at the Palace of Westminster with my massive poster tube! After that comical episode, I managed to set up my poster and had a steady stream of MPs, members of the House of Lords, civil servants and fellow researchers showing an interest in my work.

We were asked to contact the MPs for the constituency in which the research was being conducted to ask them to attend. I was lucky that the MP for Bristol West at the time was Stephen Williams, who had sat on the APPG on Smoking and Health and had recently won a WHO World No Tobacco Day award for, among other things, his vocal support for standardised packaging for tobacco products. I spoke to Stephen for some time about my research and he mentioned speaking with me in his press release following the event.

Since this event, my research on standardised packaging has continued to have impact and has been used to influence international tobacco control policy and legislation. My research formed an Impact Case Study for the 2014 REF and my presentation at the APPG on Medical Research reception was cited as an important piece of evidence demonstrating impact and engagement with policymakers."