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Working at the intersection of academia and policy: reflections on my CLOSER internship

Blog | | Maame-Deh Karikari-Brobbey

Close up on writing a note on a desk with a laptopCLOSER Research and Evidence Intern, Maame-Deh Karikari-Brobbey, reflects on her time with the Training and Capacity Building team, creating a research case study, and helping to showcase the policy-relevant impact of CLOSER’s partner studies. 

CLOSER’s specialisation in longitudinal data served as the perfect environment for me to grow as a social scientist and as a researcher. My role as a Research and Evidence Intern enabled me to further my background as a social science with data science student and develop my skills in a professional working environment.

Research Case Study

The first task that I was set by my supervisor Dr Neil Kaye, was creating a research case study for the Learning Hub. This was an exciting task for me as I had already looked at the Learning Hub prior to starting my internship and read the interesting case studies that covered various social and biomedical issues. I was surprised to find out that some of these case studies were put together by interns! Working on the research case study as my first task set the tone for the next three months. I felt that the work I was doing mattered and that I could make a valuable contribution towards CLOSER’s work and mission.

I selected education as a topic that I would like to be included on the Learning Hub. I then researched papers which used CLOSER’s partner studies to investigate a research question in this area. I found an innovative paper investigating the impact of faith schooling compared to other types of educational establishments on both short- and long-term attainment, which used data from the 1970 British Cohort Study.  I was incredibly interested in this topic and felt pleased that I was able to focus on a social issue that I was passionate about, and which was relevant in today’s social and political climate.

Training Hub and Cross-Study Data Guides

I was able to further contribute by working with other teams within CLOSER on the Training Hub and Cross-Study Data Guides. It was great to work with every member of the team at CLOSER and I felt trusted to fulfil tasks independently. At the same time, I was supported and given clear instruction which allowed me to approach tasks with confidence.

I was tasked with finding Training Opportunities and logos for the forthcoming Training Hub. These Training Opportunities are aimed mainly at PhD students, postdocs and researchers who want to improve their knowledge and skills relevant to the use of longitudinal population studies in their work. I really enjoyed using my creative initiative and editing skills in Canva.

I also helped Fiona Lemon (CLOSER Communications Manager) to produce a glossary for CLOSER’s cross-study data guides. I explored the relevant web pages, selected technical terminology and formulated a clear definition for users to refer to.

Generation Scotland and Dissemination Case Study

I also gathered research and evidence from CLOSER’s partner studies to showcase their policy-relevant impact and highlight the diversity of dissemination methods that they have implemented. As part of this, I worked with the Policy & Dialogue team on CLOSER’s response to the Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry, Science and Scotland.

For this task, I focused on gathering information on CLOSER’s partner study, Generation Scotland, specifically looking at their policy-relevant impact.

I also worked on another area of the Training Hub, finding multiple outputs—research articles, written evidence submissions, infographics and blogs—from a single CLOSER partner research project with a view to producing dissemination case studies. My research skills were challenged by this task, but I felt that it helped me grow as a researcher by using problem-solving skills and innovative thinking.

This internship involved using a diverse range of skills which made my three months with the team continuously interesting as I was challenged to work in different ways and draw from different skill sets. Additionally, the hybrid structure of this internship enabled me to work comfortably and productively both from home and in the office.

Final thoughts

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a summer intern at CLOSER under the supervision of Dr Neil Kaye. It was the perfect opportunity to build on my academic experience in a professional environment. It also gave me the flexibility to tailor my work to what best suited me, and in turn made my summer very productive.

Suggested citation:

Karikari-Brobbey, M-D. (2023). ‘Working at the intersection of academia and policy: reflections on our CLOSER internship’. CLOSER. 1 November 2023. Available at: