Here at the DRN we are constantly working to bring you new ideas, tips and tricks to make the research process easier and more manageable, especially in a time of change and unknowns. We'll bring you short interviews with senior academic covering broad topics such as, What are you currently working on? How are you finding working from home? What are your tips for getting published? Our second interview is with. . .

Dr. Simon Kolstoe,

Simon is a Senior Lecturer and University Ethics Advisor at the University of Portsmouth. Dr Kolstoe is also the Chairman of the Ministry of Defence Research Ethics Committee (MODREC) and Hampshire A NHS research ethics committee.

What are you currently working on?

As a senior lecturer in Evidence Based Healthcare (Portsmouth) I am currently supervising 3 PhD students ranging from looking at glycemic control in dialysis patients through to out of hospital care in Vietnam. Research Transparency is also a big area of research for me especially with regards to healthcare data and why people do not publish their results. My ethics committees (MOD/PHE/NHS) are currently very busy with COVID-19 related research studies. I have also just finished editing an OUP online course on research integrity.

What got your into your field of study in the first place?

I was originally a Biochemist, but as I became increasingly involved in patient research I was convinced that research ethics and governance processes could be made easier for researchers. I thus moved from drug development into evidence based healthcare with a focus on how ethics committees and governance processes in general can be improved.

What was your path to where you are now?

BSc in Biomedical Science and PhD in Biochemistry (both Southampton), ten years as a post-doc at UCL during which time I got a BA in Philosophy (Open) and MA in Research Ethics (Keele), followed by BBSRC new investigators award hosted by Portsmouth (as a fellowship), and now Senior Lecturer in Evidence Based Healthcare. I do a lot of consultancy for government departments mainly chairing research ethics committees and assisting with research policy development.

What are you currently reading and is it any good?

Around the time I finished my PhD I realised that I had never really read much fiction. I thus started reading avidly quite late on, and my enjoyment of philosophical fiction led me into completing a Philosophy degree (I figured I may as well get something out of my reading!) and then into Ethics. So what started off as a hobby has essentially shaped my career! Historically I have tried to work my way through lists of “books to read before you die”, but recently, due to three very active children at home, I have had little time to read anything outside my professional interests.

How are you finding working from home?

Not easy as my three children (11, 8 & 5) cannot work/play nicely without an adult standing next to them and my wife (a Clinical Psychologist) is trying to keep seeing her patients remotely. At the moment this means I have to squeeze work around everyone else.

What advice would you like to give PhD students and early career researchers that you wish someone had said to you?

PhD’s are very valuable qualifications outside of academia. Do not limit yourself by only focussing on University based careers. Also go abroad for a bit if you can.

Who have been the most influential academics on your professional career?

My PhD supervisor is now very much a family friend.

What are your top tips for getting published?

Never let the publishers/peer reviewers get you down. Expect rejections, and when you get them use the peer review comments to improve your manuscript before submitting to the next journal on your list. If you plan for this process you will have the resilience to see things through to publication.

What is the most effective teaching method you have delivered or seen delivered?


What is your favourite museum and why?

Pitt Rivers museum (Oxford) with a smart phone in my hand - endless curiosities to google and find out about (I’m never satisfied with the written information in museums)!

Visit the In Conversation Catalogue to read previous interviews