OptiBIRTH Portal

Doctoral research student Department/Faculty: School of Nursing and Midwifery, TCD


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Post Title: Doctoral research student in the Department/Faculty of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, TCD

Post Status: Three years full-time, commencing 1st March 2013

Student stipend: €26,000 per annum (fees to be paid by student)

Closing date for applications: 29th November 2012


A proportion of time to be spent travelling between three study sites around Ireland.

 The purpose of the post is;

To conduct, at doctoral level, a qualitative study grounded in anthropological principles, designed to explore the change in culture in the provision of maternity care during the introduction of an evidence-based intervention designed to increase rates of vaginal birth after caesarean section. The post is for three years full-time, and is based in Dublin.


Summary of research project:

The European Perinatal Health Report (2008) notes “widespread concern” over rising Caesarean section (CS) rates, which vary from 15% in the Netherlands to 38% in Italy. Much of the rise is due to routine CS following previous CS, despite calls for increased vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC), which results in less mortality and morbidity and is the preferred option for the majority of women. VBAC rates in Ireland, Germany, and Italy are significantly lower (29-36%) than those in other European countries.

Using a cluster randomised trial in Ireland, Germany and Italy, with 15 clusters of 94 women, the OptiBIRTH study will attempt to increase VBAC rates through increased women-centred care and women’s involvement in their care. The intervention to be tested involves evidence-based education of women and clinicians, introduction of communities of practice (women and clinicians sharing knowledge), opinion leaders, audit and peer review of CSs in each site, and joint decision-making by women and clinicians.

OptiBIRTH has been awarded funding by the European Commission under FP7. The project team includes 11 partners from 8 countries representing service users, midwifery, obstetrics, epidemiology, sociology, anthropology, bioethics, health economics and industry (SME).

Job description:

The doctoral research student will be part of the Irish study team for the OptiBIRTH study and will be responsible for:

• Obtaining ethical approval to conduct the qualitative part of the study in three sites randomised to the intervention arm, with support from senior study team members

• Conducting observation, qualitative interviews and documentary analysis in three intervention sites across Ireland prior to, during and following the introduction of the intervention

• Analysing data and writing up a final report, and doctoral thesis, with support from senior study team members

• Attending doctoral seminars, masterclasses and supervisory sessions as required

• Providing monthly study reports

• Giving presentations at national/international conferences

• Preparing publications for submission 

• Taking part in further research funding bids in collaboration with other researchers

• Preparing a five-year research plan, setting out clear goals for own future development.

Essential qualifications and experience

Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field (anthropology, sociology or midwifery/medical/nursing)
Some qualitative research experience

Desirable qualifications and experience

Master’s degree in a relevant field, with qualitative research experience

Essential skills

  • Ability to conduct qualitative research interviews and analyse qualitative data
  • Ability to conduct observation in a health area
  • Ability to write reports

Essential abilities

  • Ability to work alone and as a team member
  • Ability to manage work effectively
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Ability to manage competing priorities in order to meet key deadlines

For informal queries and discussion contact: Prof. Cecily Begley (cbegley@tcd.ie)

Application Procedure

Candidates should submit a full curriculum vitae to include the names and contact details of 2 referees (email addresses if possible), to: cbegley@tcd.ie
before the closing date of 29th November 2012

Candidates will be shortlisted and interviews held on 14th December 2012