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My TAV Research Visit: Three weeks at the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Institute of Demography

My name is Rachel Murphy. I’m a third year PhD candidate in the School of Psychology at University College Dublin, Ireland. My research interests include youth mental health and loneliness, and my PhD focuses on developing a peer support intervention for use in Jigsaw-The National Centre for Youth Mental Health, Ireland. I decided to apply for the Coordinate Transnational Access Visit (TAV) programme having heard about the wonderful experiences of my colleagues in UCD, who had travelled to research centres across Europe through the scheme. After researching the participating institutes, I knew that NIDI would be the perfect place to conduct my research on loneliness in young people due to its availability of the Gender and Generations Survey (GGS) data. I applied and was delighted to receive three weeks of funding to visit in May 2024.

My research project at NIDI focused on examining the prevalence and predictors of loneliness in young adults across Europe. The GGS was the perfect dataset to answer my research questions as it contained the DeJong Gierveld Loneliness Scale which is used to measure different dimensions of loneliness. Using this measure, I would be able to gain unique insights into the types of loneliness experienced in this age group.

When I arrived at NIDI, I was warmly met by junior researcher, Aisling Connolly who showed me around and introduced me to Vytenis Deimantas, my research mentor, Anne Gauthier, director of the GGP and the rest of the GGP team. During my visit, I had the pleasure of meeting early career researchers working in NIDI, and we enjoyed many sunny lunch breaks together in the NIDI courtyard! I also met other TAV researchers visiting from Serbia, Lithuania and Spain. It was inspiring to hear about their research and how they were using the GGS to answer questions related to demography, sociology and agriculture.

As an early career researcher, the visit was a wonderful opportunity to gain experience working with large datasets. In my PhD, I mainly used qualitative research methods, so I really enjoyed dedicating three weeks to improving my skills in data cleaning and analysis. In my final week, I presented some preliminary findings to the GGP team, and they provided extremely helpful advice on how to develop a more nuanced understanding of loneliness in this age group using the GGS. I’m looking forward to further exploring the data and I’m excited about the prospect of disseminating my findings in the future.  

During my visit, I had ample time to explore the Hague and its neighbouring cities, including Delft, Leiden and Amsterdam. I would recommend visiting in spring, as the weather was perfect for wandering around the many vibrant shops, cafes and cultural sights in the city centre. Highlights of my visit included the Mauritshuis Museum, home of the famous “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and the Oranjehotel Monument, which is a museum dedicated to the political prisoners held there during WWII.

The TAV programme gave me the opportunity to work on a project that I am passionate about and learn from experts in the field of data analysis. Working in a new environment has given me a surge of energy; I feel that I am returning to Dublin refreshed and ready to explore the topic of loneliness using my newly acquired research skills! I’d like to thank Coordinate and the GGP team for a wonderful stay. If anybody is considering applying to the TAV programme, I would whole-heartedly recommend visiting NIDI!


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