Research Day

An annual event at NCI where staff and faculty present on the innovative research they've undertaken.

NCI Research Day at NCI allows faculty to present on their recent contributions to academia and industry.

Research Day is an event that takes place every year at NCI. It is a celebration of the work of our staff and faculty and their contribution to academia and industry. It is also an opportunity for us to gather as colleagues, to learn more about the different research interests across the college and develop collaborative connections. 

This year, 16 academics from NCI's Computing, Business, Psychology and Education faculties, as well as members of the Library and ELI teams, presented their work to their colleagues. 

Below are the abstracts, slides and video presentations from this year's virtual Research Day.

TrainRDM – Open Science and Research Data Management Innovative and Distributed Training Programme - Timothy Lawless

Speaker: Timothy Lawless, Norma Smurfit Library

Abstract: Funded by the European Commission as an Erasmus+ Key Action until 2023, TrainRDM aims to empower the Education and Skills dimension of Open Science (OS) through exploring innovative mechanisms and tools to provide the skills training, in particular, for Research Data Management (RDM) good practices. 

The specific aims of the project are:

  • To analyse and map the skills training needs for OS and RDM in existing curricula in partner HEIs taking into account the different OS dimensions, target groups and level of existing knowledge;
  • To review existing good practice in OS and RDM skills training;
  • To develop a OS and RDM Training Methodological Toolkit; 
  • To develop, validate and diffuse a quality pilot training programme for OS and RDM;
  • To develop a training network around OS and RDM concepts;
  • To encourage, motivate, support and recognise staff and students skills development in OS and RDM.

This presentation will discuss the project, in terms of why we as librarians are interested in taking part. For further details on the project visit the TrainRDM website.

Download the presentation slides.

Watch Timothy's presentation.

Faith in the Workplace: An Exploratory Study of the Experiences in Dublin-based Tech Companies - Desmond Gibney

Speaker: Desmond Gibney, School of Business

Abstract: A perception of working life in large US tech companies based in Dublin conforms to what a 2019 Harvard Business Review article described as the primary domain where people seek to fulfil their economic and social needs, offering a sense of community as well as a salary; where employees make work a pillar of their identity and turn to the workplace for help throughout their lives. But what about the spiritual needs of these employees?

This presentation is based on an exploratory study of the experience of faith in the workplace and the potential for workplace chaplaincy. The literature suggests a range of possible motivations; such as an attempt to integrate spirituality into the workplace, or to improve the performance of the business; or to provide a type of care for employees that would otherwise be unmet, or to demonstrate management’s care and concern for employees as whole persons.

In-depth interviews were conducted with senior managers in three leading US tech companies based in Dublin. Attitudes of key decision-makers are examined. Potential opportunities for faith in the workplace and/or workplace chaplaincy are explored. Finally, the challenges of a multi-faith corporate environment with a large proportion of expatriate employees and contractors, are considered.

Download the presentation slides.

Watch Desmond's presentation.

Clinically Validated Integrated Support for Assistive Care and Lifestyle Improvement: The Human Link - Assoc Prof. Horacio Gonzalez-Velez

Using the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure to Measure Biases in the Areas of Autism, Bullying, and Attractiveness in Employability/Innocence - Dr Michelle Kelly

Speaker: Dr Michelle Kelly, School of Business (Psychology)

Abstract: The aim of the current research was to use the IRAP, a measure of relational responding, as a supplement to traditional subjective questionnaires in assessing biases in the following areas: (i) attitudes towards children with autism, (ii) bullying in schools and colleges, (iii) beauty bias in employment, and (iv) attractiveness bias in assessing innocence and guilt. Across three cross-sectional studies and one intervention study, 307 participants were recruited. Each participant completed the IRAP and a range of subjective questionnaires. Findings from the empirical studies suggest that the IRAP provides an interesting insight into relational biases; in studies (i) and (ii), educational material influenced biases towards those with autism and bullying in varying ways, while in studies (iii) and (iv), attractiveness bias was shown to influence decisions related to employment and innocence/guilt. A final theoretical paper (v) discusses the applicability of the IRAP as a training tool to improve older adults cognitive functioning.

Download the presentation slides.

Watch Michelle's presentation.

Innovation, Resilience and Continuity – The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Early Childhood Practice in Ireland - Dr Meera Oke

Speakers: Dr Meera Oke, Dr Conor Mellon, Anna Barr, and Dr Natasha O Donnell; Centre for Education and Lifelong Learning

Abstract: This presentation offers some initial findings from the first wave of data generated from a broader longitudinal project, which is attempting to understand more about the seismic changes brought about in ECEC practice in Ireland due to the pandemic. The project employs semi-structured interviews with educators from ten Early childhood Settings, as well as data on children’s wellbeing and outcomes, via the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire completed by educators and parents for 2–4-year-olds. 

Preliminary findings indicate that key elements of policy, pedagogy and play, family participation have required reconfiguration and innovation. Furthermore, educators continue to strive to nurture and sustain relationships with one another, parents and the children in their settings, as well as their wider community. The pandemic has required acts of innovation, resilience, and even resistance on the part deeply committed educators, as they continue to face significant challenges. While it was envisaged in March 2020, that this ‘first’ closure would only be necessary for a matter of weeks; early childhood settings have closed and reopened several times since and have been subject to a range of policy and practice reforms over the course of the pandemic. 

Download the presentation slides.

Watch Meera's presentation.

Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviours Towards Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and Autism in Ireland: A Pilot Study - Dr David Mothersill

Speakers: Dr David Mothersill, Dr Ger Loughnane and Dr April Hargreaves; School of Business (Psychology)

Abstract: Introduction: Discriminatory attitudes and behaviours towards people with mental disorders is a worldwide problem but may be particularly damaging for young people. This pilot study examined knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours towards schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism within a large sample of adults in Ireland to better understand public views on these groups. 

Methods: In a correlational, cross-sectional design, 316 participants completed a questionnaire over Google Forms examining knowledge, attitudes, and intended behaviours towards schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism. Responses were compared using trimmed mean ANOVA to examine whether responses to questions about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism differed.

Results: ANOVA and post-hoc tests revealed significant differences in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours towards schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism (p < 0.005), with more negative attitudes and behaviours reported for schizophrenia compared to bipolar disorder and autism. Behaviour towards each group was more negative in participants who reported having no personal experience of the disorder, either by having it themselves, or having a loved one with it. Conclusions: Given the differences in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour towards these mental disorders, we suggest that future policy and campaigns also focus on improving knowledge about specific groups, such as schizophrenia, to reduce stigma.

Development of Functionality for Teaching Through Reflection - Dr Leo Casey

Speakers: Dr Leo Casey and Dr Meera Oke, Centre for Education and Lifelong Learning

Abstract: Reflective practice is bedrock of most teacher development programmes. It also underpins the practice component for many other subjects in higher education. We ask our students to ‘reflect’ on experience and to submit reflective reports. However, reflection is under-theorised and there are gaps in our understanding of what constitutes reflection and how it supports experiential learning. This leads to student uncertainty and confusion on how to engage in reflection and how to demonstrate the process in written form. This research builds on the work of Vygotsky, better known for sociocultural development processes in children, to propose a framework for reflective practice to support novice teachers. Vygotsky argued that ‘dramatic moments’ evidenced in children’s play, are the energisers for learning and development. In other words, we learn from the unusual and the unexpected in the social environment. Similarly, novice teachers develop their abilities through dramatic moments in the classroom.  To test the theory, a guided approach to reflection known as the Teaching Moments Mindful Awareness Practice has been developed. An audio-visual version of the guidelines has been produced and will be available on a pilot basis to some student cohorts. Insights and feedback from participating students will inform further refinements of the approach.

Download the presentation slides.

Watch Leo's presentation.

Feature Selection for Machine Learning-based Phishing Websites Detection - Dr Arghir-Nicolae Moldovan

Speaker: Dr Arghir-Nicolae Moldovan, School of Computing

Abstract: Phishing is a social engineering technique that is commonly used to deceive users in an attempt to obtain sensitive information such as username, passwords or credit card details. While there was extensive research on machine learning-based phishing detection, some prior works proposed a large number of features and not all of them are feasible to extract for real-time detection. This work combined two datasets with 30 and 48 features respectively, to identify 18 common features. Moreover, feature selection was conducted to identify 13 optimal features for a more robust model. A comparison with prior research works on the same datasets showed that the best models built on all features using the random forest algorithm scored lower on the 30 feature dataset, and achieved better performance on the 48 features dataset. The best model on the 13 features achieved an accuracy of 0.937.

Download the presentation slides.

Creating Restorative Communities - Kate Darmody and Emma Wheatley

Speakers: Kate Darmody and Emma Wheatley, Early Learning Initiative

Abstract: Restorative practice (RP) is an emerging social science that studies building, maintaining and repairing relationships and community. For the last seven years, ELI has been leading a community RP project within Dublin’s North East Inner City. Its initial focus was to create a network of locally-based RP advocates, who would share learning and develop joint activities to promote the use of RP within organisations, and across the community. Over the years, it has developed into a complex integrated system of learning, development, support and mentoring. This Community Action Research (CAR) project has gathered data across its seven years — through surveys, observations and organisational self-reflection.

Indicative evidence suggests that RP is effective in improving peoples’ ability to build relationships and manage conflict, with participants in the project recognising the multiple benefits of RP. There is also evidence of a relationship between higher levels of implementation of RP and greater levels of improved outcomes in an organisation. This presentation will share these indications of the benefits of the project, while also considering the long-term strategic approach required to sustain and embed restorative change within the community.

Download the presentation slides.

Watch Kate's and Emma's presentation.

Emotion Regulation Strategies and Stress in Irish College Students and Chinese International College Students in Ireland - Dr Conor Nolan

Speaker: Dr Conor Nolan, School of Business (Psychology)

Abstract: Little is known about the association between emotion regulation strategies and perceived stress in college students, and in particular the strategies used by international students. Present research examined if differences exist in the use of emotion regulation strategies between Irish college students and Chinese international students, and investigated the relationship between emotion regulation strategies and perceived stress in these two student populations. Chinese students reported more frequent use of cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression compared to Irish students. There was a significant negative association between the habitual use of cognitive reappraisal and levels of stress in both Irish and Chinese students. There was a significant positive relationship between the habitual use of expressive suppression and levels of stress in Irish college students, but not in Chinese students. The findings highlight the importance of cultural context when investigating the association between emotion regulation strategies and perceived stress in students. 

For further information, download the journal article.

Download the presentation slides.

Watch Conor's presentation.

Determinants of Students’ Salaries in the Professional Training Year - Dr Miguel Flores

Speakers: Dr Miguel Flores and Dr Panagiotis Arsenis (University of Surrey), School of Business

Abstract: This paper studies the main determinants of salaries for economics students in their year-long industrial placements. Using three different sources of data on three cohorts of economics placement students, including demographic characteristics, academic performance, programme of studies and employability-related characteristics, we find that academic performance, job location and industry type are the main determinants of placement salaries. We show not only that students’ academic performance can increase the returns of the placement year due to the possibility of high salaries, but such returns significantly increase at the top of the salary distribution. Students’ previous job experience also matters for high-paying placements. Conversely, demographic characteristics, such as age, nationality and ethnic background, do not appear to determine placement salaries. Finally, we find no evidence of gender differences in wages. 

For further information, download the journal article.

Download the presentation slides.

Watch Miguel's presentation.

Investigating Active Learning in Interactive Neural Machine Translation - Dr Rejwanul Haque

Speaker: Dr Rejwanul Haque, School of Computing

Abstract: Interactive-predictive translation is a collaborative iterative process, where human translators produce translations with the help of machine translation (MT) systems interactively. Various sampling techniques in active learning (AL) exist to update the neural MT (NMT) model in the interactive-predictive scenario. In this paper, we explore term based (named entity count (NEC)) and quality based (quality estimation (QE), sentence similarity (Sim)) sampling techniques -- which are used to find the ideal candidates from the incoming data -- for human supervision and MT model's weight updation. We carried out experiments with three language pairs, viz. German-English, Spanish-English, and Hindi-English. Our proposed sampling technique yields 1.82, 0.77 and 0.81 BLEU points improvements for German-English, Spanish-English and Hindi-English, respectively, over random sampling-based baseline. It also improves the present state-of-the-art by 0.35 and 0.12 BLEU points for German-English and Spanish-English, respectively. Human editing effort in terms of number-of-words-changed also improves by 5% and 4% for German-English and Spanish-English, respectively, compared to the state-of-the-art.

For further information visit the AMTA website.

Download the presentation slides.

Watch Rejwanul's presentation.

Competing Logics in Family Firms who Engage in the Professionalisation Process by Hiring External Professional Accountants at Management Level - Theresa Mulcahy

Speaker: Theresa Mulcahy, School of Business

Abstract: Family firms possess many unique traits one of which is their commitment to family values and family involvement, the notion of “familiness” (Pearson et al., 2008). Familiness highlights the existence of “family logics” within family firms with commanding characteristics such as loyalty to family, household norms, and family politics (Friedland and Alford, 1991; Thornton, 2004; Thornton et al., 2012). 

The notion of logics stems from institutional theory (Meyer and Rowan, 1997). The theory introduces institutional logics as the values people hold relating to their institution (Miller et al., 2017) and the vehicle by which to define and explain institutional change (Greenwood et al., 2017). Business logics are commercial in nature and relate to norms of competition, authority based on competency and economic success (Thornton and Ocasio, 2008; Thornton et al., 2012), performance-based rewards, efficiency, competition and entrepreneurship (Thornton et al., 2012). When family firms professionalise and introduce external professional accountants to their firm, business logics will inherently be introduced. The family firm may be able to exploit both logics and gain the best of both worlds (Miller et al., 2017) or both logics may emerge incompatible (Parada et al., 2010). Studies have found that business logics can dilute family values (Stinchcombe, 1965) but also that family logics can constrain outside professionals when executing strategic changes as these changes may challenge long-standing family values, norms, and strategies (Bertrand and Schoar, 2006). Others have argued that for family firms to fully professionalise they must abandon family logics and endorse business logics (McConaughy, 2000) as many family logics are inconsistent with business logics (Parada et al., 2010). In contrast, Miller et al., (2017), found that firms with both a strong business logic and a strong family logic have lower agency costs and greater stewardship from family members.

The objective of this study is to explore competing logics in family firms who engage in the professionalisation process by hiring external professional accountants at management level.

Download the presentation slides.

Watch Theresa's presentation.