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Five minute profile: interview with Eilidh Guthrie

Eilidh Guthrie
Five minute profiles

Research Data Scotland

08 Sept 2023

Eilidh Guthrie, Partnerships Officer, speaks to us about what it's like to work at RDS and what her role involves.

What’s your role at RDS and what does your typical workday involve?

I am the Partnerships Officer at RDS, so I help maintain and develop existing partnerships, like with the Safe Havens, as well as supporting the development of new partnerships. I joined RDS in April 2023 and the Partnerships Officer was a new role, which has given us the flexibility to evolve it to fit the needs of RDS and our partners as the organisation develops.

At the moment, this usually involves arranging and taking minutes for meetings, tracking research projects that RDS has been approached by and drafting letters of support for them, co-ordinating input on policy matters, and completing desk research on potential partnerships and business development opportunities. I also assist on strategic projects for the Partnerships and Communications team: for instance, I completed a literature review recently for the DARE UK project SACRO, which RDS is leading public engagement work on.

RDS is essentially a partnership organisation. It sits in the middle of a complex ecosystem and aims to connect lots of partners and processes together into one consistent, simple system. Partnerships work is key to this, and my role gives me a broad overview of the bigger picture – where RDS sits in the data landscape, how it connects with other organisations, and how they connect with us.

“I don’t have a data background, and I appreciate getting to learn about something that seemed alien before”

Eilidh Guthrie

What's your background and how does it give you additional insight into your work at RDS?

Before RDS, I was working for a learning disability charity down south, on the development of their long-term strategy. I’m used to completing and communicating concise and relevant bits of desk research, as well as talking to colleagues about service improvement in a charity setting. Before that, I was studying for a master’s degree in Philosophy, and have experience in academic writing and research environments.

Philosophy is about making connections between ideas and building understanding through these connections. Data research can be thought of in a similar way. Both are about taking complex ideas and trying to rationalise and explain them in accessible ways that others can understand, and therefore build upon further. RDS and the work of the Partnerships & Communications team is much the same, in trying to facilitate this progress through making connections and communicating ideas.

What's a highlight and a challenge of working with data?

I don’t have a data background, and I appreciate getting to learn about something that seemed alien before, but that I can now place in relation to the things I care about and the skills I have. That is a challenge too sometimes, but there’s a lot of supportive folk and resources to help ease the transition into the world of data.

“If you’ve got what feels like a new point to make, either when speaking or writing, articulate your thinking behind it.”

Eilidh Guthrie

What difference do you hope RDS will make?

With more research projects that bring health and non-health data together, I hope that there is greater understanding and investment regarding the wider determinants of health. Getting a more holistic understanding of wellness embedded into public life, and making commonplace the interventions which recognise this, can save a lot of people a lot of pain. Relatedly, I also hope that growing this sector will mean more decently paid jobs across Scotland. 

What would be your "Mastermind" specialist subject?

Either Glasgow, Pokémon or Neo-Aristotelianism.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

If you’ve got what feels like a new point to make, either when speaking or writing, articulate your thinking behind it. It’s a good rule of thumb for contributing honestly.

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