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RA5a: Structure,environment and staffing policy

RAE 2001 Communication and Media RIG/UOA65

General Strategy

The group of staff whose work is submitted here has pursued a long-term policy of exploring topics that are cross-cultural, and where appropriate, polyglot, with particular reference to cultural themes of importance in the European Union, such as newspaper subsidy regimes, the spread of soap operas, or the legal-political discursive framework that now surrounds the problem of immigration. We believe the work is therefore inherently of international interest, for its content. We also believe it is of international interest for its quality, as evidenced by the fact that much of what we have published has appeared in non-UK journals and collections, and we offer it for assessment on that basis. We feel that this aspect of our strategy builds on our strengths, and indicates levels of seriousness and academic quality in which we take satisfaction.

In other respects mentioned in what follows here, notably our role in a new Business School, where innovative clusters of academic interests are being actively developed, we feel ourselves well positioned to maintain the research momentum we have built up since the later 1980s, individually and as members of a group that collaborates successfully within the group and with colleagues elsewhere in the University and beyond. Starting from a limited base in 1993,when our first tranche of meaningful Research funding arrived, we have established and pursued the research lines outlined below and evident elsewhere in these papers.

At University level, we benefit from a policy which ensures that 95% of our RAE funding goes to the group whose efforts have earned it, thus allowing considerable freedom in the use of these funds. We wish to go on recruiting high-quality doctoral students for various reasons, not least because their physical presence in the department makes manifest the research culture we now believe to be at the heart of our work.

Activities

Members of the group have continued to publish on a variety of themes, including media policy; semiotics; the media and collective identity in the local dimension; radio broadcasting; film music; media and other discourses, eg legal discourse; theatre; television drama, British cinema and other topics. All those whose work is submitted gave international conference papers over the period, in countries including Canada, the United States, France, Spain, Argentina, Catalonia and Norway as well as in a number of British universities, and completed a variety of activities including contributions to encyclopedias and cultural histories (for example on Spanish cultural history, semiotics, communication models and on music culture). One of the first comprehensive books on media policy (Hutchison), the first monograph on soap opera considered as Europe-wide phenomenon (0'Donnell), and the first monograph (as well as edited collection of essays) on the work of Dennis Potter (Cook), were also published by our group in this period. Group members have also produced and are producing collaborative work with academics in other disciplines, within and beyond GCU.

Increasing proportions of contributions both in print and to conferences have arisen from invitations, in fields such as media policy, discourse theory, and collective identity and sport. Such invitations have included plenary addresses in universities in Buenos Aires and Barcelona, papers in Oslo, Paris, Coimbra and Zaragoza, journal articles, and a number of book chapters. The International Journal of Iberian Studies is edited by 0'Donnell. British media policy and aspects of the Canadian media have regularly been addressed, respectively at conferences of the Canadian Communication Association and the British Association of Canadian Studies (Hutchison). The Group includes a founding member of the Radio Studies Network (Garner) elected to its first steering group and recently re-elected, who is likewise involved with the International Association for the Study of Popular Music and the Radio Academy. He is also a leading member of the Scottish Journalism Training Forum. Recently the group has also appointed a new member of staff who is a founding member and current Treasurer of the International Society for the Study of Popular British Cinema and who sits on the editorial board of the international Journal of Popular British Cinema (Cook).

Other activities have involved a reserve-listed ESRC bid on the theme of collective identity; many research seminar contributions; involvements in colloquia on themes as diverse as soap opera, or Glasgow Science Centre's future projections series for Glasgow in the twenty-first century.

Staff members continue to develop the group's contacts with fellow researchers at organized events. Garner was chair of the 2nd ESRC Radio, Culture & Society Seminar, held at Caledonian University in late 1999, having chaired a variety of panels at the music industry conference, In The City, in Glasgow in 1997, and at the music and media conference Ten Day Weekend seminar on new central Scotland radio licence and music formats, in 1998.

The first one-day Scottish conference for postgraduates in the media and cultural studies fields was held in Caledonian University in early 2000, as one outcome of the formation of the Scottish Communication and Media Association, which took place in Caledonian University in 1999. There was a further opportunity in the same year to discuss the role of research within media education across the UK when Caledonian University hosted the BFI/DCMS Film Education Working Group consultation with British university media academics, chaired by Blain, in early 1999. Members of the group are invited with particular frequency to comment on a variety of media, cultural, and topical matters on radio and television, and regularly in the press. Substantial contributions were made by members of the group, for example, to BBC Scotland's 75th Anniversary discussions on the future of broadcasting in Scotland, and to the major radio study Scotland's Century. Both broadcast producers and researchers, and print journalists, make frequent informal contact with members of the group to seek discussion on the framing of media and cultural topics.

Members are involved in the development and delivery of doctoral training within the Caledonian Business School and in liaison in the doctoral training field with other university departments. The Business School organises a full programme of seminars for doctoral students, and we have contributed both to these (eg with work on Discourse Theory) and to the annual conferences (since 1998), attended by students and supervisors (eg with sessions of Critical Theory and Philosophy of Science/Knowledge.)

Doctoral Students

Our own students not only participate in the above activities, but also engage in the Division's own efforts to ensure that our Research culture is healthy, for example giving "work-in-progress" seminars each year and otherwise engaging with the seminar and visiting speaker programme we invest in.

As detailed elsewhere in these papers, doctoral students have completed theses on a variety of media and cultural topics, for example on the post-Soviet press; on Italian and British coverage of the EU; on Glasgow-Muslim identity; and on the identity of a small Scottish community in the context of inward migration. Currently, theses being finished include work on Greek soap opera; cultural and geographical space in British and American film and television; the practices of Scottish women journalists; intrusive reporting; Catalan national identity and local press practices...

In addition to the three PhDs awarded since 1996 noted in RAE 3(b) another four doctoral theses have recently been examined and minor revisions asked-for. In one case, these have been successfully carried-out and the award recommended by the assessors: the other three are expected daily at the time of writing. Four further theses are in the very late stages of completion, with examination arrangements agreed for April-June 2001. Our longest completion period has been seven years, the shortest three years (both part-time). In all cases that have extended into year five, a major factor has been that the students went into university or research-related employment elsewhere at - or even before - the end of year three. We expect to retain our record of never having had a postgraduate research student, part-time or full-time, give up, or fail to achieve the award. If we are successful, completions will total eleven in the period 1996-2001.

A healthy postgraduate culture has clearly taken root. Our PhD students have been giving and publishing papers and organizing research links with other universities, particularly in Scotland. The policy of recruiting from across Europe has continued: postgraduate students have been recruited from Spain, Italy, Austria, Eire and Greece, as well as from England and Scotland. All full-time postgraduate students are now housed in a well-equipped office in the centre of the department and are in frequent contact with both staff and undergraduate students. Topics currently being pursued include work on the European aspects of Scottish and Irish identity; European media policy; regional identity and popular music; and film policy in Scotland and Canada.

Additionally, the last few years have seen a productive relationship grow between undergraduate teaching and learning, and staff research/research supervision. Most staff are teaching options or compulsory modules which have both helped to produce research topics, and in turn benefit from research activity. In general, members of the group have been able to match a significant proportion of teaching and research output, and by the final year students are producing Honours dissertations which in some instances clearly benefit from staff specialisms, and which in a few instances are now being acknowledged by staff in current publications. This feature of the group's work is one of the most noticeable outcomes of the investment we have been able to make, since 1992. The policy of allowing postgraduates to take seminars or tutorials on modules taught by their supervisors helps to consolidate these linkages, and also provides numerous oppportunities for mentoring and otherwise developing young academics.

Future Strategy

The group intends to consolidate its work on themes such as media policy, collective identity, and popular cultural forms such as specialist journalism and television drama for which it has a degree of recognition, while continuing to expand its research activities both by bringing more staff into research activity and by pursuing new themes. It has recently, for example, identified three staff members and a PhD student with interests in music, locality and ethnicity (in both Britain and France) and intends to pursue research funding for projects in this area. Current and future commitments among members include a monograph (Monarchy, Media and Power) on European royalty and political modernity; further editing projects, for example a special edition of the journal Culture, Sport, Society on sport and the media, co-edited by a member of the group; another member has recently (February 2001) been appointed principal editor of a proposed new international journal on radio studies, and been invited to join a major funding bid to the AHRB to establish a UK Centre for Study and Research in Radio, involving four British universities. Journalism-related research and events are likely to be important activities in the future.

During 1999, the creation of Caledonian Business School brought five new colleagues to the Division, all of whom are research-active to some degree. They share an interest in the production and consumption of 'leisure', and have joined us because they and we see synergies, and new academic opportunities, arising from our shared concern for popular culture, although for this RAE, their work will be submitted under RAE UOA 43. We are particularly interested in relating our future efforts to the recent recognition, by Scottish political leaders, that the 'creative and cultural industries' are already crucial to our economic as well as our cultural vitality. Sport and music are two areas where collaboration has begun, but we are genuinely excited by the many possibilities that we can see, for example in various aspects of the tourism and "heritage" activities that affect so many facets of our cultural and economic condition, and not only within Scotland or the UK. We intend, as always, to adopt a polyglot, transnational perspective on the content and forms of popular culture, and to do so in ways that extend both the character and the scope of the research paradigms operating within the UOA area.

The context of the re-organisation has been the creation of Caledonian Business School, where themes and topics relevant to the information-driven, multi-cultural nature of modern business cultures are strongly represented. We feel that our contribution, as academics interested in "symbolic goods" (eg brands), is central to these concerns, hence our eagerness to develop what we believe could be fertile, if neglected, terrain for CCM scholars: business culture/cultural business in the hyper-mediatised societies we now inhabit.

In summary, therefore, we envisage our future research work clustering around two themes:

- Cross cultural communication in a variety of forms (eg music; sport), media, and institutional
frameworks
- Popular cultural forms and the creative and cultural business environment.


Users of this website should note that the information is not intended to be a complete record of all research centres in the UK

Copyright 2002 - HEFCE, SHEFC, ELWa, DEL

Last updated 17 October 2003

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