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UOA 44 - Psychology

University of Glamorgan

RA5a: Research environment and esteem

1. Research Structure

1.1  Research structure of the University

To undertake research in Psychology at Glamorgan is to participate in a thriving research culture, rooted in its local community and with established and developing national and international reputations in those strategically chosen areas in which it specializes.

This research culture is facilitated through a comprehensive programme of investment, administrative support and staff development. The implementation of the University Research Strategy 2006-2010 has reinforced the continuing commitment to research and has provided a mechanism to drive research forward.  A full-time Director of Research works with the Central Research Office, which provides core support on all research-related matters, including grant applications and organises staff development and training seminars. A Head of Research in each Faculty leads their Faculty Research Office and works closely with the Central Office.

The Central Research Office is also responsible for servicing four research-related committees including the Research and Scholarship Committee and Research Programmes Sub-Committee, and has led a number of new strategic initiatives dedicated to meeting the demands and expectations of both PGRs and research staff. These include the recent development of a new 60-credit research module leading to a Postgraduate Certificate in Research, which provides PhD students with a sound framework for developing their research. During the past two years, the research strategy of the University has been strengthened by the strategic reorganisation of Schools into Faculties in 2006, supported by the ‘University Research Investment Scheme’ which offers approximately £400k pa through a number of schemes (modelled broadly on research council processes) relevant to the various needs of the research community.  In addition, the University has also invested in ten PhD studentships to foster developing areas of research and support new research staff.

The development of the new research web portal, ‘funding matters’ blog and the publication ‘Glamorgan Knowledge’, all of which report on research developments, awards and achievements, have emphasised the University’s research culture and facilitated networking amongst the wider research community and key strategic stakeholders.

1.2  Research structure of the Psychology Unit

1.2.1 Research activities of staff All members of the Unit are full time members of the Department of Psychology, which is situated within the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. The Unit comprises 14 staff: four professors, two readers, and eight lecturers. Psychology’s research portal ( contains regularly updated news of staff research accomplishments and activities.

The principal research areas of the staff selected for submission may be summarised as follows:

Davies, J.  [early career researcher] - cognitive style in a developmental psychological context

Faulkner- health psychology

Graff – cognitive aspects of internet use

Hall  - sport psychology

Hendry  - lifespan developmental psychology

Howard – children’s play

John – alcohol misuse

Kloep – lifespan developmental psychology.

Mayer – identity and cognitive development

Mullen – sport psychology

Roberts – sport psychology

Roderique-Davies, G. – addictive behaviour [NB: Davies is pre-marital surname, but not same Davies as above]

Stuart-Hamilton – psychogerontology

Taylor – applied social psychology

The Unit contains around 70% of members of the Psychology Department.

1.2.2 Research groups  As this summary indicates, research activity within the Unit has focused on two principal topics: lifespan/developmental psychology (Davies, Graff, Hendry, Howard, Kloep, Mayer, Stuart-Hamilton and Taylor) and health and sport psychology (Hall, John, Mullen, Roberts and Roderique-Davies). This concentration into two areas was initially the result of an organic, unforced process, but it has latterly been capitalised upon through specific strategies (e.g. targeted recruitment) and a focused policy of development has become possible (see section 3.3). In recognition of the Unit’s growing strengths in the field, in 2005 the Lifespan Research Centre, was created, to act as a focus for developmental and lifespan psychology, and coordinate research and consultancy work with local town councils, the University of the Third Age (U3A) and Age Concern.  Jointly headed by Kloep and Stuart-Hamilton, the Centre is open to any researchers with interests in the discipline, and several papers have by now been published under its aegis.  Internationally renowned researchers such as Prof. Glen Elder Jr, Prof. Nick Emler and Prof. Usha Goswami act as members of its Advisory Board. Currently, a similar centre for health and sport psychology is in the process of being established, with the aim of consolidating the innovative work being carried out within the Department in that area, and providing focus for future development and international networking. 

1.2.3 Interdisciplinary interaction No members of the Psychology staff are submitting to another UoA. However, interdisciplinarity has a vital role to play in certain significant elements of the Unit’s research, notably connections with education and sociology (e.g. Graff, Hendry, Howard, Kloep, Stuart-Hamilton) and sport science (e.g. Hall, Mullen, Roberts).

1.2.4 Research that had impact on practice. While most members of staff are repeatedly invited to give talks to the BPS and other professional organisations and sport clubs, John’s research on alcohol screening and alcohol interventions has had a particularly significant impact on practice, not only across Wales, but also internationally. Her fast alcohol screening scale (FAST) is being routinely used in many primary care services in the UK, in Sweden, Spain and Brazil. The psychological intervention detoxification programme that she developed and evaluated has being adopted in a number of clinical settings in Wales, and is currently included in a meta analysis of motivational type treatments by Professor William Miller at the University of Albuquerque, who is an internationally acclaimed leader in the field. Further, Roberts plays an outstanding role as co-ordinator and research leader in the action research project ‘Kicking AIDS out of Africa’, that involves training football coaches as mentors for street kids, who are given the possibility to join football clubs. As a sport psychologist, Hall is team manager for the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Association, leading the team at competitions (which won Olympic Bronze in Athens) – e.g., World Champs July 06, Beijing 2008 etc. He is also using his research to provide seminars and one-to-one consultancy for golfers, including top Welsh amateurs and 2 Welsh professionals. Further, he is the lead club psychologist providing seminars, performance related support at games and training for all staff and Academy footballers for Cardiff City FC .

1.2.5 Research infrastructure The Department acquired new purpose-designed laboratories in 2001. In brief, the facilities include: observation rooms wired for sound and video recording with a central control room incorporating video recording and editing facilities, a dedicated computer operating appropriate software; a biopsychology laboratory for the measurement of basic physiological functioning (EEG, ECG, etc), equipped with computerised measures; a group testing room for testing up to 40 individuals on paper & pencil tests or up to 15 individuals on computerised tests; six individual testing cubicles, all with full computing facilities; a dedicated air-conditioned computer laboratory with PC computers, printers and scanners. A wide range of research materials is also available, including: access via the Internet to Psych-Info (also available to all students); access to a wide range of test equipment which may be used off-campus; a substantial library of psychometric tests. In addition to the Department’s own equipment, advanced audio-visual editing facilities are available as a centralised university resource. Research within the Department is supported by technical and research staff, including one FT technician able and available to assist in setting up experimental sessions, construction of test equipment and video editing; a FT Course Administrator available to assist in mail-shots and similar activities. There has also been a coherent strategy to obtain research participant panels, and these have been acquired from several sources: there is a cordial established relationship with several local and regional schools, playgroups and similar, providing access to school and kindergarten-age children; younger adult participants are recruited either from the traditional resource of the student and staff body, or via local companies; a group of older volunteers based in local residential care homes, a large (>80) cohort of patients with Williams Syndrome and a similar-sized cohort of DiGeorge Syndrome patients (both groups based in Greece, but readily accessible), and, through collaboration with U3A and Age Concern, access to a wide range of older citizens. Research students (subject to obvious caveats such as police checks, etc) are free to use all these facilities.

1.2.6 Interdisciplinary/collaborative research Research activity within the Unit has attracted the attention of other research-active institutions, and the Department currently enjoys collaborative research with, inter alia: Universities of Birmingham (four papers published), Mid Sweden (ongoing joint research project), Mainz (ongoing joint research project), Ankara (one research grant awarded, and two papers on adolescent risk taking submitted to journals), Valencia (advisors to a Spanish research project), Prague, Aberdeen (ESRC seminar series), Teesside (ongoing book project), Cardiff, UWIC, Manchester, Clarke (USA) (ongoing book project), Wroclaw (PhD co-supervision and research project on Polish migration) and Khartoum (research project on traditional and Western styles of beauty and health); the Iranian Academic Centre for Education, Culture and Research (ongoing joint research project) and Hospitals and Health Trusts in Gwynedd & Clwyd and Charing Cross. The Department also holds memoranda of agreement with: Piraeus Clinic, Greece; Korydallos Municipal Authority, Greece; Iranian Academic Centre for Education, Culture and Research; University of Trondheim, Norway; Midsweden University in Ostersund. All these memoranda have resulted in publications or papers submitted for publication and under review at the time of writing. Furthermore, staff expertise and professional excellence is recognised through collaborations with international professional organizations (e.g. Spanish Government’s Foundation Against Drugs, Alma Mater Foundation Bologna, European Association for Research on Adolescence) and national agencies (e.g. U3A and Age Concern). These collaborative/interdisciplinary activities are encouraged and fostered by the Department.

1.2.7 The promotion of research activity The Department, either via the Lifespan Research Centre or under its own banner, has disseminated a considerable mass of research findings that have attracted public attention, resulting in a number of media broadcasts and articles. For example, the Young People in Wales group made the headlines in the national newspaper twice, and the Rugby group issued six press releases that resulted in eight newspaper articles, five radio programmes and two TV programmes. It has also fostered and stimulated academic discussion through hosting the 2001 European Learning Styles Conference, and offering a vibrant guest speaker programme (notable speakers have included Usha Goswami, Christine Griffin, Birthe Loa Knizek, John Coleman, John Bynner, Neil Frude, Chris Harrop, Graham Davies, Martin Plant, Nick Emler, Richard Wiseman, Aldert Vrij, Rutger Engels). 

1.2.8 Research students There has been a sustained attempt to recruit postgraduate research students during the audit period. This is in part a logical development of our expanding research commitment, but also reflects the specific social goal of Glamorgan to reach out into areas of socio-economic deprivation with little or no history of participation in tertiary education. Whilst maintaining a stringent level of student selection, the Department has particularly sought to attract postgraduate students from the local community. The growth in postgraduate student numbers has been considerable. In order to ensure an interdisciplinary orientation, research students have been selected who are able to work across disciplines, and thus we share some supervision with other departments. For that reason, the number of our completions is higher than listed in this submission, because some students have been allocated to other disciplines.

Over the assessment period, there have been six successful completions of MScs and PhDs. In addition, five further successful completions have been supervised by Unit members. If these cases are included, then over the audit period, the Unit has supervised five MScs and six PhDs to completion (three and four, respectively, further projected for June 2008).

Notwithstanding the above, the number of research students has increased sharply over recent years, so that the number of students enrolled is far higher than the number of completions to date. Currently, seven MSc and 14 PhD students are enrolled and are progressing satisfactorily, and another three are in the process of becoming enrolled (two in sports psychology, and one in developmental psychology) in this very moment. All doctorates are research doctorates. As an indicator of the Department’s increasing academic gravitas, from the academic year 2007/8 we will also offer an MSc in Health Psychology which is currently being considered by the BPS for validation. It will be run by four BPS-accredited Health Psychologists on the staff. Students from this course should provide a further recruitment basis for research students.

Research students have dedicated accommodation on campus. Each has their own office space and computer. In addition to the expected regular meetings with their supervisors, the students are also involved in a programme of research seminars, and funding is available from both the Graduate School and Departmental funds for conference visits. Research students are encouraged to publish results, alone or with their supervisor or members of their research group.


2. Staffing policy

2.1 Supporting staff development Staff research activities are encouraged and supported by both the University and the Faculty research policies. Examples of support include: for each FT member of academic staff within the HASS Faculty, four weeks of each academic year can be reserved exclusively for research activity via a ‘Research Activity Days’ scheme; there is a year-round programme of training workshops and events in cognizant areas; and the opportunity to bid for financial support for conference attendance. 

2.2 Assisting novitiate researchers Senior members of staff participate in a mentoring programme with younger colleagues. Each senior member of staff is assigned a small number of less experienced colleagues with a view to working with them collaboratively on smaller research projects that lead to publication outputs. All members of staff undergo an annual research appraisal meeting with the Head of Department and the departmental research leader(s) at which research related targets are set, developmental needs assessed and provided for. A number of research groups with a small but viable number of staff (usually four) and led by a senior researcher, has also been established (e. g. Young People in Wales; Identity in Rugby Supporters; Health and Substance Abuse). They are the embryo of what is to become the Health and Sports Research Centre. They meet regularly to encourage the development of new research projects and collaborations, and their special emphases are reflected in staff publications in a range of interdisciplinary journals.

2.3 Departure of colleagues during the audit period The departure of three colleagues (all three left to promoted posts in other universities) has not appreciably affected research output, on the contrary, their departures have been taken as an opportunity to further strengthen our two main research areas by appropriate recruitment.  Workman has been active in creating a research climate during the early days, and in establishing contacts with the media; Thomson and Shearer were members of the Rugby Research Group, and continue to work on joint publications with researchers within the unit.


3. Research strategy

3.1 Significant changes in environment over audit period The present document constitutes the first RAE submission by the Glamorgan Psychology Unit; accordingly, it is not possible to gauge its current research activities against data from previous submissions. However, within the audit period there are key indicators of growth, for example, the number of appointed Professors has increased from zero to four, and the number of Readers from zero to two over the last five years. Collectively these represent a core of researchers whose worth is recognised internationally by the translations of their books and psychological tests into several languages, by the invitations to act as keynote speakers and advisers at overseas universities and governmental agencies, and by their involvement in international interventions in developing countries. 

As a further indication of the vigorous growth of the unit, the 55 publications selected for this submission were drawn from 142 alternatives. By comparison, in 2001, the set of alternatives would have been fewer than 30. In addition, books and tests authored by unit members have been of sufficient international standing to be translated into 13 European and Asian languages.

Staff members actively apply for research funding, often within a team-group structure. Methodologically, most of our research is survey or qualitatively based, or consists of experiments that can be conducted in our existing laboratories. Thus, our research is not highly cost-intensive and has provided the Department with an enviably efficient cost per publication. All grant applications are quality assured by the professorial group. Again, since the first research grant applications were made in 2002, the number of bids made has increased from two in 2001 to around 10 per year recently. Moreover, the Unit has enjoyed a ‘hit rate’ rising from one in nine to one in five, with the size of grants increasing from a few thousand pounds to this year a grant of £120k from The Leverhulme Trust for a project in sport psychology.  There are signs of growth that augur well for the future.

3.2 Objectives and activities over next five years To monitor the achievement of our aims for the present and to sustain our research progress into the future, a set of objectives has been formulated through departmental discussions:

(a) To encourage further development, a requirement that all research active staff should publish or submit at least two good papers within the 18 months after RAE 2008.

(b) To continue the ‘research mentoring’ scheme, whereby novitiate researchers are encouraged to begin/increase research through regular mentoring meetings with more experienced researchers.

(c) To set annual targets of a minimum number of grant applications appropriate to each unit member’s level of expertise .

(d) To formalise provision of research activity days within every lecturer’s appraisal report. This will be facilitated through the aforementioned Research Activity Days (implemented October 2007).

(e) To foster the next generation of researchers through establishment of postgraduate bursaries awarded through open competition.


3.3. Beyond the audit period 

Over the next five years the Unit will build on its professional and public profile in its acknowledged areas of expertise, extending our international reputation in both lifespan psychology and in health and exercise psychology. Growth will focus on research linked to children’s play, health behaviours, sport, risks and lifestyles in childhood, youth, and older citizens. These aims match priorities set by the Welsh Assembly Government and demonstrate a continuing commitment to matching the needs of the community.

In the short term, continuing growth will be from existing and emerging strengths. From ongoing studies, further momentum will be achieved through additional publications. For example, we are already preparing to follow up published work on the development of national identity in young people, with several publications arising from the ESRC-funded project on allegiances and sports fan-ship. Further, data collection has started on the topic of Emerging Adulthood, which has already led to a book contract with Psychology Press for a co-authored book with J. J. Arnett from Clarke University (USA), and an international symposium at the next EARA conference. Further, the research agreement signed by the Piraeus Clinic, a centre that receives practically all children in the Athens/Piraeus district with rare cases of atypical development, such as Williams Syndrome, has made possible access to patients with comprehensive case histories (including full genetic profiling). It is an unparalleled source of test participants in this area and will be the basis of several publications.  Roberts and Mullen are building on the existing Leverhulme grant to secure money for an even larger project. Existing research associations with European universities will be further developed to embrace ‘real world’ research, exemplified by a newly-funded Leverhulme sports psychology grant and a cross-cultural study of risk perceptions in multiply-disadvantaged groups within the population (funded by the Swedish Research Council). A combined consultancy-research project has already received regional funding, and is under consideration for further support by ESRC.

In the longer term, sustainability is guaranteed by the number of research-active junior staff, who are starting to have projects of their own, and are already involved in research bids, book contracts and collaboration with other universities, so that we are confident of continuous and innovative development into the future.  


4. Esteem indicators

The following is intended as a representative, not exhaustive, list:

Davies, J. Awards and distinctions: Outstanding paper award at E-Learning International Conference Phoenix Arizona USA 2003.

Faulkner, S. Invited talks at conferences: Invited talks at Unumprovident Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research (June 2006) and at NHS conference at Hensol on 'The Named Nurse' (2001).

Graff, M. Research-related service on or for National or International Bodies or Committees: Referee for ESRC Netherlands Commercial activity: Led the W2 project on learning styles in adolescents for Belle Associates Awards and distinctions: Outstanding paper award at E-Learning International Conference Phoenix Arizona USA 2003. External examiner for doctoral students: University of Birmingham 2005

Hall, R. Research that has had an impact on practice Hall is team manager for the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Association, leading the team at competitions (which one Olympic Bronze in Athens) – e.g., World Championships July 06, Beijing 2008. He is also using his research to provide seminars and one-to-one consultancy for golfers, including top Welsh amateurs and two Welsh professionals. Further, he is the lead club psychologist providing seminars, performance related support at games and training for all staff and Academy footballers for Cardiff city FC .

Hendry, L. B. Research-related service on or for National or International Bodies or Committees: Referee for ESRC UK & Netherlands International reputation: Books translated into Norwegian, Danish, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Korean. Joint research with Mainz and Mid-Sweden universities, Centre for Educational Studies, Iran. Member of the Scientific committees of Alma Mater conference, 2002, the Bi-annual Latin-American Conference on Psychology in Cuba 2003 and 2005.  Invited talks at conferences: Alma Mater Bologna 2002, Assissi 2003, University of Valencia 2003, International summer school for doctoral students EARA 2003, Catholic University of Milan 2004, Spanish Government’s Foundation Against Drugs Madrid 2005, University of Ankara 2005, University of Palermo 2006, Penn State University 2007, invited podium discussant ‘Emerging Adulthood’ Tucson 2007 (to be published in Child Development Perspectives, 2007).  

Howard, J. Research-related service on or for National or International Bodies or Committees: Rapporteur for ESRC Editorial activities: Editorship of the Psychology of Education Review (BPS publication) International reputation: Invited guest lecture at Norwegian Centre for Child Research at the University of Trondheim.

John, B. Research-related service on or for National or International Bodies or Committees: Referee for the Alcohol Education Research Council’s biannual funding rounds and research for the Welsh Assembly Government, The Health Development Agency, The Alcohol Education Research Council. Editorial activities : Member of the editorial board for the Journal of Mental Health. Research that has had an impact on practice: The brief screening measure of hazardous drinking  (FAST) developed for the Alcohol Education & Research Council is now routinely used in many primary care services in the UK. It is currently being validated in a number of languages, including Swedish, Spanish and Portuguese (in Brazil). It is also used by Alcohol Concern on their interactive website Further, the evidence-based intervention to a home detoxification programmed developed under a grant  from the Welsh Office is being adopted in a number of clinical settings in Wales and is currently being included in a meta analysis of motivational type treatments by Professor William Miller of the University of Albuquerque. Invited talks: Annual Symposium on Alcohol Research, and to BPS Wales. 

Kloep, M. Editorial activities: Co-editor of book series on Studies in Adolescent Development for Psychology Press Invited talks: Alma Mater Bologna 2002, Norsk folkogskole 2003, University of Valencia 2003, International summer school for postgraduate students EARA 2003, NTNU Trondheim 2005 and 2006, University of Ankara 2005, University of Palermo 2006. External examiner for doctoral students: University of London 2006, Cardiff 2006 International reputation: Books translated into Norwegian, Danish and Italian. Member of the Scientific committee of the Bi-annual Latin-American Conference on Psychology in Cuba 2003 and 2005. Invited article for ‘The Psychologist’.

Mayer, P.  Research-related service on or for National or International Bodies or Committees: Referee for ESRC. International reputation: invited collaboration with Piraeus health authority centre for treatment and assessment of Williams Syndrome.

Mullen, R. Invited talks at conferences: Keynote, Mullen, R. (2004). Developing mental fitness for football: The goalkeeper. FA Psychology for Football National Conference, Pride Park Stadium, Derby, November.  Guest lecturer at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, Brunel University and the University of Wales, Bangor. Research that has had an impact on practice: Mullen presents aspects of his work to professional rugby and football coaches on senior coach education courses for the Welsh Rugby Union, The Football Association, and the Football Association of Wales.

Roberts, G.  Research-related service on or for National or International Bodies or Committees: Director on the Board of the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP). Editorial activities: Associate editor for the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports; and Psychology of Sport and Exercise. Invited talks at conferences: International Congress of the Americas, Santiago, Chile 2001, International Congress on Children in Sport, Finnish Education Ministry, Helsinki, Finland, 2002,  Thailand Sport Psychology Association, Bangsaen Beach, Thailand 2003, Invited Keynote address, Congreso Vasco del Deporte, Vitoria, Spain 2004. Invited Keynote address, Spanish Society of Sport Psychology Conference, Majorca, Spain 2006. External examiner for doctoral students: one Ph.D. student in Finland (Dr Jarmo Luikinen, Jyvaskyla), two Ph.D. students in England (Yin Loo, Loughborough; Michael Reinboth, Birmingham) and two Ph.D. students in Wales (Keiran Kingston, Bangor; Kevin Morgan, UWIC), as well as one Habilitation Dissertation in France in 2002 (Dr Phillipe Brunel, University of Limoges). 

Roderique-Davies, G. Member of the BPS's Board of Examiners in Health Psychology

Stuart-Hamilton, IEditorial activities: Member of Editorial Board, Education and Ageing International reputation: Books translated into Spanish, Japanese, German, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Serbo-Croat, Russian, Portuguese, Dutch and Polish and has recently been awarded a Commended prize in the British Medical Association’s Annual Medical Book Competition and been nominated for the British Psychological Society’s Book of the Year award. Spanish translation placed by a Spanish government directive in every public and academic library in Spain Invited talks at conferences : e.g. York 2005, Piraeus 2006, Cardiff 2006, Trondheim NTNU 2006. External examiner for doctoral students: Oxford Brookes, 2001, Wolverhampton 2007. 

Taylor, R. Research-related service on or for National or International Bodies or Committees: Invited Rapporteur for two ESRC projects on deception.

Workman, L.

Editorial activities: Consultant editor for the international refereed journal 'Animal Behaviour' and an associate editor for the 'The Psychologist'. External examiner for doctoral students: External examiner PhD thesis on Mate Choice, University of Durham 2004 . International recognition: Peer review articles for: ‘Animal Behaviour’, ‘Behaviour’, ‘Laterality’, ‘Physiology & Behaviour’ and ‘Psychological Bulletin’. National reputation and dissemination: Regular appearances in the media via radio, TV, newspapers (including all national broadsheet dailies) and magazines. Over 200 appearances during the period of review including many with BBC Radio 4 and 5 and the World Service. Contracted as psychological consultant for a six-part series on Psychology with World Service (listening audience 40 million). Contracted as psychological consultant to the BBC Science Unit advising on a TV series on the affects of light on behaviour. Featured interview in ‘The Psychologist’.


5. Summary

The Unit is on an accelerating trajectory of improvement. All objective indices support this statement:  increased success in gaining grants, increased publication rates, a growing number of staff with international standing, an expanding list of collaborative projects and increased recognition through a variety of media. In addition, there is the administrative and physical structure, and a critical mass of research active junior staff members to support further growth. The concentration of research on two specific areas does not indicate that future research will be limited in its scope, for the Unit remains open to opportunities for diversification as well as dedicated to building on its established strengths.