Research Environment & Culture
We provide a world-class research environment for staff and postgraduate students across all themes. The school promotes an active research environment through its leadership and support structures for staff through all stages of their career. We have a vibrant research community who engage in collaborative projects both within the university and internationally.
The School has developed state-of-the-art facilities funded through external and internal sources to support the research of staff and students. These include -
- A Developmental Laboratory, including an observation room, embedded video cameras and microphones, a waiting area for parents, and children’s toilets/baby changing room.
- An Auditory Processing Laboratory including EEG for children and full sound isolating booth.
- Human Experimental (HEX) Laboratory, housing both enclosed cubicles and less formally separated data collection stations all with fully updated computing facilities.
- The Science in Motion Laboratory, located at the QUB Physical Education Centre, is a 6m x 23m multi-purpose re-configurable lab space for 3D motion tracking and virtual reality. Together with additional lab space within the School, it houses a large variety of research tools, including motion tracking (Qualisys, Intersense, Xsens, NDI 3D Investigator, Codamotion, Polhemus, EloTouch touch screen, DeepLabCut) and virtual reality (VIVE Pro, Oculus), electroencephalography, posturography (Balance Master), functional near-infrared spectroscopy, force plates (AMTI), sound synthesis, and a range of stimulus presentation systems (e.g., Cambridge Research Systems Visage system, Pavlovia and Psychophysics Toolbox [Matlab]).
- The Noldus Observer XT laboratory for collecting, analysing, and presenting observation data, the Optical Oximetry laboratory including Artinis Oxysoft MK3 Near field infrared spectrometer and analysing software, and the EEG Laboratory includes NeuroScan EEG system interfaced with an E-Prime stimulus presentation computer.
- The Social Interaction Laboratory includes sound and visual stimulation of emotion incorporating Microsoft Kinect, 2 Oculus Rifts, and NAO Humanoid Robot
- The Identity and Intergroup Relations Laboratory contains a suite of data collection computers and cameras.
The School also has equipment for eye tracking (2 SMI portable eye trackers 125Hz, 250Hz; 60Hz SMI mobile eye tracking glasses; Eyelink 1000Hz eye tracker, VR-ready VIVE Pro Eye), electromyography (BIOPAC), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS; MagStim) that are utilised across research themes. Additionally, it provides software to support research including School licenses for Pavlovia and Qualtrics as well as group licenses including NVivo, Comprehensive Meta-Analysis (CMA), E-Prime, MPlus and JBI Sumari.
We have four dedicated technical staff experienced in producing bespoke software, electronic, and mechanical research materials.
Staff receive the time, resources, and academic support and mentorship they need to undertake high quality, impactful research.
Early career lecturing staff are allocated a senior colleague as mentor, have an initially light teaching load, and are awarded start-up funds from the University. They have access to university training courses to help develop their research, leadership and teaching skills. All new staff and are prioritised by the School as primary supervisors for funded PhD studentships.
The School’s ‘Partnerships in Promotion’ scheme (a SWAN initiative) provides training in writing promotion applications and gives staff a forum to share support and tips.
Staff at all levels are supported by the research lead in their area, and the Director of Research, who provide support with grant applications and developing publication profiles.
School initiatives to support staff include
- A research grant incentivisation scheme whereby staff are awarded a percentage of the value of grant applications, providing them funds for pilot work and other research expenses.
- Support to undertake online data collection during the pandemic.
- Regular grant and paper writing retreats and workshops to give staff dedicated time for the development of high quality research proposals and research papers away from the distractions and demands of daily work, in a supportive environment for individuals or teams.
- A research experience scheme whereby students receive training and then work as research assistants to build their CV
- A Student Research Skills Award Scheme for undergraduate students which provides RAs and potential future PhD students
- A peer reviewing mechanism for grant applications.
Research is a key function of the University, so Queen’s provides a range of high quality learning and development opportunities to assist with your work and support your career development.
The Research and Enterprise Directorate supports our researchers in a number of ways, providing guidance on ethics and governance, funding projects, working with partners, and commercial developments. https://www.qub.ac.uk/Research/Support-for-researchers/
New researchers will be invited to attend a central induction event, which is an opportunity to meet with colleagues from across the University.
The School works with a broad range of stakeholders including HSC Trusts, Health & Education Authorities, Public Bodies & Charities. Below is an example of some of the contributions the School has made to the economy and society.
We have developed outstanding links with the Northern Ireland Executive and government departments. We have, for example, delivered Knowledge Exchange Seminars at Stormont to MLAs and other civil servants to highlight how our research can be translated into policy.
Within the UK, CIHRQoL has worked closely with the UK’s Public Health Agency and are part of their Behaviour Change Group which was established in response to the need to support rapid behaviour change, particularly distancing among young people, due to COVID-19.
CIIR is currently undertaking a longitudinal study for the Special European Union Programmes Body examining the impact of PEACE IV projects across Northern Ireland which aim to promote psychological resilience and positive cross-community relations among vulnerable young people. Initial results are positive, and recommendations have helped to fine-tune these youth projects to ensure maximum effectiveness.
Given the recent death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matters campaign, understanding how we can promote a more inclusive and equal society has been a matter of enormous public and political interest. Prof Rhiannon Turner delivered the 2019 British Academy / British Psychological Society Annual Public Lecture on promoting confidence in contact in a diverse world, and was part of the team that delivered ‘The school that tried to end racism’, a 2020 Channel 4 documentary which received extensive media coverage, including an interview on ITV’s Good Morning Britain and an article in The Times’ Saturday Magazine. It also led to a panel event attended by MPs and Members of the House of Lords, and an invitation to give evidence at a joint session of the Petitions Committee, Women and Equality Committee, and Education Committee.
In relation to another global priority, reducing conflict and promoting peace, justice, and humanitarian action in divided societies, CIIR recently gave evidence to the UK Parliamentary Petitions Committee on the importance of compulsory anti-racist education to inform a forthcoming parliamentary debate. Internationally, they have worked with educational and government stakeholders across the Balkans, working together to apply shared education in divided societies.
The School’s partnerships have resulted in tangible research impacts. These include numerous government reports based on our recommendations, for example the Physiological Society Policy Report ‘Growing Older, Better’ in response to the UK government’s healthy ageing mission, and the Independent Report on Integrated Education commissioned by the Northern Ireland Executive, which included expert testimony from Prof Rhiannon Turner. We also produced reports in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including BPS Disease Prevention guidelines on how to stay healthy during the crisis.
The School has also received a number of prestigious awards –
- CIIR was part of the research team awarded the 2019 national Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its work on using Shared Education to promote positive relations in Northern Ireland.
- Prof Rhiannon Turner was awarded the 2020 Vice Chancellor’s Impact Prize for work around harnessing education to tackling racism.
- Prof Cherie Armour received the 2020 Lord Ashcroft Research Award for innovation in the conduct of research and potential for future impact for research on the health and wellbeing of military veterans.
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Find out more about our postdoctoral research community here.
In 2014 the School become the first psychology department in the UK to be awarded an Athena SWAN Gold Award; this was renewed in 2017. The Award confirms the School’s commitment to promoting equality in relation to gender issues and makes Queen’s a recognised leader in equal opportunities in the discipline. Dr Ioana Latu, our SWAN Champion, delivers evidence-based workshops on gender related issues to other Schools in Queen’s and universities.
The School provides an inclusive and supportive environment for staff and students, many of whom have family or caring responsibilities, and has policies which support flexible needs, and address equality issues. Some measured implemented within the school have been –
- A six-month teaching-free period following maternity leave
- An out-of-hours email policy (no emails sent at weekends or between 7pm and 7am)
- Establishing a Nurture Room for use by parents with infants.
- School family events, e.g., Christmas party for staff and their families
- Devising and implementing good practice for virtual meetings during the Covid-19 pandemic to facilitate those with caring responsibilities
More information is available about the Athena Swan Awards on our dedicated webpage.
The School is committed to using psychological research to address equality challenges, appointing a lecturer with expertise in Gender and Leadership in 2016, who is SWAN Champion and leads on the current EPSRC grant on gender equality initiatives. Project profile from Ioana and link here.
Our recently established Staff & Student Racial Inclusivity Working Group is part of the Racial Equity Ambassadors Network at QUB. The group is led by Dr Paddy O'Connor and Dr Magdalena Rychlowska and focuses on building a supportive and diverse community within the School. The group's mission is to advance awareness around allyship, equity, decolonisation, and different forms of privelege.
Demonstrating our commitment to realising the potential of our staff, through enabling a collaborative working environment and engendering a culture of continuous improvement, the School was recently awarded the Investment in People (IIP) link to IIP here Silver Accreditation. We have developed a comprehensive IPP action plan to build on these achievements.
The Open Science Workgroup has developed Open Science Guidelines that covers all aspects of research practice and links directly to the undergraduate and postgraduate programme, where the first Open Science procedures have now been implemented (e.g., replication group projects, preregistration for student research projects, sharing of data and materials). All new PhD students get mandatory training in Open Science practices.
The workgroup plays a key role in maximising motivation of staff, by informing them about the developments of and motivations for new research practices. The School is a member of the UK Reproducibility Network, which provides a link to other UK initiatives, and which has resulted in the introduction of a monthly University wide ‘ReproducibiliTea’ journal club which is attended by postgraduates.
To facilitate the School’s plan of transitioning from using SPSS for statistics to the open-source software R, staff training resources are currently offered being developed. In line with UKRI, staff are encouraged to make their data and research materials publicly available through online data repositories, where appropriate. Members of the Open Science workgroup are working with the Faculty Research Ethics Committee to make the adoption of Open Science easier within an ethical framework. In this respect, the School leads the way within the University and provides a reference for other Schools.