Category / BU research

Getting Out There

When I finished my PhD here at BU in 2006, all I had to show for it was…a PhD. There is nothing wrong with that, but my research career only really began when I had completed my doctoral studies; I presented my first international conference paper the following year, and my first journal article finally appeared a year after that.

Now I’m a supervisor of PhD students, and most are already submitting their work to conferences and writing journal articles. This provides a corollary to my own advice and support, and in many ways it also holds me to account. In June, the Times Higher Education reported that:

 “For those hoping to progress to a more stable academic career, the figures make for depressing reading. The NSF estimates that only 26 per cent of recent PhD recipients in the US will secure a tenure-track position. UK postdocs appear to have even more reason for pessimism” (Jump, 2011).

This is rather a bleak assessment, but even so, it is clear that a PhD is no longer the ‘entry level’ route into a research career it once was. At BU, we want our PGRs to be competitive, so it is imperative that our PGRs have a clutch of conference papers, a publication-or-two and a bit of teaching experience behind them on exiting their doctoral research.

This workload must of course be carefully managed, but there is nothing to stop full-time BU PGRs undertaking our P/G Cert in Education Practice. As for publications, there are now hundreds of open access journals online, and even some of the most prestigious ones have themed issues and room for smaller ‘research reports’ on work in progress. All supervisors need to be aware of these places and not leave it for their students to find them.

BU has a postgraduate conference each year, which is an excellent nursery for presenting at national and international conferences later. Most subject areas now have established conferences; the Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association has both a national conference and a dedicated postgraduate one – which BU hosted this year. Just last week I met an eminent broadcasting history scholar who praised a BU PGR she had seen at a recent symposium in Winchester. This can only reflect well on us and validates the students’ work.

So if our PhD students finished with…just a PhD, then to an extent we have failed them. Part of being a good PhD supervisor is not just to help bring the project to completion, but to also nurture the beginnings of a research career; the dialogue with ‘outside’ scholarship needs to get going as soon as possible.

 

Richard Berger – Associate Prof & Head of Postgraduate Research, The Media School.

Study reveals risks from carp parasite

A joint Bournemouth University(BU) & Environment Agency (EA) study, published in the Public Library of Science journal ‘PLoS One’, has revealed how infections of the tapeworm Bothriocephalus acheilognathi affect juvenile carp Cyprinus carpio in fisheries in England andWales.

CarpDr Chris Williams from the EA said: “This work provides important evidence about how alien parasites can cause harm to our fish populations. It gives us a better understanding of the risks these parasites pose to fish, the environment and our fisheries.”

The study showed the parasite comprised up to 12 % of an infected carp’s body weight. The tapeworm was always found in the intestine, causing considerable damage. Infected fish were found to be lower in weight, growing more slowly and feeding on less nutritive foods.

Dr Robert Britton, who led the study from BU’s ecology department, said: “It was highly apparent that infected carp suffered multiple pathological and ecological consequences, suggesting fisheries infected with Bothriocephalus will be damaged.”

The fact that carp fisheries and the recreational value of carp fishing are worth millions of pounds to the UK economy means it is vital to prevent infection. Fortunately, the Asian tapeworm is currently subject to strict regulation inEnglandandWalesby the Environment Agency.

Dr Williams continued: “We will use this knowledge to advise our regulation of fish movements and the advice we provide to fishery managers to minimise the spread and impact of these parasites.”

Fusion event 14 December – Launch of the BU Research Themes

On the afternoon of the 14 December 2011 we will be launching the Fusion Seminar series with an event focused around launching the eight BU Research Themes.  It would be great if you could hold this date within your calendars and register for the event.

January through to March the monthly Fusion Seminar series will focus on sharing research, education and professional practice within BU and will culminate in April in a one-day Fusion conference involving both staff and students when the key research themes will be centre stage.  Dates for these events are:

  • 18 January (1.5 hours)
  • 22 February (1.5 hours)
  • 21 March (1.5 hours)
  • 18 April (whole day)

The event on the 14 December is the first in this programme and will focus on Fusion within the eight BU Research Themes.  Following consultation these themes are now fixed as: (1) Health, Wellbeing & Aging; (2) Culture & Society; (3) Creative & Digital Economies; (4) Entrepreneurship & Economic Growth; (5) Environmental Change & Biodiversity; (6) Green Economy & Sustainability; (7) Leisure & Recreation; and (8) Technology & Design.  The event will combine time for cross-BU networking within these themes, with some short keynote talks by theme champions focusing on defining the challenges in education, research & practice within each theme.  We are still looking for one or more champions per theme to step forward and help shape the theme and also the event on the 14 December.  Please get in touch with either myself or Julie Northam.  Once we have all the speakers in place we will be back in touch with a full programme.

You can register for the event and sign-up for the themes most relevant to you using the form below.  It is important to register for the themes that interest you so that we can schedule the parallel sessions accordingly to avoid clashes!

Best wishes

Matthew

Your Name (required)

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Your School / Professional Service (required)

Staff or PGR student? (required)
StaffPGR

Please select the themes that you are interested in (required)

Bibliometrics need not be baffling!

What are bibliometrics?

Bibliometrics are a set of methods used to study or measure text and information. Citation analysis and content analysis are the most commonly used bibliometric methods. Bibliometric methods can help you explore the academic impact of a field, a set of researchers or a particular journal paper.

What is citation analysis?

Citation analysis looks at where a document has been referenced by others since it was originally published – this information can be used when searching for materials and in analysing their merit. Undertaking citation analysis on yourself is useful for assessing your own research performance. Specialist databases such as Web of Science and Scopus provide various tools for doing this analysis.

Searching for citation information on the Web of ScienceSM

Web of ScienceSM is hosted by Thomson Reuters and consists of various databases containing information gathered from thousands of scholarly journals, books, book series, reports, conference proceedings, and more:

  • Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-Expanded)
  • Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI)
  • Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI)
  • Index Chemicus (IC)
  • Current Chemical Reactions (CCR-Expanded)
  • Book Citations Index – coming soon!

These databases enable you to perform a variety of tasks, such as search published literature, undertake citation analysis, track new research within a particular field, and identify chemical compounds and reactions. Data is available from around 1990, and even earlier in some cases.

By producing a Web of ScienceSM Citation Report for yourself (or for others), you can find out who is citing your work and how it is being used in other people’s publications so that you can get a feel for the overall citation activity around your outputs. Search for an author’s name and then click on ‘Create Citation Report’ from the results page.

Producing this report will give you information such as the number of items published in each year, the number of citations to those items for each year, the average number of citations per item, and your h-index based on this information. Click here for web tutorials on how to use the Web of ScienceSM.

Searching for citation information on Scopus

Scopus, part of Elsevier’s SciVerse facility, was launched in November 2004 and is an abstract and citation database containing around 19,500 titles from more than 5,000 publishers. Scopus enables researchers to track, analyse and visualise research, and has broad coverage of the scientific, technical, medical and social sciences fields and, more recently, the arts and humanities. Data is currently largely available from 1996 but it does go back further than this in some cases. For more information about Scopus, click here.

By searching for yourself (or others) on the Scopus database using the author search facility, you can use the ‘View Citation Overview’ function to get a feel for the citations activity around your outputs. The information is presented and can be analysed in a number of ways, including pie charts, graphs and tables, and shows the breakdown of citation activity over a number of years and your h-index based on this data. Various tutorials on using Scopus can be accessed here.

Scopus and the Research Excellence Framework (REF): HEFCE has announced that Elsevier have been chosen as the provider of citation data services to the REF sub-panels that have chosen to make use of citation information as part of the assessment process. Using the Scopus database, HEFCE will provide the relevant sub-panels with raw citation data (i.e. not normalised) accompanied by contextual information, which will assist those panel members in making decisions about the outputs part of the REF submissions.

What is the h-index?

The h-index was conceived by Professor Jorge Hirsch in 2005 within the field of physics and is fast becoming one of the most widely used metrics for research evaluation. It is also becoming increasingly used as a measure of research activity and academic prominence across various subject areas.

The benefit of the h-index over other citation measures is that it is not influenced by a few highly cited papers and it ignores any papers that remain uncited. It is calculated based on the number of papers by a particular author that receive h or more citations. Therefore, an h-index of 15 means that a person has at least 15 papers that have been cited 15 times or more. Fortunately, the Web of Science and Scopus both automatically calculate the h-index as part of their citation analysis functions so there is no need to work it out manually.

If you’d like to know more about the h-index, the original research document can be accessed from the Cornell University Library webpage.

What are journal impact factors?

Journal Impact Factors are published annually on the Web of Knowledge and provide a way of ranking journals based on the citation performance of articles published by those journals from the previous two years. For more information about how impact factors are calculated and how they can be used, see my previous blog post.

Other methods of ranking journals also exist, such as the ABS Academic Journal Quality Guide and the ERA journal ranking list. Journal rankings can be useful when choosing which journal to publish in, for example.

Exploring research impact

Why do I need to think about the impact of my research?

Given the current economic situation, tighter spending reviews and increasing constraints on public spending, there is more of a need than ever to demonstrate the economic, social and cultural benefits of publicly funded research to wider society. This broad definition of research impact is gradually being adopted and used in a number of ways by various funding bodies that need to be accountable for the money they distribute, such as the Research Councils UK (RCUK), the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and some charities and trusts.

Consequently, there is now greater impetus to involve researchers more directly in demonstrating the impact of their research. Researchers therefore need to actively think about how to demonstrate the value of their research and its wider impact, from the application stage through to project completion, dissemination and beyond.

This impact pathway is a fluid process and research impacts can occur at any stage in the research life cycle – often they can stem from unexpected or unintended outcomes as well as from planned activity. The key is to start thinking about potential beneficiaries and pathways to impact during the project planning stage and to continue to monitor the outcomes in an ongoing way. This will help you to make new connections and partnerships beyond the project itself, and to put in place resources and activities that enable you to make the most of opportunities for achieving impact when they arise. Keeping a record of activity related to a project, and gathering evidence to support impacts and outcomes achieved, is recommended to enable you to effectively fulfil any current and future reporting requirements.

What are funders looking for in terms of impact?

Many funding bodies, particularly larger ones such as RCUK, have a section on their funding application form that specifically asks you to consider the potential pathways to impact as appropriate for the nature of the research you’re proposing to conduct. This is to enable funders to support you in undertaking these activities – you’re not being asked to predict the actual outcomes that the research will achieve.

Each funder understands that there is great diversity in the kinds of impact that are possible; they also acknowledge that this diversity is a great strength of the research community in addressing such things as urgent social issues, remaining competitive in global markets and improving quality of life. It is about embracing the ways in which research-related knowledge and skills benefit individuals, organisations and nations.
In thinking about potential impacts, you might find it useful to consider the potential beneficiaries of the research – innovative and creative approaches to engaging beneficiaries and fostering impact are generally strongly encouraged by the funders. For more specific information about completing the impact sections on the RCUK application forms and for an indication of the potential range of impacts that can be generated from research, visit the RCUK impact web-pages.

Furthermore, the RCUK has just launched the Research Outcomes Project, which requires all RCUK grant holders to upload information about the various outcomes that have resulted from each of the RCUK-funded projects they are responsible for, and one of those categories is impact.

What is HEFCE looking for in terms of research impact for the Research Excellence Framework (REF)?

As part of submitting to the REF, HEFCE requires higher education institutions to provide evidence of research impact that has been realised within the assessment period but which stems from research undertaken at that institution within a number of years prior to the assessment period. Therefore, rather than looking forward to the kinds of impact that might stem from a research project, HEFCE is asking for information about impacts that are being, or have already been, achieved within a set timeframe. More information about how HEFCE is approaching impact in the REF is available from the HEFCE REF web-pages.

Introducing the BU Fusion Seminars

Starting later this term, the new BU Fusion Seminars aim to develop understanding within BU around the concept of Fusion, launched as part of the Vision & Values. The seminars, sponsored and led by UET, will be held monthly and aim to demonstrate examples of Fusion by highlighting instances of good practice at BU where education, research and professional practice have been successfully combined.

The series will be launched on 14 December with a cross-BU conference focusing on Fusion and Society.

The series will culminate on 18 April with a cross-BU conference focusing on Fusion in Action; this will replace the Education Enhancement Conference.

In between there will be short monthly networking events, each focusing on specific examples of Fusion.

Speakers will be nominated and invited by the University R&E Forum and the Education Enhancement Committees.

All seminars will take place in Kimmeridge House in the afternoon. Dates are listed below:

  • 14 December (half day)
  • 18 January (1.5 hours)
  • 22 February (1.5 hours)
  • 21 March (1.5 hours)
  • 18 April (whole day)

Booking for the seminars will open soon and furthr information will be available via the Blog shortly.

Mass graves in Libya

Bournemouth University’s Senior Lecturer in Forensic Archaeology, Ian Hanson, has featured in a New Scientist article about mass graves in Libya.

New Scientist journalist Andy Coghlan visited BU's mass graves simulation exercise in July

An estimated 5000 people went missing during Gaddafi’s dictatorship and, following his death last week, the country’s transitional government is preparing to exhume and identify bodies in mass graves.

Speaking to New Scientist journalist Andy Coghlan, Ian said: “Each site should be treated as if it’s a crime scene, and you must presume there might be criminal investigations in the future.” 

Ian has advised on protocol and procedures for mass graves excavations following the Balkan and Iraq conflicts.

Since April 2009 he has spent a great deal of time in Iraq, developing further programmes that introduce new trainees to investigations, the law and science involved in recovering evidence from the many mass graves that remain in the country, and to establish competency and protocol for global scientific and legal standards.

Read the New Scientist article for more information.

Brewery Investing in its Future

Hall and Woodhouse brewery, famous for its ‘Badger’ award winning beers, has agreed to a second cohort of students to complete the ‘Business and Hospitality Management’ accredited Higher Education course at Bournemouth University. This development arose from engagement between business development staff in the School of Tourism and the HR team at the company.

Company Managers recognised that investing in its people was critical to beat the recession and ensure that the business is well managed and providing the best experience for its customer base. However, they could not find the right level of education, training and support to upskill its existing workforce and were looking for options tailored to their distinct needs.

In order to develop a bespoke Higher Education degree programme for the company, the Hall and Woodhouse HR team, working in conjunction with Keith Hayman (Head of CPD for the School), has invested significant commitment and resources. Keith has used his vast experience to identify skill gaps within the company and has created a bespoke course for its employees. The course is delivered at times that suit the management level students and includes elements of Marketing, HR and Financial Reporting to ensure effective management; and a motivated workforce throughout the chain.

In addition to the new cohort commencing next month, the first cohort progresses to Foundation Degree in March 2012. Once completed, recipients will receive a BA (Hons) degree.

Bournemouth University research into prosopagnosia (face blindness)

Prosopagnosia – or ‘face blindness’ – is a little known condition affecting 1 in 50 people. As Bournemouth University psychology lecturer Dr Sarah Bate explains, it is ‘literally a loss of memory for faces’.

Speaking to BBC Inside Out’s Jon Cuthill, Dr Bate said: “Prosopagnosia sufferers know what a face is. They know the basic configuration of a face, but they absolutely fail to indentify individuals, no matter how close those people are to them.”

Dr Bate and her team at Bournemouth University have developed a brand new test to identify how good people are at face recognition. It works by processing patterns in eye movement whilst looking at a face.

The findings show that in control trials, participants scan the face in a triangular pattern, looking at the eyes, nose and mouth. In contrast, prosopagnosia sufferers compensate for their lack of recognition by looking at external features of the face, such as the ears and hair.

You can find out more about BournemouthUniversity’s research into the condition by watching Dr Bate’s recent interview on BBC Inside Out. The feature is 11 minutes in.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0160zzv/Inside_Out_South_17_10_2011/

You can test yourself for prosopagnosia at Sarah’s website: www.prosopagnosiaresearch.org.

 

RCUK Research Outcomes Project is ready to launch!

Following my previous post about the development of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) Outcomes Project, the launch of the new system for collecting information about research outcomes from all RCUK grant holders is nearly here. Assuming all goes to plan with the final phase of user testing, the system will go live from 14 November 2011. Grant holders will be required to upload information about the following for each of the RCUK-funded projects they are responsible for:

  • Publications
  • Other research outputs
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Exploitation
  • Recognition
  • Staff development
  • Further funding
  • Impact

Grant holders will be able to log in to the system using their Je-S login and will be responsible for maintaining the outcomes information about the grants they have been awarded, even if they move institution. RCUK have issued a list of FAQs to help answer some common queries.

Research by Prof Keith Brown featured in The Guardian

Congratulations to BU’s Professor Keith Brown from the Centre for Post-Qualifying Social Work. Keith co-authored a report with Learn to Care that contains details of a leadership development scheme for social workers currently underway in Hampshire. The scheme aims to give managers the confidence to lead through change and hold staff to account, and is already being viewed as a model for other local authorities.

Details of the scheme are contained in a new report that outlines a strategy of guiding principles on leadership development and a proposed “pathway of leadership progression”. Aimed at giving managers the confidence to lead through change and hold staff to account, it is being seen as a model for other local authorities.

You can access the online story here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/oct/19/model-for-social-care-management?newsfeed=true

Professor Kretschmer’s research at the centre of debate by copyright owners & policy makers

Professor Martin Kretschmer’s research into private copying and fair compensation is at the centre of a discussion at an Intellectual Property Office event next week.

‘Informing Copyright Policy in the UK’ takes place on Wednesday 19 October, in partnership with The Big Innovation Centre.

It is an opportunity for copyright owners, technology companies, consumers, academics and policy makers to discuss exactly what Kretschmer’s findings mean for UK policy making.

The influential research paper, entitled ‘Private Copying and Fair Compensation: A comparative study of copyright levies inEurope’, offers the first independent empirical assessment of the European levy system.

The research consolidates evidence on levy setting and collection, as well as reviewing the scope of consumer permissions associated with levy payments. Professor Kretschmer reports the results of three product level studies – printer / scanners, portable music / video / game devices and tablet computers – and analyses the relationship between VAT, levy tariffs and retail prices in 20 levy and non-levy countries.

The other paper up for discussion is ‘Changing Business Models in the Creative Industries: The Cases of Television, Computer Games and Music, by Dr Nicola Searle from theUniversityofAbertay,Dundee.

More information at the event can be found here.

Professor Kretschmer’s key findings:

– There are dramatic differences between countries in the methodology used for identifying leviable media and devices, setting tariffs, and allocating beneficiaries of the levy. These variations cannot be explained by an underlying concept of economic harm to right holders from private copying.

– The scope of consumer permissions under the statutory exceptions for private copying within the EU does not match with what consumers ordinarily understand as private activities.

– In levy countries, the costs of levies as an indirect tax are not always passed on to the consumer. In competitive markets, such as those for printers, manufacturers of levied goods appear to absorb the levy. There appears to be a pan-European retail price range for many consumer devices regardless of levy schemes (with the exception ofScandinavia).

– In non-levy countries, such as theUK, a certain amount of private copying is already priced into retail purchases. For example, right holders have either explicitly permitted acts of format shifting, or decided not to enforce their exclusive rights. Commercial practice will not change as a result of introducing a narrowly conceived private copying exception.

– A more widely conceived exception that would cover private activities that take place in digital networks (such as downloading for personal use, or noncommercial adaptation and distribution within networks of friends) may be best understood not as an exception but as a statutory licence. Such a licence could include state regulated payments with levy characteristics as part of a wider overhaul of the copyright system, facilitating the growth of new digital services.

Links

Professor Martin Kretschmer’s academic profile

More publications by Professor Martin Kretschmer

CIPPM: Recent policy reports

Increasing the value of our research – an international perspective

Reading the latest version of the REFAssessment relating to submission guidelines it is evident that we are assessed using a criteria based on international standards (http://www.hefce.ac.uk/research/ref/pubs/2011/02_11/).  The quality profile is framed around terms such as “world leading”, “internationally excellent” and “recognised internationally” that define four, three and two star research. It is accepted that research should operate at an international level in terms of activities such as conference networking, outputs, collaboration and grant bidding.

One of the great benefits of conducting research at University is the opportunity to attend international conferences. Meeting other academics across the world has real developmental opportunities in addition to receiving valuable subject specific feedback during presentation questions and informal discussions. At a recent international conference in Maltathe conference delegates were invited to spend an afternoon at the University Engineering Faculty in Msida (http://www.um.edu.mt/eng). After presentations from the Faculty Dean and members of academic staff the delegates were shown around the laboratories etc. This was a great opportunity to form new academic links and to understand both the research and educational pressures and opportunities.

It would be interesting if we develop our measurements of success relating to the value of international research. We could for example look more closely at the number of overseas visiting academics, publications with international co-authors or the linkages with post-graduate taught programmes. If we identify and extend the full value of international research beyond its formal boundaries it will benefit all academic activities such as education and professional practice.

A view from afar…

I have recently become part of a fascinating network, the Royal Anthropological Institute, who kindly made me a Fellow. Fascinating, because they have realised, after a longer period of Sleeping-Beautyesque focus on social and cultural anthropology alone, how important it is to embrace the natural science part of anthropology, its biological, forensic and medical strands. An excellent move that will bring Anthropology and its representation in the UK back to its comprehensive and encompassing roots and remit. Good also for BU, because the RAI is recognising our contribution towards educating the next generation of anthropologists, whose combined education in humanities and science produces the rounded and aware graduates society will need in future.

Naturally, the RAI fosters broad-ranging discussions among its members, and their ‘house journal’, Anthropology Today, invites guest editorials on a regular basis. Not long ago, a former Cambridge graduate, who moved on to a highly successful career in the US, reflected on the latest changes to the UK Higher Education system, its commercialisation and consumer orientation (anthropology today). American universities have been operating this for a long time, and they are beginning to pick up the fallout now. Hugh Gusterson’s thoughtful comparison of political agendas here and campus reality there makes interesting reading – if only to avoid falling into the same traps.

Dr Sarah Bate’s research will feature on BBC One tonight!

A couple of months ago we ran a blog post about the amazing research into prosopagnosia (face blindness) being undertaken at Bournemouth University by Dr Sarah Bate (‘Find out about Dr Sarah Bate’s research into prosopagnosia‘).

Sarah will feature on tonight’s Inside Out – South show, at 7:30pm, discussing the condition with presenter Jon Cuthill and people diagnosed with prosopagnosia.

You can see a quick peek at Sarah’s research on tonight’s show here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-15290378

You can test yourself for prosopagnosia at Sarah’s website: www.prosopagnosiaresearch.org.

Prof Martin Kretschmer on Hargreaves’ parody and private use exception to copyright

BU’s Prof Martin Kretschmer will speak at a Houses of Parliament discussion into the practicalities of Professor Hargreaves’ recommended copyright exceptions.

The event, entitled ‘Hargreaves’ exceptions: format-shifting, parody, research and archiving’, takes place on Tuesday 18 October and will bring together a wide range of stakeholders to discuss the practical implications of Professor Hargreaves’ recommendation.

The Hargreaves Review cites the research in developing a recommendation to introduce a limited private copying exception without compensation.

Professor Kretschmer will talk about the European requirement of “fair compensation” in relation to certain copyright exceptions. His research reports the results of three product level studies – printer / scanners, portable music / video / game devices and tablet computers – and analyses the relationship between VAT, levy tariffs and retail prices in 20 levy and non-levy countries. His report on copyright levies, funded by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC), has been cited by the Hargreaves Review and in the Government’s response to Hargreaves.

The panel discussion will be chaired by Jim Dowd MP. Other panel members include Martin Brennan, founder and CEO of 3GA Ltd, Richard Brousson, legal counsel at the British Film Institute (BFI) and James Sadri, digital producer at Greenpeace UK.

For further information, please see the following links: 

More on Private Copying and Fair Compensation

Professor Martin Kretschmer’s academic profile

More publications by Professor Martin Kretschmer

Mental Health Week: The Rainforest Asylum

As part of Mental Health Week here at BU Dr Sara Ashencaen Crabtree from HSC has highlighted the research that underpins her forthcoming book on psychiatric care in Malaysia.

The annual commemoration that is Mental Health Day this year promotes the theme: ‘The great push: investing in mental health’. As a theme it serves to underline both the enormous, global burden of mental illnesses that nations grapple with and the commensurate need for effective psychiatric services to keep pace with these needs. Another very important aspect of Mental Health Day is to highlight the hidden and stigmatised voices of the sufferers of mental illness. This was the inspiration behind my research into service user perspectives in Malaysia. The culmination of many years of research into this highly neglected issue has seen the completion of my book:  A Rainforest Asylum: The influences of colonial psychiatry in Malaysia, which will be published later this autumn under Whiting & Birch publishers.

This study first started out as the basis of my doctoral research, but has since been revised to incorporate data that extends the scope of the topic both internationally and historically.  To this end, the study used an intensive and extensive ethnographic methodology in the penetration and analysis of institutional care in the region, where the majority of psychiatric patients were long-stay residents. Within the walls of one particular psychiatric institution, where fieldwork was carried out close relationships with the residents, as well as the staff, enabled me to gather invaluable and hitherto untold narratives. These provided rich seams of information of sequestered lives and diachronic, as well as often anachronistic, institutional practices, which overturned many of my previously held assumptions. These stories, combined with triangulation data-gathering strategies, yielded unique insights into, not only contemporary institutional care in Malaysia, but even into its more distant colonial roots.  The aim and relevance of The Rainforest Asylum, therefore, is that it captures the fascinating and otherwise lost voices of Malaysian service users, in a cultural context where a scientific, positivistic discourse prevails. However, its aims are more far reaching in that while providing an account that straddles the fault lines of both medical sociology and medical anthropology, it also critically engages with intriguing historiographic accounts of imperial psychiatry in the British Empire, as well as that of colonial France and the Netherlands. These serve to illuminate the ideologies and practices underpinning the colonial psychiatric mission across the nineteenth century in Asia and Africa, and which today hold identifiable influences, both for good and ill, in contemporary psychiatric services in post-colonial nations.

For details of Sara’s previous publications, see her profile on BURO.

Mental Health Research and Community Programmes

As part of Mental Health Week here at BU Dr Andrew Mayers from DEC has highlighted some of the work he is undertaking with local groups.

FirstPoint (Winton)

Run by Bournemouth Borough Council, FirstPoint work with community residents who have a range of mental health problems. Many of these individuals are not cared for by health services, often by choice. Using the ‘recovery model’ for mental health, the trained staff work to re-engage individuals and help them rebuild their lives. In the recovery model, individuals are shown how to regain enough self-confidence to find the coping skills and resources to return to better mental health. I am working with FirstPoint on a number of projects. We are evaluating outcomes in one-year longitudinal study, with BU students collecting and analysing the data. We aim to publish the outcomes in 2012/13. We also are working on arranging a series of work-experience placements for undergraduate and postgraduate students. Over the last months, FirstPoint have been working on a DVD that illustrates the benefits of the recovery model for mental health. The DVD will be used to inform mental health workers; I have made a contribution to that DVD. We will be launching the DVD for FirstPoint at BU in November.

Bournemouth and District Samaritans

The work undertaken by the Samaritans across the UK and Ireland is well known. The central focus of their work is to be a ‘listening ear’ to anyone experiencing despair, loneliness, or feeling suicidal. They are available 24-hours a day, every day of the year, via telephone, text, e-mail, letter, or face-to-face. I work very closely with the Bournemouth and District branch, acting as their Patron and I organise their publicity. We are working on a number of local projects, not least looking to establish closer ties between BU and the Samaritans. A number of our students volunteer to work at the Branch. The Samaritans have a presence at several BU events. We are currently working with several people at BU to establish a crisis nightline, and training (any) staff who have contact with students who may need emergency help (we have already had some crises with the current BU student intake). We are also looking to work closely with other agencies and charities locally. Some of this may lead to research opportunities, exploring ways in which mental illness, stress and despair can be reduced in our community. I am planning a number of projects focusing on suicide and mental health (including the particular problems faced in rural communities).

Barnardo’s (and Bournemouth Borough Council)

I am working with Barnardo’s Family Centres, in conjunction with Bournemouth Borough’s education services, to investigate the impact of maternal mental illness on young children. We are particularly interested in exploring attachment and mother-child interactions. We will be evaluating current programmes and working together on new ones. We have established a working party, with a view to design several research studies, and to explore sources of grant funding.

Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust

I am supervising a PhD project (Research student – Lauren Kita), working with the perinatal team within Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust. We are exploring the extent that poor sleep may pose a risk factor for postnatal depression. We will be examining sleep objectively, using state-of-the-art EEG equipment, and subjectively, using sleep diaries. Women with a history of depression will compared to women without such a history, during pregnancy and at weeks 4 and 12 after the baby is born. The mother’s mood and other mental indicators will also be measured.

International Cultic Studies Association /New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling

I am working with a Chartered Counselling Psychologist to explore mental health of individuals who were born into exclusive cults (i.e. they did not decide to join that cult). Through this contact, and the International Cultic Studies Association (ISCA) we have access to several hundred former members. We will be using a series of questionnaires that measure key factors such as current mental illness, trauma, self-efficacy, coping skills, and general life function. We will present the findings at the Annual ISCA Conference in Montreal next summer. Several papers will be published soon afterwards.

If you would like to find out more about this work please contact Andrew Mayers.