Encouraging and challenging research environment Encouraging and challenging research environment

Research is very highly valued at the University of East Anglia and we aim to provide a research environment which is encouraging and testing. Therefore accepting a place at the University of East Anglia means that you must be willing to commit yourself to undertake research at a high standard and expect to publish the research that you complete.

We value research for its own sake and also because it is a core component of clinical psychology training and practice. Practicing clinical psychologists are consumers of research and producers of research. Adopting the "scientist-practitioner" model involves a continuous process of integrating research findings into clinical practice, adopting a hypothesis testing approach to therapy and engaging in clinically relevant research. Our aim amongst the clinical psychology group (staff and trainees) is to conduct research which complements clinical work, which informs and enhances clinical skills, which is theoretically based, and which contributes to the development of health service practice and/or policy. In addition, we aim to train clinical psychologists in critical evaluation of research, in summarising and integrating research findings, and in drawing out the clinical implications of research. We particularly welcome applicants with a strong interest in research and those who want to develop a clinical research career.

Research Programmes within Clinical Psychology

There are four main research programmes within the Department of Clinical Psychology, and the programme staff are members of these programmes, along with other members of the Department of Clinical Psychology:

  1. Psychological distress and disorders in adult populations which includes psychosis, anxiety and depression (Sian Coker, Jo Hodgekins and Naoko Kishita)
  2. Psychology of childhood and adolescence including PTSD in young people, eating disorders, paediatric diabeties, paediatric neuropsychology and paediatric pain (Ella Beeson, Sian Coker, Imogen Hobbis, Kiki Mastroyannopoulou, Richard Meiser-Stedman and Judith Young) 
  3. Clinical health psychology across the lifespan which includes psychosocial adaptation to chronic illness (Ella Beeson, Imogen Hobbis and Kiki Mastroyannopoulou and Judith Young)
  4. Vulnerable populations including older people, autistic spectrum disorder and those with Acquired Brain Injury (Paul Fisher, Fergus Gracey, Ken Laidlaw, Adrian Leddy and Lynne Roper)

Our research programmes are funded from a number of sources including the MRC, the ESRC, the Wellcome Trust, the Leverhulme Trust, the British Academy, Action Medical Research, NIHR-RfPB, NIHR-TCC, NIHR-RISC, NIHR Programme Grant for Applied Research and the NIHR HTA programme. The research programmes described above are based in clinical practice and are usually multi-disciplinary in orientation. The research training at the University of East Anglia is therefore aimed at teaching ways and means of conducting ecologically valid, high quality and generalisable research of direct clinical relevance to the NHS. Trainees benefit from being part of an active research community and are encouraged to contribute to the programmes of research described above.

The Research Training Programme

Research in Clinical Psychology is an essential part of professional practice. Applied clinical research is a key part of the Programme and constitutes around half of the content of training, teaching and study. Trainee clinical psychologists are postgraduate research (PGR) students at the University.  Practicing clinical psychologists are expected to remain appraised of the most recent and relevant clinical research, as well as adding to the evidence-base. As such, we are both critical consumers and producers of research.

We have recently adopted a portfolio model for the final year thesis. The benefit of this is that trainees will learn key research competencies, with the resulting research outcomes in a format which will facilitate publication of the research.  We believe this gives our trainees a “real life” experience of research and allows them to complete the research process (i.e. dissemination of their research) in a more efficient way which will also enhance career and employment prospects.   

Research training begins at the start of the Programme.  There is a Research Fair early in the first year where staff present information on their programmes of research and outlines of potential projects.  Trainees then have the opportunity to develop ideas and present them for feedback in the Spring term.  Following this, trainees will submit their thesis proposal in June of Year 1.  The portfolio thesis will be submitted in March of Year 3 (giving candidates up to 21 months to complete their research).  A service related project (SRP) is also completed and submitted at the end of Year 2.  Trainees will develop the SRP Proposal in Year 1 with a Clinical and UEA Supervisor and work on this concurrently whilst carrying out work on the thesis.  The SRP is usually a small scale service evaluation or clinical audit project, driven by service needs, with the aim of making a difference to service users, carers and or service provision.  It is usually carried out in the trainee's clinical base, with local dissemination of findings and recommendations an integral part of the project.  The service related project will be submitted in the format of a journal article or professional practice report for the purposes of dissemination.  Both the thesis proposal and the service related project are submitted for examination during training, prior to completion of the doctoral thesis.  These assignments facilitate the development of research competencies in preparation for the larger doctoral thesis project.

A Trainee Research Conference is held annually in September during which our trainees present their doctoral research as either a poster or an oral presentation, and to which new entrants to our Programme will be invited as our newest stakeholders.  We actively encourage and support trainees to publish their thesis research following completion and to submit findings to national and international conferences for oral or poster presentations.

Methodological approaches which are commonly used include single case series designs, qualitative studies, group comparison studies and experimental designs.  Further details of staff research interests are available on our website and are also provided for short-listed candidates prior to interview.

The doctoral research thesis portfolio offers trainees the opportunity to engage in a significant piece of research, supported by an academic supervisor.  The theses are submitted towards the end of training and are assessed via oral examinations (vivas). The thesis will be submitted in a publication friendly portfolio format, normally comprising a systematic review, chapters on methodology, results and discussion, and a chapter in the format of a journal article highlighting the main findings.

The thesis is based on research carried out by trainees in partnership with staff and sometimes clinical supervisors on placement.  As research is rarely carried out by individuals in isolation, collaboration between trainees and staff is encouraged to embed skills as competent scientist-practitioners.  Dedicated days for research and academic study are allocated in each year of training.  There are good library and computing facilities within the University and in NHS departments around the region.  There are opportunities for collaborative and team research including opportunities for working with colleagues in other disciplines within the School.