Thursday, 28 February 2013

BMC Psychology

The BMC launched its open-access Psychology journal today.

Features a good piece by Keith Laws on replication and publishing negative findings.

Literature Review for the Office of the Children's Commissioner

In December 2012 a consortium team led by Miranda Horvath of Forensic Psychological Services won a tender to conduct a literature review for the Office of the Children’s Commissioner to inform their Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Gangs and Groups on the impact of pornography on children and young people.

The other members of the consortium for this work are Dr Afroditi Pina from the University of Kent, Dr Llian Alys  from the University of Bedfordshire, Kristina Massey from Canterbury Christ Church University and Dr Joanna Adler and Mia Scally from Middlesex University. Our multi-site approach allows us to benefit from the experience of our collaborators and also the resources of four universities.

We are conducting a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) so we can complete the review in the short timescale. In order to take a REA approach questions were devised to guide the review, these are:

  1. Identify and assess the existing evidence base on children and young people’s access and exposure to pornography.
  2. Identify and assess the existing evidence base on the effects that access and exposure to pornography has on children and young people’s sexual expectations, attitudes and behaviours.
  3. Draw upon existing literature reviews and meta-analyses on the associations between access and exposure to sexualised or violent visual imagery on children and young people, and consider whether this bears relevance to the issue in question.
We have now completed the searches for relevant literature and used an adapted Weight of Evidence approach for deciding whether to include them in the review. We are holding a workshop on Tuesday 5th March for researchers and practitioners with expertise in the area to provide feedback on the preliminary findings of the literature review. 

BPS Accredited CPD on Sexual Violence

Building on the success of the sexual violence workshops that Drs Jackie Gray, Susan Hansen and Miranda Horvath ran for the British Psychological Society (BPS) in 2012, we are pleased to announce that we will be running a series of new BPS approved workshops on different aspects of sexual violence this year. These workshops are approved for BPS Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and will explore the specialist topics of:

  • Multiple perpetrator rape (19th April, 2013)
  • Negotiating ethical sexual relationships (27th June, 2013)
  • Intersectionality and sexual violence (17th September, 2013)
  • The investigation and prosecution of rape (TBC)

The full details and booking for the first three workshops are available on this link (the fourth one will be published in due course, but is likely to run in early 2014).

The rates are £50 for BPS members, £80 for non-BPS members, and £30 for students.

All the workshops will be held at Middlesex University, Hendon Campus.

Please contact Miranda Horvath for more information or 02084114532.

Multiple Perpetrator Rape Publication

This week the first ever Handbook on the Study of Multiple Perpetrator Rape is being published by Routledge. The book was co-edited by Dr Miranda Horvath (Department of Psychology Middlesex University) and Dr Jessica Woodhams (Department of Psychology,University of Birmingham) and includes chapters from researchers and practitioners from around the world including two other members of the Psychology Department at Middlesex – Dr Jackie Gray and PhD student Mackenzie Lambine.

Much attention has been paid to Multiple Perpetrator Rape (MPR) in recent months as a result of the gang-rape of a 23 year-old women and New Delhi which resulted in her death and many similar offences which have since been reported. Although Jyoti Singh Pandey’s rape and murder has touched many people, this is not a new offence, or one that is limited to a particular country. Although we do not have reliable statistics on how common MPR is (because crime statistics on sexual violence do not differentiate between rapes committed by lone perpetrators and those perpetrated by groups) evidence suggestion it is an international but not a uniform phenomenon. However like other forms of sexual violence most victim-survivors are female and perpetrators are male.

The Handbook on the Study of Multiple Perpetrator Rape was produced as the result of a British Psychological Society funded seminar series awarded to Miranda and Jessica in 2010. The seminars were held at Middlesex University and the University of Birmingham in 2011 and 2012 and brought together researchers, policy makers and practitioners from the UK, USA, Australia, Israel, South Africa and the Netherlands (you can find some more information from the seminars here).

The handbook is organised to provide readers with a comprehensive account of the thinking, theorising and empirical evidence on multiple perpetrator rape to date. Aspects covered include: different contexts in which multiple perpetrator rape occurs such as gangs, war, fraternities, South Africa; experiences of women and girls as victims and perpetrators; offence characteristics such as leadership and role taking, aggression and violence; the importance of group size; the media’s portrayal of high profile cases;  the prosecution of and treatment of offenders; and approaches to prevention.

The contributions to this collection are written by leading academics and practitioners from a variety of disciplines who bring together research and practice on multiple perpetrator rape by presenting new data from a strong theoretical and contextual base. It is hoped that the book will be a key text for students and academics studying multiple perpetrator rape and an essential reference tool for professionals working in the field, including police officers, educationalists, forensic psychologists, youth workers, probation staff, lawyers, judges and policy makers.

The handbook is the fourth volume in the book series Issues in Forensic Psychology, edited by Richard Shuker of the therapeutic prison community HMP Grendon, UK. The series aims to provide analysis and debate on current issues of relevance to forensic psychology and associated fields. Routledge anticipates issuing the paperback in 2014.

To take advantage of a 20 percent pre-publication discount (until 28th February 2012), visit the book's site and use the discount code CRIMHPR12 when placing your order. The same link can also be used to recommend the book to your institution's librarian.

Monday, 18 February 2013

REF, twitter and public writing

Research about research: Choice morsels

Only the lonely

While the REF explicitly discourages the use of impact factor when drawing up an index of research glory, many institutions implicitly, if incorrectly, take these into account. Criticism of ISI impact factors, eigen factors, H Factors and others are legion, myriad and well-documented, but a recent paper by the Editor of Organisation highlights another worrying if quirky flaw.

In the January 2013 issue, Craig Pritchard looked at the number of papers which had received NO citations in the literature.  9% (48) had not, in 20 years. One case of non citation was that of Peruvemba Jaya, a communications scholar from Ottowa. He had written about "the invisibility of third world scholarship".  But in Google Scholar, the paper appeared 17 times. Why? It transpires that the Thompson databases had created two records for the paper and had spelled his name differently in each.

Pritchard goes on, fairly devastatingly: "In our case Thomson’s database identified 48 un-cited Organization papers—about 10% of the total published. If we check these
48 with Google Scholar our list drops by 40 to just eight uncited papers (an 83% reduction)."


In other research, Gunter Eysenbach has found that releasing your study on Twitter, where it is retweeted, favourited and mentioned increases its chances of being cited.  This promulgation confirms research from other sources. For example,  famously, a mention of your NEJM paper in the New York Times led to a disproportionate number of citations of that paper in other journal articles.

Publication delay and impact factor

In Plos, Brazilian researchers have noted a peculiar link between publication delays and impact factor. In a review of 61 neuroscience journals, they found that: "Using a modified impact factor based on online rather than print publication dates, we demonstrate that online-to-print delays can artificially raise a journal’s impact factor"

G Neil Martin


2001's finest- The Psychologist writes

The Psychologist's 25th Anniversary issue has selected G Neil Martin's article as the highlight of 2001 in its 'Best of Year' selection published in January.  Here is the Annals of Improbable Research's take on it (Neil is an editorial board member) 
and here is the piece.

Wellcome Trust's Big Picture

The latest edition of the Wellcome Trust's magazine for older schoolchildren, Big Picture, is devoted to the brain and understanding how it is studied and works: "Inside the Brain". Despite being pitched at sixth formers, it is one of the most informative guides on this topic and suitable for anyone with an interest. It is free here.

G Neil Martin

Friday, 15 February 2013

NIHR call for proposals

NIHR Research proposals are invited for the following calls:

Researcher-led proposals

Our researcher-led calls are open all year round, with three application cut-off dates.  The next closing date for applications is 1pm on Monday 13 May 2013.  Application forms and all associated documents for this call are available on the HTA Programme website here.

Proposals deemed within remit for the current call will be assessed for their importance to the NHS in July and September 2013. Applicants will be advised as to whether they have been short-listed by the end of September 2013.

For any further enquiries, please contact the HTA Clinical Evaluation and Trials team: 023 8059 6974 or

Mothers' influence girls HPV jab uptake

News from the BPS:

Uptake of the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination among girls is impacted by the attitudes their mothers have to cervical cancer screening. This is according to new findings from the University of Manchester, which showed teenagers are around three times more likely to have the jab if their mum recently received the test, BBC News reports.

Published in the European Journal of Cancer, the study looked at data from 117,000 young females and also suggested an abnormal result for the mother increases the likelihood that a girl will undergo the vaccination.

Dr Claire Knight, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, explained the HPV jab represents one of the most effective ways to reduce cervical cancer risk.

"This study adds to our knowledge about the factors that affect vaccination behaviour, including the influence of family and friends," she stated, adding all women need to understand the importance of the HPV vaccination and cervical screening, as these have the ability to save lives. 

According to Chartered Psychologist Professor van den Akker, a reproductive health expert from Middlesex University in London “This Mother-Daughter health behaviour link has been demonstrated in previous quantitative (Deleeck, 2011) research in Belgium, qualitative research (Waller et al, 2006) in the UK and clinical practice (Jhpiego, 2012) in Thailand and the Philippines”. 

She said that “The reasons for the relationship are likely to be the promotion of health behaviours in some families, as opposed to others, and reasons why in some families such health behaviours are not promoted is because of a lack of understanding of the risks. Instead, families where the information is not available and a full understanding of the risks is absent, tend to relate HPV testing with fears of increasing promiscuity in their daughters, hence focusing on the potential negative consequences of vaccinations, rather than the certain protective consequences”.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Death of the Dissertation? 21 Century approaches to Critical Enquiry

Annual Learning and Teaching Conference 2013
Death of the Dissertation? 21 Century approaches to Critical Enquiry
July 11th 2013, Hendon Campus

Building on the success of last year’s conference, which explored issues surrounding the globalisation of Higher Education, the title of this year’s 12th Annual Learning and Teaching Conference at Middlesex University is ‘Death of the Dissertation? 21st-Century approaches to Critical Enquiry’.

The day will explore whether the dissertation is still considered as standard in undergraduate programmes, alternative approaches to critical enquiry and the benefits and challenges of using different approaches. Professor Mick Healey, HE Consultant and Researcher and Emeritus Professor at the University of Gloucestershire, will provide the keynote speech. The conference aims to provide participants with an opportunity to discuss the issues surrounding embedding critical enquiry, share different approaches, celebrate success and develop understanding of the nature of critical enquiry in different disciplines drawing on examples from Middlesex and across the HE sector.

Papers, workshops and symposiums dealing with any aspect of critical enquiry and the alternatives to the traditional dissertation will be considered. Some examples of themes are given below:

·       The challenges of the dissertation
·       Alternative assessment options
·       Critical enquiry and employability
·       Real life case studies of final year projects
·       Why the premise of the dissertation is still relevant today
·       Why different subject disciplines require different approaches with specific examples
·       The importance of embedding skills and knowledge necessary for dissertations or their equivalent  from Year 1 

Those interested in making a contribution to the day should complete the following details and submit to Joanne Mullarkey in the Centre for Learning and Teaching Enhancement ( by Friday 15th March 2013.

Name(s) of lead presenters:



Title of proposal:

Format: (maximum time of 1 hour available)     

                             ¨ Workshop (1 hour)
                                    ¨ Presentation (40 minute presentation, 20 minutes question and answer)
                            ¨ Other (please specify)_________________

Abstract: (maximum of 300 words)

Key issues to be addressed are:

Session learning outcomes:

IT or audio-visual requirements
Computer, data-projectors and internet access will be provided as standard. If you have any other IT or audio-visual requirements please specify.

Review criteria
Each proposal is subjected to peer review against the following criteria:
·       clarity of the proposal;
·       originality/innovation of the mode of presentation of the idea/approach;
·       implications of the findings for the learning and teaching community;
·       anticipated interest.
Successful applicants will be notified by Monday 25th March. Proposals for successful applications will be put on the conference website prior to the event. These will include the abstract, the aims of the session, the learning outcomes, plus any references deemed appropriate.