UCD School of Psychology Research Strategy (2020-2024)[1] 

The UCD School of Psychology has a thriving research community actively investigating both basic and applied research problems across a diverse range of topics within psychology.  The experimental research within the school is organised into several active laboratories: Attention & Memory; Behavioural Neuroscience; CBT for Young People; Classification and Attribution; Contextual & Behavioural Science; Eyetracking & Motor Imagery; Helping Kids; Media & Entertainment; Perception; Youth Mental Health. In addition the UCD Centre for Disability Studies is located in the School. The Centre’s research strategy prioritises national and international collaborations that impact policy and practice within the field.

Postdoctoral scholars, PhD students and research assistants are an integral part of the research community.  The School has strong research links with the Health Service Executive through the doctoral programme in clinical psychology (D.Psych.Sc.) and with St. Michael’s House service for people with intellectual disabilities through the Centre for Disability Studies.  The School also has strong research links with many other organisations such as Jigsaw (the National Centre for Youth Mental Health).

The School’s overarching research aim for the timeframe of this Strategy is to:
Increase our visibility and reputation as a centre for research excellence and to increase the impact of our research.

Values

All the research that we conduct in the School is underpinned by a shared series of values:

  • The School puts social responsibility at the centre of all our research activities. Working with our community/industry partners and through our research in areas such as clinical psychology, mindfulness and mental health, we conduct research that will be of benefit to the whole of society.
  • The School values reflective and versatile approaches to research that respond to changing societal demands and adapts in line with external and internal challenges, including, for example our response to COVID-19.
  • We constantly strive to increase knowledge through excellence in our research and to support research-informed teaching, supporting individual excellence for both students and staff.
  • The School research promotes and supports the University agenda on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) throughout all our activities.

Thematic Areas 

UCD’s Strategy (2020-24) Rising to the Future identifies four strategic themes on which to focus our research efforts. Recognising the variety of research activity within the School, our aim to increase our research visibility, reputation and impact will focus on two of the University’s strategic themes: 

1. The School of Psychology research will contribute to the University goal of Building a Healthy World through two of our research themes:

  • Affective, Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychological Health, Wellbeing and Resilience

 

  • Research in the area of Affective, Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience will:
    • Advance understanding of the neural foundations of behaviour
    • Examine the causes and effects of developmental or acquired neuropsychological deficits.
    • Advance research in cognitive psychology that is grounded in an understanding of the relationship between brain and behaviour.
  • Research in the area of Psychological Health, Wellbeing and Resilience will:
    • Advance understanding of psychological and behavioural processes in mental health and mental health care.
    • Identify predictors of various domains of health, well-being and resilience.
    • Develop and evaluate clinical interventions for promoting positive mental health.
    • Investigate the impact of disease-related and environmental factors on healthy brain and behaviour development and functioning.

2. The School of Psychology’s research will contribute to the University goal of Empowering Humanity through our research in the area of Group Processes and Social Inclusion. Specifically, research in our School will:

    • Advance understanding of the factors associated with social exclusion and inclusion.
    • Increase our understanding of the impact of social exclusion on individuals, families and communities.
    • Develop and evaluate interventions for increasing social inclusion.

Objectives for all thematic areas

  1. To develop and strengthen research in each thematic area by supporting staff to secure research funding, hiring faculty with relevant research experience and potential to attract research funding.
  2. To support increased research productivity in each thematic area by supporting existing and potential students to apply for graduate research funding.
  3. To increase the number and quality of our strategic research links with international Schools and laboratories that have similar research themes.
  4. To strengthen collaboration with community/industry partners and increase the number of funded PhDs working with these partners.
  5. To increase the quality and impact of our research publications within each thematic area e.g. make publications available in research repository; use social media to disseminate information on publications.
  6. To increase the quality and reach of public communication about our scientific work. 

Measuring Success

In research reputation:

  1. Increase School Ranking on the QS and THE surveys
  2. Increase citation of publications in all three thematic areas.
  3. Increase research income from national and international competitive funding agencies.
  4. Increase the proportion of articles/books/chapters published that are classified as prestigious.

In research visibility:

  1. Increase in number of faculty media appearances/commentaries/advisory roles based on research.
  2. Increase in number of students applying to graduate research degrees in thematic areas.
  3. Ensure that our School website provides up-to-date details of ongoing research activity.

In research impact:

  1. Increase the number of communications that translate the School’s research findings into information for professionals (e.g. teachers, clinical psychologists).
  2. Increase the number of lay communications relating to the development and implementation of behaviour change interventions based on the School’s research (e.g. for parents).
  3. Increase the number of communications by faculty/research staff to policy relevant fora such as Oireachtas committees.

Enablers - Resources needed to build capacity

  1. Improve research support and infrastructure
    • Secure funding for dedicated administrative support for research activity within the School.
    • Develop laboratory and other research spaces to support research activity.
    • Hire additional support staff to assist with technical aspects of research such as programming and app design to maximise the use of digital technology in our research.
    • Identify and procure the suite of software applications best suited to digital data gathering and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data.
    • Purchase, upgrade or gain access to suitable equipment (e.g. EEG, TMS, eye-tracking) and software (e.g. NVIVO, Qualtrics) that supports the needs of all active research staff in the school.
  2. Set up a School Postgraduate Scholarship Read and Review Committee who review and give feedback on key funding applications being submitted by students seeking external funding at postgraduate level. (e.g, IRC).
  3. Consider introducing block teaching for staff members where appropriate to free up more consolidated time for research.
  4. Increase our international and national public engagements.
  5. Market and promote our School’s research heavily on social media.
  6. Invest in communication training for faculty for media appearances.

[1] Approved November 10th 2020