Psychology ranked joint 7th in the UK for research quality
The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) classified the percentage of activity that was internationally excellent across UK Departments in each discipline. Within the ranking compiled by the Guardian and Times the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway was ranked 7th (out of 75) amongst the very best Departments in the country.
Commenting on the results, Head of Department, Professor Johannes Zanker said, “We are delighted to see the hard work and outstanding enthusiasm of the last 7 years being recognised by the Psychology panel. The outstanding results of the RAE 2008 confirm us as one of the truly leading departments in the country. This success was achieved through the combination of a strategic restructuring of our research into powerful research teams, complemented by targeted new appointments, and investing in research programmes of international standing in core areas of our discipline. One crucial aspect of this effort has been the collaboration of highly promising early career researchers with well established leaders in their fields. Our inclusive and thriving research culture also nurtures the academic development of carefully selected postgraduate students who in turn bring further creativity and enthusiasm to our environment. ”
The Psychology department offers an inclusive, vibrant, creative, and productive research environment, with internationally-recognised senior staff members working side by side with high-performing early career researchers of great potential. This international environment has enabled the Department to establish powerful research teams tackling a range of core questions in the discipline, which are making substantial contributions to scientific progress in an international context. This work is supported by state-of-the-art research facilities, including well-equipped cognitive and psychophysical laboratories, a 3T MRI scanner, TMS and EEG laboratories, motion capture and driving simulation facilities, and a purpose-built Developmental Studies Centre complete with CCTV observation suite.
The strength and depth of our research community is demonstrated the fact that over 90% of academic staff was submitted to the RAE. In the period covering the current RAE exercise, these 28 researchers published over 400 peer-reviewed articles in top-quality journals; their research was cited in nearly 10,000 separate articles; and they earned over £7 million in research funding. They served on the boards of over 30 scientific journals; they gained domestic and international media exposure for their research; they engaged with applied research and developed collaborations with the industrial sector; and they made significant contributions to policy through distinguished service on advisory groups.
Research in the Department is organised into three key themes: Adult & Child Cognition, Brain & Behaviour, and Clinical, Health, & Social Psychology.
Researchers in the Adult & Child Cognition group are internationally known primarily for their behavioural and computational work in characterising the language system and its development, along with its breakdown in cases of brain injury or neurodegenerative disease. The department has also invested systematically in growing its expertise in aspects of cognitive development, an initiative that supported construction of the Baby Lab, a research facility dedicated to understanding the development of cognitive abilities in infancy. Other areas of expertise include attention and multisensory integration, and cognitive aspects of anxiety in normal and clinical populations.
The work of the Brain & Behaviour group is primarily focused on the visual system and its relation to motor control. One major achievement of this group was to lead the development of the first research-dedicated MRI facility in a UK Psychology department, a milestone that has subsequently shaped the character and quality of their research. Imaging studies are complemented by closely linked behavioural and developmental studies on visual and multimodal perception, attention, and sensory-motor control, and the computational modelling of sensory information processing.
Researchers in the Clinical, Health, & Social group are known internationally for their work on understanding the social and cognitive aspects of clinical conditions such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Members of this group have also achieved renown for their work on intergroup relations and acculturation, and on the psychological aspects of chronic medical conditions (in particular through the development of instruments measuring the impact of a range of these conditions on quality of life).
Our investment over the next five years will focus on consolidating our research strengths and expanding our research base in areas that complement our existing strengths.