If you’ve been reading some of my blogs over the past couple of years and might be interested in doing research as a research assistant or a PhD student, then we have three opportunities open that may interest you (see below). If you’ve come to this page specifically because you’re interested in PhD study or a research assistant job, then read on and also take the chance to read some of my blogs to get a feel for some of the work that we’ve been doing in the past few years.
Including information on this blog is also partly an experiment. All three research positions open at the moment are being advertised over the Easter break, and so I won’t be around to answer queries. I wanted to devise an accessible place where people could find out more information.
Research assistant position working on the “Beat-It” trial
We have a full-time research assistant position available to work on a trial of behavioural activation and guided self-help interventions for adults with learning (intellectual) disability with depression. The project is a multi-centre RCT led by Glasgow, and with Lancaster and Bangor Universities. Very nice team to work with, and a great opportunity!
We’re looking for someone with a psychology background or closely related discipline in terms of degree training. The post-holder will be employed at the University of Warwick, but will spend a good deal of time traveling to visit people with a learning disability to collect research data. Data collection will be in NHS services in North Wales, and possibly in NHS services in the West Midlands and the North West of England. So, this might be suitable for people based in a variety of locations including living in North Wales. Click on the link below to see more information and to apply.
Two ESRC Doctoral Training Centre PhD collaborative studentships on Family Research in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
The Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research (CEDAR - http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/cedar/) at the University of Warwick is offering two ESRC DTC collaborative PhD studentships starting in October 2014. Both studentships are jointly funded by the research charity Cerebra (http://www.cerebra.org.uk/English/Pages/home.aspx) and the studentship holders will work collaboratively with Cerebra throughout their studies.
The research projects will focus on the Cerebra 1,000 Families study, which will be a large scale survey study of families of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (including autism). The studentship holders will lead data collection and carry out research using data from the 1,000 Families study working on questions relating to family systems, and positive well-being in family members.
Both students will be supervised by Professor Richard Hastings, Cerebra Chair of Family Research based in CEDAR along with other CEDAR colleagues and Dr Stephanie Jones (Deputy Head of Research and Education at Cerebra).
See jobs.ac.uk advertisement to apply - http://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/AIK307/esrc-dtc-collaborative-studentship-cedar-cerebra/
Please note that to apply you must first complete the general application for PhD study at the University of Warwick. This application process is free:
When prompted, you should select to study for the PhD in Education and Psychology (the name of CEDAR’s PhD programme).
Once you have completed the University application, you will be given a student number. Once you have that, click on the Apply button at the very end of the jobs.ac.uk advertisement (link above) and you can apply for these specific ESRC DTC funded studentships.
Further information about the focus of the PhD research
The text below is taken from the application we submitted to get the PhD funding. We are committed to delivering something close to the foci described at the end as PhD Studentships 1 and 2 – something about parental positivity, and another thesis on family systems questions (we chose to focus primarily on fathers, but with systems questions in comparison with mothers, and potentially in connection with siblings). Thus, there will be some flexibility to develop the focus of each student’s work but we are committed to making sure that these broad issues will be addressed by one or two of the studies/analyses that each student carries out.
Please note that interviews will probably take place on Tuesday 13 May at the University of Warwick.
The proposed research with Cerebra would focus on families of children with intellectual disability (ID) or autism. To be able to make a significant leap forward in ID and autism family research, a large-scale longitudinal study is needed. We propose to establish the “Cerebra 1,000 Families Study”.
There is no existing large-scale (more than 100-200 families) ongoing longitudinal study of the families of children with ID or autism in the UK. Two of the other most productive family research teams in the world have produced most of their research from longitudinal studies. Baker, Blacher and Crnic (University of California Los Angeles, UC Riverside, and Penn State University) have had funding for the Collaborative Family Study over approximately 10 years, and Seltzer and colleagues (University of Wisconsin Madison) have had a series of US National Institutes for Health government grants to study families of adults with autism or ID over approximately 20 years. A recent MRC review of cohort studies within the UK on children or adults with ID revealed no studies with high quality data on families.
The proposed collaborative research would be a high impact investment in UK ID/autism research infrastructure, with the potential to lead to decades of high quality family research.
Design and methods
Our aim would be to recruit the families of 1,000 children between the ages of 4 and 11 years with ID or autism into the study over the three years from October 2014. One or two home visits to 1,000 families would be prohibitively expensive in human resource and travel costs. Therefore, given the PhD resources potentially available, we will adopt an internet/postal and telephone survey methodology. Creating linkage with our ongoing work on the secondary analysis of national population studies (especially the Millennium Cohort Study), key measures of parental well-being and child behaviour, and also family deprivation, would be chosen to overlap with UK national datasets. This will allow some comparison with families of children without ID or autism when this is useful.
We would collect data in the following domains (using robust measures that are as short as possible):
- Child and family demographics, including detailed socio-economic/deprivation variables
- Prosocial behaviours, behavioural (including behavioural sleep difficulties) and emotional problems, and autism symptoms of the child with ID or autism – parent report
- Parental positive perceptions, stress, and mental health
- Parental psychological variables – social support, coping
- Parental perceptions of family strength and cohesion
- Parenting attitudes and behaviours
- Siblings’ pro-social behaviours, and behavioural and emotional problems; quality of sibling relationships
All of the above measures would be collected from both parents (primary and secondary parental caregivers) where there is more than one parent in the household, and from one parent only in single parent households.
Data would also be sought in a telephone interview with the primary parental caregiver (usually, mothers identify themselves in this role). Information would be collected on the adaptive behaviour of the child with ID or autism (using a standardised scale – the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales), and a brief five minute measure (the Five Minute Speech Sample [FMSS]) of the parent’s relationship with the child with ID or autism and a sibling (where there is another child in the same age range within the family). A brief telephone interview with the secondary parental caregiver (usually, the father), where available, would also be conducted to complete the FMSS.
Research questions/PhD research projects
The two PhD students would work together as a small team together with the Cerebra research staff member (.20FTE) to recruit families into the study and to collect the data. Placement students/interns may also be taken on and trained by the research team to contribute to data collection and/or data entry. Overall, a large cross-sectional dataset will be established with data from multiple family members.
Each of the two PhD students will use the cross-sectional dataset to carry out a series of studies in their own area of research. Both students will be able to complete their systematic literature review studies in parallel to the main data collection.
PhD student 1 would focus on theory and quantitative data on maternal positivity in relation to their child with ID or autism. We have shown in previous research that parents report increased levels of stress when they have a child with ID or autism, but they also report positive perceptions of their parenting role and positive perceptions of their child. Interestingly, parents have reported similar levels of positive perceptions as do parents of children without disabled children. The PhD student will carry out a systematic literature review of research on positive perceptions/outcomes in parents of children with ID or autism, including an exploration of relevant theoretical models. A series of cross-sectional analyses (individual research studies) will then be carried out using the dataset. First, the student will explore the implications of maternal positivity for maternal well-being. Both a main effect model (positive perceptions are an independent well-being outcome) and an interaction perspective will be explored. The interaction perspective suggests that positive perceptions may be a coping response acting to protect parents against significant parenting stress (Hastings & Taunt, 2002). Second, the student will explore the putative implications of maternal positivity for the well-being of the child with ID or autism. Using a cross-sectional design, associations between maternal positivity and child adaptive behaviour and behavioural and emotional well-being will be explored. Fathers’ reports of child well-being will be used wherever possible to ensure some independence of reported constructs. Finally, associations between maternal positivity and parenting have not been explored to date in the ID/autism research literature. Parenting behaviour and attitudes and the emotional aspects of the mother-child relationship (measured via the FMSS) will be associated with maternal reports of positivity.
PhD Student 2 would focus on the psychological adjustment of fathers of children with ID/autism. The first study in this student’s thesis would be a systematic review and thematic synthesis of qualitative studies of the experiences of fathers of children with ID/autism. A number of quantitative studies would then be completed. The first of these will focus on the use of a multi-level modelling approach (to account for a within-family design) to explore whether fathers report different levels of well-being (negative and positive) compared to mothers within the same families. Fathers’ well-being will then be examined in a family systems design. Our pilot data suggest that fathers’ well-being is correlated with their partner’s well-being, but not with the behavioural or adaptive functioning of their child with ID/autism. We will examine these same systems questions and extend this to also include the behavioural and emotional well-being of siblings within the same family. The third analysis/study will focus on fathers’ parenting behaviours/attitudes and father-child emotional relationship (as assessed using the FMSS). Parenting and father-child relationship has been very rarely studied in ID/autism family research. Thus, we will examine these variables as “outcomes” (recognising the limitations of the cross-sectional design) to explore family demographic factors, child with ID/autism variables, and father psychological resources (coping, social support) as correlates of fathers’ parenting.