Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Psychology

Durham, United Kingdom
£34,304 (pro rata) per annum
20 May 2022
End of advertisement period
27 May 2022
Academic Discipline
Social Sciences, Psychology
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Part Time

Department of Psychology

Grade 7: - £34,304 (pro rata) per annum
Fixed Term - Part Time
Contract Duration: 33 months
Contracted Hours per Week: 31.5
Closing Date: 27-May-2022, 6:59:00 AM

Durham University

Durham University is one of the world's top universities with strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences. We are home to some of the most talented scholars and researchers from around the world who are tackling global issues and making a difference to people's lives.

The University sits in a beautiful historic city where it shares ownership of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, the greatest Romanesque building in Western Europe. A collegiate University, Durham recruits outstanding students from across the world and offers an unmatched wider student experience.

Less than 3 hours north of London, and an hour and a half south of Edinburgh, County Durham is a region steeped in history and natural beauty. The Durham Dales, including the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are home to breathtaking scenery and attractions. Durham offers an excellent choice of city, suburban and rural residential locations. The University provides a range of benefits including pension and childcare benefits and the University’s Relocation Manager can assist with potential schooling requirements.

Durham University seeks to promote and maintain an inclusive and supportive environment for work and study that assists all members of our University community to reach their full potential. Diversity brings strength and we welcome applications from across the international, national and regional communities that we work with and serve.

The Department

The Department of Psychology at Durham University is an outstanding research environment, and the successful candidate will play a significant role in maintaining its reputation as a world-class department for conducting world leading research. Founded in 1952, the Department of Psychology is consistently ranked as one of the very best in the UK with an outstanding and growing reputation for excellence in research. We are currently ranked in the top 150 of Psychology Departments world-wide according to the QS World Rankings. The department is committed to creating and maintaining a research environment that spans the entire breadth of psychology. Currently the department’s research falls within three groupings: Cognitive Neuroscience, Developmental Science, and Quantitative Social Psychology. There is a vibrant research culture with a weekly departmental research seminar series.

The department is extremely well-equipped for research, including facilities for fMRI, TMS, tDCS, EEG/ERP, VR, eye movement tracking, and biophysiological recording. The department benefits from full IT and mechanical research support from departmental technicians. The Department is proud to be a Silver Athena Swan Award holder, recognising our commitment to advancing women's careers in STEM and promoting equality/diversity.

The successful candidate will join the vibrant Cognitive Neuroscience Research Group, as well as have the opportunity to join a host of exciting inter-disciplinary networks in the University such as those supporting early career researchers. The successful candidate will be a core member of the research group of Dr Kathleen Vancleef (www.kathleenvancleef.org) which conducts translational research studies in the field of neuropsychology. The research aims to better understand visual perception difficulties that people can experience after brain injury. We work closely with patients and clinicians to learn about their experiences and needs. With that knowledge and a thorough understanding of visual neuroscience, we develop tools for assessment and rehabilitation that aim to improve the life of patients with visual perception problems after a brain injury. We work with adult stroke survivors and children with Cerebral Visual Impairment. In our group, we value inclusivity, career development, integrity and sustainability.

The Role

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Psychology with a particular emphasis on diagnostic accuracy or psychometrics (reliability and validity).

Stroke is a common and life-threatening condition. Almost 8 in 10 stroke survivors have visual perception problems such as difficulties with recognising objects or faces. These problems hinder stroke survivors in doing everyday tasks like driving, sending a text message, or meeting friends. The available screening tools for visual perception problems are time-consuming. Therefore, clinicians most often have to rely on what patients report and on their own observations. Unfortunately, 75% of patients with such problems are missed that way. A practical screening tool for visual perception problems is the first critical step to resolve the problem and we have developed such a tool. It has tasks such as naming pictures, recognising faces, and reading text. Our tool is the only one that is quick to administer, making it suitable for use in busy clinical settings, and that is based on recent insights in visual neuroscience. The aim of this 5-year project is to transform the prototype screening tool into a functional, comprehensive tool and identify the most appropriate rehabilitation methods for the conditions identified by the screening tool. The work is funded by an NIHR Advanced Fellowship awarded to Dr Kathleen Vancleef.

The successful applicant will take up a central role in evaluating the reliability and diagnostic accuracy of our screening tool (Work Package 2). To achieve this, you will set-up a multicentre study with our partners in Durham and Oxford. This will include preparing an application for evaluation by an NHS Research Ethics Committee, complying with other governance requests, and designing Standard Operating Procedures. Across all sites, about 100 stroke survivors will be asked to complete the new screening tool (twice), a gold standard visual perception test, and tests for cognition (e.g. language, memory) and sensory vision. You will be responsible for data collection at our sites around Durham and be supported by one research assistant. Data collection at our sites near Oxford will be completed by two research assistants based at the University of Oxford. You will provide training for the research assistants, monitor data collection at all sites, take on relevant project management tasks, and supervise the team of 3 research assistants. The work will include 6-monthly visits to our partners in Oxford (Prof Nele Demeyere). Following data collection, you will be responsible for analysing the data for measures of test-retest reliability, sensitivity and specificity, convergent and discriminant validity. Finally, you will lead the preparation of manuscripts for submission to peer-reviewed journals.

We highly value career development opportunities for early career researchers. You will have the opportunity to get involved in other aspects of the project such as patient and public involvement, impact activities, development of rehabilitation recommendations (Work Package 3), dissemination to other researchers (e.g. present at conferences), clinicians (e.g. develop training session and materials) and patients (e.g. engagement on social media and with local patients’ groups). You will also have the chance to set up your own research projects or work on developing transferable skills (e.g. management skills). A training budget is available for conference attendance and relevant courses.


  • To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To set-up a diagnostic accuracy study in a clinical setting across multiple hospital sites and adhere to administrative requirements.
  • To recruit stroke survivors in a timely manner and build a rapport with them
  • To collect data from stroke survivors through neuropsychological tests, questionnaires, and review of medical notes. Data collection will likely take place at NHS sites, through home visits and via video calls.
  • To be involved in supervision and training of students and research assistants, as appropriate.
  • To plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning of research projects.
  • To take on the day-to-day management of the study and coordination across sites.
  • To monitor study progress and ensure compliance with, and adherence to, the project plan and to identify, evaluate and rectify problems.
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and offering creative or innovative solutions.
  • To contribute to fostering a collegial and respectful working environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.
  • To support the research group’s core values of inclusivity, career development, integrity and sustainability and act in line with the values.
  • To adhere to the principles and good practice standards of Open Science through effective data management, open access, open data, reproducibility methods and analyses.
  • To analyse data for measures of test-retest reliability, sensitivity and specificity, convergent and discriminant validity with high quality methods.
  • To understand and convey material of a specialist or highly technical nature to the team or group of people through presentations and discussions that leads to the presentation of research papers in conferences and publications.
  • To prepare and deliver presentations on research outputs/activities to audiences which may include: research sponsors, academic and non-academic audiences.
  • To publish high quality outputs, including papers for submission to peer reviewed journals and papers for presentation at conferences and workshops under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To engage in wider citizenship to support the department and wider discipline.
  • To engage in continuing professional development by participation in the undergraduate or postgraduate teaching programmes or by membership of departmental committees, etc. and by attending relevant training and development courses.   
  • To act a point of contact for internal and external partners   
  • To liaise with research colleagues and make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding to form relationships for future research collaboration.
  • To work with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and other colleagues in the research group, as appropriate, to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend the research portfolio.

This post is fixed term for 33 months. The diagnostic accuracy study is time limited and will end on 31/03/2025.

The post-holder is employed to work on research/a research project which will be led by another colleague. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in his/her own right, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols.

Successful applicants will, ideally, be in post by 1st July 2022.

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Kathleen Vancleef at kathleen.vancleef@durham.ac.uk. All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence.

We prefer to receive applications online via the Durham University Vacancies Site. https://www.dur.ac.uk/jobs/. As part of the application process, you should provide details of 3 (preferably academic/research) referees and the details of your current line manager so that we may seek an employment reference.

Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts in the University.

What to Submit

All applicants are asked to submit:

  • A CV and covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above;

Next Steps

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment.

The Requirements


  1. Qualifications
    • A PhD (or be close to submission)
  2. Experience
    • Experience in conducting high quality academic research.
    • Experience in conducting (standardised) behavioural assessments.
    • Experience working with people with neurological disorders, either in a therapeutic, clinical or experimental context.
    • Demonstrable involvement in supervision of students or junior team members.
    • Experience in analysing behavioural data with up-to-date methods and a good understanding of used statistical techniques.
  3. Skills
    • Excellent logistical and planning skills, and the ability to prioritise effectively to meet deadline
    • Demonstrable resourcefulness and initiative in dealing with unexpected situations.
    • Established methods for organising their work in transparent and reproducible way that minimises errors.
    • Demonstrable ability in managing and coordinating collaborative projects.
    • Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, in a collegial, respectful and inclusive way through effective communication skills.
    • Demonstrable ability to build rapport with participants or patients through excellent interpersonal skills.
    • Demonstrable ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly-ranked journals.
    • Demonstrable ability to communicate complex information to peers, within the wider professional community, to practitioners, and to the general public.
  4. Other
    • Prepared to work on-site and at several locations around Durham (University campus, hospitals, home visits, etc.)
    • Prepared to travel within the UK for 6-monthly visits to Oxford and attendance at conferences and training courses.


  1. Experience
    • Experience with diagnostic accuracy studies or with evaluating psychometrics properties of behavioural tests such as reliability and validity.
    • Experience with running clinical or translational studies in the National Health Service (UK) and establishing procedures to ensure adherence to administrative requirements.
    • Experience with managing multi-centre studies.
    • Experience in working with vulnerable or older populations, preferably with neurological conditions.
    • Strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.
    • A track record of presenting research at conferences, symposia, or meetings, commensurate with stage of career.
    • Demonstrable ability to develop research proposals and designs in collaboration with other academics.
    • Previous activities that demonstrate a supportive attitude towards inclusivity, supporting junior people in their career development, integrity or sustainability. These activities can have taken place outside a research context.
  2. Skills
    • ​​​​​​​Good understanding of administrative requirements for research with NHS patients.
    • Good understanding of the requirements to ensure high quality data in vision research and/or a diagnostic accuracy study.
    • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research. 
    • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research.
    • Demonstrable ability to coordinate team activities and supervise team members (remotely)
    • Demonstrable ability to analyse data for diagnostic accuracy, reliability or validity.
    • Ability to prepare and analyse data in R
    • Demonstrable Open Science practices.
    • Demonstrable ability to present research papers at national or international conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.
  3.  Other
    • Driving licence
    • Access to a car

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.