PhD Studentship Selecting multisource feedback assessors in clinical teams: a social network analysis

(Full-time/Part-time, 3-5 years)


The Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine & Dentistry (PU PSMD) are seeking to attract PhD candidates of outstanding ability to join their exciting and rapidly expanding programme of internationally-rated research.

As part of The Collaboration of the Advancement of Medical Education Research & Assessment (CAMERA), a leading centre for medical education research, within PU PSMD, this National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded PhD Studentship invites applications from suitably qualified graduates, 2:1 or above.

In the UK there has been an almost wholesale acceptance of Multisource Feedback (MSF) as a valid instrument with which to assess doctors by receiving feedback from colleagues, and patients. However there are a number of important assumptions in MSF that so far have been left unchallenged. These include: the assumption that the ‘index’ doctor is central in their network of colleagues, supported by relationships that are reciprocal, balanced (in terms of power relations) and 1st degree (individuals know each other at first hand, not by reputation). In support of these concepts MSF has traditionally been implemented by asking the index doctor to nominate their own raters. Archer & McAvoy have published data that raises questions about the suitability of the self-selection of assessors by practitioners.

This NIHR funded PhD studentship will use quantitative and qualitative methodologies to develop a method of measuring social interactions and connections including social network analysis (SNA) to explore and quantify relationships in clinical teams as part of a MSF process. This will help to better understand MSF in terms of the assessor selection within teams in and outside the NCAS process, to help to understand why those chosen by a third party are such different people with different views, to formulate new guidance for MSF assessor selection in medicine and specifically support the NCAS process in terms of informing new ways of working for clinical teams being researched. This is an exciting opportunity to be part of a dynamic group of academics, who are leaders in their field, developing mixed methodological expertise including SNA. Prior SNA experience would be beneficial but not required (training will be available).

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Closing date for applications: 27th October 2013 12:00 Noon    

Start date: January 2014

To apply for this studentship

Please download an application form from the apply button below and return it with a statement outlining your reasons for wanting to pursue this course and details of any other achievements or experience that will support your application. Also send copies of your qualifications, transcripts, two academic references and c.v. to:

Bernice Wilmshurst, Senior Administrator (Research Degrees), Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine & Dentistry, The John Bull Building, Tamar Science Park, Plymouth PL6 8BU

Telephone 01752 437471 email:

For an informal discussion about the project, please contact: Dr Julian Archer (

Funding Notes: The stipend will be £13,726 (based on full time 13/14 rate). Tuition fees will be paid at the home/EU rate.

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