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Professor Mary Smyth


Mary Smyth

University House



Tel: +44 1524 593467


I am currently the Principal of Bowland College and also working on a set of projects on social learning and engagement across Lancaster's nine colleges.  Until 2015 I was the Dean of Science and Technology at Lancaster for ten years and before that I was a Professor of Experimental Psychology in the Psychology Department.  I have taken many roles outside the university including, many years ago, treasurer of the Experimental Pscyology Society and more recently as chair of the UK Deans of Science. In 2015 I represented the university as a commissioner on the Lancashire Fairness Commission.  My current work focusses on the student experience at Lancaster and the contribution made to that by our college system.

I am no longer research active but I retain an interest in my work on fact writing in psychology and am very happy to discuss it with anyone who is interested.  I no longer  supervise students.

The nature of facts in psychology: evidence from textbooks and other kinds of writing
I have carried out  a series of studies of textbooks in which I looked at the way in which psychologists and others write about their subject. The focus is on the way in which evidence is and is not used in different disciplines. For example, psycholgists tend not to present autonomous well-made facts in the same way as biologists do. There is a historical dimension to this - how have textbooks changed, and what does this tell us about changing views of what psychological knowledge is, or should be ?  I am also interested in the way psychologists talk about their science and how that is the same as or different from the ways other scientists talk. Even when the same facts are being discussed, psychologists tend to refer to evidence or to qulaify their claims, while other neuroscientists, for example, do not do this.  

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