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Prof Rebecca Rees
Director, Social Science Research Unit
G01, SSRU, Social Research Institute, IOE, University College London
10 Woburn Square
Tel: 0207 612 6854
Prof Rebecca Rees profile picture
  • Professor of Social Policy
  • IOE - Social Research Institute
  • UCL Institute of Education

In my earliest research role I worked for an environmental charity. I am now actively seeking collaborators to contribute together to developing research evidence the field of environmental management and sustainability - please get in touch! 

I am an internationally recognised research methodologist known for my expertise in the innovative area of perspectives and participation in the synthesis of existing research. I have also a sustained substantive research contribution to the field of public health through the production of qualitative and mixed-methods systematic reviews, with a particular focus on young people’s health and wellbeing. My studies have focused on methods for producing policy-relevant research syntheses, which require different stakeholders to work together to identify, analyse and interpret multiple types of research as a step towards developing solutions. 

I have particular expertise in methods for synthesising studies of people's views on or experiences of social phenomena, approaches to Qualitative Evidence Synthesis, mixed-methods systematic reviewing, research ethics and the active participation of public and other kinds of stakeholder in research. 

As an Associate Director of the internationally-renowned Evidence for Policy and Practice Information (EPPI) Centre, I have applied my engagement with the intersection of research and education to ensure the centre is recognised for its training by national and international bodies who have financed or commissioned tailored courses, including the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods, Public Health England and the Norwegian Ministry of Education. 

In addition to a qualitative evidence synthesis published as part of a WHO programme on eLearning for health professional education, my significant contribution to education within my field includes educational articles on novel methods for systematic reviews, published in peer reviewed academic journals and text books and aimed at educators and students. Again incorporating a focus on participation and perspectives, my work on distance-learning research and educational development projects also has included students as participants and as active co-researchers. 

Teaching Summary
For the academic years 2017-2021 I was departmental Academic Head of Learning and Teaching in UCL's Social Research Institute. My leadership of innovative changes to the curriculum includes the designing and leading for 10 years of an MSc, initially called ‘Evidence for Policy and Practice’, unique internationally in its focus on systematic review methods and theories of research production and use. My championing of inclusive and innovative teaching practices includes my leading the design of blended and fully online modules for this programme so it could be taken entirely online or with campus-based components. I also established a programme of support for module leaders in using connected learning principles to transform existing systematic review methods modules so that they could become part of a route within a UCL social policy MSc with high overseas recruitment. As well as supervising PhD students, my extensive support for early career researchers includes leading an innovative ESRC studentship pathway in social policy within the UCL, Birkbeck and East London Doctoral Training Partnership, with a focus on the use of research in policy and stakeholder engagement in research. I currently teach on the UCL MSc modules "Research Engagement, Participation and Involvement", "Social Problems and Intervention" and "Evidence for Policy and Practice."

Research summary

I have published widely in impactful international journals, produced reports for government organisations, and provided research advice to national and international bodies, including the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (Mistra) and the UK's Nuffield Family Justice Observatory. I lead on patient and public engagement within the Department of Health and Social Care Reviews Facility, a major collaboration between the EPPI-Centre, CRD (Centre for Reviews and Dissemination), University of York; and PIRU (Policy Innovation Research Unit), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. I have generated funding as a Co-PI or CI for research funded by Government policy research programmes, UK Research Councils and a charity, totalling over £4 million. I work alongside global leaders within international systematic review research guidance working groups and methods networks, including those belonging to the Cochrane and Campbell Collaborations and the Collaboration for Environmental Evidence. I have also had sustained strategic influence at both departmental and faculty level in the areas of research ethics (holding the position of Co-Chair of the Institute of Education (IOE) Research Ethics Committee prior to IOE's merger with UCL), and, as part of the Research Council UK funded CATALYST project, designing training events and materials on research engagement for impact for diverse groups of educational and social science researchers. 

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