PhD Studentship - Towards the informed online social network user? Identifying predictors of positive outcomes of online social network engagement

University of Sussex - School of Psychology

PhD studentship available for September 2017

Project title: Towards the informed online social network user? Identifying predictors of positive outcomes of online social network engagement

Supervisor: Dr Karen Long (School of Psychology, University of Sussex)

The vast majority of the advice to parents regarding young people’s online activity focuses on reduction or limiting of time online, and avoidance of specific activities know to be associated with risk. The poor mental health of young women in particular is widely reported to be exacerbated by their use of social media, and there is some evidence to support this view. Given that online social networks are a such dominant feature of young people’s lives, strategies other than reduction or disengagement might be better received and therefore more successful. A small number of commentators and organizations have started to advocate notions of online citizenship, and several studies have demonstrated the benefits of online social support. The aim of this research project is to explore ways in which online social networks can be used in beneficial or, at least, less damaging ways. This will involve a mixed-methods approach: focus groups with young online users, following up with a survey to investigate potential predictors of positive and negative outcomes of social media use and finally experimental studies testing interventions developed on the basis of the survey findings to encourage online resilience and positive online citizenship.

Applications should be made by Tuesday 10th January 2017. The award of the studentship will be based on a competitive process. If awarded, it would be a full-time studentship (funded for a duration of three years) covering tuition fee, and a maintenance allowance. The maintenance allowance is currently £14,296 per annum.

Eligibility requirements for potential candidates:

  • This award will only pay fees at the Home/EU rate ( Candidates may not be eligible for the full award if they do not meet UK residency requirements. For full details of eligibility, please check the ESRC guidelines.
  • Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, a First or a high Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree, or equivalent qualification, and/or a Master's degree in Psychology or a related discipline.

Guidance for applicants:

  • Application procedures can be found here.
  • Please submit an online application for the ‘PhD in Psychology’ programme, for September 2017 entry through this link.
  • State in the ‘Funding information’ section of your online application that you are applying for this studentship, giving the title of the project as above and mention the supervisor, Dr Karen Long, in the ‘Supervisor suggested by applicant’ section.
  • The proposed source of funding should be specified as 'ESRC or School of Psychology’.

Candidates should provide:

  • A research statement that briefly outlines your current state of knowledge, hypotheses that could be addressed, and an outline of potential methods. Your answer should not exceed 2 pages including references, be set at minimum 10 font type with margins a minimum of 1cm.
  • An up-to-date CV.
  • A current degree transcript(s) with full details of performance on all completed courses.
  • Two academic references.

For queries with respect to the application process please send an email for the attention of 'Postgraduate Coordinator' to:

To discuss the details of this PhD project further, please contact Dr Karen Long:

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