Since promotion to Senior Lecturer Level C in 2012, after being awarded my PhD in March 2011, I have consolidated research on my Framework for Public Relations Positioning that was developed as the main outcome of my PhD. My research examines public relations and strategic communication firstly as practices within entities ranging from corporations, governments and not-for-profit organisations and, secondly, as a phenomenon that impacts communication (visible and invisible) in every facet of democratic and undemocratic systems across the world.
I am meeting the minimum stated Level D research performance criteria of “An established national and international profile in a field of expertise”. This evidence includes:
– receiving invitations to deliver a keynote address at the Inaugural International Positioning Theory Symposium held in Belgium in July 2015 (I attended using a telepresence robot provided by UON due to severe knee injury (https://uonblogs.newcastle.edu.au/melaniejames/2015/07/11/i- robot/ );
– an invitation in June 2016 which stated “On behalf of the sixth international Barcelona conference on PR and Communication, we would be honoured if you would take part in a plenary session of leading international scholars on the topic of PR and Social Media”;
– an invitation to be part of a keynote panel on academic publishing in the PR field alongside the field’s longest serving and must respected editors, Professor Hiebert (PR Review), and esteemed academics Professors David McKie and Jordi Xifra (PR Inquiry);
– receiving an invitation in 2017 from the University of Lahore to join with a team of international scholars to scope a major communication research project; and
– being formally invited by one of my field most eminent scholars, Professor Emeritus Robert Heath, who is heading the editorial board publishing the International Encyclopaedia of Strategic Communication by Wiley Blackwell, to contribute one major and two minor scholarly entries (10K words in total) on emergent communication strategy, an integral part of my PR positioning framework. This is part of the vast International Communication Association sponsored “International Encyclopaedia of Communication Project”.
Having taken over in 2016 the editorship of the Asia Pacific PR Journal, my first editorial considered academic research impact, referring to the 2016 Australian Research Council publication, “The Engagement and Impact Assessment Consultation Paper”. I pointed out the impact factor of many public relations academic journals is quite low. Does this mean that the research published in this journal since its inception has had no or little impact? I am leading the discussion in my field on these issues and this is also one of the topics I addressed as part of the invited expect panel at the International PR Meeting in Barcelona.
In 2015, I saw a Danish scholar presenting how my PR Positioning Framework had been successfully used to design a health communication campaign for hospital staff that was reducing infection.
In 2016, a presentation I gave to a local industry group in Newcastle on my latest research on agile PR management resulted in feedback that Newcastle Airport communications team had implemented the new method with success.
My research philosophy centres on my belief that academics have a responsibility to serve their professional field, their university’s research goals and the needs of the wider community. This belief is premised on the notion that academia does not primarily exist to build commercial wealth but to build and enhance knowledge in a multifaceted way to augment our understanding of our world and the way it functions.
I firmly believe that in working to develop a deeper understanding and an enhanced theoretical approach that can explain and predict behaviours and knowledge in public relations practice, I can contribute positively in all three areas – the professional field, the university’s research goals and the needs of the wider community.