UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies


Dr Norma Morris

N Morris

020 7679 3703 phone

In brief ...

I joined UCL Science & Technology Studies Department in the mid-1990s, after 20-odd years working in research management and policy at the Medical Research Council.  My research interests include the effects of shifts in research governance on the working lives of biomedical scientists in universities, and issues around the role and contribution of volunteer research subjects in biomedical experiments in laboratory and hospital settings.


Research Fellow (MA, University College London; PhD, University of Twente) from late 1995:  previously executive director, UK Medical Research Council; Chairman/member of professional regulatory bodies (one statutory, one voluntary) concerned with two different branches of complementary medicince.

Engaged since the mid-1990s in research on the impacts of science policy on biomedical research in universities and regulatory research, and studies on widening the role of human volunteers taking part in medical research.

Research Interests

Research volunteers - roles and understandings

Principal investigator in an ESRC-funded study of the role and contribution of volunteers in biomedical research, with special reference to patient input into development of new health technologies. This recently concluded study was a collaboration with a group in the UCL Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering  to assess the contribution that volunteer research particpants (or 'human subjects') c make to the development of a new system for optical imaging of the breast.  for the duration of the project we maintained a dedicated project website

As a follow-up to this research (with funding from the ESRC Follow-on Funding Scheme) we have organised a Workshop and set up a Research Volunteers Forum website to encourage translation of the findings of our own and cognate studies into policy and practice. (Click on the highlighted text above for more information)

Research participation

Forthcoming project on how patients come to participate in research - or fail to do so, in collaboration with Dr Susan Kerrison, Joint UCL/UCL Biomedical Research Unit.

Science policy

Science policy studies (ESRC-funded research):  study of the impact of external stakeholders' policies on research in selected university biological science departments in the UK, covering:

  • the effects of external and internal pressure on the researcher at the bench, and the strategies developed to manage them
  • the development of the role of the department as an intermediary body
  • structural problems highlighted by stakeholder policies
  • application of principal-agent theory to the situation of the modern academic.

Authority relations and impact of the UK Research Assessment Exercise on the biosciences.

Regulatory science: policy implications of scientific advances and new technology in the field of standardisation and control of biological medicines.


Selected Publications

Morris, N 2010. Authority relations as condition for and outcome of shifts in governance: the limited impact of the UK Research Assessment Exercise on the biosciences, in R.Whitley, J Glaser and L Engwall (eds) Reconfiguring Knowledge Production : Changing Authority Relationships in the Sciences and their Consequences for Intellectual Innovation, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Morris, N and Schneider, M 2010. Volunteer Research Subjects’ Experience of Participation in Research on a Novel Diagnostic Technology for Breast Cancer, Qualitative Health Research, 20 (1), 81-92 .

Morris, N., Armstrong, V., & Balmer, B. 2009. Constructing a safe research environment: technology talk between researchers and volunteer research subjects. Health, Risk and Society, 11 (2), 99-116.

Armstrong, V., & Morris, N. 2010.. Boundary setting in breast cancer research: a study of the experience of women volunteer research subjects. Sociology of Health and Illness, 32 (1), 74-88.

N Morris & J C Hebden, 2008.Evolving collaborations: a self-referential case-study of a social/natural sciences collaborative project. Science Studies, 2, 27-46.

N. Morris, J. Hebden, L. Enfield, A. Gibson, A. Sharma, and V. Armstrong, 2008. "How Feedback from Human Subjects Can Enhance Clinical Performance of Optical Mammography," in Biomedical Optics, OSA Technical Digest (CD) (Optical Society of America, 2008), paper BSuE15.

Morris, N. and Balmer, B.. Are you sitting comfortably? Perspectives of the researchers and the researched on ‘being comfortable’ Accountability in Research, 13, 111-133, 2006.

Morris, N and Rip, A . Scientists’ coping strategies in an evolving research system: the case of life scientists in the UK . Science and Public Policy, 33(4), 253-263, May 2006.

Morris, N. and Balmer, B.. Volunteer human subjects’ understandings of their participation in a biomedical research experiment. Social Science & Medicine, 62(4), 998-1008, 2006..

N. Morris, Scientists responding to science policy: a multi-level analysis of the situation of life scientists in the UK. Dissertation for the doctoral degree of the University of Twente, Twente, November 2004.

N.Morris, J Hebden, T Bland and B Balmer, 'The role of patient feedback in the design and implementation of clinical trials of optical tomography of the breast', in David A. Boas (Ed.) Proceedings of SPIE Vol. 5138: Photon Migration and Diffuse-Light Imaging, p.12-22, Oct 2003.

N. Morris, 'Academic Researchers as 'Agents' of science policy', Science and Public Policy, 30 (5), 359-370, 2003.

N. Morris, 'Biological medicines in the age of biotech: public policy issues', in Abraham J and Smith H L (eds), Regulation of the pharmaceutical industry, Basingstoke, Palgrave MacMillan, 2003.

N Morris, 'Tower Power: Academics' commitment to the wealth creation mission', Industry and Higher Education, 16 (6), 337-348, 2002.

N. Morris, 'The Developing Role of Departments', Research Policy, 31 (5), 817-833, 2002

N. Morris, 'The effect of Research Council policies on researchers' choices', in Science Policy - Setting the Agenda for Research: proceedings from MUSCIPOLI Workshop One, Danish Institute for Studies in Research and Research Policy (2001/8), Aarhus, 139-147, 2001.

N Morris, 'Science Policy in Action: policy and the researcher', Minerva, 38 (4):425-451, 2000.

N Morris, 'The changing landscape of regulatory control of biological
medicines', Technology Analysis and Strategic Management, 13 (2), 247-263, 2001.

N Morris, 'Vial Bodies: conflicting interests in the move to new
institutional relationships in biologicals research and regulation',
Research Policy, 29 (2000), pp149-167.