Carlos Fernandes da Silva

Carlos Fernandes da Silva

Full Professor

Department of Education

University of Aveiro

Campus Universitário de Santiago

3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal

Tel: + 351 234 372492 (ext. 24212)


1. What are your personal perspectives as a researcher?
My first commitment as a researcher of the University of Aveiro, and as a member of the Department of Education (scientific area of Psychology), is to improve the Behavioral Sciences in a lab and field experimental perspective. In the last two decades, Psychology at the University of Aveiro has been widely recognized both at the national and international levels, with experimental psychology as the tenet of the work developed both in basic and applied psychology domains. 

From the standpoint of the philosophy of knowledge, “subjectivity” relates to the properties of a subject who knows. On the contrary, “objectivity” relates to the properties of an object of knowledge. In the field of subjectivity there are individual differences, while in the field of objectivity there is an intersubjective agreement. However, when there is intersubjective agreement about a property of a subject (e.g., a preference), this property (subjective) becomes objective. Therefore, psychology can be a science in its own right since researchers are conceptually and methodologically rigorous (precise concepts, universal terms, validated measurements, experimental paradigms, and adequate mathematical analysis). Psychology has to be clearly distinguished from common sense and, therefore, must be empirically validated (evidence based psychological practice). On the other hand, psychological phenomena (e.g., consciousness) have an epistemological and ontological status that is distinguishable (but not separates) from the physical, chemical, biological and social phenomena.

So, as researcher in this area, I think that it is vital to perform robust behavioral experiments in the real world and in the laboratories (e.g., cognitive and affective neuroscience, biofeedback, and so on), to build mathematical models and theories (not only statistical models), to run randomized clinical trials, follow-up studies, and to test hypotheses about the relationships between psychological phenomena and social and biological (not only neuroscience) phenomena – social psychology and psychobiology.

My conviction is that we should not restrict our research and practice to applied settings. The investigation of basic psychological phenomena is critical to the extent that there is not a good practice without a solid theory.

To ensure that psychology is a science in its own right and useful to the mankind, we have to supervise research projects (including PhD theses), we have to strive for competitively funded projects, we have to publish our studies in scientific journals with blind peer review and international metrics (impact factors, number of citations, H-index, etc.), preferably in a teamwork context and framed in a research center evaluated by independent international panels.

During the last years as a researcher at the University of Aveiro, I have been working on the topics of forensic psychology, work ability and psychosocial factors (including mobbing). Most of this research work, in which I was the Principal Investigator, was financed by FCT (Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology) (2006-2008; «Measurement of Human Work Index in Portuguese Workers»; PTDC/SAU/ESA/66163/2006, total funding 198.255€). Within this research project, we adapted two instruments for the Portuguese populations: the Work Ability Index (WAI) and the Copenhagen Psychosocial Factors Questionnaire (COPSOQ). I was also a researcher of other FCT projects, such as «Morningness-Eveningness in children, time of day, and impact on standardized measures used in the assessment of reading and writing difficulties» (PTDC/PSI-EDD/120003/2010), in course since 2010, and «Promoting Relational Competences in Early Intervention through the Video Home Training/Video Interaction Guidance Method» (PTDC/CPE-CED/113484/2009).

2. In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges in your area of research?
From the perspective of the entities that fund scientific research, as well as the Portuguese Agency for Evaluation and Accreditation of Higher Education (A3ES), Psychology is a social science and with little relevance, compared to the exact, life, health sciences, and engineering.

Thus, under the current economic situation of the country, with increasing budget cuts, the sustainability of psychology at UA (teaching and research) is at risk. However, the problem may be overcome if the UA explores its matrix structure. The scientific production of the psychology group of UA has been increasing, as well as the capture of funded projects. 

3. Where are the strengths of the UA in your opinion?
The main strength of the University of Aveiro is its matrix structure, which enables an efficient management of resources and a rapid resolution of the problems of all kinds. Furthermore, UA is a new University and the structure of the campus facilitates communication between teachers and non-teaching employees, as well as students and visitors.

4. Could you give one idea to improve research in the UA?
The departments of the University of Aveiro should collaborate more to jointly organize meetings with internal referees (monthly?), where researchers of different areas present their projects and results. The UA could also have a proof-reading to help researchers to publish their papers and to submit research proposals. Many universities nowadays have this type of service, considering the current context in which internationalization is increasing.

última atualização a 11-07-2014
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