If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile

Area of academic expertise - outline

I am an enthusiastic and motivated senior interdisciplinary researcher and a specialist in researching hidden and hard to reach populations of illegal and illicit drug taking.

I lead a successful research methods programme for the School of Media Culture and Society at UWS, with evidence of grant capture, and a track record of creating positive impact on drug policy and practice.  For 28 years my research activity has centred on enhancing our understanding of how problem drug users experience stigma and discrimination in health and social care services, the impact of police practices on policing the UK Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, with a clear commitment to social justice, health equity and advocacy for marginalised and vulnerable populations.

This is inherently applied with a focus on the increasing understanding of the impact of moral and legal censure on users of drugs controlled within the MDA 1971, and in evaluating drug policy, and drug treatment efficacy.  As a highly valued team player I have excellent national and international networks.  My methodological expertise lies in qualitative, mixed methods and approaches that embrace a constructionist epistemology in undertaking research with vulnerable and marginalised groups.  I have collaborated with staff from across UWS, with postgraduate students and with PhD students on research.  I have collaborated with interdisciplinary subject groups to research gang culture, problem drug using offenders, how illegal drugs users actively avoid contact with treatment and drug enforcement agencies, folk pharmacology, and service user groups.  I actively enjoy seeking out opportunities to translate research into action in a variety of ways including the use of participatory narratives.  Due to my passion for bridging the gaps between policy, practice and research, I am increasingly invited to take part in shaping Scotland drugs policy at governmental level.

I have lectured extensively across a number of disciplines since 1996, including teaching into undergraduate nursing degree programmes, postgraduate careers guidance, postgraduate social work, postgraduate mental health nursing and postgraduate child protection studies.  I have also taught at Scottish police college Tulliallan on their specialist drug courses for 12 years between 1996-2010.  My teaching has been recognised with my appointment to validate the existing Pg. Certificate in Academic Practice in 2017 seconded for 7 months to validate this through HEA and the Nursing and Midwifery Council.


Professional academic roles

1996-1999: part time lecturer BSc Health Studies

2000-2017 senior lecturer MSC alcohol and drugs studies, School of MCS.

2017 - Present: Senior lecturer Research for interdisciplinary MCS research methods.

I teach into several programmes across UWS, including Social Work.  I provide doctoral supervision for 4 PhD students.  I provide MSc level supervision for 4 students from interdisciplinary subjects in Applied Social Sciences.  I am a member of The Royal Society of Arts, A Fellow of the HEA, member of Society for the study of Addiction, and the Scottish drugs Forum.

I presented to Scottish government at their Scotland futures forum event in 2018, and provided a submission to the Smith Commission, and to provide a written submission to Scottish government on the recent refreshed and updated drugs strategy. I have various committee responsibilities including Senate level on the UWS student complaints committee.  I am a member of the Schools MCS Ethics committee, and part of the committee on UWS HEA fellowship scheme.  I am a member of the SDF cross party working group on alcohol and drugs at Scottish parliament.


Current PhD research supervision

Steve O'Rawe (DoS) 'Regulating drugs in Scotland: A qualitative investigation of the barriers to reforming the UK Misuse of Drugs Act 1971' (completed)

Linda J. Thomas (DoS) ‘exploring the meaning of alcohol: Use, misuse and problems among ethnic minority communities in Glasgow. (Completed)

Karen Hammond (DoS) ‘hidden populations of illicit and illegal drug users: exploring context and the resistance of ‘othering’ in Scotland.

Lee Primrose (primary supervisor) ‘exploring the identity of social actors who ‘deal’ in illicit and illegal drugs in Glasgow and Derby: A case study’.


Successful examinations

Steve O'Rawe (DoS) 'Regulating drugs in Scotland: A qualitative investigation of the barriers to reforming the UK Misuse of Drugs Act 1971'

Des McDermott (DoS) ‘The Contradictions of the Recovery Model in Mental Health’. (Completed)

Kieran Hamilton (DoS) ‘examining the prohibition of NEPS from the perspectives of users: exploring the perceptions of existing drug laws on harm reduction’. (Completed)

Robert McLean, UWS as Assessor: Transitions from Street Gang to Organized Crime in Glasgow

Johanne Miller, UWS as examiner: In every scheme there is a team: A grounded theory of how young people grow in and out of gangs in Glasgow

Carole Murphy Kingston University as external examiner: 'Doing' Normal: Gaining, maintaining and reframing a non-stigmatized identity in recovery from addiction


Work in addiction and therapeutic services

I have worked within the addiction field since 1991, working in a variety of drug services and therapeutic institutions and with a range of drug users. I worked with homeless drug users, in residential rehabilitation Units, and as a drug worker in several Drugs Projects in Glasgow. 

In the mid 1990’s I was Project Leader of National Drugs Helpline (NDH) and National AIDS Helpline.

From 1998 until 2000 I worked as Drugs Development Officer for Paisley Social Work area Team.  I created specialist training for community Police officers to deliver drugs awareness training (demand reduction) to young people (12-15) in all secondary schools in the Renfrewshire area, the forerunner and prototype of the larger event now called ’Choices for Life’ at the Glasgow SCC.

I have worked in London, Glasgow and Paisley.  I act to advise Scottish government, and regularly appear on BBC Radio and in print media as an expert. 

Current research activities

Post doctoral research on hidden populations.

Using mixed methods, (AAPPQ and the WHOQoL, and 1-1 interviews with key informants) this study will examine the efficacy of an advocacy intervention for improving the quality of life of people with concurrent or historic substance use disorders and mental health illness.  

In addition, the WHOQoL questionnaire  will be administered to clients who attend the REACH Advocacy service.

The two groups who will be invited to give consent to complete the questionnaire include people in recovery undertaking the Reach Advocacy Practice Award (SCQF7) and the client group seeking advocacy support.

WHOQoL questionnaire administered to (service users and attendees of the reach advocacy programme)

Adapted AAPPQ DDPPQ for educational participants

2 REACH trainers interviewed (case study ethnographic methods
focus group interview of education intervention participants
1-1 interviews with Key informants (Service providers and service purchasers)

Research on service user involvement in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast, using qualitative methods in collaboration with service users networks in all 3 cities.

Writing Book on subject of researching, understanding, and giving a voice to hidden and marginalised populations of users of illegal and illicit drugs.

Desired research direction

I have completed a virtual centre of excellence, the centre for hidden and marginalised populations, and this is a hub from which myself, external academic colleagues, and PhD students can disseminate research findings and papers in process of publication.


Target collaborative organisations

I am currently seeking to fund research on hidden and marginalised communities in the context of social justice. 


Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Iain McPhee is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 10 Similar Profiles
Scotland Medicine & Life Sciences
Pharmaceutical Preparations Medicine & Life Sciences
Drug Users Medicine & Life Sciences
drug Social Sciences
embargo Social Sciences
Methadone Medicine & Life Sciences
student Social Sciences
empowerment Social Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2009 2019

8 Downloads (Pure)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: the strange case of the two selves of clandestine drug users in Scotland

McPhee, I., Holligan, C., McLean, R. & Deuchar, R., 8 Apr 2019, In : Drugs and Alcohol Today. 19, 2, p. 133-146 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Drug Users
drug use
quality of life
social security
service provider
3 Downloads (Pure)

Student assessment in Higher Education: embargo or empowerment ?

McPhee, J. & Witzler D'Esposito, M. E., 3 Feb 2018, In : Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education. 10, 2, p. 155-169 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
academic achievement
Open Access
Pharmaceutical Preparations
Research Design

Activities 2017 2017

  • 1 Consultancy


quality of life
social security
service provider
Mental Health
Mental Health Services