Independent Academic Research  

Partership with Aston University

Sheldon has commissioned research into the Clergy Discipline Measure.

The independent academic credentials are from the prestigious Aston University Business School and the Department of Psychology with Principal Investigator Dr Carl Senior.

The non-academic/industry partner is Sheldon (Mary and Martha), led by Warden Dr Sarah Horsman, co-ordinating the project and bringing 30+ years of experience in clergy support at Sheldon retreat and the online Sheldon Hub.

Pilot Research

  • Carl Senior and Sarah Horsman designed a substantial online survey to investigate the lived experience of CDM. The main survey collected factual data and a supplementary survey invited narrative responses.
  • The survey was widely circulated between 25th October 2019 and 10th January 2020 and almost 6,000 completed responses have been received.
  • Dr Alena Nash has been appointed as Research Associate for 6 months from 13th January 2020. She will be carrying out the data analysis and conducting the focus groups and individual interviews.
  • There will also be a preliminary literature review perhaps covering topics such as process justice, shame, professional accountability, moral injury, occupational health, etc.
  • There may be a separate textual analysis of the narrative responses. With a huge dataset gathered other research proposals harnessing this data would also be welcome. 
  • The intention is to prepare one or more papers for publication in peer reviewed academic journal(s) later in 2020.

Funding: Aston University has budgeted as follows

  • £113,000 total cost of pilot study
    • £25,000: value of Sheldon in-kind contribution as non-academic partner
    • £41,000: value of Aston in-kind contribution of overheads
    • £47,000: to be raised by Sheldon for direct Aston costs (wages, IT, etc)
      • £5,000 contributed by the Boniface Trust
      • £2,000 contributed by an individual supporter

Possible next steps

  • Share results widely with all relevant stakeholders
  • Continue to formulate proposals for repair or replacement of the CDM legislation
  • Advocate for change

We are proposing a four-pronged approach to action on CDM

Education & Support

Provide and signpost help, advice and support for CDM respondents now ... read more


Improve how the existing Measure is operated and research outcomes ... read more

Independent research

Commission academic research to provide a strong evidence base ... read more

Listen & Learn

Recover a culture of mutual support freed from a climate of fear... read more