Professor Paul Drew (BA Exeter, PhD Lancaster) was one of the first scholars to apply Conversation Analysis to the investigation of institutional interactions; this arose from his PhD research in the early 1970s into the Scarman Tribunal enquiry into the violence that erupted in Northern Ireland beginning in 1968, and which came to be known as the Troubles. This work on a quasi-judicial tribunal of enquiry – published as Order in Court (with Max Atkinson) in 1979 - broadened into research into interactions in criminal trials, including trails for rape and murder, and subsequently interactions in social welfare settings. For the past several years, his ‘institutional’ research has focused largely on communication in medical settings, including primary care, oncology, neurology (epilepsy, dementia), neonatology, and telephone (CBT) therapy. He has conducted applied and consultancy research (aimed at improving the effectiveness of communication) in some of these settings, including consultancy work for the Metropolitan Police Service.
His research into specialised interactions in institutional/organisational settings has run alongside enquiries into the basic communicative processes and practices of ordinary social interaction, including those practices associated with social action (e.g. complaining, apologising, inviting, requesting, and most recently, recruiting assistance), repair and correction (miscommunication), and turn design. He has taught extensively internationally, including research training workshops in Conversation Analysis in Europe, China and the US. He is a Visiting Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages, Shanxi University, China, an honorary member of the China Pragmatics Association, and an honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Huddersfield. He has an honorary degree from the University of Helsinki.