A quick Q&A with Dr Campbell Fraser

Dr Campbell Fraser

Griffith University, Department of International Business and Asian Studies, Senior Lecturer, Dr Campbell Fraser discusses his career, research tips and organ trafficking.

1. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
At the age of 4, growing up in Glasgow, Scotland, I wanted to be a “bin man”, what would now be known as a refuse collector. The reason – the Glasgow “bin men” drove around in big blue trucks. I befriended my local bin men and they used to take me with them on their rounds – so every Thursday I got to ride in the big blue truck. Would never be allowed now!

2. Tell us about a previous job (work experience/volunteer work) that you’ve had.
My first job was as a sausage maker. I worked with some really interesting characters in that job –  a real education!  From there I went into banking, before going on to uni full time.

3. Which 3 apps do you use the most on your mobile device?
The BBC news– that is where I first go to in the morning when I wake up, Gmail app, and Washington Post – I am now an avid follower of US politics since the 2016 election result.

4. Which 5 celebrities would you invite to your ultimate dinner party?
I’d love to see what great leaders of the past would make of today’s politicians. So I would have Winston Churchill, Robert Menzies and Mahatma Gandhi on one side of the table, with Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte on the other. Now that would make an interesting dinner party!

5. Tell us about your favourite fictional character.
Simon Templar – AKA “The Saint”, by Leslie Charteris. A great series of adventure novels adapted for TV in the 1960s. Escapism at its best.

6. What’s the best thing about your current role?
Without a doubt, it is the people I get to meet.  By investigating organ trafficking, I have the privilege to work with some amazing people – people who save lives day in, day out. Often working on a shoestring budget in some of the poorest and dangerous areas of the world; these are truly remarkable people.

7. What sparked your interest in human/organ trafficking?
A few years ago, I had kidney failure and spent a year on dialysis before I received the ultimate gift of a donor kidney. I met a number of people involved in the international organ trade at this time, and as they say, one thing led to another…

8. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I would be very happy if I am still able to do exactly what is I am doing now.  My colleagues and I have made major progress in the fight against human trafficking, but much work remains to be done.

9. What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
This year, I was invited by the Pope to the Vatican to present my work, and this has led to several invitations to speak around the world. While these are certainly highlights, the biggest highlight has been knowing that we are making a difference in the lives of some of the poorest people on our planet.  That is more important than anything else.

10. Tell us about your current research.
I’m currently investigating the links between organ trafficking in the Middle East and terrorism funding. I am working in collaboration with colleagues from the US government in Washington DC. This is taking my work in a whole new direction.

11. What wise advice do you have for new researchers?
Follow your nose and see where it leads you. Try to find a topic that is poorly understood, and that will maximise your scope. Never give up. If your research topic is important to you, then it is important, regardless of what others may tell you.

12. What’s the best resource you’ve discovered in your Griffith University Library?
Online journal access has fundamentally changed the way academics work. I can now be in a village in the Philippines and access the Griffith Library by VPN on my device. This is a huge timesaver. Griffith Library has online access to a vast number of journals relevant to my work, and I wouldn’t be able to function without it.

13. Can you give us your 3 best research tips

  • Be very cautious of information you find online – I would say probably 75% of reports of organ trafficking found online is false, and is written to promote political objectives. I always make sure I meet the people involved so I can obtain the information at the source. Understand the difference between truths, and reports which are based on a true story!
  • Remain courteous and professional when conducting investigations. On occasions, I have had to interview people-traffickers and their brokers, and no matter how much disgust I have for them, I have to keep a professional demeanour.  Always take the high road, you never know when you might need someone’s help in the future. You want to show Griffith University in a good light!
  • Always think of ways to increase your audience. The media is a great way to bring your research findings to a wider range of people who don’t read academic journals. Think about what would make a great story – and learn how to pitch it to journalists. This will increase the impact of your research, and get you noticed. Journalists are always on the lookout for exciting stories that their readers are likely to click on!

Does torture work?

Photo of hands in handcuffs

Well, you’ll have to read John W. Schiemann’s book to find out.

In his 2015 publication, Does Torture Work?, Schiemann ‘examines whether interrogational torture is effective in obtaining valuable information and at what cost in terms of torture’s brutality and frequency’ (taken from abstract).

According to the abstract, the book ‘draws on historical accounts, previously secret CIA documents in the war on terrorism, and the proposals advanced by torture proponents to build a game theoretic model of interrogational torture’.

‘Illustrating the model outcomes with narratives from Pinochet’s Chile to Algeria to the use of enhanced interrogation techniques against Al Qaeda operatives at CIA black sites, the book compares the results of the model with proponent benchmarks on information reliability, torture frequency, and torture severity’.

In his book, Schiemann shows that ‘interrogational torture fails to reliably generate valuable information but will be both more frequent and more brutal than proponents expect and are willing to accept. Having shown that interrogational torture is ineffective, the book then demonstrates just why and how it fails’.

You can read this book online via the Oxford Scholarship Online: Political Science database.

The database contains the full text and abstracts of classic and newly published Oxford books in the areas of political science – from Comparative Politics to Political Theory, International Relations to European Union Studies.

What can you do in June to become a better researcher?


You can attend our series of Higher Degree Research (HDR) Workshops. They are targeted to support you through all stages of the research lifecycle.

All staff and students are welcome to attend these workshops but preference will be given to HDR candidates. Once you have registered you will receive an email confirmation, please select add to calendar.

Study Week (29 May – 2 June)

Date Time Workshop Location Campus
1/6 10:00am Copyright, plagiarism and publishing integrity G10 2.25 Gold Coast
2/6 1:00pm Track, measure and demonstrate impact G10 2.09 Gold Coast


Exam Week 1 (5 June – 9 June)

Date Time Workshop Location Campus
7/6 10:00am Endnote G10 2.04 Gold Coast


 Student Vacation (19 June – 23 June)

Date Time Workshop Location Campus
21/6 10:00am Endnote N53 1.49 Nathan

Update your reading lists in time for Trimester 2

Conveners, it’s that time again! Check your reading lists are ready for the start of Trimester 2!

If a digitised reading is required for Trimester 2, then simply re-request it by selecting Request Digitisation.

The How-To-Guide on Digitisation shows the four easy steps required when requesting or re-requesting a digitised book chapter or journal article.

Do you have a Trimester 1 Course Reading that is not appearing in Trimester 2? Here’s what you need to do:

  • Go to the Trimester 1 Reading List
  • Click on the title of the Reading
  • Click Add to My Bookmarks
  • Go into your Trimester 2 Reading List.  The Reading should appear at the top of your list
  • Drag it into your Trimester 2 course

The Add to My Bookmarks button is a useful tool also if you are looking after multiple courses. It means you only have to bookmark a resource once.

Our first Human Library was a success!

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Nathan campus library hosted our very first Human Library event on Wednesday 24 May 2017 and it was a huge success!

Human Library is a worldwide movement promoting equity and diversity. It is about providing a safe space and building a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue.

People get labelled, it is about taking those labels, tearing them apart and hearing the story behind the person. It is about having open and honest conversations that can lead to greater acceptance, tolerance and social cohesion in the community.

We provided 20 Human Books to borrow, all with different ‘labels’, from Activist and Adopted to Muslim and Refugee. Readers were able to borrow a book for a 15-minute slot. They asked questions, and listened, recognising that the Human Book is not just a label, but they had a story to tell. They are so much more.

We hoped to provide a space to enable social and cultural connection between people, while recognising our differences.

We recognise that no ‘book’ ever has a single story, and our identities are complex. We do not want to ‘interpret’ our books: we want our ‘human books’ to ‘speak for themselves’, and to tell their own stories.

Staff and students came to borrow a ‘human book’ and went away feeling empowered through conversation, with the desire to continue to confront stereotypes and discrimination.

One of our books said: ‘I got to meet interesting people who also had interesting stories. I got to dispel a few myths and provide a few insights. My favourite part was interacting with my Readers – their questions were genuine, honest and engaging’.

Our Human Library event is over for this trimester, but we want you to continue to share your stories with each other: we believe that conversations can help spark social change!

Check out some of our book’s stories on Instagram.

What can you do in May to become a better researcher?


You can attend our series of Higher Degree Research (HDR) Workshops. They are targeted to support you through all stages of the research lifecycle.

All staff and students are welcome to attend these workshops but preference will be given to HDR candidates. Once you have registered you will receive an email confirmation, please select add to calendar.

Week 9 (1 May – 5 May)

Date Time Workshop Location Campus
Wed 3/5 10:00am Build and leverage your research profile G10 2.09 Gold Coast
Thu 4/5 9:30am Online research survey tool N53 1.50 Nathan
Fri 5/5 10:00am Academic writing expectations at the HDR level G10 2.25 Gold Coast


Week 10 (8 May – 12 May)

Date Time Workshop Location Campus
Mon 8/5 10:00am Copyright, plagiarism and publishing integrity G10 2.25 Gold Coast
Wed 10/5 10:00am Managing information resources and writing your literature review N53 1.51 Nathan
Fri 12/5 1:00pm Managing your research data G10 2.09 Gold Coast


Week 11 (15 May – 19 May)

Date Time Workshop Location Campus
Mon 15/5 10:00am EndNote G10 2.09 Gold Coast
Tue 16/5 9:30am Online research survey tool G10 2.04 Gold Coast
Wed 17/5 10:00am Developing your academic argument G10 2.25 Gold Coast
Thu 18/5 1:00pm Managing your research data N53 1.49 Nathan


Week 12 (22 May – 26 May)

Date Time Workshop Location Campus
Mon 22/5 10:00am Editing your writing N53 1.51 Nathan
Tue 23/5 1:00pm Strategic publishing G10 2.09 Gold Coast
Wed 24/5 10:00am EndNote N53 1.50 Nathan
Fri 26/5 10:00am Improving writing quality before submission S07 2.18 South Bank


Study Week (29 May – 2 June)

Date Time Workshop Location Campus
Mon 29/5 10:00am Improving writing quality before submission G10 2.25 Gold Coast
Wed 31/5 10:00am Strategic publishing N53 1.49 Nathan

Tell us what you think of the library and WIN!

Do you use the Griffith University Library? Of course, you do. We provide so many amazing services and resources to support your teaching, research and publishing needs.

But we are always looking to improve. That’s why we’ve sent a bunch of you this year’s Library User Survey.  We want to know what you think of our service.

Check your Griffith University email to see if you’ve been randomly selected to give your opinion on the library service.

If you have been invited to participate, simply complete the Library User Survey and go into the draw to win one of five $100 prepaid Visa Cards.

Your feedback is valuable in shaping future service improvements. The survey is completely confidential and will be open until Monday 15 May 2017.