Matthew Francis

Communications Director, CREST

Matthew heads up CREST’s work to translate and communicate its research to non-academic audiences. He edits CREST Security Review and with the communications team produces CREST outputs such as this website, the CREST guides and other resources. His research focuses on the move to violence in religious and non-religious groups. In particular he researches the significance of shared non-negotiable (or sacred) beliefs through coding the public utterances of members and leaders of groups. His case-studies have included Aum Shinrikyo, al Qaeda, the Red Army Faction, Agonshu, the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee and Hizb ut-Tahrir.

He has previously researched minority faith groups as well as religious literacy. He founded and is Editor of the website, which brings high-quality academic research on radicalisation and extremism to the attention of people working in policy and media settings.

Personal webpage

Project information

CREST’s work is structured by five Programmes of activity. You can find out more information about our core programmes, as well as our commissioned projects here.

Matthew Francis is part of the Ideas, Beliefs And Values In Social Context programme. Read more about this project here.

Recent publications

Dinham, A., Francis, M. and Shaw, M. (2017). Towards a Theory and Practice of Religious Literacy: A Case Study of Religion and Belief Engagement in a UK University. Religions 8 (12).
Francis, M., van Eck Duymaer van Twist, A. (2015). Religious literacy, radicalisation and extremism. In A. Dinham & M. Francis (Eds.) Religious literacy in policy and practice. Bristol: Policy Press p. 257-270.
Francis, M. (2015) Why the “sacred” is a better resource than “religion” for understanding terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence. (Early online publication). DOI:10.1080/09546553.2014.976625.
Dinham, A., Francis, M. (2015). Religious literacy in policy and practice.Bristol: Policy Press.
Francis, M., Knott, K., “Return? It never left.”: exploring the “sacred” as a resource for bridging the gap between the religious and the secular. In Kutz, C., Riss, H., Roy, O. 2015 Religious norms in the public sphere. Florence, Italy: European University Institute.
Knott, K., McFadyen, A., McLoughlin, S., Francis, M. (2006). The Roots, Practices and Consequences of Terrorism: A Literature Review of Research in the Arts & Humanities, Final Report (for the Home Office). University of Leeds.

More from Matthew…


Communications Poster

Communicating CREST research by Communications Director, Matthew Francis. Our world-leading research is irrelevant if practitioners, policy-makers and other stakeholders do not get to hear...Read More »

What do Islamic extremists mean?

Jihad is a term that we hear often, in martyrdom videos, Islamic State magazines and on the front pages of Western newspapers. But ‘jihad’...Read More »

Are converts to Islam more likely to become extremists?

CREST researchers Matthew Francis and Kim Knott write about the process of conversion in Islam and challenge the idea that converts are likely to...Read More »

When does inconsistency matter?

Does it matter when someone seems to change their story from one interview to another – if they’ve added some new information or contradict...Read More »

How unexpected questions can catch out liars

Aldert Vrij and Matthew Francis write about how an interview technique – asking unexpected questions – can help catch out liars. One of the...Read More »

The Cognitive Interview: How Research has improved Practice

How has research improved the practice of interviewing? Matthew Francis and Emma Barrett look at how new techniques are helping police in the UK...Read More »

What’s the difference between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims?

Understanding the differences between the two most populous branches of Islam is essential for comprehending many of the geo-political conflicts in the Middle East...Read More »

Terrorists’ use of messaging applications

Matthew Francis and Emma Barrett look at how emerging technologies have changed terrorist behaviour in the past and suggest that we should think about...Read More »

Research drives understanding and disruption of terrorism

Dr Matthew Francis, Senior Research Associate at Lancaster University looks at how recent research in universities is driving the understanding, countering and mitigation of...Read More »

Paris attacks: there is no simple explanation

The French authorities have named one of the attackers who terrorised Paris on November 13 as Omar Ismail Mostefai, a French national who was...Read More »

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