Pekka Niemi has a distinguished record as a literacy researcher. Following a Fulbright scholarship at the University of Oregon, Eugene (1974-75), his first peer-reviewed research article appeared in 1975, and he is active to this day, particularly on beginning reading and its difficulties, especially dyslexia. He has held senior academic positions at the University of Turku, the Academy of Finland and Åbo Akademi University in Finland, and the University of Stavanger in Norway.
He is a long-term member of the IRA/ILA and the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading. He has served on the editorial review boards of Reading Research Quarterly, Journal of Research in Readingand Journal of Learning Disabilities. He held a specialist role within the influential European Union-funded project "Reading acquisition and disability in European orthographies” which studied the progress of children learning to read in 14 languages across 15 countries.
His publications include about 100 in English, and many more in Finnish and Swedish. Among the doctoral theses he has supervised is that of Ann-Sofie Selin, former IRA Board member. His prizes include the International Reading Association’s International Citation of Merit in 2004.