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BU contribution to Routledge Handbook of Well-Being

Congratulations to current and past academics in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences and the Faculty of Science & Technology who contributed to the newly published Routledge Handbook of Well-Being.  The editor Prof. Kate Galvin was previously based at Bournemouth University.  She is currently Professor of Nursing Practice in the School of Health Sciences at the University of Brighton.

The following four chapters in the edited collection have been authored or co-authored by BU scholars and students past and present:

  • Dwelling- Mobility: An Existential Theory of Well-being Chapter 8 by Les Todres & Kate Galvin
  • Heritage and Well-being: Therapeutic places, past and present Chapter 11 by Timothy Darvill, Vanessa Heaslip & Kerry Barras
  • Embodied Routes to Well-being: Horses and Young People Chapter 20 by Ann Hemingway
  • Eighteen Kinds of well-being but there may be many more: A conceptual Framework that provides direction for Caring Chapter 30 by Kate Galvin & Les Todres.

 

Congratulations to all!

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Booking Now Open – Spaces Limited

Booking for the Three Minute Thesis Competition is now open.

Thursday 7 June 2018, 17:30 – 19:00

This event will challenge PhD students to share their research in one static PowerPoint slide in 3 minutes.

Come along to support them.

This event will be followed by a networking opportunity.

Presentation list and times to come.

Click to book.

ADRC and HEE launch ‘DEALTS 2’ at Alzheimer’s Society Conference (22nd/23rd May) during Dementia Action Week

Prof Jane Murphy and Dr Michelle Heward from the Ageing and Dementia Research Centre (ADRC) were invited to join Health Education England (HEE) to launch the Dementia Education and Learning Through Simulation 2 (DEALTS 2) programme at the Alzheimer’s Society Annual Conference in London. The ADRC have been commissioned by HEE to develop and evaluate the DEALT2 programme across England.

The DEALTS 2 programme was showcased on the HEE stand; providing a fantastic opportunity to launch the programme resources, which are now freely available to download on the HEE website. DEALTS 2 is a simulation-based dementia education programme for staff in acute hospitals across England. It is based on an experiential learning approach, placing hospital staff into the shoes of a person with dementia, to facilitate a positive impact on practice.

Throughout the two days at the conference there were many talks including those from members of the 3 Nations Dementia Working Group; Jeremy Hughes, CEO Alzheimer’s Society; Alistair Burns, NHS England; Minister Takashi Okada from Japan; and Carey Mulligan Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador (pictured below). The key message was that dementia is everyone’s business and we all need to commit to taking small or large actions to improve society for people with dementia.

HE policy update for the w/e 25th May 2018

Brexit

In the PM’s speech this week referred to below, she mentioned the implications of Brexit for research:

…. since 2010 the number of overseas students coming to study at UK universities has increased by almost a quarter. The UK will always be open to the brightest and the best researchers to come and make their valued contribution. And today over half of the UK’s resident researcher population were born overseas.

When we leave the European Union, I will ensure that does not change.

  • Indeed the Britain we build together in the decades ahead must be one in which scientific collaboration and the free exchange of ideas is increased and extended, both between the UK and the European Union and with partners around the world.
  • I know how deeply British scientists value their collaboration with colleagues in other countries through EU-organised programmes.  And the contribution which UK science makes to those programmes is immense.
  • I have already said that I want the UK to have a deep science partnership with the European Union, because this is in the interests of scientists and industry right across Europe.  And today I want to spell out that commitment even more clearly.
  • The United Kingdom would like the option to fully associate ourselves with the excellence-based European science and innovation programmes – including the successor to Horizon 2020 and Euratom R&T.  It is in the mutual interest of the UK and the EU that we should do so.
  • Of course such an association would involve an appropriate UK financial contribution, which we would willingly make.
  • In return, we would look to maintain a suitable level of influence in line with that contribution and the benefits we bring.

The UK is ready to discuss these details with the Commission as soon as possible.

Some more flesh was put on these bones by a policy paper from the Department for Existing the EU: Framework for the UK-EU partnership Science, research and innovation

AI, data and other Industrial Strategy news

The PM made a speech this week announcing 4 “missions” that sit below the Industrial Strategy with a  focus on AI and data, amongst other things– you can read my blog of the highlights here

In related news, Innovate UK published a report on the immersive economy

And the government issued 4 calls for ideas and evidence on the PM’s 4 missions.  They want new ideas here:

  • AI and data:  “we have one question:  Where can the use of AI and data transform our lives?”
  • Ageing society: “we would like to hear your thoughts on the following: How can we best support people to have extra years of being healthy and independent? 
  • Clean Growth: “we would like to hear your thoughts on the following:  How can our construction industry use its existing strengths to halve energy use in buildings?”
  • Future of mobility: “we have one question:  How can we ensure that future transport technologies and services are developed in an inclusive manner?.

If you’d like to contribute to any of these, please contact policy@bournemouth.ac.uk

Subject level TEF

You can read BU’s response to the subject level TEF consultation here.  We agree with the issues raised below and we advocated a new model because of serious problems with both Model A and Model B.  We also suggested a longer time frame (because of the volume of work involved, not complacency), and disagreed with both grade inflation and teaching intensity metrics.  And we challenged the awards at both institutional and subject level, proposing instead two awards (good and excellent/ excellent and outstanding) with stars for subjects.

Interesting developments for TEF (and more generally), the OfS have published their timetable for NSS and Unistats data for 2018:

  • The Office for Students (OfS) is applying the Code of Practice for Statistics to its data publication in anticipation of its designation as a producer of official statistics by July 2018. This has implications for the pre-publication access that we can grant to NSS outcomes and Unistats data, as these will now be treated as official statistics. As a consequence, we will now publish the NSS public dataset at the same time as providers are able to access their own data 2 on Friday 27 July 2018.
  • There will also be no provider preview as part of the annual Unistats data collection and publication process, and data available in system reports will be limited to that essential for quality processes associated with the Unistats return.
  • In June 2018, we will add earnings data from the Longitudinal Education Outcomes dataset for English providers to Unistats.
  • From September 2018, we will begin to use the Common Aggregation Hierarchy developed for the Higher Education Classification of Subjects to present data on Unistats in place of the current subject hierarchy.
  • The Unistats website will be updated in June 2018 to include Year three outcomes from the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework.

And :

  •  Following consultation on the outcomes of the Review of Unistats in 2015, the funding bodies are working together on options for a replacement for the Unistats website. This new resource would draw on the findings from the review about decision-making behaviour and the information needs of different groups of prospective students. We will progress this work in stages – ensuring that it is developed in a way that meets the needs of prospective students across all countries of the UK – and will provide the sector with periodic updates, the first of which will be in summer 2018.

Research Professional have a neat summary of the sector response.

On Wonkhe:

  • panel chair Janice Kay of the University of Exeter reflects on progress made and the challenges – and opportunities – arising from the exercise.  when breaking down the metrics into 35 subjects, cohort sizes can be small”  “ it is clear that the current format of the seven subject groupings poses challenges. For example, while it may reduce the writing load by asking institutions to describe its subjects in a summated way, it has sometimes limited what subjects can say about themselves, making it difficult to identify what happens in individual subjects. And we have heard that the format can increase writing effort, even if volume is reduced… It’s critical during this exercise that the written judgments can continue to do this, and that holistic judgments are not captured by metrics. There is therefore a question whether metric and written submission data can be better balanced in Model B.”  Plus some credibility issues with Model A
  • Melanie Rimmer, chief planner at Goldsmiths, University of London, ponders the likely outcomes of the subject-level TEF consultation.  Model B best meets the primary intention of Subject-Level TEF – that being to provide greater information to students – since it allows for greater variation between outcomes for subjects. However, highlighting variation in provision will only be attractive to institutions where that differentiation is a better rating than the current provider-level rating. If you want to hide weaker performance, then opt for Model A.  The main argument in favour of Model A is that it will reduce the burden of submission and assessment. That will be attractive to institutions which, having been through the exercise once and established their credentials, perceive the requirements of TEF as an unnecessary additional imposition that will deliver minimal return. Solid Golds and Silvers are likely to prefer Model A for this reason. Those at the borders of the ratings, with an eye on how close they are to moving between them, are more likely to see value in the greater effort required by Model B.”  “Those which are unlikely to see their rating change, or indeed which might see their metrics moving in the wrong direction and worry about a lesser rating, will naturally support longer duration awards. Those hoping to gain a shinier medal as a result of improving performance will see value in more regular submissions.”  “There are, however, bound to be areas of common ground on the consultation proposals. Every institution I have spoken to has identified a problem with the subject classifications, highlighting why combining disciplines X and Y makes no sense in their institution. However, in each case the disciplines cited are different because the issues stem primarily from institutional structures.”
  • Stephanie Harris of Universities UK (UUK) looks ahead to the future of TEF and the forthcoming statutory review of the exercise.
  • Claire Taylor of Wrexham Glyndŵr University looks at TEF from a quality enhancement perspective and considers the options for institutions in devolved nations.  “perhaps the very act of putting together the written submission also provides an opportunity for us to engage with an enhancement agenda. By reflecting upon TEF metric performance within the written submission, providers have an opportunity to outline the qualitative evidence base in relation to enhancement, evaluation and impact, within the context of their own overall institutional strategic approach to improving the student experience”.  But: “the introduction of grade inflation metrics during TEF3 is of questionable value. Such a metric does not consider the contexts within which providers are operating. Providers have robust and detailed mechanisms for ensuring fair and equitable assessment of student work, including the use of external examiners to calibrate sector-wide, a system that contributes positively to the enhancement agenda and to which the grade inflation metric adds little value.”, and “The consultation asks for views around the introduction of a measure of teaching intensity. In my view, the proposed measure has no meaning and no connection to excellence, value or quality, let alone enhancement. There is the potential for the information to be misleading as it will need specialist and careful interpretation”
  • with an updated TEF diagram, “The Incredible Machine”, David Kernohan and Ant Bagshaw look at TEF3 and question its compatibility with the earlier versions of the exercise.  “So what – honestly – is TEF now for? It doesn’t adequately capture the student experience or the quality of teaching. It does not confer any benefit – other than a questionable marketing boost – to providers, and there is no evidence that students are making serious use of it to choose courses, universities, or colleges. Internationally, concerns have already been raised that the three-level ratings are confusing – it’s been widely reported that “Bronze” institutions are often not considered to meet the UK’s laudably stringent teaching quality thresholds. And it is not even a reliable time series – a TEF3 Gold is now achievable by an institution that would not have passed the test under TEF2 rules. Later iterations may well be built “ground up” from subject TEF assessments, once again changing the rules fundamentally. Let’s not even mention TEF1 (it’s OK, no-one ever does) in this context.”

From Dods: The Science and Technology Committee have published its report from the Algorithms in decision-making inquiry which acknowledges the huge opportunities presented by algorithms to the public sector and wider society, but also the potential for their decisions to disproportionately affect certain groups.

The report calls on the Centre for Data Ethics & Innovation – being set up by the Government – to examine algorithm biases and transparency tools, determine the scope for individuals to be able to challenge the results of all significant algorithmic decisions which affect them (such as mortgages and loans) and where appropriate to seek redress for the impacts of such decisions. Where algorithms significantly adversely affect the public or their rights, the Committee highlights that a combination of algorithmic explanation and as much transparency as possible is needed.

It also calls for the Government to provide better oversight of private sector algorithms which use public sector datasets, and look at how best to monetise these datasets to improve outcomes across Government. The Committee also recommends that the Government should:

  • Continue to make public sector datasets available for both ‘big data’ developers and algorithm developers through new ‘data trusts’, and make better use of its databases to improve public service delivery
  • Produce, maintain and publish a list of where algorithms are being used within Central Government, or are planned to be used, to aid transparency, and identify a ministerial champion with oversight of public sector algorithm use.
  • Commission a review from the Crown Commercial Service which sets out a model for private/public sector involvement in developing algorithms.

Social Mobility Commission

Under the 10 minute rule, the Chair of the Education Committee Robert Halfon introduced legislation to give greater powers and resources to the Social Mobility Commission (SMC), the body set up to promote social justice.  (Link here at 13.52.09pm).  It will have its second reading on 15th June.

The Committee published a draft Bill in March alongside its report.  In its report, the Committee called for the establishment of a new implementation body at the heart of Government to drive forward the social justice agenda.

And in the meantime, the Government have announced a recommendation for a new Chair.  Dame Martina Milburn has spent 14 years as Chief Executive of the Prince’s Trust, supporting more than 450,000 disadvantaged young people across the country in that time, with three in four of these going on to work, education or training. She is also a non-executive director of the National Citizen Service and the Capital City College Group, and was previously Chief Executive of BBC Children in Need and of the Association of Spinal Injury Research, Rehabilitation and Reintegration.

Immigration

From Dods: Last Friday the Science and Technology Committee announced that it intends to develop its own proposals for immigration and visa rules for scientists post-Brexit. This work follows the Government’s rejection of the Committee’s call for the conclusions of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) relating to science to be brought forward to form part of an ‘early deal’ for science and innovation.

The Committee published its report on “Brexit, Science and Innovation” in March, and has recently received the Government’s response. The report welcomed the Prime Minister’s call for a “far-reaching pact” with the EU on science and innovation and recommended that an early deal for science—including on the ‘people’ element—could set a positive tone for the rest of the trade negotiations, given the mutual benefits of cooperation on science and innovation for the UK and the EU.

The Committee will draw on the submissions to its previous Brexit inquiry and the sector’s submissions to the MAC to construct its proposals for the immigration system, but further input to this process is welcome on the following points:

  • If an early deal for science and innovation could be negotiated, what specifically should it to contain in relation to immigration rules and movement of people involved with science and innovation?
  • What are the specific career needs of scientists in relation to movement of people, both in terms of attracting and retaining the people the UK needs and supporting the research that they do?
  • What aspects of the ‘people’ element need to be negotiated with the EU-27, as opposed to being simply decided on by the Government?
  • On what timescale is clarity needed in relation to future immigration rules in order to support science and innovation in the UK?

Consultations

Click here to view the updated consultation tracker. Email us on policy@bournemouth.ac.uk if you’d like to contribute to any of the current consultations.

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JANE FORSTER                                            |                       SARAH CARTER

Policy Advisor                                                                     Policy & Public Affairs Officer

Follow: @PolicyBU on Twitter                   |                       policy@bournemouth.ac.uk

 

 

Your ‘Timely Reminder’ – don’t miss these events in June and July!

Every year, the Research & Knowledge Exchange Office, along with internal and external delivery partners, runs over 150 events to support researcher development through the Research & Knowledge Exchange Development Framework (RKEDF).

Responding to your feedback and by popular request, below are the main events coming up over the next two months – please click on the event titles that are of interest to find out more and reserve your place as soon as possible:

JUNE 2018

Wednesday 6th June – STEAMLab – Virtual problems See this Blog post on how to Apply for a place

Monday 11th June – Research impact and the Research Excellence Framework (REF): an introduction 

Wednesday 13th June – REF 2021 Guidance – Q&A session

Thursday 14th June – Royal Society – Bid Writing Retreat 

Wednesday 20th June – BRIAN, Open Access and the Impact Module

Wednesday 27th June – Preparing for Brexit 

27-29 June – Writing Academy – Summer 

JULY 2018

Wednesday 4th July – US Funding Day (Federal & Charities)

Wednesday 4th July – Targeting high quality journals

Wednesday 4th July – 10 ways to increase the impact of your paper

Wednesday 4th July – Writing an academic paper

Thursday 5th July –  Fellowship interview Training – Royal Society

Wednesday 11th July – Introduction to bibliometrics

Wednesday 11th July – Advanced Bibliometrics – Using bibliometrics to understand research impact

10/07/18 – 11/07/18 – Marie Sklodowska Curie – MSCA bid writing retreat (2 days)

Thursday 12th of July – Writing and presenting for non-academic audiences (ECR session) *New*

Monday 23rd July –  The Writing Academy – Writing day

Tuesday 24th July – Preparing impact case studies for the Research Excellence Framework: a workshop

To see all the events within the RKEDF and the wider Organisational Development offering, please refer to the handy Calendar of Events.

Additionally if you are a PGR please visit the Doctoral College Researcher Development Programme for your own special tailored events.

Great day (and evening) at Brighton for arts-led interests

On Fri 15th June the University of Brighton will host an exciting event featuring over 29 talks, workshops, performances, installations and displays focused on arts and research for social change. Sessions will be delivered by over 40 academics, artists and community practitioners from around the world.

The event is open to everyone with an interest in the arts, research and social action, regardless of their experience in the arts or academia. The jam-packed, interactive daytime programme at Falmer Campus will be followed by an evening spoken word and music show at the Latest Music Bar in Manchester Street, featuring performances from Kate Fox, Joelle Taylor, Jacob Sam-La Rose and Quiet Loner.
Tickets are only £35, including lunch, refreshments and all events.

For further information and to register, go to: https://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/carnivalofinvention/ or check out our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/collaborative.poetics/

Medical Research showcase at CoPMRE’s Spring Visiting Faculty Day

The Centre of Postgraduate Medical Research & Education (CoPMRE) held its Spring Visiting Faculty Day at the Executive Business Centre.  Fourteen posters (VF Programme Spring 2018) were presented showcasing the breadth of collaborative projects being undertaken by BU and local clinicians.  The Best Poster prize was awarded to Dr Paul Whittington, Department of Computing & Informatics, Faculty of Science and Technology, for his presentation entitled Automatic Detection of User Abilities through the SmartAbility Framework.  Professor Tamas Hickish, judge, felt that all the posters were excellent and address important health care issues.  Paul’s poster was chosen as the research was generated by a deep understanding of disability, the use a mobile phone technology and generalisability to significant areas of health care need such as stroke and frailty. As such his work is scalable and feasible.

Visiting Faculty Days are a great opportunity to share innovative ideas and research.  The event was very well received and links for possible further collaboration have already been formed as a result of networking.  Our next Visiting Faculty Day will be held in December.

BU Nutrition students help to transform hospital menus

BSc (Hons) Nutrition students at Bournemouth University have been working with staff at Poole’s Alderney Hospital to produce new menus for hospital patients and staff, which are tasty, nutritious and full of locally-sourced ingredients.

Thanks to the students, Alderney Hospital also expects to see a reduction in its food wastage figures which could lead to significant savings.

Click here to find out more about how the BU students carried out this transformation.

Mike Smith, Geograph.

 

Two reviews by BU academics in the American Anthropologist in 2018

The first review by a Bournemouth University academic  in the prestigious  journal American Anthropologist was published in its February issue.  Dr. Sue Sudbury who is Principal Academic in Media Production reviewed the film ‘The Anthropologist’ [1].  She wrote in this Open Access review that this film raises many interesting issues about the role of the anthropologist and deftly illustrates the divide that exists when different cultures come together.   Her conclusion of the review is that ‘The Anthropologist’ is an intriguing and memorable film about environmental anthropologists and the important work they do collecting and telling the stories of people whose lives are being reshaped by climate change. It is also about the relationship between female anthropologists and their daughters. As such, it does an important job of introducing the subject and will no doubt generate discussion, but it is not an anthropological film and doesn’t claim to be.

The second one, a book review this time, appeared this week in the June issue.    Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen in Bournemouth University’s Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH) reviewed the book Midwives and Mothers: The Medicalization of Childbirth on a Guatemalan Plantation by the American anthropologist Sheila Cosminsky [2].  He reminds the reader that some of the work in this book work has previously been published in articles, as clearly stated in the acknowledgments (p. xii).  He highlights that “on reading the book I remembered with joy snippets from some of the articles on Doña María I read nearly thirty years ago while working on my PhD thesis.” Cosminsky does a great job of bringing together a lifetime of anthropological (field)work in a comprehensive and easy‐to‐read book.

It is not often that we see reviews written by BU staff in this impressive journal, let alone two in subsequent issues.

 

References:

  1. Sudbury S. (2018) The Anthropologist Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, and Jeremy Newberger, dirs. 81 mins. English, Russian, Sakha, Kiribati, Spanish, and Quechua with English subtitles. New York: Ironbound Films, 2015, American Anthropologist 120(1): 169-170.
  2. van Teijlingen E. (2018) Midwives and Mothers: The Medicalization of Childbirth on a Guatemalan Plantation by Sheila Cosminsky, American Anthropologist 120(2): 369.

Clinical Research Network Wessex Forum – registration now open

Clinical Research Network (CRN) Wessex is delighted to announce the date of its next Research Nurse, Research Midwife, Clinical Trial Practitioner and Research Allied Health Professional Forum forum, taking place at Hethfelton House, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 6HS on 5 July 2018.

Please see the draft agenda. Registration is now open.

If you would like to attend this forum please complete registration form.

Photo of the Week: All My Meeples

All My Meeples

Our next Photo of the Week is Alexandra Alberda‘s photo of her drawing of  people engaging with Graphic Medicine comics at a museum exhibition. This weekly series features photo entries taken by our academics, students and professional staff for our annual Research Photography Competition, which gives a glimpse into some of the fantastic research undertaken across the BU community.

Alexandra’s work takes Medical Humanities and Graphic Medicine into non-clinical and public settings where health related works are being engaged with presently. Her research furthers Medical Humanities’ engagement with public perceptions of health by expanding the critical vocabulary available to scholars through Comics Studies and curatorial practice. The space of the museum holds a social identity as upholding and defining culture and has a history of exhibiting works that relate to healthcare and the “ill” other/body. How do these bodies and the experiences they illustrate reach our own interpretations of illness, flesh bodies, and lived experiences? Alexandra’s PhD research focuses on these experiences as they are tied to exhibitions and museums, which creates three groups of ‘people’ to the research.

The first group (green) are the people that exist in the museum: viewers, artists, curators, and other museum staff. The second group (pink) are the people represented in the exhibition artwork: both fictional and non-fiction characters in the case of memoirs. Her research focuses on the relationships and engagement that happens between the first and second groups. The third group (orange) involves the relationships between my supervisors, and their expertise, and Alexandra. These relationships will translate into her professional practices and research skills.

Alexandra Alberda is a PhD researcher in the Faculty of Media and Communication at Bournemouth University. Her supervisors are Dr. Sam Goodman, Dr. Julia Round and Professor Michael Wilmore. She received her MA in Art History minoring in Sculptural Painting/Studio Art at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and BA in English and Art minoring in Honours, Art History and Writing at Briar Cliff University.

Find out more about the role that comics can play in the study and delivery of healthcare on the Graphic Medicine website here.

@ZandraAlberda

Calling all PGRs – Postgraduate Research Community Questionnaire

The Doctoral College is conducting research into postgraduate researcher communities and we would like to hear PGR views.

The questionnaire is now open and closes on Monday 18 June at 08:00.

Click here to complete the questionnaire.

Drinks voucher available for all those that complete the questionnaire.

If you have any questions please contact Natalie (nstewart@bournemouth.ac.uk) or Clare (ccutler@bournemouth.ac.uk)

 

 

Autism screening tool may not pick up women with the condition

File 20180514 100687 146y95f.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Nikodash/Shutterstock.com

By Rachel Moseley, Bournemouth University and Julie Kirkby, Bournemouth University

Diagnosing autism is expensive and time consuming, so a screening tool is used to filter out those people who are unlikely to be diagnosed as autistic. This is all well and good, but our latest research suggests that a widely used screening tool may be biased towards diagnosing more men than women.

Earlier studies have cast doubt on the ability of one of the leading screening tools, called Autism-Spectrum Quotient, to accurately identify people with autism. Our study decided to look at another screening tool that hasn’t yet been investigated: the Ritvo Autism Asperger Diagnostic Scale-Revised (RAADS-R), a widely used questionnaire for assessing autism in adults with average or above average intelligence.

We compiled the RAADS-R scores of over 200 people who had a formal diagnosis of autism. We compared scores between autistic men and autistic women on four different symptom areas: difficulties with social relationships, difficulties with language, unusual sensory experiences or motor problems, and “circumscribed interests” (a tendency to have very strong, fixed interests).

As there are known sex differences in these areas – for example, with women being better at hiding social and communicative difficulties, and men being more likely to show obvious, and hence easier to detect, circumscribed interests – we wanted to know whether RAADS-R was able to pick up these differences.




Read more:
Changing the face of autism: here come the girls


Our analysis showed that it didn’t: we found no sex differences in RAADS-R scores between autistic men and women in social relatedness, language and circumscribed interests.

A possible explanation for this result is that, since RAADS-R depends on people accurately judging and reporting their own symptoms, sex differences may only emerge when behaviour is diagnosed by an experienced clinician. Previous studies have shown that autistic people often lack insight into their own behaviour and find it difficult to report their own symptoms.

Another likely reason for finding no sex difference in autism traits is that this and most other studies only include autistic people who have received a formal diagnosis through assessment with the very tools and tests we are investigating. As diagnostic and screening tools (including RAADS-R) were developed with male samples, they are most likely to identify autistic women with the most male-like profiles.

This might explain why fewer women tend to be diagnosed. It could be, then, that the screening tests filter out all of the autistic women with more female-like autism traits, and the autistic women with more male-like traits go on to be diagnosed. Or it could be that the underlying sample is biased because the formal diagnostic tools select people with more male-like traits, and the screening tool merely reflects this underlying bias.

Our results could show that our sample didn’t represent a diverse range of autistic women, then. And this is a problem that affects all research on sex differences in autism.




Read more:
GPs urgently need training on autism


As more males than females have received a diagnosis of autism, many of the theories we have about autism are based on these diagnosed cases, and, as a result, may only apply to males. Likewise, as we base our screening tools and diagnostic tools on males who have been diagnosed, we may only pick up women who show male-like symptoms.

We could be missing the women who have very different, more female presentations of autism, but who still show the core features that are central to the diagnosis. These include problems with social interaction, communication and restricted behaviour and interests.

Because screening and diagnostic tests focus on the most common, male manifestations of these core symptoms, females tend to be overlooked. Circumscribed interests in males, for example, are more likely to be based on unusual topics, whereas girls and women may centre their interests on things like celebrities or fashion, only the intensity of the interest sets them apart from non-autistic females.

One clear difference

There was only one prominent sex difference that emerged in our study: autistic women reported more sensory differences and motor problems than autistic men. Sensory and motor symptoms are common in autism. People may be over or under sensitive to sights, sounds, touches, smells and tastes, and are often clumsy and poorly coordinated.

Some autistic people are sensitive to certain fabrics. Purino/Shutterstock.com

This self-reported finding, that women have more sensory and motor symptoms than men, needs to be investigated more thoroughly. However, it appears to be consistent with a few studies that have found that autistic women do have more sensory and motor symptoms than men.

If these types of symptoms are especially problematic for autistic women, they could be important for providing a diagnosis. Although RAADS-R measures sensory and motor symptoms, they play a very minor role in gold-standard diagnostic tests, such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule.

The importance of a diagnosis?

Efforts are now underway to develop screening tools that are better at identifying autism in females.

Diagnosis is important for autistic people for many reasons. For example, it is the only way they can access support services, such as dedicated support workers to help them with activities at home or in daily life. They might also receive financial support if they need it. (Unemployment affects most of the autistic population and may in part be due to high levels of mental illness in this group.)

Other people have spoken about how having a diagnosis has helped them understand the struggles they’ve faced in their lives – that these things weren’t their fault. And it has helped them meet other people who accept them for who they are.


Rachel Moseley, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Bournemouth University and Julie Kirkby, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Innovate UK funding to support regional economic growth – coming soon!!

Image from startups.co.uk

Innovate UK has announced a new competitive scheme that takes a place-based approach to research and innovation funding, to support significant regional economic growth.

To be successful, applications must build on existing research and innovation capability and present a valid plan of new research and innovation activities. These should have a demonstrable impact on local economic growth.

Project consortia must be based within the project’s geographical area and have the support of a local civic leadership.

Projects can be led by either a UK based business or a UK publicly funded research organisation.

This first competition stage is an expression of interest (EOI). Consortia will set out plans for large collaborative proposals. Following assessment, successful EOIs will be selected to receive up to £50,000 in ‘seedcorn funding’ to further develop a proposal for a gull stage project.

Please see summary below:

Competition opens: Monday, 28th May 2018

Competition closes: Wednesday, 25th July 2018 (noon)

Funding available: up to £50,000 seedcorn funding for successful EOIs; full stage proposals between £10million  and £50million

Project dates: June 2019 – April 2024

For more information, please see this link.

 

Conducting research in the NHS – what you need to know

Are you interested in conducting your research project in the NHS? Have you got plans to do so in the future? Or, are you simply interested in the prospect of doing this at some point during your academic or professional career?

If you are then there are additional requirements in order to make this a reality…however, don’t worry, because the R&KEO office can assist you in achieving these, helping to streamline the process.
Get in touch with researchethics@bournemouth.ac.uk with any queries you may have.

Please note that BU is required to act as the Sponsor for clinical studies conducted in the NHS, by its students or staff members. The Sponsor is defined as ‘the person or body who takes on ultimate responsibility for the initiation, management and financing (or arranging the financing) of a clinical research study.’
Get in touch with researchethics@bournemouth.ac.uk as soon as feasible if you think that your study will require BU to act as Sponsor