Posts By / Susan Dowdle

Grant Writing Workshop 26th January – Early Career Researchers

Are you at an early stage in your academic career and need some help in perfecting your grant writing skills?  Dr Martin Pickard is coming back to BU on 26th January to run a full day workshop. 

The day is designed for early career researchers with no, or very little, experience in preparing research applications. It  covers the fundamental structure and arguments inherent within any research proposal and initially develops the principle ways to achieve this – whilst at the same time encouraging the necessary overarching approach.

The workshop will take place on Talbot Campus and run from around 9.30am until 4-5pm.  Lunch and refreshments will be provided.  There are a limited number of spaces on the workshop so if you would like to come to the event please email Susan Dowdle to book a space as soon as possible.


Structure of the Day


Session 1: Introduction and general approach to the funding mechanisms

These sessions are individually tailored to the session theme. They evaluate and present key insights into the fundamental approach principles behind a successful grant application in the respective research area and develop the essential common elements of a successful bid.

Break – Coffee – Includes 10 minute assignment exercise

Session 2  – Theory and practice – optimising the approach

This builds from session 1 detailing the “in depth” structure of a successful bid, the need to present and optimise the supporting arguments and justifications required and how to achieve this.

Break  – Lunch – including further assignment exercise

Session  3 – Building the case for funding – case studies and examples

Using the assignment exercises, and worked illustrations, this puts theory into practice covering most of the common pitfalls and provides the tips, tricks and techniques for optimising your proposal within minimum space.

Break – Coffee – including 10 minute assignment exercise

Session 4 – Theory into practice – interactive assignment analysis and workshop discussion

With analysis and reworking of both previous cases and current applications this primarily “Q & A” workshop session provides an important consolidation taking live examples through the optimisation process using the skills and techniques acquired throughout the day.


Academic Writing Workshop 13th December

Have you a paper to write?  Do you want to write it well?  Do you need space to focus on developing academic writing skills?  This full-day course is designed for staff at an early stage of their academic careers who write papers or reports as part of their research work. The course consists of intensive tuition and gives participants immediate, useable methods of improving style, developing arguments, strengthening organisation and avoiding common errors, all with the aim of producing succinct and informative prose in a well-organised academic framework. 

The day itself involves instruction, group exercises and discussion, all designed to enable participants to increase the quality of their writing and to develop their confidence and critical thinking.  In addition, there is advice on how to successfully communicate the subject matter.  You can view an outline of the day.

This will be a full day workshop taking place on Tuesday 13th December.  If you would like to attend please email Susan Dowdle asap as there are only a few places remaining.

PGR Training Workshops – Dec 2011

Sessions for the BU Researcher Development Programme in  December 2011 are as follows:

Research Ethics Professor Holger Schutkowski

  • Date: Wednesday 7 December
  • Time: 10:30-12:30
  • Room: PG22
  • Prior booking essential by emailing
  • Please include one line about your research ethics issues or concerns

 Researchers must Write Professor Matthew Bennett

  • Date: Wednesday 7 December
  • Time: 14:00 – 15:30
  • Room: PG22
  • Prior booking essential by emailing
  • Basic introduction to the importance of writing in research

Academic Writing Sue Mitchell (external)

  • Date: Both the Tuesday and Wednesday sessions are now full
  • Time: 09:oo  – 17:00
  • Room: PG22
  • Prior booking essential by emailing
  • Academic Writing Skills: improving your publications; grants

These sessions are primarily aimed at new PGRs however all PGRs and ECRs are welcome.  Prior booking is essential on some sessions where places are limited.

PGR students – interested in some funding to travel?

Santander provides BU with funding for research students or staff to travel to universities in the Santander overseas network to work on a specific piece of work and develop links.  There are 4 x £5000 scholarships available with a deadline of 9th December.

This is an excellent opportunity to travel to other countries such as the USA or South America and enhance your PhD by working with international researchers in your field and potentially enhancing your future career by developing international networks.  Priority is given to research students and early career researchers.

Details on how to apply are available in this earlier blog post.

Santander Research and Travel Grants Fund – Open until 9th Dec

In the second round of funding we have 4 x £5000 scholarships from Santander for BU staff or research students to undertake a specific project that builds on or develops links with at least one university from the Santander overseas network.  This call is only open to applications until 9th December so get your applications in fast.

Awards will be announced in January 2012, and funds must be spent before the end of July 2012. Preference will be given to applications received from postgraduate research students and early career researchers.

Funds can only be used to cover direct costs (i.e. not salary costs or overheads).

To apply complete the Santander application form and submit it by email to Susan Dowdle:

Successful applicants will be expected to participate in general PR activities about their research.  This may involve attending events and promoting the benefits of the funding.

The closing date for applications is Friday 9 December 2011.

Unsuccessful submissions from the last round of the Santander Scholarship funding cannot be resubmitted to this round. Previous unsuccessful applicants can submit new projects/ideas to this round.

Grant writing – an art or a science?

Martin Pickard from GrantCraft came to the university last week to deliver grant writing workshops focusing on applying to the research councils. Martin has an excellent track record of helping universities win funding and provided some top tips on how to prepare a better application.  His main aim was to encourage participants to start thinking of applications as a sales document – how to make an impact with every part of the application and convince the funder to ‘buy’ the research.  Fundamentally your research doesn’t change but it’s how you package it that matters.

One of the things that Martin advised was that when you give your applications to colleagues to review ask them to give you 10 reasons why they wouldn’t fund it.  You may not agree with everything they say but it gives you some constructive feedback and can help you think about whether you have fully defended your project.  The people reviewing your application for the funder may not be as close to the field as you and everyone has had those comments from reviewers where you wonder if they have a clue.  Don’t give your reviewers a chance to think, give them all the answers even if you think it’s obvious.

The other big message from Martin’s sessions was that you need to think about what the overarching problem is that your research is addressing and make that clear from the start.  This is bigger that just the research need that you are addressing and you need to think outside the box!  Once you start to think bigger, about where your research fits within other research, with practitioners and within society, it makes the section on impact much simpler because the message is there throughout your application.

And finally give yourself enough time…to think about it, prepare several drafts and get feedback from colleagues.

Martin is coming back in the new year to deliver a few more sessions. In January he is running a session aimed at staff preparing their first research grant and in February he is running two sessions on EU funding – one particularly looking at the Marie Curie scheme and the other at EU funding in general. If you’re interested in attending these sessions please contact Susan Dowdle from the Research Development Unit.

PGR Events – Researcher Development Programme

Sessions for the BU Researcher Development Programme in  November/December 2011 are as follows:

Managing your Thesis workshop (Part 2) Using MS Office 2010 to manage your thesis and other documents facilitated by Su Kensley

    • Date: Wednesday 30 November
    • Time: 10:00-13:00
    • Room: S103
    • Prior booking essential (max 20 places) by emailing

Research Ethics Professor Holger Schutkowski

  • Date: Wednesday 7 December
  • Time: 10:30-12:30
  • Room: PG22
  • Prior booking essential by emailing
  • Please include one line about your research ethics issues or concerns

 Researchers must Write Professor Matthew Bennett

  • Date: Wednesday 7 December
  • Time: 14:00 – 15:30
  • Room: PG22
  • Prior booking essential by emailing
  • Basic introduction to the importance of writing in research

Academic Writing Sue Mitchell (external)

  • Date: Wednesday 14 December
  • Time: 09:oo  – 17:00
  • Room: PG22
  • Prior booking essential by emailing
  • Academic Writing Skills: improving your publications; grants

These sessions are primarily aimed at new PGRs however all PGRs and ECRs are welcome.  Prior booking is essential on some sessions where places are limited.

Grant Writing Workshops for Staff – Research Councils Focus

Next week the Research Development Unit are organising 2 full day workshops on preparing applications for the research councils.  The workshops will be run by Martin Pickard, who has 25 years experience of writing, supporting and managing literally thousands of research proposals and has worked across Europe with a large number of universities, research institutes, industrial firms and international companies.

  • 23rd November will be focused on social sciences and humanities research council bids. 
  • 24th November will be focused on applied and natural sciences research council bids, including engineering.

There are still one or two places left on the 23rd and several places on 24th.  If you would like to attend please contact Susan Dowdle asap.

SciTech Europe 2011: Advancing Research, Innovation & Collaboration

There are a limited number of last minute complimentary places available to attend SciTech Europe 2011 on 24 November at The Square, Meeting Centre, Brussels.

Confirmed to Speak

Dr. Anneli Pauli
Deputy Director-General on Innovation and ERA (European Research Area), Directorate-General Research, European Commission

Professor Enric Banda
President, Euroscience

Professor Maria Leptin
Member of the Management Committee, Initiative for Science in Europe and Director of EMBO

Iztok Lesjak
President, International Association of Science Parks, European Division

Dr. Katrien Maes
Chief Policy Officer, League of European Research Universities

Dr. John Smith
Deputy Secretary General, European University Association (EUA)

Dr. Ayoade MJ Oduola
Coordinator, Stewardship for Infectious Diseases of poverty (STE),

Professor Joanna Chataway
Director, Innovation and Technology Policy, RAND Europe

Professor Anthony J Ryan OBE
Board member, STFC Science Council; Pro-Vice Chancellor, Faculty of Science, Sheffield University

View Full Programme

To register your complimentary place at this event please use our Online Registration System using discount code STEUCOMP at the final stage of the registration process.  Book Online

EPSRC applications now need to include ‘national importance’

The EPSRC has announced that from the 15th November 2011 their peer reviewers will be asked to assess the national importance of research proposals.  The Council have tried to reassure people that research quality will remain the key criteria by which research proposals are assessed.

The EPSRC added the following definition of National Importance to their website:

What is National Importance?

National importance looks over a 10 to 50 year time frame. It takes into account the national importance of the research in relation to other research in the area, how it aligns to national UK priorities, user/stakeholder pull or if it underpins priority areas for other research councils.

When considering National Importance for research and training we take into account;

  • the potential impact of a research area on the current or future success of the UK economy,
  • whether it has been identified as an area that will enable the future development of key emerging industry(s),
  • if the area makes a clear contribution to meeting key societal challenges facing the UK,
  • If the area is key to the health of other research disciplines.

We are asking applicants to demonstrate the importance of their proposed research project to the UK in relation to other research in that area. We do not expect applicants to be able to predict the impact of their research, nor do we expect reviewers to make assumptions about the probability of the benefits being fully delivered. The purpose of national importance is to encourage applicants to articulate how their research aligns to national UK priorities, user/stakeholder pull or if it underpins other research areas. We encourage and recognise the research we invest in has a global impact.

A full list of the FAQs can be found on their website here.

Royal Society opens up its journal archive

The Royal Society continues to support scientific discovery by allowing free access to more than 250 years of leading research.  Their world-famous journal archive has been opened up and all articles more than 70 years old have been made permanently free to access. 

The Royal Society is the world’s oldest scientific publisher and, as such, their archive is the most comprehensive in science.  It comprises more than 69,000 articles, from the very first published in 
the world’s first peer-reviewed journal Philosophical Transactions to the first article published in the recently launched journal Open Biology.

Thomas Henry Huxley FRS wrote in 1870: ‘If all the books in the world, except the Philosophical Transactions were to be destroyed, it is safe to say that the foundations of physical science would remain unshaken, and that the vast intellectual progress of the last two centuries would be largely, though incompletely, recorded.’

Professor Uta Frith FRS, Chair of the Royal Society library committee, says: ‘The release of these papers opens a fascinating window on the history of scientific progress over the last few centuries and will be of interest to anybody who wants to understand how science has evolved since the days of the Royal Society’s foundation.’

The move to open up their publishing archive is part of the Royal Society’s ongoing commitment to open access in scientific publishing.  It also comes soon after the launch of the Society’s first ever fully open access journal, Open Biology

Vitae and the Researcher Development Framework

Vitae is an organisation set up to promote career development in both postgraduate researchers and academic staff.  They have recently launched the Researcher Development Framework which is intended to help people monitor their skills and plan their personal development.  At BU we will be using this framework to format the training on offer for the postgraduate research students and academic staff.

The Vitae website is an excellent resource and the organisation regularly runs free training events specifically aimed at PGRs.  Upcoming events include Effective Researcher – The end is in sight aimed at students close to the completion of their PhD.

The Researcher Development Framework (RDF) is the professional development framework to realise the potential of researchers.  The RDF is a tool for planning, promoting and supporting the personal, professional and career development of researchers in higher education.  It was designed following interviews with many successful researchers across the sector and articulates the knowledge, behaviours and attributes of a successful researcher. 

There is a planner available on the Vitae website to help you assess which stage you are at with your skills and a tutorial providing guidance on how to use the framework.

Top 10 tips from researchers on using the Researcher Development Framework (RDF):

1. You might choose to use the RDF for short term as well as long term development. The RDF can be used in planning for your long term career ambitions but also to make a feasible short term plan. It can be useful to imagine your long term ambitions in order to focus your career path however the reality of progressing through to the higher phases may be more difficult to plan. In the short term, making decisions about how to progress to the next phase or what sub-domains are most important for you will be easier. Try to be realistic when setting these short term goals.

2. Use the RDF to highlight your strengths and areas for development and how these might be used to benefit/influence your personal, professional and career development.

3. Use the RDF to highlight your applicable and transferable skills. This is important for career progression within or outside academia.

4. Prioritise those areas which are most relevant. You don’t have to try to develop in all the areas of the RDF at once. There may be some sub-domains/descriptors where there is less relevance in progressing through the phases for you.

5. Draw on experiences outside of work to evidence your capabilities.

6. Progression to the highest phase in a descriptor will not be applicable to everyone but being aware of the possibilities can aid personal and career development.

7. Talk to others to get their views about your strengths and capabilities. Your supervisor, manager, peers, family and friends are a great source of information to find out more about yourself. Talk to them about how they perceive your capabilities. By understanding how others view you, you will be able to make more informed choices about your future.

8. To move from one phase to the next why not explore attending courses. These courses may be run at a local level (within your University) or may only be run nationally or internationally so awareness of opportunities for training is important. Vitae also run a wide range of courses which address many aspects of personal and career development.

9. Some phases may only be reached through experience and practice however good self-awareness and professional development planning will aid the process.

10. Networking is likely to enable you to reach more experienced phases.

Funding Opportunities

We have received information about the following funding opportunities which may be of interest:

British Academy/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowships

This scheme enables established scholars to have one year’s research leave with funding being provided to cover the costs of replacement teaching.  The closing date for applications is 16 November 2011.  The Academy takes no account of an applicant’s age or current status (eg Professor, Lecturer) in determining eligibility for these awards. Rather, in all cases, award-holders are expected to be able to disseminate the results of their research not only through publications, but also through feeding into their future academic career after the end of the awards. Any field of study in the humanities and social sciences is suitable for support.  More info available on the website.

Lister Institute Research Prizes

The Lister Institute of Preventative Medicine, which is a registered charity established to support biomedical and related research, is now inviting applications from outstanding young researchers in biomedical or related biological sciences for its 2012 Research Prizes.

More information can be found on the charity’s website.

Funding Opps for Postgrad Students

Interested in spending a year conducting research at an overseas university?  The following funding schemes may be of interest:

Ritsumeikan University

This Japanese University has a range of scholarships available.  One of the schemes is to spend 12 months as an International Research Student working closely with the University’s research staff.  Applications are open until 5th December 2011.  Visit the website for details.

One Year Visiting Fellowship at Harvard or MIT

There are scholarships available for students who are mid-PhD and would like to spend an additional year as a fellow at Harvard or MIT.  You must have at least one year left to complete on your return to the UK.  Applications can be made online at and the attached documents contain more information – Kennedy Scholarship and Frank Knox Fellowship.  The deadline is 30th Oct 2011.

The Collaborative Researcher – Free Places at a Vitae training workshop

Vitae, the organisation which focuses on researcher development is offering up to 40 free places on this 2 day training workshop to help you develop your collaboration skills.  All you need to cover are your travel expenses to Nottingham.  Places will fill up fast so if you’re interested don’t delay!  The dates are 30th Jan – 1st Feb 2012.

This 2 day residential course looks at the building blocks of the collaborative style of research: ­ inclusive communication, cultural awareness, robust planning, negotiation and the ability to work effectively with others.  Whether your collaboration is with another academic in your department, or partners from different subjects, sectors and countries, it helps you to develop winning strategies for connecting and working with others.

What does it involve?

The course is attended by up to 40 researchers from across the country, from different disciplines and career stages.  It is led by a team of experienced facilitators who work with participants throughout the 2 days to support their learning.  They will be from a variety of backgrounds with experience in collaboration, academia and other sectors.

This course takes a ‘learning by doing’ approach. There will be presentations on collaboration theory, but for the most part, you will be actively participating in the sessions and activities. 

This is an intensive 2 day residential course which runs from dinner on the evening of Monday 30th January to 5pm on 1st February 2011

What’s in it for you?

This course offers you the opportunity to: 

  • explore collaboration both in theory and in practice
  • work with a team of experienced facilitators from a range of career backgrounds, who will ensure you get the most out of the 2 days
  • meet researchers from a variety of disciplines, backgrounds and career stages
  • develop your understanding of collaboration theory and how to apply it in practice
  • take a few days out from your research both physically and mentally, and have some space in which to consider yourself and your next steps


This event is open to all UK researchers – subject to availability. Book your place now.

Places on the event are free but participants will need to cover their own travel expenses.  Accommodation and meals are provided.

Mental Health Research and Community Programmes

As part of Mental Health Week here at BU Dr Andrew Mayers from DEC has highlighted some of the work he is undertaking with local groups.

FirstPoint (Winton)

Run by Bournemouth Borough Council, FirstPoint work with community residents who have a range of mental health problems. Many of these individuals are not cared for by health services, often by choice. Using the ‘recovery model’ for mental health, the trained staff work to re-engage individuals and help them rebuild their lives. In the recovery model, individuals are shown how to regain enough self-confidence to find the coping skills and resources to return to better mental health. I am working with FirstPoint on a number of projects. We are evaluating outcomes in one-year longitudinal study, with BU students collecting and analysing the data. We aim to publish the outcomes in 2012/13. We also are working on arranging a series of work-experience placements for undergraduate and postgraduate students. Over the last months, FirstPoint have been working on a DVD that illustrates the benefits of the recovery model for mental health. The DVD will be used to inform mental health workers; I have made a contribution to that DVD. We will be launching the DVD for FirstPoint at BU in November.

Bournemouth and District Samaritans

The work undertaken by the Samaritans across the UK and Ireland is well known. The central focus of their work is to be a ‘listening ear’ to anyone experiencing despair, loneliness, or feeling suicidal. They are available 24-hours a day, every day of the year, via telephone, text, e-mail, letter, or face-to-face. I work very closely with the Bournemouth and District branch, acting as their Patron and I organise their publicity. We are working on a number of local projects, not least looking to establish closer ties between BU and the Samaritans. A number of our students volunteer to work at the Branch. The Samaritans have a presence at several BU events. We are currently working with several people at BU to establish a crisis nightline, and training (any) staff who have contact with students who may need emergency help (we have already had some crises with the current BU student intake). We are also looking to work closely with other agencies and charities locally. Some of this may lead to research opportunities, exploring ways in which mental illness, stress and despair can be reduced in our community. I am planning a number of projects focusing on suicide and mental health (including the particular problems faced in rural communities).

Barnardo’s (and Bournemouth Borough Council)

I am working with Barnardo’s Family Centres, in conjunction with Bournemouth Borough’s education services, to investigate the impact of maternal mental illness on young children. We are particularly interested in exploring attachment and mother-child interactions. We will be evaluating current programmes and working together on new ones. We have established a working party, with a view to design several research studies, and to explore sources of grant funding.

Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust

I am supervising a PhD project (Research student – Lauren Kita), working with the perinatal team within Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust. We are exploring the extent that poor sleep may pose a risk factor for postnatal depression. We will be examining sleep objectively, using state-of-the-art EEG equipment, and subjectively, using sleep diaries. Women with a history of depression will compared to women without such a history, during pregnancy and at weeks 4 and 12 after the baby is born. The mother’s mood and other mental indicators will also be measured.

International Cultic Studies Association /New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling

I am working with a Chartered Counselling Psychologist to explore mental health of individuals who were born into exclusive cults (i.e. they did not decide to join that cult). Through this contact, and the International Cultic Studies Association (ISCA) we have access to several hundred former members. We will be using a series of questionnaires that measure key factors such as current mental illness, trauma, self-efficacy, coping skills, and general life function. We will present the findings at the Annual ISCA Conference in Montreal next summer. Several papers will be published soon afterwards.

If you would like to find out more about this work please contact Andrew Mayers.

World Mental Health Day

October 10th is World Mental Health Day and to support it BU is holding a week of activities around the topic of mental health.  The events are being organised in partnership with Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust.  The week will provide an opportunity for staff to build and develop links with organisations in the area of mental health.

This week the research blog will feature stories from BU staff working in the areas of mental health.

Andrew Mayers from the Psychology Group in DEC is already working closely with the Samaritans and First Point on research projects and providing his students with the excellent opportunity to assist with the research.

There will also be a health and wellbeing week at BU from Oct 31st to Nov 4th and First Point will be launching their new DVD on the recovery model of mental health.

This link is the programme for this week.



Funding Opportunity – Assistance with Impact Analysis

JISC have recently announced a funding opportunity “Embedding impact analysis good practice in research, using BCE practitioners”.

This Call is designed to encourage skills sharing between researchers, engagement practitioners and information management specialists. It is aimed at research groups looking to bring in external expertise and support to help them develop improved capability and process to analyse the benefits and impact of their research, in order to enhance their impact and sustainability.

The work, which will be facilitated by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), focuses on the highly topical area of research impact. It invites people to register online to form partnerships to synthesise and share learning about how to embed technology-enabled good practice in impact analysis in research groups, using the expertise of Business and Community Engagement staff.

For any queries please contact David Owen.

The deadline for receipt of proposals is 31 October 2011. Call details can be found here.