Category / BU research

“New” FHSS paper on obesity published July 2017


The American Journal of Men’s Health published our latest paper on obesity prevention in men.  The paper ‘Clinical Effectiveness of Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance Interventions for Men: A Systematic Review of Men-Only Randomized Controlled Trials (The ROMEO Project)’ originates from a collaboration between BU and various universities in Scotland, led by the University of Aberdeen [1].

This systematic review paper found that reducing diets produced better weight loss than physical activity alone. The most effective interventions combined reducing diets, exercise, and behaviour change techniques . Group interventions produced favourable weight loss results. The paper reports that once engaged, men remained committed to a weight loss intervention.

The paper concludes that weight loss for men is best achieved and maintained with the combination of a reducing diet, increased physical activity, and behaviour change techniques. Strategies to increase engagement of men with weight loss services to improve the reach of interventions are needed.  This paper is the thirteenth paper from a large NIHR grant [2-13].

The American Journal of Men’s Health is an open access, peer-reviewed resource for cutting-edge information regarding men’s health and illness. It is, however worth noting that although our paper is formally published in July 2017 it has been online for two years!  The journal’s website states clearly that the article was first published online on June 30, 2015 BUT the issue in which it appears is published is July 1, 2017!

 

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

CMMPH

 

Reference:

  1. Robertson, C., Avenell, A., Stewart, F., Archibald, D., Douglas, F., Hoddinott, P., van Teijlingen, E., Boyers, D. (2017) Clinical effectiveness of weight loss & weight maintenance interventions for men: a systematic review of men-only randomised controlled trials (ROMEO Project), American Journal of Men’s Health 11(4): 1096-1123.  http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1557988315587550
  2. Robertson, C, Archibald, D, Avenell, A, Douglas, F., Hoddinott, P., van Teijlingen E, Boyers, D., Stewart, F, Boachie, C, Fioratou E., Wilkins, D, Street, T., Carroll, P., Fowler, C. (2014) Systematic reviews of & integrated report on quantitative, qualitative & economic evidence base for the management of obesity in men. Health Technology Assessment 18(35): 1-424. http://www.journalslibrary.nihr.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/118180/FullReport-hta18350.pdf
  3. Stewart, F., Fraser, C., Robertson, C., Avenell, A., Archibald, D., Douglas, F., Hoddinott, P., van Teijlingen, E., Boyers, D. (2014) Are men difficult to find? Identifying male-specific studies in MEDLINE and Embase, Systematics Reviews 3,78.
  4. Archibald, D, Douglas, F, Hoddinott, P, van Teijlingen, E, Stewart, F., Robertson, C., Boyers, D., Avenell, A. (2015) A qualitative evidence synthesis on management of male obesity. BMJ Open 5: e008372. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-008372 http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/10/e008372.full.pdf+html
  5. Boyers, D, Stewart, F, Fraser, C, Robertson, C, Avenell, A, Archibald, D, Douglas, F, Hoddinott P, van Teijlingen E. (2015). A systematic review of the cost-effectiveness of non-surgical obesity interventions in men, Obesity Research & Clinical Practice 9(4), 310-327.
  6. Robertson, C, Avenell, A, Boachie, C., Stewart, F., Archibald D., Hoddinott, P, Douglas, F, van Teijlingen E, Boyers D. (2016) Should weight loss and maintenance programmes be designed differently for men? Systematic review of long-term RCTs presenting data for men & women: The ROMEO Project, Obesity Research & Clinical Practice 10: 70-84.
  7. Robertson, C., Avenell, A., Boachie, C., Stewart, F., Archibald, D., Douglas, F., Hoddinott, P., van Teijlingen, E., Boyers, D. (2015) Should weight loss programmes be designed differently for men and women? The ROMEO Project, Appetite 87: 374.
  8. Robertson, C., Avenell, A., Stewart, F., Archibald, D., Douglas, F., Hoddinott, P., van Teijlingen, E., Boyers, D. (2015) A systematic review of long-term weight management randomized controlled trials for obese men. The ROMEO Project, Appetite 87: 374.
  9. Robertson, C., Avenell, A., Stewart, F., Archibald, D., Douglas, F., Hoddinott, P., van Teijlingen, E., Boyers, D. (2015) A systematic review of weight loss interventions in the UK. The ROMEO Project, Appetite 87: 375.
  10. Boyers, D., Avenell, A., Stewart, F., Robertson, C., Archibald, D., Douglas, F., Hoddinott, P., van Teijlingen, E., (2015) A systematic review of the cost-effectiveness of non-surgical obesity interventions in men, Appetite 87: 375.
  11. Archibald, D., Douglas, F., Hoddinott, P., van Teijlingen, E., Boyers, D., Avenell, A., Stewart, F., Robertson, C., (2015) A qualitative evidence synthesis on the management of male obesity. The ROMEO Project, Appetite 87: 381.
  12. Avenell, A., Robertson, C., Boachie, C., Stewart, F Archibald, D., Douglas, F., Hoddinott, P., van Teijlingen, E. (2016) Sex based subgroup differences in randomized controlled trials: empirical evidence from Cochrane meta-analyses BMJ 355:i5826 http://www.bmj.com/content/355/bmj.i5826/rapid-responses
  13. Avenell, A., Robertson, C., Stewart, F., Boyers, D., Douglas, F., Archibald, D., van Teijlingen, E., Hoddinott, P., Boachie, C. (2016) Sex can affect participation, engagement, and adherence in trials, BMJ 355:i6754 http://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/355/bmj.i6754.full.pdf

Week 1 – Laurie Emerson working with ADRC as a Student Research Assistant

Having just completed my Undergraduate degree in Psychology, I have embarked on a summer Research Assistant position working with the Ageing and Dementia Research Centre (ADRC) here at Bournemouth University. I will be working closely with an expert team within the research centre – Dr. Michele Board, Dr. Jane Murphy, Dr. Michelle Heward, and Ashley Spriggs, who have all dedicated their careers to this particular field.

Our current project focusses on ‘Dementia Education Through Simulation’ (DEALTS), a dementia care training program for healthcare professionals, which has previously been delivered in a ‘train the trainer’ format to healthcare trusts. The current program, DEALTS 2, aims to build upon the previous DEALTS, and provide an up to date evidence-based framework. This updated program signifies the importance of empathy and humanised care when training, which aligns closely with Tier 2 .The current training program utilises simulations including videos, case-studies, and role-play to help increase relatability to the patient.

My role within this project is to support the team within the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences on an evaluation of DEALTS 2. Initially I am expected to analyse the feedback questionnaires taken from the DEALTS 2 sessions. Other responsibilities include helping Dr. Michelle Heward deliver a presentation at the BU Humanising Caring, Health and Wellbeing Conference, 29th – 30th June. You can register for a place at https://humanisation.eventbrite.co.uk

I will also be conducting a literature review, and help out at one of the DEALTS 2 training sessions. This will enable the foundations for the team to eventually create an up to date evaluative research paper on DEALTS 2.

So far, I am excited by the responsibilities given and organised work structure. Not to mention feeling incredibly welcomed by the team, which has lead me feeling immersed in this project. After having previous experience with research assistant roles, this project has so far exceeded my expectations in terms of my roles and responsibilities. I feel excited enthusiastic for the scope of opportunities this project could bring.

I intend to report my experience at the end of my work placement, and hopefully will finish with some significant data to report, and greater insight into DEALTS 2. I look forward to what the next four weeks may bring!

Laurie Emerson

“Is it 2 breastfeeds and then a bottle, or is it one breastfeed and a bottle? Not sure”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last week Senior Midwifery lecturer Dr Luisa Cescutti-Butler, member of CMMPH, had the opportunity to attend and present at the prestigious international 3 day conference organised by MAINN @ UCLAN. Nutrition and Nurture in Infancy and Childhood: Bio-Cultural Perspectives. It took place in the beautiful surrounds of Grange-Over-Sands in Cumbria. It was attended by speakers and researchers from India, Australia, Sweden, South Africa, USA, Canada as well as the UK and therefore an ideal networking opportunity. The title of Luisa’s presentation was “Is it 2 breastfeeds and then a bottle, or is it one breastfeed and a bottle? Not sure”?, based on her PhD study, supervised by Professor Ann Hemingway, Dr. Jaqui Hewitt-Taylor. The paper reported on women’s experiences of feeding their late preterm baby/babies (LPBs), born between 340/7 and 36 6/7 weeks gestation, especially pertinent as the rates for these births is rising. A feminist approach to the study had been utilised using in depth two phase qualitative interviews.

Luisa says of the conference: ‘ I got to meet researchers that I have used widely within my PhD such as Renee Flacking from Sweden who has undertaken research around preterm babies, Virginia Schmied internationally renowned midwifery professor and Professor Paula Meier who has extensively researched late preterm babies and breastfeeding. She came and listened to my presentation and enjoyed it. Thought my findings were very interesting but was a little dismayed that practice had not moved forward. It was also a good opportunity to meet up with twitter buddies such as Laura Godfrey-Isaacs @godfrey_issacs, who took the photos!’

Luisa may be contacted further about her study but the findings indicate that women caring for LPBs frequently encountered contradictory advice regarding infant feeding and often felt their own experiences, intuition and instincts were devalued. The research concludes that the practice of feeding of LPBs should be revisited in partnership with women, so their experiences and perspectives can be utilised to develop satisfying nurturing relationships whilst also meeting nutritional requirements and that breastfeeding is a feminist, human rights issue. The full abstract is published in the conference proceedings.

 

Prof. Sara Ashencaen Crabtree – My Publishing experience…

On Wednesday 28th June, the Writing Academy will be hosting a Lunchbyte session with Sara Ashencaen Crabtree. During the session Sara will talk about her personal publishing experience, her approaches to research and writing, her tips on developing a publication strategy, working with co-authors, reviewers and editors. She will talk about all types of publishing drawing on personal experience, focusing on international reach.

Aims:

  • Developing a Publication Strategy
  • Dealing with Co-Editors, Reviewers & Editors
  • International Reach

Click here to book on!

Belonging in a post-Brexit-vote Britain (British Sociological Association) conference

BU academic presented at ‘Belonging in a post-Brexit-vote Britain: researching race, ethnicity and migration in a changing landscape’ conference at the University of Sheffield (co-organised by the British Sociological Association and the Migration Research Group)

I presented an on-going project, Migrant and Refugee Leisure Spaces and Community Well-being at ‘Belonging in a post-Brexit-vote Britain: researching race, ethnicity and migration in a changing landscape’ conference at the University of Sheffield in May. A report of the conference can be found here: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/socstudies/scsnews/bsa-migration-conference-1.701133


[Dr. Jaeyeon Choe, Senior Academic presenting at Sheffield]

The ‘Migrant and Refugee Leisure Spaces and Community Well-being’ presentation got much interest from the audience, who were primarily sociologists. Discussions flowed around “how” leisure spaces and practices can help migrants integrate into communities and enhance their well-being, and how migrants define social inclusion, integration and well-being differently from scholarly (often middle class and ‘white’) definitions. Other discussions surrounded how some cultures have segregated and have ‘invisible’ leisure spaces whilst others prefer generic space to gather.

Prof. Louise Ryan in Sociology at University of Sheffield emphasised that we need to develop comparative lenses and more holistic and international perspectives from different scales. We need to talk across fields and disciplines to move forward to understand migrants’ lives, well-being and integration.
“The impact of the referendum, means that researchers on intra-EU migration, those working on refugee studies and on ‘race’ and ethnic studies, need to come together to share insights and collaborate to develop new analytical frameworks to understanding the evolving implications of Brexit.”

The tourism and leisure field has much to offer and contribute in the exploration of migrant lives and their integration in the UK. Existing research suggests that leisure spaces provide migrants with opportunities for developing, expressing and negotiating their personal, social and cultural preferences safely whilst gaining recognition and a sense of belonging. This is especially important as they may confront issues relating to belongingness, societal membership, social status, self-perception and cultural confusion. Leisure can be instrumental to (re)establishing connections and networks with locals as well as other migrants and refugees, and provide spaces for problem solving. Leisure opportunities and spaces support the development of cultural capital to allow migrants to feel safe enough to contemplate building a productive life. Thus, leisure spaces can play an important role in integration. The role of leisure in integration also reflects the receiving community feeling unthreatened by migration.

I also participated in an Early Career Researcher Mentoring session with Prof. Louise Ryan during the conference. I found the session very useful as I received advice on research, publishing and networking in the migration studies field and beyond. Prof. Ryan also shared helpful insights and advice on career development strategies in the UK, especially for migrant young female researchers with similar profiles to me. This was an unusual programme during an academic conference that can be widely utilised by other conference and workshop organizers. I found the session extremely helpful in aiding my understanding of the academic culture in the UK and how to adapt to it as a young researcher from a migrant background.

https://www.britsoc.co.uk/about/latest-news/2017/may/mentoring-caf%C3%A9-it-isnt-just-chatting-over-coffee/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=may_news&utm_content=louise_ryan

Another interesting feature of the conference was a photographer as a keynote speaker. Jeremy Abrahams (theatre & portrait photographer) shared powerful visual work of the impact of Brexit entitled, ‘Remain/Leave’.

A keynote by Dr. Jon Fox at University of Bristol emphasised ‘Everyday Racism’ and how it has increased after the EU Referendum. He discussed pathological integration: East Europeans, racism & becoming British.

Finally, fellow conference delegates took photos of my presentation and posted them with useful comments/questions on the conference twitter page. After I mentioned a Bourenmouth University migrant well-being project twitter account, 10 immediately followed us, and had led to interesting and useful connections with fellow researchers with similar interests. 🙂 It was not only productive in getting feedback and comments on our on-going research project, but also great to meet migrant studies researchers to network.

For more information about our migrant and refugee leisure spaces and community
well-being project, please follow the Facebook Group: ‘Migrant Leisure Spaces’, Twitter: @migrantspaces and the project web page: https://research.bournemouth.ac.uk/project/migrant-refugee-leisure-wellbeing/

New BU publication: Centre of Postgraduate Medical Research &Education

Congratulations to Dr. Sam Rowlands, Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences, who published an interesting Commentary in the BJOG together with Prof. Roger Ingham from the University of Southampton.  Their paper ‘Long-acting reversible contraception: conflicting perspectives of advocates and potential users’ argues that a patient-centred approach to contraceptive care is fundamental to women’s autonomy.  The authors remind the readers that it needs to be appreciated that unintended pregnancy is most likely to be reduced by fulfilling the unmet need for contraception and encouraging those not using any form of contraception, or  condoms only, to use a method of their choice accompanied by adequate instruction (where necessary) in correct usage.

 

ESRC Transformative Research Call: internal competition 2017

The ESRC expects universities to exercise demand management and pre-select applications for the ESRC Transformative Research Call 2017-18. The value of the grant is up to £250K (at 100% fEC) over a maximum of two years.

The aim of this call is to provide a stimulus for social science research that is novel, pioneering and genuinely transformative. Ideas should challenge current thinking and contain an element of academic risk.

Only two applications may be submitted by Bournemouth University and therefore a special panel has been convened.  Colleagues wishing to submit an application to this call should adhere to the following time scale:

July 18th Deadline- Send Intention to Bid form to the Funding Development Officer for your faculty
End of July* Call Opens- applicants must work with a Faculty peer reviewer and follow submission approval processes at the Faculty level as guided by your Funding Development Officer
August 29th Final draft application to be submitted to Dianne Goodman (dgoodman@bournemouth.ac.uk) for collating on behalf of the internal review panel
September 5th PVC (R&I) and other panel members to decide the two applications that may submit on behalf of BU. PVC to provide BU financial (Activity Proposal Form) sign off for two applications
October 23rd Final submission must be submitted via JeS for institutional checks and submission
End of October* ESRC deadline- Call closes – proposals meeting funder requirements submitted

*Actual date not yet confirmed by the ESRC; n.b. adjustments to timescales may be necessary once known

If you have any queries, please contact Ehren Milner (emilner@bournemouth.ac.uk).

 

BU academics publish UK election report within 10 days of vote

We are very pleased to announce the publication of UK Election Analysis 2017: Media, Voters and the Campaign, edited by Einar Thorsen, Daniel Jackson and Darren Lilleker.
Featuring 92 contributions from over 100 leading academics and emerging scholars across the world, this free publication captures the immediate thoughts, reflections and early research insights on the 2017 UK General Election on from the cutting edge of media and politics research.
Published just 10 days after the election, these contributions are short and accessible. Authors provide authoritative analysis of the campaign, including research findings or new theoretical insights; to bring readers original ways of understanding the election and its consequences. Contributions also bring a rich range of disciplinary influences, from political science to cultural studies, journalism studies to geography.
The publication is available as a free downloadable PDF, as a website and as a paperback report.
Thanks to all of our contributors and production staff who helped make the quick turnaround possible. We hope it makes for a vibrant and engaging read!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction (Einar Thorsen, Dan Jackson, Darren Lilleker)
Context
1. Looking on the bright side for a change (Jay Blumler)
2. The performance of the electoral system (Alan Renwick)
3. Fixed-term parliaments and the electoral cycle (Richard Parry)
4. Institutions and nation building: there is such a thing as society (Matthew Johnson)
5. Global questions, parochial answers (Roman Gerodimos)
6. The future of illusions (Barry Richards)
Voters, Polls and Results
7. A glorious defeat: anti-politics and the funnelling of frustration (Matthew Flinders)
8. Younger voters politically energised, but the generational divide deepens (James Sloam)
9. Why the younger generation of Corbynistas? (Pippa Norris)
10. Young people and propaganda in the wake of the 2017 election (Shakuntala Banaji)
11. The generation election: youth electoral mobilisation at the 2017 General Election (Matt Henn and James Hart)
12. The 2017 General Election: How Votes were split between “open and closed” (Jonathan Wheatley)
13. Cartographic perspectives of the general election (Benjamin D. Hennig)
14. UKIP’s former supporters were crucial to the outcome – but not as generally expected (Ron Johnston and Charles Pattie)
15. Why did the Lib Dems fail to benefit from the anti-Brexit vote? (Panos Koliastasis)
16. Meeting the public: the perils and pitfalls of ‘walkabout’ questions to Theresa May in GE2017 (Sylvia Shaw)
17. Political participation in the UK: why might voters have voted? (Bruce Bimber, Shelley Boulianne, Karolina Koc-Michalska and Darren Lilleker)
18. Moments of accidental connection with the ‘Great British Public’: because Brenda et al know best! (Richard Scullion)
19. When democracy kicked back (Natalie Fenton)
News and Journalism
20. Conventional wisdom distorted TV news coverage of campaign (Stephen Cushion)
21. A tale of two leaders: news media coverage of the 2017 General Election (David Deacon, John Downey, David Smith, James Stanyer and Dominic Wring)
22. Did broadcast stage-management create a vacuum for social media? (Charlie Beckett)
23. Ducking the debate (Stephen Coleman)
24. Caught in the middle: the BBC’s impossible impartiality dilemma (Martin Moore and Gordon Ramsay)
25. Media policy: the curious incident of the dog in the night-time (Jonathan Hardy)
26. The use and abuse of the vox pop in the 2017 UK General Election television news coverage (Mark Wheeler)
27. Media bias hits a wall (Des Freedman)
28. Declining newspaper sales and the role of broadcast journalism in the 2017 general election (Guy Starkey)
29. Newspapers’ editorial opinions: stuck between a rock and a hard place (Julie Firmstone)
30. It’s the Sun wot lost it (Mick Temple)
31. From Brexit to Corbyn: agenda setting, framing and the UK media – a research agenda (Steve Schifferes)
32. Is our national press a fading dinosaur? Don’t bank on it (Steven Barnett)
33. A mixed mailbag: letters to the editor during the electoral campaign (Iñaki Garcia-Blanco)
34. Long live the wisdom of the phone-in crowd (Ivor Gaber)
35. Fact-checking the election (Jennifer Birks)
36. Should we worry about fake news? (Susan Banducci, Dan Stevens and Travis Coan)
37. Tweets, campaign speeches and dogs at polling stations: the election on live blogs (Marina Dekavalla)
38. Process, personalities and polls: online news coverage of the UK General Election 2017 (Emily Harmer and Rosalynd Southern)
39. Online election news can be bloody difficult (for a) woman (Emily Harmer)
40. Not just swearing and loathing on the internet: analysing BuzzFeed and VICE during #GE2017 (James Dennis and Susana Sampaio-Dias)
Parties and the Campaign
41. The battle for authenticity (Karin Wahl-Jorgensen)
42. Was it the Labour doorstep or the Labour smartphone that swung it for Jeremy? (Tim Bale)
43. The election at constituency level (Ralph Negrine)
44. Over-managing the media: how it all went wrong (Suzanne Franks)
45. Aristotle and persuasive copywriting in the 2017 General Election (Nigel Jackson)
46. Rhetoric of the 2017 General Election campaign (Andrew Crines)
47. When is an electoral ‘bribe’ not a bribe? (Chris Roberts)
48. PEBs in 2017: not gone, but largely forgotten? (Vincent Campbell)
49. ‘Strong and stable’ to ‘weak and wobbly’: Tory campaign, media reaction and GE2017 (Anthony Ridge-Newman)
50. The Greens and the “progressive alliance” (Jenny Alexander)
51. It’s the way I tell ‘em: car crash politics and the gendered turn (Karen Ross)
52. Dogwhistle sexism (Heather Savigny)
53. The Women’s Equality Party and the 2017 General Election (Elizabeth Evans and Meryl Kenny)
54. The resurrection of ethical foreign policy (Victoria Honeyman)
55. Why immigration faded from view in election 2017 (Thomas Brooks)
56. Invisible enemies, wars without winners: when ‘khaki elections’ fail (James Morrison)
57. The sobering reality of backdoors: cybersecurity and surveillance circumvention during GE2017 (Einar Thorsen)
The Digital Campaign
58. Corbyn, Labour, digital media, and the 2017 UK election (Andrew Chadwick)
59. Was it ‘AI wot won it’? Hyper-targeting and profiling emotions online (Vian Bakir and Andrew McStay)
60. Sharing is caring: Labour supporters use of social media #GE2017 (Anamaria Dutceac and Michael Bossetta)
61. Labour’s social media campaign: more posts, more video, and more interaction (Richard Fletcher)
62. Like me, share me: the people’s social media campaign (Darren Lilleker)
63. The alternate and influential world of the political parties’ Facebook feeds (Matt Walsh)
64. Social media and the Corbyn breakthrough (Mark Shephard)
65. The UK digisphere and the 2017 election (Aljosha Karim Schapals)
66. From voices to votes: how young people used social media to influence the General Election (Vyacheslav Polonski)
67. All LOLs and trolls (Alec Charles)
The Nations
68. Nasty, British and Short: an emotional election (Russell Foster)
69. Scotland in the 2017 UK General Election (Michael Higgins)
70. The General Election did little to solve Wales’ ‘democratic deficit’ (Morgan Jones)
71. GE2017 in Northern Ireland: total eclipse of the moderates (Neil Matthews)
72. Twitter, dual screening and the BBC Northern Ireland Leaders’ debate (Paul Reilly)
Brexit and European Perspectives
73. Brexit without Brexitland (Chris Gifford)
74. Why the General Election will make little difference to the Article 50 negotiations (Simon Usherwood)
75. Totem, taboo and trigger word: the dominance and obscurity of Brexit in the campaigns (Charlotte O’Brien)
76. The Conservatives and Brexit: the election and after (Philip Lynch)
77. The 2017 UK election: reflections from Norway (John Erik Fossum)
78. Partisan and plentiful: the 2017 UK election in the German press (Isabelle Hertner)
79. Expect the unexpected: French media perceptions of the 2017 UK General Election campaign (Emmanuelle Avril)
80. Poles apart: Polish perspectives of the 2017 UK ‘Brexit election’ (Paweł Surowiec)
81. Theresa and Jeremy: who is closer to Matteo? An Italian view of #GE2017 (Emiliana De Blasio and Michele Sorice)
Personality politics and popular culture
82. A tale of two leadership campaigns (Pete Dorey)
83. Seeing Jeremy Corbyn and not seeing Theresa May: the promise of civic spectatorship (Katy Parry)
84. Corbyn and his fans: post-truth, myth and Labour’s hollow defeat (Cornell Sandvoss)
85. It’s the stans wot (nearly) won it (Matt Hills)
86. Celebrities4Corbyn: continuity and change in Labour’s use of celebrities (Ellen Watts)
87. The othering and objectification of Diane Abbott MP (Deborah Gabriel)
88. “Theresa May for Britain”: a personal brand in search of personality (Margaret Scammell)
89. Maybot, Mummy or Iron Lady? Loving and loathing Theresa May (Shelley Thompson and Candida Yates)
90. Politics, charisma, and the celebrity spectre of Nigel Farage (Neil Ewen)
91. Mainstream broadcast comedy and satire (Kay Richardson)
92. Sound bites: the music of Election 2017 (John Street and Adam Behr)

Sandcastles, trivialising science?

Most scientists agree that we have an image problem. This is serious at a time when research is at a premium to inform decision-making as argued so beautifully by Mark Henderson in The Geek Manifesto. We have a new generation of skilled science communicators on television today like Brian Cox, Jim Al Kalil, Alice Roberts and Iain Stewart to name but four and the quality and availability of science reporting has increased dramatically with the digital age. But the focus remains on discovery, the easy or sexy headline and therefore often on the trivial. Complex more nuanced, incremental stories are more often than not ignored. Every publically funded researcher is under pressure to engage the public and to increasingly justify what they do as part of the social contract with the public which funds them. For example, almost all funding in the UK requires statements now about pathways to engagement, but with this focus there is an ever present risk of simply pandering to the trivial and the easy as researchers seek publicity. It is something that I have been accused of myself.

The month of June is here which means for me the inevitable phone call to write something about building the perfect sandcastle. Professor Sandcastle, or the Sandcastle Boffin, was born in the summer of 2004 when I innocently became involved in a bit of summer ‘fluff’ for a holiday company. They wanted a formula for the perfect sandcastle. I obliged and the result caused a small unexpected media frenzy. The formula made it into the tabloids, was reported across the broadsheets and was a perfect regional story for radio and local television that summer. Much to my embarrassment I found myself portrayed as the Sandcastle Boffin. All was light hearted except for a barbed comment in the Independent, my newspaper of choice at the time, which cut deep: ‘haven’t they got anything better to do?’ ‘Yes of course I have, but you’re not interested in what I normally do’ I might have replied. The barb of triviality stuck fast.

The thing about the sandcastle story is that it would not die, despite the fact that the original research was never worthy in my view at least of publication. The following May I started to receive messages ‘we were so impressed by what you did for sandcastles last year can you . . .’ I was asked to create equations for love, happiness and luck. I turned most of them down but the idea of the ‘science equation as a’ tool was firmly embedded in a new generation of PR consultants. An appearance on the BBC Coasts programme with a linked session at the Cheltenham Science Festival helped cement the sandcastle connection, along with a slow but steady request for articles and radio interviews over the years. Most summers don’t pass without a request of some sort, nor has this one [http://theconversation.com/how-to-build-the-perfect-sandcastle-according-to-science-79600].

I have always delivered something when requested, seeing it as part of my remit as a modern academic to engage with the public slipping in messages about geology and earth history at every turn. I have resisted feelings of rancour when my real research has got less publicity remaining for the most part philosophical; if the public want fluff let them have it, better something than nothing, right? In truth it has done me no harm. The original interest gave me media training like no other and BU likes to remind people of its golden sands. It helped me as an academic appreciate the power and pitfalls of the media and the need for the sound bite and money shot in presenting more serious and challenging stories. Despite this the barb still twists; I am not just trivialising my academic discipline of sedimentology that I care deeply about? Is this not an ever present risk as we strive as academics for more public engagement? It is easy for us to write into funding pitches that we will do school events, give popular talks, create websites, attend and run festivals but does this really engage the public in the value and power of research? Are we not just feeding the media-machine with yet more trivia in lip-service to our funding aims? I have no idea whether my work on the perfect sandcastle over the years has made any real difference, it is impossible to quantify in terms of output. The truth is that measuring the consequences of engagement is hard and often undertaken post hoc. I am left without the answers but a gut feeling that is it better to show that science is all around us even in the humble sandcastle however trivial this may seem, than simply sit aloof concerned only about the more serious science stories that we may occasionally have to peddle.

Professor Matthew Bennett

 

How to build the perfect sandcastle – according to science

Whether we prefer water sports or relaxing with a good book, the humble sandcastle is often a seaside must. But what’s the secret to building a majestic sandcastle that will withstand the tide of time? Luckily, there’s a scientific formula for that.

It all started back in 2004, when a holiday company asked us to investigate the question. As a sedimentologist, someone who studies fragments of rock, I began pondering what kind of beach would work best for castle building. To find out, I compared the sand from the ten most popular beaches in the UK at the time. Though in truth any sandy beach will do, Torquay came out top with its delightful red sand, closely followed by Bridlington, with Bournemouth, Great Yarmouth and Tenby tied in third. At the bottom of the league was Rhyl.

Having selected a beach one has to find the perfect spot. Now this is a question of taste rather than hard rules. Some might prefer a spot close to the car park with easy access when the rain arrives while others might want to stay next to a cafe. Others yet might hanker after the secluded fringes of the beach, perhaps sheltered by natural promontories of rock that keep the biting wind at bay.

Torquay harbour.
averoxus/wikipedia, CC BY-SA

Now a castle should be a symbol of military strength, but to stand proud one needs strong sand. The strength of sand depends on the properties of its individual grains and on the water between them. The more angular the grains, the better they will lock together. The more a grain is transported the more rounded it becomes. Microscopic shell fragments work well in this regard. The finer the grains the more they hold the water. And water matters.

Too much water and your sand will flow, too little and it will crumble. You need to get it just right and your castle will stand proud and last. It’s all down to the surface tension of water – the thing that gives the “meniscus”, or skin, to a glass of water and holds down that glass when placed on a wet bar top. The film of water between individual sand grains is what gives sand its strength, too much and it lubricates one grain over the other, but just right and it binds them strong.

The magic formula

Now the experimentation we did suggested that the perfect sandcastle requires one bucket of water to eight buckets of dry sand. Or if you want the magic formula: Water = 0.125 x Sand. So assuming that you don’t have any science gear with you, then you are looking for a spot close to the high tide line – usually marked by a line of seaweed and flotsam – and the low tide line where sand is still visibly wet and the waves are close. But remember that this will change as the tide comes and goes during the day.

High tide line.

My next tip refers to quality of your tools. In my experience there is a direct correlation between the age of the builder, spade size and the speed at which boredom sets in. Adult helpers find the smallest spade nothing but frustrating, and while young assistants might aspire to use the biggest spade, it is often too big to handle. A selection of tools will keep the workforce in harmony. The bucket also has to be the perfect size and shape. The best buckets are the simple round ones – not the ones with the fancy turrets which when turned out produce a castle in itself. A round bucket will allow you turn out countless towers and architectural features. A single bucket can be turned out several times to create a large mound from which you carve an amazing tower.

As you build, spare a thought to the story, not just of the castle one is building with its tales of derring-do, but also the story of the sand itself. Each grain is a fragment of rock and contains a story of relict mountains, ancient rivers, dinosaur-infested swamps and seas, of past climates and events which tell the amazing story of our planet. The red sand of Torquay once blew in giant sandstorms, as the area was once part of a desert far greater than that of the Sahara. The sand at Bridlington or Great Yarmouth tells a tale of giant ice sheets and drowned lands below the North Sea.

The ConversationMy next tip refers to size. Yes, size matters – at least in the game of sandcastles. The modest castle with perfect towers, battlements and moat is ok, but it is the huge castles which break the beach horizon that inspire awe and wonderment in people that pass by. Think big! Pebbles, shells, driftwood fragments and feathers all enhance a castle. And let’s face it: a castle is about being seen. And although there may be science behind the humble sandcastle, don’t forget to have fun building it.

Matthew Robert Bennett, Professor of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Bournemouth University

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

Photo of the Week: Cretan Sea Submarine 4236

Cretan Sea Submarine 4236

Cretan Sea Submarine 4236

Our next instalment of the ‘Photo of the Week’ series features Rutherford’s image from his ongoing project entitled Submarines. The series is a weekly instalment which features an image produced by our fantastic BU staff and students. The photos give a glimpse into some of the fascinating work our researchers have been doing across BU and the wider community.

“Over more than thirty years of commercial and fine art photographic practice, I have often noticed remarkable disparities between the scenes, objects, events or moments ‘out there’ I had attempted to record – and the content of the resulting photographs. These sometimes subtle, sometimes drastic, and often unanticipated disparities between what I had seen and what the photograph shows me seem to be the result of significant differences between the ways in which we experience time and space – and the way in which the camera renders them,”

“My research investigates two inter-related notions; Whether the camera sometimes records scenes, events and moments that did not exist ‘out there’ but which were instead created by the act of photographing them and, to what extent our ability to recognise this phenomenon is impeded by the ontological and epistemological assumptions inherent within the language we use to describe what photographs ‘are’ and what they show us – for example, by describing (and thereby reinforcing the idea that) photographs are ‘taken’ rather than ‘made’”, explains Rutherford.

If you’d like find out more about the research or the photo itself then please contact Rutherford.

Or please visit Rutherford’s website: http://www.theshadowofthephotographer.co.uk/

This photo was originally an entry to the 2017 Research Photography Competition. If you have any other questions about the Photo of the Week series or the competition please email research@bournemouth.ac.uk.

Grants Workshop 29th June – last chance to book

As part of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Framework, RKEO are hosting a Grants Workshop and follow-up Bid Writing Retreat.

This two day event will combine advice and guidance on writing grant applications, and will be delivered by external bid writing experts ThinkWrite.

Day one (Thursday, 29th June 2017) will comprise of a grants workshop which will give participants the opportunity to expand their ideas on available funding sources, and investigate what funders want to achieve when they hand over money. Participants will then develop a strategic approach to writing applications.

Day two (Monday, 24th July 2017) will consist of a follow-up bid writing retreat, where one-to-one support will be available to develop applications for funding.

All academics and researchers are welcome to attend.  Participants can attend either day, but must have a funding application they plan to submit within 12 months. The application can be to any funder.

Places are limited, so book now to avoid disappointment. For more information and to book your space please see the RKE Development Framework page for this event.

For any other queries please contact Lisa Gale-Andrews, RKEO Research Facilitator.

Approaching the Case for Support – Last chance to book

As part of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Framework, RKEO are hosting a session on ‘Approaching the Case for Support’.

This interactive morning session will provide an overview of RCUK funding, and an overview of the anatomy of a proposal before detailing approaches to tackling the case for support, with the aim of increasing the likelihood of receiving funding. There will be an opportunity to gain feedback from the external facilitator, on the day and subsequently.

All academics and researchers are welcome to attend, but as places are limited we ask that participants have a funding application they plan to submit within 12 months. The application can be to any funder.

Date: Tuesday 27th June 2017

Time: 09:30-12:30

Venue: Talbot Campus

For more information and to book your space please see the RKE Development Framework page for this event.

For any other queries please contact Lisa Gale-Andrews, RKEO Research Facilitator.