Category / Guidance

Amends to NERC Research grant eligibility for New Investigators

The eligibility for the NERC New Investigators scheme has been updated from three to five years of applicants first becoming eligible for NERC funding as a Principal Investigator. This applies from the January 2018 closing date. See:

Grants and Fellowships Handbook – A new version of the NERC grants and fellowships handbook is now available on their website at:


New BU scheme to encourage research projects with prestigious funders

BU is introducing a new scheme which encourages submissions to externally-funded research projects.

The aim is to:

  • demonstrate BU’s commitment to supporting research undertaken with prestigious research funders;
  • build research capacity and capability in areas of strategic importance;
  • enhance the sustainability of the University’s research culture and environment;
  • recognise and reward the research grant successes of academic staff.

The scheme has two pathways: i) PGR studentships; and ii) postdoctoral research staff. Each of these, and the relevant procedures and eligibility, are set out in the scheme document, which can be found here.

For the PGR studentship pathway, academics will need to make a case for a studentship to the Pro Vice-Chancellor (R&I), but with authorisation sought in advance from the Faculty Executive Dean. The second pathway for postdoctoral research staff will be automatically applied by RKEO to all eligible applications (following discussion with and consent by the PI).

Please read through the Scheme document and if any clarification is required then contact Jo Garrad, Funding Development Manager, RKEO.

MSCA Individual Fellowships Seal of Excellence Holders

Were you awarded a Seal of Excellence in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions​ (MSCA) 2016 Individual Fellowships scheme and planning to resubmit to this round?

If so the European Commission and Research Executive Agency (REA) have advised that you should not mention the Seal of Excellence in the main body of the proposal to ensure equal treatment of proposals. If you would like to mention the Seal of Excellence, it can be included in the CV under section 4 of Part B-2. Note this is only for resubmissions where the Fellow, Supervisor and Host Organisation all remain the same.

Introducing STEAMLab

You may have heard of Sandpits in the academic environment and know what they are or even attended one.  However, we in RKEO are constantly asked ‘what’s a sandpit’, ‘does it stand for something’, ‘it doesn’t sound like it includes me’, or just a straightforward ‘I don’t get it’.

At the same time, you will have seen last week that the well known term STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) has now become STEAM, with ‘Arts’ being rightfully recognised as a vital component of research.

In true Orwellian style, we have renamed ‘Sandpits’ to the new name of ‘STEAMLab‘.  This demonstrates the purpose of the STEAMLabs as being open to all disciplines and encouraging truly interdisciplinary research ideas.  The ‘Lab’ part demonstrates the working environment that leads to the creation of novel research ideas and partnerships.  In a nutshell, the STEAMLabs offer the opportunity to meet new people from all disciplines and sectors, and to spend dedicated time developing novel ideas for research projects (as well as lots of post-its).

Four key topics have been selected for the STEAMLabs in 2017/18.  These are based around key government priorities and where the biggest pots of funding will be available.  The STEAMLab topics are:

  • Food security – 25 October 2017
  • Global Challenges – 7 February 2018
  • Industrial Challenges – 11 April 2018
  • Virtual Problems – 6 June 2018

These are broad themes to ensure that they are open to everyone from all disciplines.  If you think that they don’t include you then please have a chat with your RKEO Facilitator who can explain how your research could make a vital contribution to new ideas and approaches.  In order to encourage wider partnerships, each STEAMLab will include academics from other universities, as well as representatives from industry and other sectors.   More details will follow on each of the STEAMLabs in due course and so please watch the blog for news on how to get involved.

EPSRC New Investigator Awards to replace First Grants

EPSRC logoFrom Tuesday, 25 July 2017 a New Investigator Award scheme will replace the EPSRC’s First Grant initiative. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is introducing the new scheme following a recent review of First Grants, with input from advisory teams and universities.

The New Investigator Award scheme will remove some of the current restrictions and will help improve the quality and ambition of research proposals submitted, recognising that different projects and new investigators have different needs. EPSRC will continue to draw on input from advisory teams and universities to monitor and evaluate progress of the scheme.

The New Investigator Award scheme will:

  • Remove the financial value and the duration caps
  • Encourage a greater degree of university support to aid career development
  • Remove time based eligibility criteria, ensuring support for researchers who are new to leading research applications
  • Encourage panels to recommend invited resubmission and give feedback to support this more often than they would for standard grant applications

Information for current First Grant applicants:

  • EPSRC anticipates that all applicants eligible for the First Grant scheme will also be eligible for a New Investigator Award
  • The First Grants system will close at 16:00 (BST) on Monday 24 July 2017
  • Applications after this date should be made through the New Investigator Award scheme
  • First Grant applications that have not been submitted via the Je-S system after 16:00 (BST) on Monday 24 July 2017 will no longer be available

Current First Grant applicants should liaise with RKEO to ensure a copy of the application information is captured. This can then be used in New Investigator Award applications.

Preparing myBU for AY 17/18 – countdown to the start of term

Preparing myBU for AY 17/18 – countdown to the start of term

This post contains important information and dates for staff who will be continuing to use myBU in the next academic year.

Please note that, as last year, unit content will not be automatically rolled over from 16/17.  If required, elements of your unit(s) can be copied over in a few simple steps.  Information on how to copy content is available from the TEL Toolkit.

Key dates

24 – 26 July.  myBU Upgrade
myBU will be unavailable to both staff and students for its annual upgrade. This scheduled downtime will enable IT and the LT Team to install and test the latest updates to myBU/Blackboard.

From 21 August.  The 17/18 units will be available in myBU.  Academic staff can prepare their units from this date, including copying content where appropriate.

8 September is the deadline to have initial content ready for continuation students, who will see content in their new units 14 days in advance of start of term (i.e. visible from 11 September  2017).

15 September is the deadline for initial content to be in place for new students in Induction Week (i.e. visible from 18 September 2017).

Help and Support
If staff have any questions or need help on any of the above, please contact the IT Service Desk in the first instance and a Learning Technologist will get in touch:


How to be a Productivity Ninja™

The ThinkProductive Team will be visiting BU next Wednesday to deliver a 90 minute action-packed seminar on How to be a Productivity Ninja™ . They will share with you the 9 Characteristics of the Productivity Ninja™ and help you to identify specific ways you can implement them.

If you want to learn the way of the Productivity Ninja™ then book on here!



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.


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

Click here to book on!

SciVal’s Field weighted citation impact: Sample size matters!

There’s been a buzz on social media recently about Field weighted Citation Impact (FWCI) particularly around the recent leak from the University of Manchester that the FWCI is one of the measures suggested by which to assess academics most at risk of redundancy:

In his recent blog on The Bibliomagician Blog  (reposted here with permission) Iain Rowlands a Research Information & Intelligence Specialist at King’s College London and a member of the LIS-Bibliometrics committee questions the stability of the FWCI indicator for sets of fewer than 10,000 documents. Ian invites others to use his methodology to further test his theory…

SciVal’s field-weighted citation impact (FWCI) is an article-level metric that takes the form of a simple ratio: actual citations to a given output divided by the expected rate for outputs of similar age, subject and publication type.  FWCI has the dual merits of simplicity and ease of interpretation: a value of 2 indicates that an output has achieved twice the expected impact relative to the world literature.  It is a really useful addition to the benchmarking toolkit.

The trouble is that, typically, the distribution of citations to outputs is highly skewed, with most outputs achieving minimal impact at one end and a small number of extreme statistical outliers at the other.  Applying the arithmetic mean to data distributed like this, as does FWCI, is not ideal because the outliers can exert a strong leveraging effect, “inflating” the average for the whole set.  This effect is likely to be more marked the smaller the sample size.

I explored this effect in a simple experiment.  I downloaded SciVal FWCI values for 52,118 King’s College London papers published up until 2014.  I then calculated mean FWCI and 95% confidence (or stability) intervals for the whole sample using the bootstrapping[1] feature in SPSS.  Then I took progressively smaller random samples (99%, 98%, and so on to 1%, then 0.1%), recalculating mean FWCI and stability intervals each time.

The findings shows how mean FWCI becomes less stable as sample size decreases.  Highly cited outliers are relatively uncommon, but their chance inclusion or exclusion makes a big difference, especially as the number of outputs decreases.  In this experiment, FWCI values range across four orders of magnitude, from 0.03 to 398.28.

FWCI chart_black

What does this mean for interpreting FWCI, especially when benchmarking? The table below offers some guidance.  It shows typical stability intervals around FWCI at different scales.  The final column assumes that SciVal spits out a value of 2.20 and shows how that figure should be interpreted in terms of its stability.

FWCI Table

It’s pretty clear from this analysis that you need to know when it’s time to stop when you are drilling down in SciVal!  Another implication is that there is no sensible justification for quoting FWCI to two let alone three decimal places of precision.  I’ve kept the second decimal place above simply for purposes of demonstration.

I am well aware that the guidance above is based on data from just one institution, and may not travel well. If you would like to replicate this experiment using your own data, I’m happy to share my SPSS Syntax file.  It automates the whole thing, so you just have to load and go off on a short holiday! Just drop me an email.

Ian Rowlands is a Research Information & Intelligence Specialist at King’s College London and a member of the LIS-Bibliometrics committee.

Academic Career Pathway to Research Funding – new pages

I posted last week a whizzy picture demonstrating the academic career pathway to research funding.  This has now been turned into new pages on the blog for each stage of an academics career in research.  The pages highlight the type of funding that you can aim for, what training and development is available to support this (through the RKEDF), and further resources that will support you in applying for external funding.  As well as the main summary page, there is a page for students, research fellows, senior research fellows, associate professors, and professors.

Have a look at what’s available through each stage of an academics career.  Links to these pages are also available in the Research Lifecycle – Your research strategy section and in the Research Toolkit.

If you have any queries about how to get started with your research strategy then please contact your RKEO Research Facilitator.


NIHR – mental health advisor required for panel

The NIHRs  Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme is seeking to appoint a member of the Mental, Psychological and Occupational Health (MPOH) advisory panel, one of the five Topic Identification, Development and Evaluation (TIDE) panels. These panels advise on the research agenda for the HTA programme based on the needs of the NHS. This opportunity is for a commissioner with a mental health background.

The MPOH panel focuses on therapies relating to mental health and psychological disorders at all ages including diagnosis of mental illness or cognitive deficits and learning difficulty, as well as therapies used in any aspect of occupational health.

The term of office is four years starting in May 2017. Travel and expenses will be paid.

If you have any questions about this opportunity please contact Emma Catlin at

You will find advice on how to apply in the specification document, as well as a link to the application form and optional equal opportunities form at the top of the advisory group opportunities page.

NERC Science Board – membership vacancies

NERC is inviting applications from across the NERC science remit to join its key scientific advisory board, the Science Board (SB). NERC is seeking to recruit for up to three vacancies, to commence appointment in October 2017. SB is the key source of advice to NERC Council on science related issues.

For further information about SB and what is required to be a member, please see the document below.

Member profile and attributes (PDF, 72KB)

Further information and details of how to apply are available at:

The closing date for applications is noon on Friday 16 June 2017.

Interviews will be held in London on Tuesday 25 July 2017.

Academic Career Pathway to Research Funding

The Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Framework is a programme of training and development opportunities available to all members of staff regardless of what level they have attained in their academic career.  It provides several pathways of opportunity depending on what interests you.  We will soon be launching the 2017/18 programme in time for appraisals.

We’re often asked in RKEO what type of grant should someone apply for depending on their level of experience.   Our Research Facilitators are only too happy to advise and so do get in touch with them.  You may find the below illustration helpful in guiding you to the choices that are right for you (a larger version is available on MyBU).  Also, standard calls for proposals from major funders can be found here.



Alternative Career Pathways after your PhD – 8 June

Live online event on the 8th June 2017

The academic jobs market is becoming more challenging and competitive post-PhD. With the number of PhD holders increasing, there is enormous pressure on the academic job market and declining academic job prospects for doctoral graduates.

What can I do after my PhD? It is a difficult decision for any PhD student on whether to pursue a career in academia, or consider alternative careers. In our dedicated live Q&A we are bringing forth a panel of experts who have moved outside of academia, to share their top tips and advice on alternate career pathways following PhD studies.

To help all those who are considering options after doctoral studies, is holding a FREE 60-minute live video event via a live YouTube Q&A called ‘Alternative Career Pathways After Your PhD’. Find out more and register today.

More details are at:

RCUK Pre-election rules – what they mean for researchers

The RCUK has issued a statement setting out the pre-election rules and what this means for research council funded researchers.  This includes press releases about your research, expert commentary on the election, presenting at conferences concerning the election, research council funded data about voting patterns and behaviour, and election related content on websites and social media.

Please read the statement for exact details, but basically, you can’t mention your research council source of funding (unless directly asked) if talking about anything connected with the election.

BRIAN Unavailable Today

BRIAN is being upgraded and will be unavailable for use on Tuesday 2nd and Wednesday 3rd May.

The main improvements from this upgrade include:

  • New Impact Tracking Module
  • New Homepage
  • More User Friendly Navigation

The new and improved features will make BRIAN easier and simplier to use for everyone, whilst also providing a valuable tool to academics helping them record the impact of their research

All relevant guidance notes and video guides on the Staff Intranet will be updated in due course. If you need any help using the new system or if you encounter any problems after the upgrade, please do send an email to and a member of staff will be able to assist you.

BRIAN training sessions are also available:

  • Thursday 15th June 2017

With further dates planned. If you are interested to book on to any of these training sessions, please click here to book on!

In the meantime, if you do have queries relating to the upgrade, please get in touch with

Research & Knowledge Exchange Development Framework – give us your feedback

It’s been over six months since Bournemouth University launched its new Research & Knowledge Exchange Development Framework, which was designed to offer academics at all stages of their career opportunities to develop their skills, knowledge and capabilities.

Since its launch, over 30 sessions have taken place, including sandpits designed to develop solutions to key research challenges, workshops with funders such as the British Academy and the Medical Research Council and skills sessions to help researchers engage with the media and policy makers.

The Research & Knowledge Exchange Office is currently planning activities and sessions for next year’s training programme and would like your feedback about what’s worked well, areas for improvement and suggestions for new training sessions.

Tell us what you think via our survey and be in with a chance of winning a £30 Amazon voucher. The deadline date is Friday 21 April.

Upcoming sessions:

  4 April Public engagement: an overview
  13 April Getting started on applying for research funding
  25 April How to update your Staff Profile Page using BRIAN
  9 May Writing Academy – Writing Day
  10 May Using social media to share your research
  18 May Targeting high quality journals
  18 May Writing an academic paper
  18 May Writing a good abstract
  18 May Dealing with editors
  24 May Research Data Management
  24 May Introduction to the Royal Society
  24 May My publication story so far… Prof. Tim Rees
  25 May Writing Academy – Writing Day