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How To Manage Research Data

Research Councils and funding bodies are increasingly requiring evidence of adequate and appropriate provisions for data management and curation in new grant funding applications. In July, the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) will be holding two half day workshops which will provide an introduction to research data management and curation, the range of activities and roles that should be considered when planning and implementing new projects, and an overview of tools that can assist with curation activities.

 The Learning Objectives of the workshops will be to:

  • understand funders’ requirements for data management and sharing
  • learn how research data management and curation can safeguard research outputs and increase citations
  • identify the processes and activities involved in good practice for research data management
  • be aware of the free services and tools available

 There will be two workshops each pitched to a slightly different audience on the dates below:

  • 2nd July 2014 2-5pm 
  • 3rd July 9-12pm  

Further information can be found on the Staff Intranet. If you are interested in attending, please book on by emailing staffdevelopment@bournemouth.ac.uk

 

Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Fellowship: Anita Immanuel

 

Part-time HSC Ph.D. student Anita Immanuel has been awarded a travel fellowship by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.  This travel fellowship will enable her to visit experts in her field working in Australia and Canada.  Anita’s Ph.D. study examines the quality of lives of adults who have survived cancer of the blood or lymphatic system. Patients with haematological cancers have frequently reported lack of care-coordination as an unmet need following their intensive treatment.  

 Dr. Helen McCarthy, Anita’s clinical Ph.D. supervisor at Bournemouth Hospital congratulated her by saying: “The travel will give her a global experience which she can translate into recommendations for improving care provision in the UK.” 

 Dr. Jane Hunt commented: “Anita’s research is something she is passionate about. Her research will identify any unmet needs in this group of patients and will give us a better understanding into comprehensive survivorship care thereby maximising quality of life.”

There are currently no proper guidelines or care path ways for the follow up care for patients who have completed treatment for blood and lymphatic cancers in the UK.  However, both Australia and Canada have well established models of follow-up care for cancer survivors.   With the increase in the number of cancer survivors and possible long-term side effects that could impact on the quality of life, it is important to formalise the post-treatment follow up and provide a seamless coordination between the health care providers. 

Anita highlighted: “I am delighted to have been selected for a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Fellowship.  The Travel Fellowship will allow me to visit to countries where the notion of survivorship is better developed and where we in the NHS can learn from the way care is organised.”

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen, Anita’s third supervisor added: “The Fellowship will contribute to the underdeveloped area of care for and research into adult haematological cancer survivors.  I am particular pleased that Anita has achieved this as a part-time student working simultaneously in the NHS.”

 

NRG talk on the Novelization of Comics in the 1970s

The next in the series of Narrative Research Group talks will take place on Wednesday 26 February at 4 p.m in CAG06. Paul Williams, Lecturer in Twentieth-Century Literature at the University of Exeter, will examine the ways in which ‘the novel’ was used in the 1970s to conceptualise ambitious comic projects. Although Will Eisner’s A Contract with God (1978) is frequently hailed as the threshold text popularising the ‘graphic novel’, it was one of several projects whereby comics were published in book form for adult readers in the 1970s. The talk will establish the different modes of production open to creators aiming for long, complete narratives. By outlining the main publication routes available at the time, we can start to explain why 1978 saw an exponential growth in book-bound comics for adult readers, before numbers dropped in 1979 and 1980.

Paul Williams is Lecturer in Twentieth-Century Literature at the University of Exeter, where he has been working since 2008. He has written on a wide range of genres, texts and media, including Cold War literature, Vietnam War films, hip-hop music and 1970s psychotherapy; his main publications are The Rise of the American Comics Artist (2010; co-edited with James Lyons), Race, Ethnicity and Nuclear War (2011) and Paul Gilroy (2012).

Psychology PGR student Simon Ferneyhough wins Santander Award and BPS Postgraduate Study Visit grant

Posted in BU research by Julie Northam

Congratulations to Simon Ferneyhough, second year PhD student in Psychology (SciTech), for obtaining funding from both the Santander Mobility Award scheme (£1000) and the British Psychological Society Postgraduate Study Visit scheme (£400).  In combination, these funds will be used to support a two week research placement at the University of the Balearic Islands, working with long-standing laboratory collaborator and newly appointed Visiting Professor in Psychology, Dr. Fabrice Parmentier.

Simon’s PhD research examines the impact of normal cognitive ageing on a specific aspect of working memory performance known as feature binding: the ability to integrate different features of objects and events (e.g., colour, shape, sound, location) into unified episodic representations. While existing research indicates that we will all face decline in feature binding performance as we get older, not all types of feature binding seem to decline equally – memory for objects in locations, for instance, appears to be particularly impaired; while memory for an object’s intrinsic features (such as colour and shape) appears to be relatively preserved.  Simon will use the visit to collaboratively develop a paradigm widely used in the auditory distraction literature to study auditory-spatial feature binding (that between a sound object and its location in space) across younger and older adult samples.

Simon’s PhD is supervised by Dr.Jane Elsley (Psychology) and Dr. Andrew Johnson (Psychology).

BU Social Science Input at Tasik Chini, Malaysia

A very significant aspect of our Fusion Funded Study Leave has been our invitation to spend time as Visiting Professors at the Tasik Chini Research Centre, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.  This Research Centre is primarily a natural science-based one, which is now expanding its remit to embrace social science, and which focuses on Tasik (Lake) Chini in the State of Pahang, about 4 hours drive from Kuala Lumpur. This lake, one of only two freshwater lakes in Peninsular Malaysia, is composed of a very large area of 12,568 acres, and in terms of beauty and grandeur was not dissimilar to England’s Lake District.  Google the lake and a serene vision will appear of placid waters smothered in ravishing pink and white water-lilies in a valley of opulent, teeming rain forest and rimmed by green mountains. A veritable paradise, seemingly, and also the traditional ‘native’ lands of a community of indigenous, ‘first-people’, of Malaysia, the Jakun tribe of the Orang Asli (original people).

 

Hardly surprisingly maybe that this wonderful area received coveted UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status due to its lush diversity of flora and fauna. However, although once a popular eco-tourist destination, very few tourists are spotted now and the trade has virtually died off. The reason being that the lake itself is dying with total and irreversible collapse of the ecological system predicted by 2030.  Unrestrained mining of the mineral-rich soil in the area has led to mass deforestation, while logging, itself, and destruction of the colossal swathes of the forest has made way for Oil Palm plantations. Contaminants from mines in very close proximity to the lake have caused considerable pollution and the replacement of local flora with a pernicious species of aquatic weed and algae.  To add to a catalogue of disasters, and against the wishes of the those Orang Asli communities who managed to hear of it (as they were not formally consulted) and Malaysian environmentalists, an ill conceived dam was placed in 1994 at the juncture of the Tasik Chini and the great Pahang River. This served to prevent the annual ebb and flow of the lake that made boating of tourists difficult at times but was essential to the ecosystem of the area  The lake is now stagnant, polluted and  the fish, upon which the Jakun relied on as fisher folk, frequently unfit to eat, their flesh being tainted and their bodies invaded by parasites.

 

Our role as social scientists invited to work with the Tasik Chini Research Centre is to help to bridge the gap between scientific knowledge of the problems here and the local communities. Our work is to aid amplification of their voices in speaking of their experiences of trying to survive in traditional native lands that have been violated and usurped.  With our fourth intensive field trip to Tasik Chini coming up this week and a packed itinerary of interviews and focus group discussions planned with the local villagers, our ethnographies are rapidly developing. The Orang Asli people have much to be angry about and although too often treated as backward and uneducated in Malaysia itself, they have impressed us considerably with their passion for their lands, their rage and grief at the destruction, their eloquence, their gracious hospitality to us – and their ability to organise their communities and their protests up to the highest levels of Government. Truly they are a great if much abused people and we count it a pronounced honour to be so warmly welcomed by them, and regard this as some, and maybe, the most important work of our careers.

 

We hear much in the UK of the trite, overused and sometimes disingenuous phrase ‘making a difference’ when applied to higher educational endeavour and these experiences have brought into sharp relief the differences between its application to the banal and to the truly tragic. This area is part of the traditional land of the Jakun, and as such should be protected and preserved. But much more than this it is an international site for the earth’s future generations and we must, as academics, plough back what little knowledge we have into securing this heritage.

 

Sara Ashencaen Crabtree and Jonathan Parker

PR education history archive now online

An insight into the first decade of PR education in the UK has just been posted online. It is the archive of the Public Relations Educators Forum (PREF) from 1994 to 1999, its most active years. It can be found at: http://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/historyofpr/files/2010/03/PREF-Archive-1994-1999.pdf

Catalogued by Professor Tom Watson of the Media School, it illustrates the growth of PR education which began in 1987 in Scotland and a year later in England. PREF was founded in 1990 to bring the new cohort of PR educators together and help negotiate the academia-industry connection. As Bournemouth University (then Dorset Institute of Higher Education) was one of the first two UK universities to launch undergraduate studies in PR, the PREF archive also adds to university history.

It wasn’t an easy relationship with particular tension in the mid-1990s over industry’s attitude to the quality of graduates and its desire to impose a skills-led training curriculum on universities. This was resisted by PREF, as correspondence and evidence of meetings shows.

“This archive shows the teething pains of new academic-led education faced with industry’s desired for trained technicians. The positive news is that PR was an academic area in which women took leading roles from the outset,” Prof Watson said. The online archive contains copies of PREF’s newsletters and membership lists which show the rapid expansion of PR education in the UK.

The PREF archive is one of several projects to advance scholarship in public relations history being developed by Prof Watson during his Fusion Investment Fund-supported Study Leave.

 

BU hosts the first South West Police Cyber Crime Conference

Last week the five police forces across the South West Region started a partnership with Bournemouth University to develop a cyber-crime strategy.  The Bournemouth University Cyber Security Unit (BUCSU) arranged a 3-day conference to assist our Police in creating a collaborative framework. Moreover, this conference has helped build a future implementation of a critical strategy which addresses the increasing threat of cyber-crime to our society. 

A series of workshops were developed by BUCSU and attended by representatives from Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire police forces.  Those who attended included Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs); Chief Constables, police officers and practitioners involved in the investigation of cyber-crime.

The conference provided insight to the problems faced by the police with this global threat and has contributed towards creating a sustainable programme that could be implemented across the region and aid police officers in their pursuit of the 4 P’s of CONTEST (Pursue, Protect, Prevent, Prepare).

Dorset Assistant Chief Constable David Lewis said, “The purpose of the event was to find innovative approaches to combat the growing threat of cyber-crime in all its forms, from frauds and bullying to threats to our national and economic infrastructure.  We are building excellent relationships with the subject matter experts at Bournemouth University, their students and businesses in order to better protect our communities and bring those responsible for cyber-crime to justice”.

If you would like to find out more about the BU Cyber Security Unit and what it offers please contact Lucy Rossiter.   The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) are offering up to £5000 funded support through the cyber security innovation voucher scheme.  The vouchers will help SMEs, entrepreneurs and early stage start-ups who see value in protecting and growing their online business by having effective cyber security. For further information please visit the TSB website to find out how innovation vouchers can help you. 

 

 

Congratulations to Jon Williams: Associate Editorship

Dr Jonathan Williams have just been invited to become an Associate Editor for the journal BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation  (http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcsportsscimedrehabil/about/edboard).

 

Whilst last week Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen has been invited to join the editorial board of Health Prospect (http://nepjol.info/index.php/HPROSPECT)

New free e-guide to aid service improvement

Posted in Social work by skeen

Service Improvement E bookToday the National Centre for Post-Qualifying Social Work (NCPQSW) launches a new publication around the concept of service improvement. This short e-guide introduces the process and thinking behind BU’s Service Improvement Model. Aimed at practitioners and managers working in both social work and health environments it provides the knowledge to be able to ask precise questions of a potential or actual service improvement projects.

Written by the leaders of NCPQSW’s Service Improvement Programmes Dr’s Keen and Rutter agree that

“improving services for the benefit of the people we serve is central to the work of every committed professional. However, an in-depth understanding of any problem at the outset is necessary to avoid costly  ‘wrong’ solutions.  We need to understand what improvement is necessary, know that any planned change should result in an improvement and show that any outcome impacts services. Our units provide a unique opportunity to address these needs.”

Download the e-guide here.

To get in touch to discuss the contents of the e-guide, the service improvement units or your educational requirements, please contact:

Dr Steven Keen

Email: skeen@bournemouth.ac.uk
Direct line: 01202 962028

Dr Lynne Rutter
Email: lrutter@bournemouth.ac.uk
Direct line: 01202 962019

 

LOVE your drafts, DON’T delete them, ADD them to BRIAN!

open access logo, Public Library of ScienceDon’t delete your drafts!  You will hear this A LOT over the next couple of years as the open access movement gathers even more momentum and the role of green open access and institutional repositories is moved to the fore of the next REF (likely to be REF 2020).  HEFCE’s consultation on open access and the post-2014 REF closed last week and, although the results are not due out until early next year, it is highly expected that most of the proposals will go ahead.  This is likely to result in significant changes to how research papers are published and the full-text is made freely available.

Key changes likely to happen are:

  • All journal papers and conference proceedings submitted to the next REF will have to be freely available in BURO from the point of acceptance/publication (subject to publisher’s embargo periods).
  • A journal paper / conference proceeding that was not made freely available in BURO from the point of acceptance/publication will not be eligible to be submitted, even if it is made available retrospectively.
  • The version made available in BURO should be the final accepted version but does not have to be the publisher’s PDF.
  • This is likely to be applicable for outputs published from 2016 onwards.

It is excellent to see the Funding Councils promoting the open access agenda and embedding it within the REF.  Making outputs freely available increases their visibility and is likely to increase their impact, not only within the academic community but in the public sphere too.  It ensures research is easily accessible to our students, politicians and policy-makers, charities and businesses and industry, as well as to potential collaborators in other countries which can help with building networks and the internationalisation of research.

Talking to academic colleagues around the University it is apparent that the normal practice is to delete previous drafts, including the final accepted version, as soon as a paper is approved for publication.   This needs to change!  Many publisher’s will already allow you to add the final accepted version of your paper to BURO (just not the version with the publisher’s header, logo, etc) and this is set to increase in light of the HEFCE consultation.  Rather than deleting the final version, add it to BRIAN so it will be freely available to everyone in the institutional repository, BURO.

We need to get into the habit now of doing this now.  BRIAN is linked to the Sherpa-Romeo database of journals so you can easily check the archiving policy of the journal.  All you need to do is:

1. Log into your BRIAN account and find the paper.

2. One of the tabs is named ’full text’.

3. If you click into this tab you will see a link near the Sherpa-Romeo logo to check your ‘publisher’s policy’.

4. Click on this and you will see the archiving policy for this particular journal, clearly stating which version of the paper can be uploaded. Ideally you are looking for your journal to be a green journal which allows the accepted version or (even better but quite rare, unless you have paid extra to make it freely available) the publisher’s version/PDF. See the screen shot.

5. Click ‘back’ and then click on the ‘full text’ tab again and you will see a link (in a blue box) to ‘upload new file for this publication’.

6. Upload the file and follow the onscreen instructions.

7. Your full text will then automatically feed through to BURO and be available open access in the next few days.

 

In point 4 I mentioned about paying extra to the publisher at the point of acceptance to make it freely available upon publication.  This is often referred to as the gold route to open access publishing and at BU we have a central dedicated budget for paying these fees.  You can find out about the GOLD route to open access publishing here: Gold route

So the overriding message is:

LOVE YOUR DRAFTS – DON’T DELETE THEM – ADD THEM TO BRIAN!

Embracing the health agenda for service improvement: FIF networking project

Embracing the health agenda for service improvement: FIF networking project

The concept of service improvement is in part about knowing where you want to get to. Over the years as social work lecturers and thesis supervisors we have struggled with the traditional master’s degree dissertation and its relevance to professional practice and, in particular, social work services. That was why we designed the National Centre for Post-Qualifying Social Work’s service improvement programme which uses a robust, practice-based service improvement methodology with a focus on professional judgement.

This programme uniquely fuses education and research with professional practice and is now used across nearly all the School of Health and Social Care’s Master’s Framework. As a result increasing numbers of students from a health background have been accessing the programme. Recognising our need to further understand, share and engage with the culture and strategic intent of key health organisations around the topic of service improvement, we have created a series of high-level networking opportunities with organisations including:

NHS Improving Quality (Leeds)

Institute for Healthcare Improvement (Boston, US)

The Beryl Institute (Dallas, US)

As well as planned meetings with NHS Directors of National Improvement Programmes and other key individuals, we also aim to visit a number of hospitals in the US and UK to see first-hand how their way of doing service improvement works out in practice. The project will run from April through August 2014….

Chicago here we come…!

 

Dr Steven Keen       skeen@bournemouth.ac.uk

Dr Lynne Rutter       lrutter@bournemouth.ac.uk

 

Fusion Investment Fund: International Conference puts Bournemouth on the Map!

Thanks to the Fusion Investment Fund awarded to Vanora Hundley, Edwin van Teijlingen and Zoë Sheppard, last week saw Bournemouth University firmly put on the map by hosting an international conference of huge importance.  The multidisciplinary meeting brought together clinicians, academics, policy makers, students, and other stakeholders to help set the future global midwifery agenda post the Millennium Development Goals.  Speakers included Zoë Matthews from the University of Southampton, Neil Squires from the Department for International Development, Frances Day-Stirk from the International Confederation of Midwives, and Mary Renfrew presenting on behalf of the World Health Organisation.  This was a unique and exciting opportunity to fuse research, education, policy making, and practice to influence thinking at the global level and enhance the University’s international reputation.  This prestigious event will pump-primp future initiatives such as important collaborations, bidding opportunities, publications, and press releases so watch this space…

 

In conjunction with the conference, the organisers are running a survey on the terminology, targets, and indicators that will strengthen the post Millennium Development Goal discussions on health, gender, and equality.  You are therefore invited to give your views on factors that:

a)    Strengthen sexual and reproductive health services and primary health care

b)    Deliver equitable, effective coverage

c)    Reduce maternal and newborn mortality

The anonymous survey is available online at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/L95SLVV

The ceremonial landscapes and funerary monuments of southern Britain

Following a successful application to the Fusion Investment Fund I have been awarded a period of Study Leave, to move on a body of research to publication. Under the umbrella title of ‘ The ceremonial landscapes and funerary monuments of southern Britain’ I will be bringing together material from seven seasons of archaeological field work focussed upon the later Neolithic and Early Bronze Age monuments found in the Allen Valley on Cranborne Chase in east Dorset. The cluster of henge monuments at Knowlton and a dense concentration of round barrows associated with them have been an important factor associated with my research interests since 1994. This grouping of broadly contemporary archaeological monuments has up until recently been under explored even though the importance of the group it can be argued is on a par with better known ceremonial complexes such as  those at Stonehenge, Avebury and Orkney.

Amongst the discoveries made during the fieldwork was the discovery of a late Neolithic house, one of the most complete examples thus far discovered in the UK and an unusual mortuary complex which offers important and exciting new insights into the burial ritual and practices at the beginning of the 2nd millennia BC.

The study leave period will be starting in the late summer and I am very much looking forward to the dedicated space and time so necessay to bring together this large body of work.

Excavations at High Lea Farm 2007 ( Early Bronze Age Barrow and later Saxon cemetery)

The UK Goes International!

One of BUs priorities for 2018 is to increase our presentations at international conferences. Previously, only conference presentations that take place overseas were being considering in this calculation however, this week it has been agreed that the definition can be amended to include international conferences which are hosted in the UK, which is excellent news!

So, if you’ve presented at a conference (international or otherwise) remember to add these to your Staff Profile Page via BRIAN .

If you have any queries about BRIAN or the Staff Profile Pages then please direct these to BRIAN@bournemouth.ac.uk.

Congratulations and Good Luck

With the Christmas break out of the way, January saw a relatively quiet level of activity for bids being submitted and awards being won with congratulations due to Schools for winning research and consultancy contracts.

For the Business School, good luck to grants academy member Dinusha Mendis for her application to AHRC to ‘identify 3D printing delivery systems for older people to support care in the community’, to Lois Farquharson for her consultancy to Health-on-line, to Jens Holscher, Andy Mullineux and Dean Patton for their application to ESRC.

For HSC, congratulations are due to Bernie Edwards for a short course for ‘Foundations in Practice Nursing’.  Good luck to Sophie Smith, Jacqui Hewitt-Taylor and grants academy member Jane Murphy for their research training fellowship to Dunhill Medical Trust.

For MS, congratulations to grants academy member Mike Molesworth and Liam Toms for their consultancy with Cammegh Davies Flemming, and to grants academy member Richard Scullion and Rebecca Jenkins for their consultancy to McKenna Townsend PR.  Good luck to Julian McDougall for his applications to Higher Education Academy and AHRC, the latter of which is to research ‘connecting communities with their history across geography and generations through interaction design’, and to Richard Berger who has also applied to the Higher Education Academy.

For the Faculty of Science and Technology, congratulations are due to Jonny Monteith for his four consultancies with T Ingram Building Contractors Ltd, Renaissance Retirement Ltd, Mark Sanderson and SolarTech Ltd, to Tim Darvill for his conference, to grants academy members Cornelius Ncube and Keith Phalp for their consultancy with DSTL, to Adrian Pinder for his consultancy with Aluna Foundation, to Richard Stillman for his consultancy with Footprint Ecology, to grants academy member David Newell for his two short courses, and to Jacqui Taylor for her consultancy with Higher Education Academy.  Good luck to Emma Jenkins for her short course, to Neil Vaughan for his application to NIHR for ‘Development of a patient-specific epidural simulator for training and assessment’, to Adrian Pinder for his consultancy to Natural England, and to Sulaf Assi for her application to the Royal Society for Chemistry an ‘analytical chemistry summer school studentship’.

For ST, congratulations to Lisa Stuchberry and Jonathan Hibbert for their consultancy with Bournemouth Borough Council for the Bournemouth Arts Festival 2013 research, to Jeff Bray for his consultancies with Waitrose and with Which?, and to Richard Gordon for his short course and for his consultancy with the British High Commission Nigeria.  Good luck to Jonathan Hibbert for his consultancy to NHS Dorset.

Latest major funding opportunities

The following opportunities have been announced. Please follow the links for more information:

EPSRC are acting as administrator for small awards through the Holmes Hines Memorial fund, to undertake activities related to science and engineering for which public funds are not available. There is no deadline and no standard application form; applications should be sent to the fund administrator.

NERC invite outline applications to a new four year programme on Environmental Microbiology and Human Health. The two topics for this first call are aquatic microbiology and bioaerosols. An outline proforma provided by NERC must be submitted by 24 March 2014. Also available from NERC is funding to undertaken knowledge exchange activities, through their Knowledge Exchange Fellowships. These allow the Fellow to undertake a programme of work of their own choosing, funding salary and the costs of the work programme. Deadline 6 May 2014.

Royal Society are offering a range of funding for those working in the natural sciences, including international exchange schemes with France, Taiwan, Ireland, Russia or China. Each of these offers £12000 for travel and subsistence for a British team to develop a new collaboration, with the same amount offered by the partner country. They also offer a standard international exchange programme, which offers up to £12000 for travel and subsistence for use in developing new collaborations with overseas colleagues. Various deadlines apply.

Royal Society are also offering funding for Industry Fellowships, which enable academics to work on a collaborative project with industry or vice versa, for up to two years. Deadline 27 March 2014.

Funding is available from the Wellcome Trust to undertake projects that enable the public to explore biomedical science and its impact on society and culture, through their People Awards. Up to £30000 is available, deadline 25 April 2014.

Arts and humanities researchers may be interested in the early career and standard fellowships offered by AHRC. No deadline applies, and the maximum funding available is £250000.

Please note that some funders specify a time for submission as well as a date. Please confirm this with your RKE Support Officer.

You can set up your own personalised alerts on ResearchProfessional. If you need help setting these up, just ask your School’s RKE Officer in RKE Operations or see the recent post on this topic, which includes forthcoming training dates.

ENABLE-ing Social Work Education: Sharing UK experiences and insights with our Malaysian colleagues

Debating the curriculum

As seasoned academics who have, between us, experienced numerous reviews of social work education, it was fascinating and exciting for us to learn about and discuss some of the proposed changes to qualifying social work education in Malaysia in anticipation of their forthcoming Social Work Act. We were fortunate to attend a meeting to discuss how current social welfare workers in government and non-governmental organisations might be assisted in developing knowledge and education to a qualified and pre-qualified level. The meeting, attended by an independent Australian consultant, Malaysian academics, NGOs, representatives of MASW and the Methodist College of Kuala Lumpur, expressed the laudable concern to professionalise social work rightly focusing on increasing and regulating the educational qualifications needed to practise in Malaysia.

Context is all-important when designing and developing any curriculum but more so in respect of social work programmes because of the interpersonal, social and cultural aspects of the work. However, isomorphic global trends in higher education in general and social work in particular make comparisons and sharing ideas useful, even when we acknowledge that social work as a discipline and practice differs from nation to nation across the world. We were able to offer some insights and reflections following recent UK experiences as a way of highlighting some of the pitfalls that might arise and could be best avoided. We followed this by exploring possible ways forward for academic social work including publication strategies and internationalising the curriculum and departmental outlooks for those universities offering social work. This will be continued in discussion later in March 2014.

Learning by experience & ways forward:
There are, we believe, a number of key aspects of learning that Malaysian social workers and social work academics may wish to reflect on in the exciting times ahead as the Social Work Acts get closer to endorsement and implementation in Malaysia. These are:

• The need to reflect critically on moves towards professionalization, regulation and registration; recognising and identifying exactly what these moves are intended to achieve and not accepting uncritically that they will automatically produce better social work services.
• Developing appropriate ways to ensure that numbers of social workers employed in social work posts increase and, whilst paying attention to retaining those social care workers who may not be able to qualify at the desired level and protecting their career interests, not diluting the core principles underpinning reform.
• Speaking with one voice for social work, including Government departments, professional bodies, NGOs, practitioners and academics to ensure that unwelcome political interference is resisted. This may require developing a critically reflective stance and, at times, resistance to official pronouncements.
• Developing a robust research base for the profession that speaks with authority and evidence. Research that is about, for and with social work and social workers.
• Learning from the mistakes of other countries, e.g. England’s recent official approach to professionalization, as well as from their successes, whilst ensuring that all developments are appropriately contextualised and address the needs of all peoples in Malaysia.
• Internationalising social work education to be able to assess the worth of other models, to understand other approaches and to enhance confidence in bespoke Malaysian approaches where they work well and to adapt them when they do not.

A core element of learning that UK, and especially English, social work academics and practitioners need to undertake is to reflect on the core principles that are demonstrated elsewhere in the world; principles that are, in fact, illustrated by the commitment, energy and ‘can-do’ attitude we have seen from Malaysian social workers, NGOs, professional bodies and academics. In a recent note we sent to our UK Association of Professors of Social Work about our need to learn from global approaches to social work, we were heartened to hear how many of our colleagues agreed wholeheartedly.

Malaysian social work possesses a number of important strengths that will assist in making the most of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. These include strong and competent academic teams within the universities who work with each other, government departments, NGOs and professional bodies and speak with a single voice, in the main, about the way forward. The enthusiasm and dedication of social workers, managers and academics promoting a ‘can-do’ attitude that will make positive change happen. It is important, however, to foster a critically reflexive approach that allows for challenge and resistance where that is appropriate. This may be harder to achieve for our colleagues for whom compliance is a virtue taught from an early age.

Malaysian social workers should promote their achievements across the region and across the world. We saw many examples of good practice to highlight. Furthermore to sustain these excellent developments we discussed the importance that the universities, in conjunctions with other social work groups, develop and work towards a robust research strategy.

Social work research is not costly, and much more important than addressing university KPIs for income-generation (which in social science, in general, is difficult and often more so for social work which across the world is seen either as a poor relation to other disciplines or a troublesome aspect of life). However, conducting social work research provides both understanding and illumination of social phenomena and an evidence-base for social work that can be used to grow its future. One of the most important elements of such a strategy that we discussed together concerned publication and we offered our experience suggesting that publication in international, as well as ASEAN, journals represents the best way forward. Whilst this can be difficult when writing in a second language our established experience with social work colleagues at both Universiti Sains Malaysia and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak shows that writing with scholars from other countries, and including native English speakers can overcome these difficulties. Doing so increases the visibility of Malaysian social work and citation counts, something that our colleagues we aware may appeal to their university managers.

The future is potentially very bright for Malaysian social work, and we hope that the opportunities will be grasped and a qualified, skilled, principled and professional workforce represents the future.

(Much of this blog was adapted from a paper written for the Malaysian Association of Social Workers journal)

Prof Jonathan Parker & Dr Sara Ashencaen Crabtree

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