Research Development Fund – Small Grants Scheme Closes 31 May

The next round of the internal small grants scheme closes this month on 31st May.  The scheme provides up to £2000 per application for direct costs.

Examples of research activities covered by the RDF include:

  • Pilot projects
  • Pump-priming
  • Interview transcription
  • Fieldwork
  • Visiting major libraries, museums, other research institutions, etc.
  • Organisation of an academic conference at BU with external participants
  • Attendance at external networking events leading to collaborative research proposals
  • Meetings with external organisations to establish collaborations
  • Preparation of specialist material or data
  • Short-term Research Assistant support or replacement teaching
  • Research consumables and equipment (providing it is clear these would not normally be purchased by the School)

This list is not exhaustive; applications can be for other expenses providing it is clear how the funding will benefit research at BU.  This Scheme is only open to BU Academic Staff members (normally restricted to academics based in Schools).

If you would like to apply the application form and full details can be found here.  The applications must be emailed to the Research Development Unit (RDU@bournemouth.ac.uk) by 31st May 2012

BU Research Highlights of 2011

Posted in BU research by Susan Dowdle

Well we’re in to the second month of 2012 and 2011 already seems like a dim and distant memory!  But before it all gets too hazy we thought we would look back on 2011 and some of the highlights of research at BU.

1. Set up of the new Research and Knowledge Exchange Office (RKEO)

The creation of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Office back in September 2011 brought together similar departments under the academic leadership of Prof Matthew Bennett, PVC.  The Graduate School, Research Development Unit, CRE Operations (now renamed RKE Operations), Centre for Entrepenurship and the new Business Engagement Unit.  The blog post announcing the launch contains more information.

The Research Development Unit had a successful year, winning the poster competition at the annual ARMA conference and travelling to Sydney to present a paper on business partnering at the ARMS Conference, hosted by the Australian professional body for research administrators. The R&KEO (previously CRE) was also shortlisted for the THE Leadership and Management Awards 2011 in the Outstanding Research Management category.

2. BU research features in Big Ideas for the Future report

Heather Hartwell and Alan Fyall featured in the joint Research Council and UUK report Big Ideas for the Future for their work linking tourism and public health.  The report explores the excellent research taking place in UK higher education at the moment and what it will mean for us in 20 years time.  Heather reported in a blog post that the report had generated substantial interest outside the university and she hopes to be able to capitalise on that.

3. Systems investment

2011 saw investment in the R&E systems.  RED – the R&E database which is a record of all externally funded research activity, it now includes a link to the live accounts system so that you can view a quick overview of your project budget.  The university also invested in pFACT the industry standard costing tool to assist with FEC for projects.

4. Creation of the BU Research Blog

 The BU Research Blog was launched in March 2011 as a way to communicate research information interally with academic staff and also for staff to be able to share their work and ideas with each other.  Each of the BU Research Themes has an area on the research blog where staff can share ideas.

We have also found that the research blog has generated interest outside BU, both locally and across the world.  Julie Northam wrote a blog post on the google analytics which show where people have accessed the sited from geographically.  So it is another way of generating interest in your work.

5. HEIF 5 strategy

BU’s HEIF strategy was approved in September 2011, securing approximately £700k of funding per year.  This year the funding is being used for a small fusion fund open to all staff to apply for (closing 13 January 2012), the innovation themes which schools nominated over the summer, investment in public engagement, and the creation of a business engagement unit.  Matthew Bennett’s blog post on the HEIF strategy containing more detail is available here.

6. Internal funding schemes

In 2011 there were several internal funding schemes launched to staff for the first time.  There is the small grants scheme which is intended to give staff a small pot of money to undertake pilot research work.  The EU networking fund is to help staff build contacts in europe with the potential of finding european funding collaborators.  The open access publication fund provides staff with the funds they need to publish in journals with open access options.  More details of all schemes available and the application forms can be found on the blog.

7. Internal Peer Review (RPRS)

In 2011 the RPRS was strengthened by the appointment of Caroline O’Kane.  Caroline is the first point of contact when you have a draft application that you would like to put to peer review.  Caroline will review the draft from a lay person perspective and provide feedback on structure, style and adherence to the funder requirements.  The draft will also be passed to two academic colleagues (which you can nominate) for review and feedback.  Caroline is working hard to make the service helpful and constructive, and has seen an increase in the number of bids being submitted to RPRS.

8. AHRC Block Grant Success for MS and ApSci

The first students funded by this AHRC grant started in October.  The Media School and the School of Applied Sciences were successful with their bid for AHRC studentship funding.  The money will see several masters and phd students fully funded over the next 5 years.

9. Southern Region REF Event

Back in May the Research Development Unit hosted a 2 day REF event which was open to all BU staff and also external universities in the south of England (for the first part).  Speakers from HEFCE and the impact pilot panel attended giving staff an understanding of REF and an insight into how impact would be interpreted.  The event was a huge sucess with 150 delegates from 39 institutions attending.  A report of the day can be found on the blog.

To follow on from this event another REF event is being held on 22nd February, all panels in the REF will be represented so this is an excellent opportunity to ask them any questions you have about the panel criteria.  More information is available here.

10. EU Success and strengthening of EU support at BU

 In 2011 there has been success for BU staff with european funding.  Professor Rudy Gozlan was awarded Erasmus Mundas funding which involves international students studying at BU as part of their degree; Rudy was also successful with Marie Curie funding, and his european fellow started working at the university in the autumn.

There has been an increase in the support available for staff considering applying for EU funding with the creation of an EU Officer role (Dr Corrina Dickson) in the RDU.

Launch of the Research & Knowledge Exchange Office

Following the announcement by the Vice Chancellor in August 2011 that CRE would move from Finance & Commercial Services I am delighted today to formally launch the Research & Knowledge Exchange Office (R&KEO) with the remit of supporting all research and knowledge exchange (formally enterprise) activity at BU.

Under the new arrangements our existing research and knowledge exchange units will report directly to me forming a collection of discrete, but cognate elements.  Administrative support for the new R&KEO will be based in the Research Development Unit working in support of all the different teams. An overview of the status of each team is provided below.

Research Development Unit – This will continue to be led by Julie Northam and has been expanded to also include knowledge exchange development. Two new posts will be advertised later this month: a research development officer to focus specifically on research ethics, governance and conduct, and a commercialisation and KTP officer.

RKE Operations – Previously CRE Operations, this will continue to be led by Julia Taylor.  We are currently reviewing the R&KE processes and systems, with a view to improving the already excellent service delivered by this team over the next 3-6 months.

Business Engagement Unit – This is a new unit to be established as part of the HEIF-5 strategy.  We will soon advertise for a Business Engagement Leader, followed by four Business Engagement Consultants each related to the investment themes set out in the HEIF-5 Strategy.  It is hoped this team will be established from January 2012 and will work closely with the BU Foundation in developing BU as Knowledge Broker.

Graduate School – Professor Tiantian Zhang joins BU as the Head of the Graduate School in January 2012 when we will formally re-launch the Graduate School.  Until then Fiona Knight, and the School PGR administrators are keeping everything running smoothly.

DM Centre for Entrepreneurship – The CfE is led by Professor Dean Patton and has recently moved into the Business Engagement Centreof the 6th floor of the EBC and currently in the process of seeking potential tenants initially around the two specific themes as set out in the HEIF-5 Strategy, namely: (1) digital and creative; and (2) tourism & leisure.

You can access a structure diagram of the new R&KEO here: R&KEO structure diagram

I will ensure future developments with the R&KEO are announced regularly via the BU Research Blog.

Matthew Bennett

Why Gantt is good

We owe the the Gantt chart to mechanical engineer, management consultant and industry advisor Henry Gantt (1861 – 1919).   He developed his chart as a visual tool to show scheduled and actual progress of projects.  

Like Henry, we too favour Gantt charts and like to see them in funding proposals.  This is because a Gantt chart is an effective method of presenting to the funder a clear idea of:

  • time-frame
  • inputs
  • key activities
  • mapping of resources

How do you create a Gantt chart?  The best advice we have seen is at the useful Research Whisperer blog, where they list 5 steps to creating your very own Gantt Chart in the post ‘How to make a simple Gantt chart’. 

For more information about Gantt charts or to find out how RPRS can support your proposal development please contact Caroline O’Kane.

Research bid do’s and don’ts

The Do’s of writing a good research bid:

C – O – M – P – E – T- E

Clarity: avoid the overuse of technical jargon, spelling/grammatical errors and being overly descriptive or long-winded. Ensure that the bid is systematically structured and you make clear your aims and why these are important.

Other’s work: ensure that you present a balanced appraisal of the relevant literature in your field; that the research questions you identify are novel; that you exhaust any existing data rather than duplicate in your own plan of work.

Methods & workplan: ensure that you have a sufficient sample size; consult stakeholders; have clear interpretation plans; address ethical issues; have a realistic timeline; be clear on the coordination of co-investigators.

Potential impact & outcomes: state expected outcomes and impact and dissemination plans beyond the academic community.

Explain your costings: justify staff of requested grade; the need for equipment/travel.

Tune into the Funder: ensure the proposal fits with their aims, that you are eligible to apply and that the funder will cover the resources you request.

Expertise: if you are not experienced in winning bids, involve an experienced colleague/approach a collaborator and submit your proposal to RORP (where available)

The Don’ts of writing a good research bid

  • Do not rush it; take time to plan and prepare
  • Do not bid for a large grant if you are relatively new to grant bidding
  • Do not proceed with work up to full bid and submission if you have any doubts about strategic fit or your eligibility
  • Do not work in isolation
  • Do not ignore the internal peer review scheme RPRS
  • Do not assume that the funder will understand all acronyms or technical jargon
  • Do not mistake a research bid for a literature review of the subject area when writing the background to your proposal
  • Do not ignore difficult issues whether they are technical or ethical
  • Do not promise the earth!
  • Do not submit final bid without having an experienced colleague read over it first
  • Do not propose referees (if invited to do so) who you have published/worked with

Checklist to Complete Prior to Proposal Submission

  • Does your research fit the funders remit?
  • Do you meet the eligibility criteria for the funding scheme?
  • Is the research question/hypothesis you are asking an important one?
  • Are the research aims clearly stated?
  • Have you provided a bibliography and appraisal of current work in the field that demonstrates your familiarity with the subject?
  • Is the novelty value of the proposed research argued well?
  • Have you demonstrated the potential social and economic impact of the proposed research?
  • Have you demonstrated that the approach you will use is the best way to address the research question?
  • Have you documented a contingency plan in case of unexpected controls/lack of participants etc?
  • Have you included any pilot data to help the funders gain confidence?
  • Are the roles of the co-PIs clearly defined and their expertise demonstrated?
  • Have you eliminated technical jargon and spelled out any acronyms?
  • Have you ensured there are no grammatical or spelling errors in your application?
  • Have you ensured you are within the word limit for the application?
  • Does your Research Director/experienced colleague think it reads well?

Who can I ask for further help?

Contact Caroline O’Kane in the Research Development Unit for advice on what makes a good proposal.  

Caroline also runs the University’s Research Proposal Review Service (RPRS).  In addition to your proposal being peer reviewed, Caroline can advise on funding criteria, funders and eligibility issues.  

For the best results please get in touch with Caroline as soon as you start developing a funding proposal – the RPRS can support your bid in more ways than you think.

Find out more:

One man’s experience of the Research Proposal Review Service

A short while ago Richard Berger, Head of Postgraduate Research for the Media School, submitted a proposal to the Research Proposal Review Service.  This is his story…..

I recently used RPRS for the first time. It’s a system that’s been running for a while, and before then I used to informally ask colleagues to look over bids I was in the process of putting together. This time however, I used the RPRS for a recent Expression of Interest. Previously, I had always been in a rush to get bids in and felt that I wouldn’t have time to go through a formal peer-review process. But I was wrong.

Despite quite a tight deadline and the fact that this took place in August – when many colleagues and support staff are on leave – the service was very prompt and extremely diligent. I was asked to select some designated reviewers from the Media School, and in a week, I received two comprehensive reviews of my EOI. The comments were extremely useful, and I incorporated most of them into my document. It was clear that both reviewers, and Caroline at the Centre for Research and Enterprise, had read the quite complex (and lengthy!) call for expressions-of-interest – which much have taken some time.

I’ll have to wait and see, but I do feel the process was very worthwhile. Bid-writing is often quite a lonely process, and it’s nice to know that there is now a great deal of support at BU, even in the height of summer. It’s quite difficult to get the balance right between being objective and critical, and being supportive; I think the team at CRE have got it just about right.

So, in future, I will still show work-in-progress to colleagues and friends at BU, but I’ll use the RPRS too, as it’s more formal and doesn’t take as long as you perhaps think it might. Also, your colleagues may not be as critical as RPRS no doubt will be. Being successful at getting research funding will benefit everyone who works at BU in the long-run, as the reputation of our institution increases. So, why not try for yourselves?

To find out more about the RPRS and how we can support your proposal,  please contact Caroline O’Kane

Free Cake Today!!

Today between 11am-1pm the Research Development Unit will be in the Atrium.  Drop by for an informal chat and grab yourself a cake.

If you want to know about the new BU internal research funds (the Open Access Publication Fund and the Research Development Fund), the internal peer review service (RPRS), UK, EU and international funding opportunities, the REF, BU’s new research management system, the changes we’re making to RED, Research Professional, the emerging BU Research Themes, publishing and research outputs, in fact anything at all to do with research then now is your chance!

 

The Research Development Unit welcomes our new team member, taking over the RPRS

The RDU are delighted to introduce Caroline O’Kane as our new member of the team!

“When I’m up and running I’ll be looking after the Research Peer Review Service. At the minute you can find me in Melbury House but I will be moving to Talbot Campus before too long.

I may be new to BU but I’m not new to proposal development and bidding. I’ve worked in international development for 13 years, where I was heavily involved in the bidding process from initial concept to developing and submitting funding applications and then to managing resulting projects.

I’m not new to the area either – myself, husband (1), children (3) and chickens (2) live just down the road in Parkstone.

Over the next couple of weeks I’m looking forward to getting to grips with the RPRS. If you’re any way involved in funding applications then I’ll be introducing myself to you soon.

You can contact me on extension 61356, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursday mornings”

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