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Public Involvement – How can VOICE help your research?

Could using VOICE – National Public Involvement and Network Collaboration Platform help with public involvement for your grant application and research?

Find out more about VOICE. Join  ‘VOICE: Celebrating 15 years of impact’ on Thursday 8th December, 3-5pm to celebrate all that VOICE members have achieved and the impact they have had in research and innovation.

VOICE: Celebrating 15 Years of Impact Tickets, Thu 8 Dec 2022 at 15:00 | Eventbrite

Hear from VOICE members, researchers, businesses, and the VOICE team, sharing their stories and experiences of VOICE. This will be a great opportunity to learn about how VOICE began, some of the key programmes and initiatives that they are involved in, and their vision for the future.

https://www.voice-global.org/

 

Please do get in touch if you’d like to discuss public involvement in your research further – we welcome initial informal conversation to share ideas. kejupp@bournemouth.ac.uk; wardl@bournemouth.ac.uk; voice@bournemouth.ac.uk

 

Online training opportunity: Writing for The Conversation

Would you like to build a media profile and take your research to a global audience?

Find out more about writing for The Conversation and have the chance to pitch your article ideas to one of their editors in an online training session on Wednesday 7 December.

BU is a partner of The Conversation, a news analysis and opinion website with content written by academics working with professional journalists.

The training session will run by one of The Conversation’s editors and will take place from 2pm – 3pm over Zoom.

It is open to all BU academics and PhD candidates who are interested in finding out more about working with The Conversation.

Learn how to consider the news potential of your expertise, make your writing accessible and engaging to a diverse range of audiences, and pitch your ideas.

Why write for The Conversation?

The Conversation is a great way to share research and informed comment on topical issues. Academics work with editors to write pieces, which can then be republished via a creative commons license.

Since we first partnered with The Conversation, articles by BU authors have had over 8.8 million reads and been republished by the likes of The i, Metro, and the Washington Post.

Book your place via Eventbrite

Find out more about our partnership with The Conversation on the Research Impact, Engagement and Communications Sharepoint site

Doctoral Supervision | New Supervisors Development Workshop

Whether you are a new supervisor, you plan to be one, or you have experience but are new to Bournemouth University, this development workshop is for you.

The workshop, which is mandatory for new supervisors, offers the necessary knowledge to supervise Postgraduate Research students by placing this knowledge within both the internal and external regulatory framework.

This workshop will cover the following key areas:

  • Nature and scope of doctoral study and the role of a supervisor
  • Code of Practice for Research Degrees at BU, its purpose and operation
  • Monitoring, progression, completion and process of research degrees at BU
  • Importance of diversity, equality and cultural awareness
  • Student recruitment and selection
  • Keeping students on track: motivation and guidance

Book your place onto one of the Doctoral Supervision: New Supervisors Development workshops below. Further details about this workshop can also be found on the staff intranet.

Date Time Location Booking
Thursday 15 December 2022 10:00 – 14:30 Online Book
Thursday 23 February 2023 10:00 – 14:30 Talbot Campus Book
Wednesday 22 March 2023 10:00 – 14:30 Lansdowne Campus Book
Tuesday 16 May 2023 10:00 – 14:30 Talbot Campus Book

 

PGR Amina Hamza talked about mangrove conservation during royal visit in Kenya

Our PGR Amina Hamza was part of a group hosting the visit of Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon of Norway to the Mikoko Pamoja project in Gazi Bay, southern Kenya, on Wednesday 23rd November 2022. Amina guided the Royals’ tour around the mangrove forest and responded to their concerns about the impacts of coastal development in Kenya with insights from her PhD work highlighting the importance of prioritising mangrove conservation to reduce the impact of  flooding and erosion along Kenya’s shoreline.

The Mikoko Pamoja project was the world’s first community-based project selling carbon credits from restoring and protecting mangroves. The project was initiated with the support from the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), where Amina works as a senior scientist. Sweden is the major buyer of the projet’s carbon credits and Norway has supported the Vanga Blue Forest project, which replicates the Mikoko Pamoja project to protect 460 hectares of mangroves closer to the border of Tanzania in southern Kenya. The Royals were accompanied by Kenyan Government dignitaries including the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry, the Governor of Kwale County, the local Member of Parliament, and the CEO and scientists from KMFRI. Part of the joint royal visit was at the invitation of the United Nations Development Programme, to which the Crown Prince is the Goodwill Ambassador and the Crown Princess is an Advocate Emerita for the UN’s Global Sustainable Development Goals.

On 8th November 2022, Amina had her viva, where examiners recommended the award of PhD following minor modifications on her thesis entitled “Understanding changes in mangrove forests and the implications to community livelihood and resource management in Kenya“. Well done, Amina! Amina was supervised by Dr Lu Esteves and Dr Marin Cvitanovic from the Department of Life and Environmental Sciences and Dr James Kairo, from KMFRI.

These photos of Amina and the Royals during their visit to the Mikoko Pamoja project have appeared in the Daily Mail online: Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden looks elegant alongside Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon in Kenya | Daily Mail Online

BU PIER (Public Involvement in Education and Research) partnership annual report

Dear colleagues, we are delighted to share the BU PIER Partnership Annual Report 2021-22 . Every year the annual report provides us with an opportunity to look back at our achievements and impact and to share some highlights from our year. To reflect the significant level of co-production this year with students, PIER members and community organisations, this year’s report is written by people with lived experience and our partners, from their perspective. We hope you enjoy reading about PIER activity and impact and we look forward to hearing your comments. The report reflects some fantastic activity across HSS.

kind regards

Mel, Angela, Pete and Kate

Research process seminar. From personal experience to theory-building: developing new methods and research directions out of transformative experiences. Tuesday 29th Nov at 2pm on Zoom

You are welcome to join us for this week’s research process seminar. Hosted in FMC but open to all staff and research students.

From personal experience to theory-building: developing new methods and research directions out of transformative experiences – by Prof. Roman Gerodimos

How do personally transformative experiences inform our thinking and inspire our research? How can we design new research agendas and methods based on micro-level (or even autobio) experiences? 

Using my experience of Burning Man and a recent British Academy bid as a case study, I will reflect on the interaction between our ‘real life’ experiences and the ‘big theory’ questions we grapple with in our research, how that can inform method design, and also how the interaction between the individual and the social map onto broader questions in psychosocial studies. The concept of change – when, how and why this happens – is key to this discussion and the self can act as a useful ‘petri dish’ for broader experimentation.

Tuesday 29 November at 2pm on Zoom:

https://bournemouth-ac-uk.zoom.us/j/9292103478?pwd=UzJnNTNQWDdTNldXdjNWUnlTR1cxUT09

Meeting ID: 929 210 3478

Passcode: rps!4fmc

PGR Supervisory Lunchbites | Important factors for supporting PGRs requiring ALS

Hosted by the Doctoral College, these one hour online lunch bite sessions supplement the regular New and Established Supervisory Development Sessions and are aimed at all academic staff who are new to, or experienced at, supervising research degree students and are interested in expanding their knowledge of a specific aspect or process in research degree supervision.

Each session will be led by a senior academic who will introduce the topic, and staff will benefit from discussions aimed at sharing best practice from across BU. Bookings are arranged by Organisational Development.

This session is focused on expanding individuals’ knowledge on the additional support available to PGRs with disabilities, what reasonable adjustments can be made, and the role of the supervisor. This discussion will be led by Ildiko Balogh, Student Services.

Staff attending this session will: 

  • have gained additional knowledge of additional support available to PGRs with disabilities
  • have gained additional knowledge of how supervisor can support PGRs with disabilities
  • be aware of the relevant sections of the Code of Practice for Research Degrees

Further details on the session as well as information on future lunchbite sessions can also be found on the staff intranet.

Date: Thursday 1 December 2022

Time: 12:00 – 13:00, Teams

To book a place on this session please complete the booking form.

Further details and future sessions can also be found on the Supervisory Development Lunchbite Sessions staff intranet page.

New Frontiers in Neuroscience: Neuroimaging and Integrative Multi-Sensing Methods

We would like to invite you to the 2nd symposium of the BU’s Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Research Centre on Monday  the 16th of January 2023 from 9:15-13:00 at the Create LT, Fusion Building (ground floor).

The symposium is entitled “New Frontiers in Neuroscience: Neuroimaging and Integrative Multi-Sensing Methods”.  We will focus on these two themes from a cross-disciplinary angle, leveraging synergies between different departments at BU and our collaborators in industry, charities, and at the NHS. We think that this is a good opportunity to have informal discussions on grant proposals, also to explore shared interests with our external guests.

The schedule is:

9:15. Welcome and coffee.

9:30. Keynote talk by Prof. Mavi Sanchez-Vives, Biomedical Research Institute IDIBAPS, Barcelona. Human Brain Project Task Leader.

10.20-10:40. Coffee and grants discussion.

10:40-11:40. Session I. Neuroimaging and clinical applications.

11.40 -12.00. Coffee and grants discussion.

12.00-13:00. Session II. Integrating Multi-sensing approaches and industrial applications. Concluding remarks.

Thank you very much and we are looking forward to seeing you there. If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact any of us (Ellen Seiss, eseiss@bournemouth.ac.uk  or Emili Balaguer-Ballester eb-ballester@bournemouth.ac.uk).

Funding Development Briefing 30/11/22 Spotlight on: Horizon Europe Societal Challenges

What are Funding Development Briefings?

Each session will cover the latest major funding opportunities, followed by a brief Q&A session. Sessions will also include a spotlight on a particular funding opportunity of strategic importance to BU. Sessions will be on Wednesdays, from 12 pm for half-an-hour. The same link can be used each week to join here.
Next Weds 30 November 12:00-12:30, we will cover Horizon Europe Societal Challenges (overview).
Date Spotlight Funding Opportunity Briefing Research Facilitator Lead
14/09/2022 Innovate UK SMART Grants Innovation & Infrastructure
21/09/2022 NERC Pushing the Frontiers Life Sciences
28/09/2022 23/24 Horizon Europe Work Programmes EU & International
05/10/2022 ESRC Humanities & Social Sciences
12/10/2022 EPSRC Innovation & Infrastructure
19/10/2022 Wellcome Trust Life Sciences
26/10/2022 HALF TERM
02/11/2022 MSCA Overview of Actions EU & International
09/11/2022 No spotlight
16/11/2022 UKRI FLF All
23/11/2022 NIHR Overview Life Sciences
30/11/2022 Horizon Europe Societal Challenges EU & International
07/12/2022 Leverhulme Trust Humanities & Social Sciences
14/12/2022 KTPs (Business Engagement and Knowledge Exchange Managers) Innovation & Infrastructure

Sessions will be recorded and made available after the session for those who cannot attend.

Are you a member of research staff? Come for coffee and cake on 24th November!

The BU Research Staff Association would like to invite all research staff to an in-person meet up for coffee and cake on Thursday 24 November on Talbot Campus in F106 (Fusion Building) between 12 and 1pm.

Bring your lunch and a coffee, and we will provide the cake! (Note: it may not look as good as this one does.)

File:Pound layer cake.jpg

This will be an opportunity for you to meet the Research Staff Association (RSA) Reps. We currently have three reps from HSS (Sophia Amenyah, Michelle Heward, Gladys Yinusa), three from FST (Sarah Elliott, Kim Davies and Sam Greenhill) and one from BUBS (Raf Nicholson).

This will also be an opportunity for research staff members to meet those within the same community, and to provide the opportunity for us all to get to know each other and support each other.

The RSA is a network to support research staff on fixed term contracts and to provide a mechanism to feed back to the university any issues or problems that arise.

At the meet-up, we will also be discussing the possibility of mentoring, within our departments and faculties – please do come along if you are interested in hearing more about mentoring, or want to provide some input into how BU can best support your development as a researcher via mentoring.

We would also like to take this opportunity to advertise for a rep from the Faculty of Media and Communications which is currently the only faculty not represented by a RSA rep. Please contact us if you are interested.

We hope to see you on 24 November!

Professor Dimitrios Buhalis recognised as Highly Cited Researcher by Clarivate for the third year

Congratulations to Professor Dimitrios Buhalis, who has been recognised by Clarivate™ as one of the world’s most influential researchers who have been most frequently cited by their peers over the last decade.

Dimitrios Buhalis

Clarivate provides information, data and insights to universities, nonprofits, funding organisations, publishers, corporations, government organisations and law firms across the world to help accelerate and advance innovation.

Fewer than 0.1% (1 in 1,000) of the world’s population of scientists and social scientists received the Highly Cited Researchers™ distinction in 2022.

Highly Cited Researchers have demonstrated significant and broad influence reflected in their publication of multiple highly cited papers over the last decade. These highly cited papers rank in the top 1% by citations for a field in the Web of Science™.

Professor Buhalis has been named as a Highly Cited Researcher in the field of Social Science for the past three years.

He said: “It is extremely rewarding to know that the research I’ve been doing in the last 30 years has been useful to many other researchers to build their research and develop this concept. It is also very rewarding to know that the research has an impact on society, bringing value to different stakeholders and communities around the world.

“Of course, the research has been happening with many collaborators, including students and researchers and colleagues from all over the world, and most have been co-authored with several of my 200 collaborators.”

Professor Buhalis is a strategic management and marketing expert with specialisms around information communication technology applications in the tourism, travel, hospitality and leisure industries.

“All my research is about relevance and impact on business practice and global policy and it is cutting edge,” he said.

‘It is forecasting the future and identifies enabling technologies that bring value to different stakeholders and, by doing so, designing a better future.”

He added: “Being able to forecast the future and identifying technologies that can support progress is a critical element of the research, and that is why it is published early, before other researchers engage in inquiry, and that’s why it’s widely cited.”

“My advice would be to follow your heart, make relevant and useful cutting edge research that contributes to society globally, and citation will follow.”

MINE Research Cluster’s Opening Event

In the afternoon of 16 November 2022, the Multimodal-Immersive NEuro-sensing (MINE) Research Cluster hosted a successful Cluster Opening event. This friendly event was the first time the Cluster showcased its research activities since they set up the lab space in May 2022.

At the event, Dr Xun He, Prof Fred Charles, and Dr Ellen Seiss gave three short talks and answered questions from the audience. Xun gave a brief introduction to the MINE research concept and the Cluster, then reported some interesting findings from an on-going immersive neuroscience research project about embodied perception of social interactions. Fred then presented several virtual reality (VR) projects carried out by the Cluster and our brain-computer interface (neurofeedback and affective storytelling) research. Ellen’s talk summarised the Cluster’s collaborative research with our industry partner Emteq Labs. This research direction uses VR and integrated physiological measures to detect users’ emotion states.

The audience showed great interest and engaged in lively discussion with the team. After the talks, some guests visited the Cluster and experienced our research setups. This cluster opening event attracted nearly 50 people including external guests from NHS, charity, industry, and higher education. Some guests stayed for two more hours after the planned event time, apparently having enjoyed the conversation to the full. We would like to thank all guests for their interest and comments.

If you are interested in our research, please visit our website at www.bournemouth.ac.uk/mine/. The MINE Cluster is also working with BU’s Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Research Centre (INRC) to organise a research symposium in January 2023. More information will follow nearer the time. Please keep track of our activities. We hope to see you all again very soon!

Update (24/11/2022): this is the blog post providing details of the INRC Symposium on 16 January 2023 (9.15am – 1pm). Please have a look if you are interested!

HE Policy Update for the w/e 17th November 2022

We’re keeping the news as light as possible this week and running a catch-up feature on the important research announcements that didn’t reach you over the summer period.

Autumn statement

You can read the detail behind the headlines on the autumn statement here.

Education Select Committee – new chair

Robin Walker has been elected as the Chair of the Education Committee, beating Caroline Ansell, David Simmonds, and former schools minister Jonathan Gullis. Walker did a stint as Minister of State for School Standards (2021-22) as well as other non-education junior ministerial roles. He’s also participated in APPGs on Apprenticeships, Financial Education for Young People, Youth Employment & Outdoor education, and was recently elected as the vice-Chair for the APPG for Students.

The Education select committee is responsible for scrutinising the work of Government and holding them to account for education matters. In this Walker has stated he is keen to learn from different parts of the UK as well as internationally. He states he will continue Halfon’s (the previous Chair) work on skills, SEN, attendance and levelling up. However, he intends for the Committee to also focus on childcare, safeguarding and the cost pressures facing schools and families. There’s been no mention of HE. Walker has described himself as a constructive critic of the Government and stated he is passionate about creating opportunity for businesses and for people to escape benefit dependency

Walker is from a political family, his father was also an MP. He went to a private school and read history at Oxford, and he interned in a US Congressman’s office. Prior to his political career he ran his own public relations business, staying on as an advisor after his appointment to parliament. Ultimately, he had to resign his advisory position following a complaint that he was contravening lobbying rules. Prior to parliamentary appointment he was also the press agent to previous local Dorset MP Oliver Letwin. He was the first in his family to attend university and his siblings both work in education – one in SEN and the other in a literacy role. He states he is acutely aware of the challenges and costs of childcare. He also supports a rich curriculum and believes schools should teach a wide range of subjects including STEM, creativity, outdoor education, RSHE, languages, and the arts

In his School’s Minister stint he states he: Presided over the return to school after the pandemic; co-wrote the White Paper including the levelling up premium & Education Investment Areas; prioritised deprivation in the funding formula & delivered the largest ever cash increase in schools funding; Co-chaired the Attendance Action Alliance bringing together the Childrens’ Commissioner, schools and councils to tackle severe absence; reformed the National Tutoring Programme to be schools-led; supported early delivery of manifesto pledge on £30k starting salaries for teachers; made preparations for the first successful exam series in 3 years, and previously he launched the Natural History GCSE.

Walker has a clear focus on schools and children. It remains to be seen how quickly he’ll find his feet with the tertiary and skills agenda. The Chair of a select committee is a driving force in what a committee selects for their inquiries. This may mean HE matters feature less or simply continue in the vein Halfon started. Or he may delve into new waters to grasp the agenda. Focussing on deprivation and access to HE would be an obvious starting point.

Research – round up

A round up of the key news and announcements.

Science superpower lacks cape

The Lords Science and Technology Committee published “Science and technology superpower”: more than a slogan?, their report following the inquiry into Delivering a UK science and technology strategy. The report states that the Government’s unfocused strategy means that science policy has been let down by short-termism and a proliferation of disparate strategies without an overarching vision. They go on to state that there are a large number of government bodies with unclear remits and interactions, which means that it is often unclear who owns a specific policy. At the time of writing, there was no science minister, which further blurs lines of accountability. [There is now, although the division of responsibilities between George and Nus has yet to be clarified.]

The report points to the lack of an implementation plan as a key weakness and a barrier to becoming a high-tech, high-growth economy. Of course, with a new PM and even more ministerial changes to come the impetus behind the UK as a science superpower may wane. The Lords call on the incoming Cabinet to maintain the commitment to R&D funding and the focus on science and technology– it will be fundamental to economic growth and improving public services.

The Lords highlight areas of critique:

  • Internationally, the Government’s own-collaborate-access framework was meant to clarify policy on strategic areas of technology, but the Committee thought it was poorly understood and inconsistently applied. The failure to associate with Horizon Europe and cuts to Official Development Assistance have damaged the UK’s reputation as a collaborative partner, and risk damaging its science base.
  • The Government hopes to leverage private sector funding to reach the 2.4% target. It has identified areas for reform, such as public procurement, regulations, and pension rules, but these are perennial suggestions and the Committee was unconvinced that this attempt would more successful. Industry has been insufficiently engaged with the Government’s strategy.

The full recommendations to Government can be read on pages 56-61. The Government was due to respond to the Committee’s report by now. However, given the political disruption it isn’t surprising the response is late.

Baroness Brown of Cambridge Chair of the Committee, reiterates the key points in her statement:

  • The Government has high ambitions for science and technology, which the Committee welcomes…But science policy has been far from perfect. R&D is a long-term endeavour which requires sustained focus and an implementation plan. But we found a plethora of strategies in different areas with little follow-through and less linking them together. There are numerous bodies and organisations with unclear or apparently overlapping responsibilities, and more are being added in the form of the National Science and Technology Council and the Office for Science and Technology Strategy. It is often unclear who is accountable for individual policies, and critically, for delivery. 
  • The Government has suggested areas of reform to increase private sector investment in R&D such as public procurement for innovation, regulatory reform, and R&D tax credits. But these areas are perennial suggestions. New ideas – and specific details – developed with business are needed if this time the outcomes are to be different.
  • “On the international stage, the failure to associate to Horizon Europe, and recent cuts to Official Development] Assistance, have damaged the UK’s reputation. The UK cannot be a science superpower in isolation; relationships must be repaired.
  • UK science and technology remains strong and respected around the world, but they will not deliver their full potential for the UK with an inconsistent and unclear science policy from Government. A new administration must retain the ambition for science and technology and develop a clear plan for delivery.

More superheroes – selecting a cape

Centre-right think tank, Onward, published under the same theme – Rocket science: how can the UK become a science superpower? making recommendations for the UK to become a true “science superpower”. Their researchers identified four characteristics of science superpowers which they say should guide the UK’s own ambitions:

  1. First, science superpowers prioritise academic foundations. That is to say, competitive R&D investment, well-regarded research institutions and strong intellectual property assets.
  2. Second, science superpowers have deep knowledge networks, in that they host the best research, attract the most promising scientists, and lead global regulation of technologies.
  3. The third trait of science superpowers is absorptive capacity: the ability to absorb ideas within the real economy for economic benefit.
  4. Fourth, science superpowers typically exert their scientific influence overseas through technology exports– the sale of high-tech products and services, including intangibles, overseas.

They argue that, to become a science superpower, the UK science ecosystem must be reformed to meet five key tests:

  1. Strategic direction. The Government should be more assertive in deploying R&D funding in areas of UK comparative advantage or to address a strategic weakness.
  2. Applying ourselves. The UK’s higher education system should do much more to encourage application of research, and businesses should respond by increasing their own R&D intensity, increasing demand for scientists within the domestic economy.
  3. Policy certainty. Private investment in R&D should be encouraged by giving businesses simpler, long-term incentives providing a stable policy environment that allows companies to plan investments with certainty.
  4. Relentless adoption.The UK should do more to support businesses and individuals to adopt cutting edge technologies so we can fully realise the benefits of technology.
  5. Exporting influence. UK firms could do much more to export their products overseas, particularly intangibles, and to set standards for future technologies to get ahead of these emerging markets.

Onward’s Head of Science and Technology, Matt Burnett said: The COVID-19 pandemic showed us just how important science is for our health security. We need to seize this moment and invest in science and technology to solve the other problems we face such as climate change and the energy crisis. The new Prime Minister should put science and technology at the top of their agenda, lest we be unprepared for the next global crisis.

Lord Bethell, Minister for Technology, Innovation and Life Sciences (2020-21): Working at the frontline of the pandemic innovation, I realised at first hand the huge power of the science at our great universities, and the lack of depth in our industrial capacity to turn that science into deployable solutions. This report is an excellent start to a conversation about how we can use our traditional strengths at the lab-top to turn Britain emphatically into one of the world’s great science superpowers.

Rt Hon Lord Hague, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (2010-2014): An excellent contribution to what should be our most vital national debate. Ensuring science is at the core of our society and economy is indispensable to the UK’s future prosperity. Failure in this field would be fatal to future growth.

George Freeman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Life Sciences (2014-16); Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science, Research and Innovation (2021-22), and now Science Minister again (2022): The path to faster growth and better wages starts and ends with science and innovation. The UK is already a Science Superpower in discovering new ideas and building thriving knowledge networks, but we could do much more to apply them for the benefit of the UK’s strategic and economic priorities. This excellent report sets out a bold plan to lift our scientific ambitions and secure our future – it is essential reading for the new Conservative Prime Minister.

Review of UKRI

The independent review of UKRI, led by David Grant, has been published. The report calls for more effort on realising the benefits of a single body rather than a cluster of research councils. Ministers and UKRI leadership have expressed their support for the review’s 18 recommendations, which include investment in harmonising IT systems, clarifying roles and responsibilities within UKRI and with BEIS, and further focus on demonstrating outcomes from their funding.

Recommendations

  • In delivering its efficiency plan, UKRI should aim for simplicity, integration, harmonisation and agility of its systems. These should be objectives of any monitoring framework or performance indicators used to monitor progress and delivery.
  • In delivering its efficiency plans and developing its operating model, UKRI should clarify the roles and responsibilities between the Corporate Hub and the councils. This process should ask if the right functions are centralised or devolved and should explore appropriate reductions in size, for example in the Corporate Hub.
  • In delivering its efficiency plans, UKRI will need to invest in capability, IT systems and infrastructure in the short term that will improve efficiency in the long term, ensuring that the ambition set out in the UKRI DDaT Strategy 2020-23 is implemented. This will require UKRI to ensure that it retains the right technical and project delivery capability across the organisation.

The interim report was published in January and there’s a thank you letter to David from the Secretary of State. The Government has promised to respond to the specific recommendations within the report later in the year.

Wonkhe have a blog but a reader comment doesn’t agree and believes the blog to be too forgiving of UKRI.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: I welcome Sir David’s recommendations. To support our ambition to establish the UK as a true Science Superpower, we have given UKRI its largest funding settlement ever, with over £25 billion across the next 3 years. Our ambitions for a world-class research and innovation system require a world-class funder, which is why we will work closely with UKRI to deliver these recommendations and ensure they are equipped and ready to support those goals.

Review of Research Bureaucracy

And another independent review, this time led by Professor Adam Tickell (VC, Birmingham) considering Research Bureaucracy. Who was set this agenda:

Unnecessary bureaucracy diverts and hampers research, and the work of individual researchers and research teams. Ultimately, it diminishes the returns from research funding.

You can read a summary of the consultation responses here.

Seven Principles

The Review developed seven principles to cut unnecessary bureaucracy which they state should inform the government response and future action across the sector:

  1. Harmonisation– Reducing the volume of administration through the use of common processes between different funders to make essential work easier.
  2. Simplification– Reducing the complexity of individual processes to address unnecessary bureaucracy.
  3. Proportionality– Ensuring that the obligations placed on researchers and institutions are commensurate with the size of the risk or reward.
  4. Flexibility– Supporting and embracing excellence wherever it is found and not excluding research that does not fit within narrowly defined parameters.
  5. Transparency– Communicating the rationale for systems and processes which have a bureaucratic burden.
  6. Fairness– Developing approaches to systems and processes that support fairness, rather than erode it.
  7. Sustainability– Cutting bureaucracy in ways that avoid destabilising the system to deliver a more efficient system over the long term.

The Review focussed on aspects of the research system where there was consistent feedback on the need and scope for change. As a result the review identified six themes where there is believed to be scope for significant positive change:

  1. Assurance

Information provided to funders and regulators to demonstrate that research is carried out in accordance with funding terms and conditions. The principle of ‘ask once’ should be paramount throughout the assurance system.

Findings

The Review identified the following key issues with regard to assurance bureaucracy:

  • Overall, there are too many requirements relating to assurance bureaucracy and they are often complex and duplicative;
  • Uncertainty in the sector about how to manage assurance issues contributes to risk aversion and over-compliance in institutions’ internal assurance processes;
  • A lack of trust, coordination, partnership working and knowledge exchange on assurance throughout the research sector;
  • An incremental growth of bureaucracy – changing priorities have meant that, over time, new assurance requirements have been introduced. However, few attempts have been made to remove or reduce redundant assurance requirements.

Recommendations

To address these issues they recommend that:

  • Government departments that fund research should work together to ensure there is greater alignment of assurance approaches, removing duplication. UKRI should take forward action to achieve greater alignment and coordination across UKRI Councils;
  • Government should facilitate closer working with other funders, including charity funders, to increase coordination and reduce assurance burdens on the sector;
  • Funders and research organisations should develop collective approaches and resources to support institutions in managing their assurance processes; and
  • Funding bodies should explore the function and benefits of self-certification and/or earned autonomy for institutions with a robust track record of assurance
  1. Applying for Funding

Funding applications were one of the most cited causes of unnecessary bureaucracy by organisations and individuals in the Review’s call for evidence.

Findings

  • The Review heard concerns from researchers and research managers about the length and complexity of application processes;
  • The overall success rates for research grant applications are low – often around 20%. Given this, single stage processes which require applicants to provide all the information at the outset mean that for a majority of applicants this information is unused and ultimately wasteful;
  • Two stage application processes may deliver improvements across the system but may present funders with resourcing challenges or take more time and UKRI and others are piloting these approaches now. The Review received a range of views on how best to manage the prospect that more streamlined application processes could lead to higher numbers of applications;
  • There is already evidence of funders tackling these issues in a variety of ways, but there is scope to go much further. 

Recommendations

To address these issues they recommend that:

  • Funders should experiment with application processes to reduce burdens for applicants, (including two-stage application processes) where the information required increases in line with the likelihood of being funded;
  • Funders should work together to increase standardisation across their application processes in terms of the use of language and the questions they ask where appropriate. UKRI should facilitate this across Research Councils in the first instance;
  • Funders should review what adaptations will be needed to assessment processes to take account of changes to application models. This should include the information necessary for national security assessments alongside innovative approaches from the use of peer reviewer triage to limit the number of applications requiring full peer review to experimenting with new models such as randomly allocated funding;
  • Funders should ensure that application processes support their commitments to equality, diversity and inclusion;
  • Funders should remove the requirement for letters of support from applications in most circumstances.
  1. Grant Implementation and In-Grant Management

Research is inherently unpredictable so the review suggests areas where more flexibilities may be beneficial, once a research project is underway:

Findings

  • The period between issue of award letter and start of a research project can be too short, leaving little time for procurement, recruitment and financial administration;
  • Conversely, the time taken to get agreement from research funding organisations to changes to a project or to the profile of funding can be too long;
  • It is often unclear to funding recipients what the purpose is of information requested in project monitoring;
  • Contracting and collaboration agreements are a major source of delays because many research organisations prefer to use their own version rather than standard formats such as Brunswick or Lambert Agreements.

Recommendations

To address these issues they recommend that:

  • Funders and recipients should ensure there is adequate time for the completion of all necessary tasks (including providing assurance information) between the issue of the award letter and the start of the project;
  • Universities and research organisations should wherever possible use standard templates for contracts and collaboration agreements, recognising that this would not just be faster, but would also facilitate third-party collaborations;
  • Wherever possible, funders should build in flexibilities including no cost extensions within manageable parameters to reduce delays in addressing project changes and the number of queries funders receive;
  • Ethical and other regulatory approvals should be the responsibility of the lead partner on a multi-institution research project and counterparties (including in the NHS) should not require additional duplicative approvals.
  1. Digital Platforms

Every aspect of research bureaucracy depends on digital platforms and the extent of the sector’s reliance on them can heighten the impact of any flaws in their design or function.

Findings

  • There is a challenge in creating digital platforms that are capable of supporting institutional diversity and keeping pace with change in UK research without being overly complex
  • There is scope for greater harmonisation of digital platforms. However, this will also be limited to a degree by the differing nature and objectives of individual funders;
  • Greater inter-operability and data sharing between systems could significantly reduce bureaucracy;
  • There is currently a window of opportunity to deliver vastly improved services across key funders as UKRI, NIHR and Wellcome amongst others move away from older platforms;
  • Funders are continuing to drive forward programmes to reduce bureaucracy in their systems and processes. Through the Simpler and Better Funding programme, UKRI is piloting a new digital platform – UKRI Funding Service – which from 2024 will deliver end to end functionality for all Research Council grant applications.

Recommendations

To address these issues the review recommends that:

  • For the higher education sector, Jisc should lead on the creation of sector-wide groups responsible for overseeing the development and further integration of the research information ecosystem, including research management data;
  • Funders, universities and regulators should ensure interoperability and improved data flows are considered as integral to the design and implementation of any new digital systems;
  • For existing systems, approaches to improving the flow of data between different platforms should be explored using, for example, application programming interfaces, point to point integration and machine learning.
  1. Institutional Bureaucracy

There are strong links between bureaucracy related to requirements of funders, regulators and government and each research institution’s own systems, processes and approaches. Research organisations, particularly universities, need to address their own unnecessary bureaucracy to support the Review’s aim of freeing up researchers to focus on research.

Findings

  • Institutional bureaucracy was the most cited source of unnecessary bureaucracy by individuals in the Review’s call for evidence;
  • There is a culture of risk aversion within universities. Whilst much of this is understandable, it has a negative impact on the processes for decision making;
  • Risk aversion has, in some cases, led to unnecessary approval hierarchies which can cause major delays and operational difficulties;
  • Use of generalist professional services department to provide key elements of research support – for example, legal services – can lead to longer delays because of a lack of familiarity or confidence with handling research grant agreements or contracts.

Recommendations

To address these issues they recommend that:

  • Wherever possible, research organisations should examine the feasibility of delegating research-related approvals to research managers and officers who are closer to research;
  • Universities UK should bring universities together to find new platforms and methods for working together on research management issues such as increasing risk appetite, streamlining burdens including through greater  standardisation;
  • If they do not already have them, research organisations should establish “Trusted Funder” policies to enable projects to proceed at risk, within certain parameters.
  1. Communications

There are a number of communications issues in relation to unnecessary bureaucracy. Funders can address antipathy towards necessary bureaucracy by communicating more clearly why it is required and what they do with the information. A lack of clarity can lead to “gold plating” by institutions who are trying to manage regulatory and other requirements.

Findings

  • Frustration with necessary bureaucratic requirements may be related to how widely the rationale and role of particular R&D funding systems and processes are communicated and understood;
  • There is also scope to increase awareness of existing tools and methods that can reduce bureaucratic burdens, e.g. persistent digital identifiers;
  • Uncertainty about the introduction and approach to implementing new requirements could be addressed through proactive communication and engagement by funders and regulators;
  • In addition, the review heard that government and funders could go further to engage with the sector on the specifics around implementation of new requirements to identify the most efficient approach;
  • There were a series of specific concerns with regard to the approach to communications with the sector including use of jargon and inconsistent language, working to ensure communications are received by the right audiences (for example, not just Vice Chancellors or Pro Vice-Chancellors of Research) and timeliness in relation to submission deadlines

Recommendations

To address these issues they recommend that:

  • Government, funders and regulators should undertake wide ranging consultation with research organisations prior to the introduction of new regulatory or other requirements;
  • Government and funders should proactively communicate on new and emerging regulatory issues. The Research Collaboration and Advice Team (RCAT)i model providing support on national security matters is good practice in this regard;
  • Funders should ensure important messages about research are sent to research office contacts as well as Vice Chancellor/Pro-Vice Chancellor Research.

What’s next?

The Government should formally respond to the review and likely support certain elements while ignoring others.

The review also said that there should be consideration of the governance and other arrangements needed to ensure the longer-term change required to fully deliver on this vision is in place. Alongside ongoing monitoring and evaluation to keep bureaucracy at bay in the future.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: The work of our exceptional researchers will not reach its full potential while the research system is bound up by excessive red tape. The findings of Professor Tickell’s thorough review shine a light on the huge opportunity for improvements in this field. I am confident this report will act as the stimulus needed for institutions, funding bodies, regulators – and for government – to come together and make the progress required.

Author of the Bureaucracy Review, Professor Adam Tickell, said:

UK research is world-leading, however… there are huge opportunities to improve how our research system works. The Review has unearthed excessive bureaucracy across the system.

It will now take a collective effort involving individuals, institutions, funders, regulators and government to realise the potential benefits of change while ensuring the vital checks and balances in the system are not lost. I hope this report signposts the way forward and provides the impetus needed.

Chief Executive of UK Research & Innovation, Ottoline Leyser, said:

We warmly welcome this thoughtful and excellent review…The review’s recommendations, and the principles that underpin them, strongly align with ongoing work at UKRI, such as our Simple and Better Funding Programme. By working in partnership across the UK research and innovation system we can catalyse transformational change, maximising the value from record-breaking levels of public investment in R&D.

The recommended changes will allow essential research – from healthcare development to studies in environmental science – to be delivered unhindered by excessive red tape, supporting the UK’s ambition to maintain its competitiveness, and secure its position as a science superpower.

The Russell Group respond to both independent reviews, Stephanie Smith, Head of Policy (Research and International) at the Russell Group, said:

Freeing up unnecessary bureaucracy will require a joint effort from all parts of the research system, and the Tickell review makes a number of welcome recommendations to improve coordination and standardisation across the sector, streamline the funding application process and free up time for grant holders to focus on research.

Alongside the Grant review of UKRI, it is positive to see a focus on how we can ensure the UK research sector is as efficient and effective as possible so world class research can thrive and we are ready to tackle the major challenges we face, from productivity to climate change. It is vital that we maintain this momentum and we look forward to working with Government and the wider sector to deliver early action to implement these changes, which will benefit researchers, funders and universities.

Blog: James Coe reviews Adam Tickell’s Independent Review of Research Bureaucracy and finds much to admire – while still being filled with questions on how this relates to the future of research.

Not on the Horizon…

It is incredibly unlikely that the UK will associate to Horizon Europe.

There are no signs of any resolution to the political issues which are preventing association. There is no sign that the UK Government has the ability or desire to resolve them.

And there is no sign of any change in position from the European Union to enable association.(Source.)

While this news didn’t come as a shock to anyone in the summer and it still doesn’t now. However, it is still disappointing to have reached this point. During the summer the Government announced the details of the UK’s plan B (assuming affiliation to the EU research programmes doesn’t make it over the Horizon). All the details are here including this suite of temporary transition measures:

  • the Horizon Europe Guarantee – If we are unable to associate, we will fund applications that are submitted to a Horizon Europe funding call with an EU final call deadline date before the point of non-association, are successful in the EU evaluation and meet the eligibility criteria of the guarantee. This includes those where grant signature dates fall beyond the end of 2022. This would pick up where the current guarantee has left off, so there is no gap, and no eligible successful applications would go unfunded
  • funding for successful, in-flight applications – We will support UK entities with eligible in-flight applications to Horizon Europe (to calls that have closed or are open at the point of non-association, where such applications are not being evaluated by the EC), by assessing such applications domestically, to ensure the best get funded should the EC no longer carry out the evaluation
  • uplifts to existing talent programmes – We will increase funding for our best existing talent schemes covering a broad range of disciplines via National Academies and UKRI. This will be followed by the creation of our bold new UK fellowship and award programme, designed to retain and attract top talent in the UK.
  • uplifts to innovation support – We will increase funding for a range of our best innovation schemes targeted at small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), delivered by Innovate UK, and go on to create exciting new mechanisms, ensuring they are bigger, bolder with less bureaucracy and more flexibility
  • the Talent and Research Stabilisation Fund – We will use formula funding to support a range of eligible UK institutions who have been most affected by the loss of Horizon Europe talent funding. The fund will enable eligible research organisations and universities to support talent retention and target funding vulnerabilities at a local level
  • Third Country Participation – Around two-thirds of Horizon Europe calls are open to UK researchers and companies as Third Country applicants, as part of consortia with at least 3 other applicants from EU member states or associated countries, provided they bring their own funding. As this is a priority for businesses and researchers, the government will fund all eligible UK entities participating in any such consortia signing grant agreements before 31 March 2025.The government will consider our approach to funding for Third Country Participation beyond this date and make an announcement by October 2024

Wonkhe have a blog. And there’s a parliamentary question on the topic:

  • (1) the change in the level of collaborative scientific funding for UK organisations if the UK does not participate in the Horizon Europe programme, and (2) reports that the UK is losing out on £100 million as a result of not participating

Student KE involvement

For anyone playing word bingo with today’s policy update we’re approaching a full house on ‘independent’ reviews. The OfS commissioned independent researchers to conduct an evaluation of the ‘Student engagement in knowledge exchange’ programme. The programme aims to support 20 projects to develop and share understanding of effective practice in student engagement in knowledge exchange, and to inform ongoing policy and investment.

OfS have published three summary reports providing interim findings from the evaluation of projects within the competition, for the reporting periods to May 2021, November 2021 and March 2022.

The final evaluation report is expected to be published next summer (2023).

Research England Funding Budgets 2022-25

The Russell Group issued a statement in response to the Research England funding budgets 2022-25: We particularly welcome the stable allocations over the spending review period which give the sector much needed certainty, and the boost to schemes proven to deliver returns, like the Higher Education Innovation Fund… The increase in quality-related (QR) funding will allow universities to plan long term and pursue high-risk high-reward discovery research – which underpinned breakthroughs in graphene, genomics, and laid the foundations to develop the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine… However, despite this increase, its value has declined in real terms over the past decade. [The value of QR funding declined by 22% in real terms between 2010/11 and 2020/21.]

ARIA top appointees

Ilan Gur and Matt Clifford MBE were appointed as CEO and Chair of new Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA). Ilan Gur (CEO) will set the agency’s agenda, direct its initial funding of high-risk programmes and engage the domestic and international R&D sector. As Chair, Matt Clifford will support the work of the CEO as he takes post on 15 August, acting as the steward for ARIA’s effective governance.

Ilan Gur obtained a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a Schmidt Futures Innovation Fellow, an advisor to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in support of the Moore Inventor Fellowship, and a judge for MIT Technology Review’s TR35 award

Matt Clifford MBE is co-founder and CEO of Entrepreneur First, an international investor in technical talent that has helped to build technological companies worth over $10 billion. Clifford is also co-founder and non-executive director of Code First Girls, has served as a Council Member at Innovate UK, and is a Trustee of the Kennedy Memorial Trust. Before starting Entrepreneur First, Matt worked at McKinsey & Co and earned degrees from the University of Cambridge and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Kwasi Kwarteng (was Business Secretary) said: The appointment of Ilan Gur as ARIA’s first CEO is a huge victory for the future of the agency, and for the UK. He has a distinguished track record in translating exceptional talent and ideas into commercial success, and his leadership will ensure the funding of high-risk programmes that will continue to push the boundaries of science and technology. Under Dr Gur’s leadership and with the support of the brilliant Matt Clifford, ARIA will ensure the benefits of research and development will be felt in our society and economy over the course of generations. By stripping back unnecessary red tape and putting power in the hands of our innovators, the agency has the freedom to drive forward the technologies of tomorrow.

ARIA blog: With a new ARIA Chair and Chief Executive in place James Coe argues it’s time for the sector to take a step back and allow the new research funder to succeed or fail on its own terms in a Wonkhe blog. And another blog summing up the key known information about ARIA.

Defence

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the Alan Turing Institute have jointly launched the Defence Centre for AI Research (DCAR), to tackle problems related to advancing artificial intelligence capability.

Research England Executive Chair

Kwasi Kwarteng (was Business Secretary) selected Professor Dame Jessica Corner as the preferred candidate for the role of Executive Chair of Research England. Professor Corner will be responsible for quality related research funding to English universities, largely informed by the results of the Research Excellence Framework exercise, as well as funding for knowledge exchange activities. She will also lead Research England’s role in ensuring the health and stability of English universities in their research and innovation activities. She will be part of the UKRI senior leadership team working closely with UKRI’s Chief Executive, UKRI Board and the other Executive Chairs to collectively oversee UKRI’s strategy, funding programmes and infrastructure.

Professor Corner has a background in nursing and as an academic specialising in cancer palliative care. Recent employment includes Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange at the University of Nottingham. She was awarded a DBE in 2014 for services to Health Care Research and Education and was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2015.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: I am delighted to name Professor Dame Jessica Corner as preferred candidate to steward Research England through the years to come. I look forward to working closely with her and the UKRI leadership team to ensure the continued success of the world leading research carried out by our universities, building on the UK’s reputation as a science superpower.

I would also like to thank Dr David Sweeney for his tireless work for the research sector as inaugural Executive Chair of Research England and previously at HEFCE. I wish him the very best for his retirement.

Professor Jessica Corner said: I am delighted to be chosen as the preferred candidate for the role of Executive Chair of Research England at this time of huge opportunity for the country’s truly outstanding research base…I look forward to supporting our national community of researchers as they continue to explore, discover, and innovate to transform lives across the globe.

Alan Turing Institute: Director of Innovation

Simon Reeve was appointed as Director of Innovation at the Alan Turing Institute. He is the former VP of Technology and Innovation at Lloyd’s Register Group and Director of Commercial Engagement at long-term Turing partner Lloyd’s Register Foundation. He has previously had a relationship with Turing through his work supporting the Foundation-sponsored data-centric engineering programme. As Director of Innovation Reeve will support Turing’s goal to develop solution to problems using AI and data across several areas:

  • Increasing the impact of the Institute in delivering positive change to society through entrepreneurship and commercial application of data science and AI
  • Providing innovation leadership to the Institute’s team and its vibrant partnership network, in cooperation with the executive leadership team, in support of its research and innovation strategy and goals
  • Promoting and facilitating engagement and partnership between the Turing’s community, private and public sector businesses, government, and non-government bodies, to accelerate innovation opportunities, delivering data and artificial intelligence science solutions in support of the Turing’s mission.

Quick research news

  • Government Office for Science – Sir Patrick Vallance to stand down as Government Chief Scientific Adviser at the end of his five-year post in April 2023.
  • Nine new commissioners have been appointed to the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) to serve for four years. Three commissioners, Ms Susan BradfordProfessor Jamie Colemanand Dr Jamie Fraser, whose four-year tenure ended this year, have also been reappointed. The CHM provides independent expert advice to ministers on the safety, quality and efficacy of medicines, and promotes the collection and investigation of information relating to adverse reactions for human medicines. It is an advisory non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department of Health and Social Care.

The nine new commissioners are:

  • Professor Tony Williams, professor of translational medicine at Southampton University
  • Professor David Hunt, chair of neuroinflammation medicine, Wellcome Trust senior clinical fellow and honorary consultant in neurology, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor David Dockrell, chair of infection medicine/director of the Centre for Inflammation Research, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Gerri Mortimore, associate professor in post-registration health care, University of Derby
  • Professor Paul Dargan, consultant physician and clinical toxicologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and professor of clinical toxicology at King’s College London
  • Dr Vanessa Raymont, senior clinical researcher, University of Oxford and R&D director and honorary consultant at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • Mrs Julia Cons, Independent Chair, National Individual Funding Request Panel for NHS England
  • Professor David Moore, professor of Infectious Diseases & Tropical Medicine, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Consultant Physician at The Hospital for Tropical Diseases, UCLH.
  • Professor Rui Providencia, associate Professor, Institute of Health Informatics, UCL

Blogs

The QAA released an interesting review of global research and interventions on grade inflation. DK had a read on Wonk Corner.

The first Research England funding allocations since REF 2021 results were published see a welcome increase in income for most providers. James Coe and David Kernohan looked into the details.

Parliamentary Questions

Access & Participation

NEON and the BBC report on the Social Mobility Foundation’s warning that the cost of living could create a “two-tier” university system.

  • The Social Mobility Foundation has said it’s “concerned” those from poorer backgrounds may have to work while affluent peers enjoy the “uni experience”. “It’s never been a level playing field,” Sarah Atkinson, the chief executive says. “But we’re looking at a two-tier system for this cohort,” she adds.
  • Alongside extra work, Sarah says more students from lower socio-economic backgrounds worry about money and live at home while studying .In recent weeks, students’ unions have said they are having to step in to help students cope with the rising costs of food.

Read more from the BBC article here.

Other news & latest reports

Video games degrees: Increasing the number of students studying for a degree in video games.

Graduate underemployment: What is the scale and impact of graduate overqualification in the UK?  looks at how graduate outcomes have changed over the past 30 years, and the job quality of overqualified graduates.

Local Gaps: The Centre for Progressive Policy (CPP) has published a report on the educational attainment gap and local economic outcomes, in which they look at how to transform educational opportunities to support inclusive growth.

Economic Growth: UUK published a report exploring ways in which universities can contribute to economic growth, and make several recommendations such as establishing collaborative hubs for skills development, building on the Help to Grow scheme, and the rapid expansion of University Enterprise Zones (UEZ).

Research theft: Research Professional – the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity has warned that cybersecurity researchers will increasingly be at risk of having their findings stolen by third-party actors.

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JANE FORSTER                                            |                       SARAH CARTER

VC’s Policy Advisor                                                              Policy & Public Affairs Officer

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