Posts By / Corrina Lailla Osborne

Knowing how to find the right way along the career path

I have blogged already on the complexities of knowing how to build a perfect academic career path. Knowing which grant to go for, which funders, which collaborators and so on can be a minefield if you don’t have a great mentor to guide you through it.

One of the key aims of the BRAD framework is to help academic staff identify their skills and areas for improvements to help them get to where they need to be in their career. And it is helpful if you know where you want to end up.

Prof Adrian Newton is one of our most established researchers and will share his advice with colleagues attending. This will include how to develop your career to become an established researcher. The session is taking place on the afternoon of 2 December and spaces for this session are limited, so you will need to book via the Staff Development webpage.

Easy guide to Horizon 2020

UK Research OfficeUKRO have created a very helpful and short guide to Horizon 2020 which is available on their portal. BU subscribes to the UKRO services and therefore all BU staff have access to this (simply register for an accout if you haven’t already and you will also get very useful updates from them too!).

This hyperlink should take anyone with an account straight to it, but if you have any problems, just log in and go to ‘Future Funding’ in the left hand navigation. The three thematic areas all have their own pages and the useful over view of all contains the guide.

USA-UK Multilateral University Research Partnership Grant available

The USA and UK governments have launched the Global Innovation Initiative which is open for applications. This is a new higher education grant competition created to strengthen higher education research partnerships between the USA, the UK and selected countries, which have been identified as Brazil, China, India and Indonesia. This initiative will provide exciting grant opportunities for university consortia on topics of global significance in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the following four areas: energy, climate change and the environment; agriculture, food security and water; public health and wellbeing; and urbanization.

The Global Innovation Initiative was created to support multilateral research collaboration to address global challenges, in keeping with the vision of U.S. President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s joint statements in 2011 and 2012. The initiative aims to stimulate innovative partnerships between at least one higher education institution in each of the U.S., the UK, and a designated other country. Grants of up to $250,000 will fund new research activities, faculty and researcher exchange, joint publications and symposia, and numerous other multilateral efforts.

Two parallel, but separate grant competitions will be offered in the U.S. and UK, and an institution from either country will be required to take the lead on the partnership. Partnership proposals with a U.S. lead institution will apply through the U.S. competition and those with a UK lead institution will apply through the UK competition.

For more information about the initiative and how to apply, please visit the Global Innovation Initiative’s website. The deadline for applications is December 16th.

Horizon 2020 info days are here!

As you any of you regular EU section readers will know, attending the info days for EU funding is essential. Not only do you get the insider knowledge on what’s coming up, but you get to mingle with the National Contact Points and other useful source of information and help but also you get to network with loads of other people with similar research interests!

There are a few info days coming up and I recommend that if you are thinking of submitting to any of the related themes, that you dedicate the time to going.

Need a Hand with your Vital Statistics?

Then our refresher session in all things stats is definitely for you! The content of the session can be shaped by what you need and will include key packages such as SPSS.

Most of us forget how to use our stats packages if we don’t use them all the time and this is precisely the reason this session will be held as part of the BRAD framework.

The session is taking place on the afternoon of 20th November and spaces for this session are limited, so you will need to book via the Staff Development webpage.

 

How do I write a successful research grant?

…is a question I hear all the time. It’s really tough to know how to do this if you haven’t ever received training in it so you are not alone if you too have asked this.  If you are curious as to how you can write a winning research proposal but haven’t been able to join the Grants Academy or EU Academic Development Scheme, then we have a session  aimed at you as part of the BRAD framework.

On the morning of Wednesday November 27th an external expert bid writer will give some fantastic tips in a condensed 3 hour session on how to write a research grant. You will learn some of the tricks involved in writing a proposal for any funding body and will get an invaluable insight into what reviewers look for.

Spaces for this session are limited, so you will need to book via the Staff Development webpage.

All you need to know about the AHRC review process

What is the review process?

As anyone submitting a proposal to a research council at BU knows, once you hut the Je-S ‘submit’ button, the proposal then gets sent to R&KEO to undertake final checks. These are all done to ensure your proposal has the best chance of success.  This is also a critical stage in the process, as we know from our contacts in the Research Councils that reviewers won’t even see an application if the proposal has not adhered to the guidance criteria.

Stage 1 of the process is where proposals are sifted by a group of staff who reject immediately any which do not meet the published eligibility criteria; either related to documentation requirements or where it does not meet the aims or criteria of the scheme.  When we return your application to you before submitting in Je-S, it is to ensure your proposal gets through this team of sifters and makes it to Panel.

One element which we often find have been overlooked in applications is matching the Case for Support headings on the attachments, with those outlined in the guidance. The sifting process may reject your application for this reason and it is therefore important you make sure they match up. The headings have been developed based on feedback from peer reviewers and so following this structure will also put you in a favourable position with them. The other stages for most grants can be found in the diagram below.

 

What do reviewers looking for in proposals?

Quality & Importance of Research Proposed

  • the proposal meets the specific aims of the scheme to which the applicant is applying
  • the project is significant and important and the  contribution it will enhance or develop creativity, insights, knowledge or understanding of the area in a national or international context
  • the research questions, issues or problems that will be addressed are defined and their importance and appropriateness specified
  • the research context and specification of why it is important that these particular questions, issues or problems are addressed is articulated
  • the appropriateness, effectiveness and feasibility of the proposed research methods and/or approach is outlined
  • the quality and importance of the applicant’s work to date is demonstrated
  • the applicant is able to monitor the project and bring it to completion as demonstrated in the application

Research Team

  • the level and balance (in terms of time and seniority) of the proposed staffing on the project is appropriate and opportunities will be made available for less experienced researchers
  • the other named participants have the appropriate experience and expertise to deliver the project.
  • the lines of responsibility and accountability are clearly articulated.
  • a realistic timetable, incorporating milestones is presented which will achieve the project’s aims and objectives within the proposed timescale
  • the applicant has demonstrated that they understand the amount of work to be involved, allocated sufficient time and resources to achieving each aspect.

Value for Money

  • the likely outcome of the research will represent value for money, and in particular the relationship between the funds that are sought and the significance and quality of the projected outcomes of the research
  • the resources requested are reasonable in the context of the proposed research.

Outputs, Dissemination & Impact

  • the dissemination methods are appropriate and effective
  • the research process is documented or recorded in a way to enable dissemination of research outcomes to the widest possible audience
  • the outputs and outcomes of the project will be highly valued and widely exploited, both in the research community and in wider contexts where they can make a difference
  • plans to increase impact are appropriate and justified, given the nature of the proposed research
  • sufficient attention has been given to who the beneficiaries of the research might be and appropriate ways to engage with them throughout the project.
  • the research and its outcomes are disseminated to as wide an audience as possible, and where appropriate to engage in communication, dissemination and exploitation activities throughout the period of the project.
  • the audiences to whom their research could be of interest are specified, and how they propose to engage with those audiences about their research.

 

How can I increase my chances of success?

Firstly, let your RKE Operations Officer know as soon as you want to apply for a scheme. They have many years’ experience of reading the eligibility criteria and guidance and can help you make sure you tick all of these boxes. They will also cost your proposal and get it approved by Legal and through the APF Quality Approval Process as well as submitting it via Je-S when the time comes.

Your proposal will automatically go through our internal peer review process (RPRS) and you will receive useful feedback on how to really strengthen this. We have a number of AHRC award holders and a reviewer on our database which will be a huge help for you. If you are a member of the Grants Academy you also have access to our successful applications to help you write yours as well as unlimited support from Dr Martin Pickard in creating a fantastic application. 

If you haven’t won much funding before, then team up with more experienced academics in your field to make a submission that way.

Finally, the best piece of advice is to dedicate enough time to writing a great application. Many of the big schemes don’t have deadlines, and those which do have these dates announced usually quite far in advance so you have plenty of time to prepare. With so many areas to cover in your proposal and to do so better than your competition in other institutions, you really can’t write these applications in a week.  A Research Grant is a very prestigious one to have on your CV and is worth dedicating the time and energy to get.

Horizon 2020 Climate Action calls and info day slides!

The orientation paper for Societal Challenge 5: Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials call has been published!

If you work in this area, reading this document will provide you with the expected main topics of the 2014 work programme so is a key resource at this early stage! The presentations from the info day which recently took place in Brussels are also available for anyone who couldn’t make it.

Demand management works says RCUK

I have heard one of two grumbles over the years over our mandatory internal peer review for Research Council (RCUK) proposals and this can sometimes seem like an ‘additional hurdle’ to get through in making a submission. BU is not alone in having a mandatory review process for RCUK grants and we implemented this, as did others around the UK, on the back of demand management measures initiated by some of the Research Councils (such as the EPSRC who will ban repeatedly unsuccessful applicants from making further submissions for 12 months). To help ensure no one at BU is unable to bid for the calls they wish to, we want to offer this extra support to our academic community in helping them submit the best possible application that they can.

At BU we have seen success rates with RCUK funders increase due to the utilisation of the RPRS. Today Times Higher Education announced that due to initiatives taken by BU and other institutions in reviewing applications before submission, across the board RCUK success rates for funding have risen. The ESRC responsive mode scheme for instance has gone from a 14% success rate in 2011-12 to a 16% success rate in 2012-13.

Helping ensure fewer numbers of lowe quality bids are submitted to RCUK funders facilitates a reduction in administration costs, which can then be redistributed into funding calls. This is great news for the funders and for applicants and potential applicants.

We are reviewing how the internal peer review process works at BU to make it even more useful and ever less bureaucratic to help any RCUK applicants and indeed applicants for any funding bodies. More details on this will be placed on the blog soon!

Why the RPRS is more than just another BU hoop in submitting a proposal

Undertaking internal peer review (the RPRS) at BU became mandatory for all Research Council UK (RCUK) applications over a year ago in response to many funders demand management measures (which include banning applicants with two unsuccessful proposals within a time frame from applying to that funder for 12 months). The European Commission will also bring in demand management measures for all European Research Council grants under Horizon 2020.

But the RPRS is more than just a mandatory hoop for RCUK grants. In fact, most of the applications we receive are on a voluntary basis for a range of funders and schemes and those who have undergone it once, tend to use the scheme several times because of the value it adds.  Indeed an analysis of recent RCUK submissions to the RPRS found that it has a 44% success rate when the proposals are sent off to the funder and with some finders such as the ESRC having a 15% success rate in 2012 – that is not a bad statistic!

The RPRS has been described by applicants as a ‘very valuable service’ giving a ‘positive’ experience. Not only are the comments helpful in further refining the bid, but the peer support helped eradicate the loneliness which often accompanies writing a proposal ‘[The RPRS] is a great support when writing bids – it can be a lonely business sometimes.

If you haven’t used the RPRS yet, why not give it a go for your next proposal?

 

Energy related funding in Horizon 2020 – webinars to tell you all!

EU Energy Focus are hosting some free webinars to provide further info on energy related calls in Horizon 2020. As its only 8 weeks til the calls are released, these are a fantastic opportunity to learn more about what’s coming up: The webinar programme is as follows:

 

1. Energy in Horizon 2020 Introduction to Horizon 2020 and the Energy funding priorities www.eventsforce.net/h2020-1 Wednesday 23rd October 1pm
2. Energy Efficiency Buildings and Consumers, Heating and Cooling www.eventsforce.net/h2020-2 Tuesday 5th November 12.30pm
3. Energy Efficiency Heating and Cooling, Industry and Products www.eventsforce.net/h2020-3 Friday 8th November 12.30pm
4. Energy Efficiency Finance for Sustainable Energy www.eventsforce.net/h2020-4 Tuesday 12th November 12.30pm
5. Low Carbon Energy Research and demonstration for renewables plus market uptake, innovation and Coordination and Support Actions www.eventsforce.net/h2020-5 Thursday 14th November 12.30pm
6. Low Carbon Energy Research and demonstration for grids, storage, biofuels, CCS plus market uptake, innovation and Coordination and Support Actions www.eventsforce.net/h2020-6 Wednesday 20th November 12.30pm
7. Smart Cities and Communities www.eventsforce.net/h2020-7 Friday 22nd November 12.30pm

Become an EC reviewer to gain experience, money and collaborators!

The EU’s  Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency is seeking external expertise in the Erasmus+ or Creative Europe (MEDIA, culture) programmes. Don’t worry, they don’t expect you to be an expert in the programme (which hasn’t been released yet) just the general subject areas of PhD student mobility, staff mobility, media, culture etc – the topics the funding calls cover.

Registering to be an expert has lots of value – you could get paid to evaluate and monitor projects or evaluate calls for proposals under the schemes. Indeed, becoming  an EC evaluator is a fantastic experience; it not only helps you learn what the EC are looking for in proposals, but also enables you to travel to Brussels and network with other reviewers to start forming collaborations yourself.

It’s really simple to sign up, you just pop your details in the form (which isn’t very long) and when an appropriate call or proposal comes up, they will ask if you can review it. If you can’t, you simply let them know and you are not obliged to. You also get until December 2020 to sign up to be a reviewer if you aren’t quite ready yet!

You will get paid a day rate to do the review plus travel and subsistence and you can also still apply for the funding scheme if you are registered as a reviewer (although for a specific call you apply to, you would have to declare a conflict of interest).

More info can be found here

October is still EU-tastic!!

EU funding remains a bit of an enigma for most people and this month I have organised some sessions to help demystify this for you, especially as the calls are due to be released on December 11th!  Two have already been held and the slides from these can be found on our I drive.

Health in Horizon 2020: The European Commission National Contact Point for Health – Dr Octavio Pernas made a special trip to BU on October 7th to inform anyone interested in health research (from nursing care models to medical devices) of what to look out for under Horizon 2020 and expanding on other complementary funding programmes. The session detailed how you can make the most of the National Contact Points to help with your application. Slides from this presentation are available here: I:\R&KEO\Public\RDU\European Related\Horizon 2020\Health in H2020 Presentation.  

All things Horizon 2020: Bournemouth subscribes to information services from the fabulous UK Research Office (UKRO) and for many years they have been providing us with the latest EU information on funding calls, policy and providing advice on how to make a great application. Their visit on October 9th told us in simple terms what is coming up in Horizon 2020 and how we can make the most of their subscription services. Slides from this presentation are available here: I:\R&KEO\Public\RDU\European Related\Horizon 2020\UKRO H2020 presentation

Our remaining two sessions tell you how to write a successful grant – there are a couple of spaces left on each session, so if you are interested please do book on quickly to be guaranteed a place.

1. All things Marie Curie

You can’t fail to have heard me saying how wonderful these fellowships are and how pleased I am that they will feature in Horizon 2020. These grants are absolutely the best way to kick start your EU career and you only need one non-UK partner to apply. You can either apply to have an academic come to the university from another country or you can go to another country as part of the fellowship scheme. You can have a fellowship with an academic or with an industrial partner and you can even apply for entire departments to be involved in exchanges. I’m proud of how engaged BU colleagues are with Marie Curie and the grants we already hold from this scheme. The session is divided into two parts with both being held on October 16th. The first is a brief intro to the schemes and the second is a more detailed session on how to approach and structure your bid. You can book your place for either session here.

 

 2. The tricks of writing a winning Horizon 2020 proposal

Having already had sessions providing you with an overview of the various funding opportunities within Horizon 2020, you need to know the tricks of writing a winning bid. Writing bids for the European Commission is quite a different skill to writing for UK funders and this session on October 17th will guide you through the journey. We’ve had some fantastic feedback from this session in the past and attending will help get you on the right path to create your proposal. You can book your place for the information session here.

‘I just don’t have time’: How to improve your work life balance, prioritisation skills and time management

This is a phrase I hear most often at work – we all have increasing pressures and often struggle to be as effective as possible in a shorter period of time to ensure we have a healthy work-life balance.

We have hired the services of an external facilitator to offer support in this for academic staff as part of the BRAD programme. Dr Margaret Collins has a 20+ year academic career background and uses her experience and subsequent training in theories such as Neuro-Linguistic Programming to deliver advice on how to increase personal effectiveness in these areas.

When I undertook the CROS and PIRLS surveys with staff back in the Summer and when consulting on what sessions would be most valuable for our academic community via the blog, the recurrent theme was better time management to improve work life balance.

You sometimes have to invest a little time to free up more later on – the session on Weds 16th October 1-5 on Talbot campus is a worthwhile investment. There are limited spaces so please do ensure you get one by booking on the Organisational and Staff Development webpages.

New Process for Erasmus Mundus Partner Approvals

Erasmus Mundus grants are a fantastic source of EU funding. It is important that BU ensures Partners we link with as part of these awards are aligned to our strategic objectives or have a strong rationale for linking with them. In summer 2013 the BU Policy 7A Partnership Definitions and Models was amended to include Erasmus Mundus Partnerships under the ‘student exchange’ definition. This amendment ensures that partnership agreements under Erasmus Mundus will follow existing policies and procedures for student exchange developments, including 7B Partnership Approval, and 7H Student Exchange.

This means for the next round of Erasmus Mundus calls (anticipated April 2013), partners on these proposals must be approved by the International & UK Partnerships Committee (IUPC). To ensure the approval is a speedy process, a bespoke proposal form, template and process has been developed for Erasmus Mundus applications. Once approved by this committee, this will help ensure the Contract Agreement Form is produced much faster.
If you are approached to be part of an Erasmus Mundus proposal, or would like to coordinate one then you will need to complete the Partnership Development Proposal form a minimum of five weeks before the deadline. The full process and timescale can be obtained by contacting your RKEO Operations Officer who will guide you through this.

If you wish to participate in an Erasmus Mundus and have not notified R&KEO a minimum of five weeks in advance of the deadline, then you must make an appeal to your Deputy Dean Research & Enterprise and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Matthew Bennett.

Have you encountered BRAD yet?

Last month in response to requests from staff, we launched the BU Researcher/Academic Development (BRAD) programme. This is a tailor made framework of development sessions based on the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF) which you can dip in and out of, undertaking only those sessions you would find helpful.

This holistic framework provides professional and personal development in the key areas of:

A. Knowledge & Intellectual Abilities

B. Personal Effectiveness

C. Research Governance & Organization

D. Engagement, Influence & Impact

The programme comprises of a wide range of facilitated development sessions held on campus (by internal and external presenters), online research modules from Epigeum (so you can learn in your own time) and the Vitae’s RDF. The facilitated sessions cover everything from research skills to personal effectiveness, from using SPSS to creating impact through your research. The online training covers a range of topics from getting published to managing your research career which you can undertake at your own time. On the 16th of this month, we have ‘Personal Effectiveness’ facilitated by Dr Margaret Collins, which will deliver development in work-life balance, keeping focused, prioritisation and time management.

Undertaking the ‘My Academic Development Needs: Self-Assessment’ (MADNSA) will allow you to se your strengths an any gaps in your skills which you need to address in order to get where you want to be in your career (you can also use Vitae’s jazzy Excel version which is more detailed). 

You can read case studies of real academics to see how using the planner based on this assessment has helped transform their careers if you still need a little convincing to complete this and also the top 10 tips from researchers on using the framework.

Why not take some time for yourself and complete the MADNSA and sign up for some facilitated sessions, through the Staff Development webpages and log into myBU  BRAD community to view the online sessions?

Horizon 2020 is coming early!

The EC has announced an indicative timetable for Horizon 2020, with the adoption of the work programme and publication of the first calls for proposals on the 11th December 2013. If all goes to plan, the European Council and the Parliament will formally approve the H2020 legislative package in November/December, allowing the adoption of H2020’s work programmes and publication of the first calls.

 

Don’t forget that we still have spaces on our EU training sessions this month to help you identify funding and write a super application!

 

We also have indicators of calls coming up in Horizon 2020 placed on our I drive as this is strictly confidential and not to be circulated outside of BU – I:\R&KEO\Public\RDU\European Related\Horizon 2020\Draft Work Programmes 2013

October is EU-tastic! The four sessions which give you all the EU funding info you need!

EU funding remains a bit of an enigma for most people. I remember how overwhelming I found it when I first began to unpick the tangle of the different funding strands, rules of participation, deadlines and conditions.Thankfully you don’t need to suffer in the same way. Horizon 2020 will be released soon (the replacement for FP7 and worth tens of billions of Euros) and I am here to guide you through it. As well as a Simple Guide to Horizon 2020 funding which I will release in early 2014 to demystify the funding schemes for you, I have arranged for four sessions to be held at BU in October to give you all the resources you need for your EU journey.

1. Health in Horizon 2020 

The European Commission National Contact Point for Health – Dr Octavio Pernas madea special trip to BU on October 7th to inform anyone interested in health research (from nursing care models to medical devices) of what to look out for under Horizon 2020 and expanding on other complementary funding programmes. The session detailed how you can make the most of the National Contact Points to help with your application. Slides from this presentation are available here: I:\R&KEO\Public\RDU\European Related\Horizon 2020\Health in H2020 Presentation.  

2. All things Horizon 2020 and 1-2-1s with UKRO

Bournemouth subscribes to information services from the fabulous UK Research Office (UKRO) and for many years they have been providing us with the latest EU information on funding calls, policy and providing advice on how to make a great application.

They will be visiting on October 9th to tell you in simple terms what Horizon 2020 is, the areas which will be funded within it and how you can make the most of UKRO by help with finding partners and gathering key bits of information. The two hour session will be followed by 1-2-1 appointments where you can get advice on your specific area of expertise and ask anything you want about EU policy making or funding. You can book your place for the information session here  and for the 1-2-1s by emailing Dianne Goodman.

 

3. All things Marie Curie

You can’t fail to have heard me banging on about how wonderful these fellowships are and how pleased I am that they will feature in Horizon 2020. These grants are absolutely the best way to kick start your EU career and you only need one non-UK partner to apply. You can either apply to have an academic come to the university from another country or you can go to another country as part of the fellowship scheme. You can have a fellowship with an academic or with an industrial partner and you can even apply for entire departments to be involved in exchanges. I’m proud of how engaged BU colleagues are with Marie Curie and the grants we already hold from this scheme.

The session is divided into two parts with both being held on October 16th. The first is a brief intro to the schemes and the second is a more detailed session on how to approach and structure your bid. You can book your place for either session here.

 

 4. The tricks of writing a winning Horizon 2020 proposal

Having already had sessions providing you with an overview of the various funding opportunities within Horizon 2020, you need to know the tricks of writing a winning bid. Writing bids for the European Commission is quite a different skill to writing for UK funders and this session on October 17th will guide you through the journey. We’ve had some fantastic feedback from this session in the past and attending will help get you on the right path to create your proposal. You can book your place for the information session here.