Posts By / Julie Northam

Reminder of BU’s Bridging Fund Scheme for researchers

Golden gate Bridge wallpaperIn summer 2015 we launched the new BU Bridging Fund Scheme which aims to provide additional stability to fixed-term researchers who continue to rely heavily on short-term contracts usually linked to external funding. This situation sometimes impacts negatively on continuity of employment and job security and can result in a costly loss of researcher talent for the institution.

The new Bridging Fund Scheme aims to mitigate these circumstances by redeploying the researcher where possible, or where feasible, by providing ‘bridging funding’ for the continuation of employment for a short-term (maximum three months) between research grants. It is intended to permit the temporary employment, in certain circumstances, of researchers between fixed-term contracts at BU, for whom no other source of funding is available, in order to:

(a) encourage the retention of experienced and skilled staff, and sustain research teams and expertise;

(b) aconcordat to support the career development of researchersvoid the break in employment and career which might otherwise be faced by such staff;

(c) maximise the opportunity for such staff to produce high-quality outputs and/or research impact at the end of funded contracts/grants.

To find out more about the scheme, including how to apply for bridging funding, see the scheme guidelines.

This is a great step forward for BU and for BU’s researchers and is an action from our EC HR Excellence in Research Award which aims to increase BU’s alignment with the national Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers (further information is available here: https://research.bournemouth.ac.uk/research-environment/research-concordat/).

What is BU doing to support research staff?

EC HR Excellence in Research Award logoIn January 2013 BU was awarded the HR Excellence in Research Award from the European Commission in acknowledgement of our progress to date and commitment to further improving alignment between BU policy and practice and the national Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers. As the number of research staff employed at BU continues to grow, the embedding of the principles of the Concordat becomes even more important.

As part of the award, BU has an externally approved action plan to strengthen support for research staff and their managers. The action plan is reviewed regularly by the Research Concordat Steering Group.

Achievements to date include:

Giving research staff a valued voice:

  • The BU Research Staff Association (RSA) was launched in autumn 2014 to provide research staff with a forum to discuss issues linked to the implementation of the Concordat. The RSA chairs (Marcellus Mbah and Michelle Heward) are planning wider engagement activities for 2015-16, including establishing the RSA as an informal network to share learning/experiences as well as developing a seminar series for BU researchers to showcase their work.
  • The formal membership of URKEC, which reports into Senate, has included a research staff representative as an established member since January 2013. From autumn 2015 the Faculty RKE Committees have included the local implementation of the Concordat in their remit and a research staff representative as an established member.
  • Research staff are increasingly provided with opportunities for undertaking public engagement activities. For example, the lightning talks event at the Festival of Learning 2015 featured presentations from eight research staff and one PGR to c. 25 attendees (average event score of 8.3/10, with 10 being excellent). The concept has now been developed for BU staff and students with one event taking place each term. The format is being developed for the FoL 2016 and other public engagement events.
  • BU took part in the national Careers in Research Online Survey (CROS) and Principal Investigators and Research Leaders Survey (PIRLS) in 2013 and again in 2015. The results have been shared with RCSG, URKEC, DDESG, Faculty RKE Committees, etc.

 

concordat to support the career development of researchersProviding research staff with greater job stability:

  • The BU Bridging Fund Scheme was launched in August 2015. It permits the temporary employment, in certain circumstances, of researchers between fixed-term contracts at BU for whom no other source of funding is yet available.
  • The mandatory recruitment and selection training has been updated to include reference to giving due consideration to the wider skill set of researchers including transferable skills and attributes. The aim is to ensure that researchers are given the best opportunity to advance their career.

 

Improvements to the procedures and support for research staff:

  • Induction processes and resources have been significantly improved. The ‘New to BU’ webpages now include a specific section on support available to researchers. The Academic Career Development Programme now identifies three induction events for new staff, including the RKE Induction to which all new academic and research staff are invited. All new research staff and their managers receive information about the Concordat, RSA, etc. soon after joining BU.

The Research Lifecycle

If you haven’t checked out the BU Research Lifecycle yet then you most definitely should! Our Research Lifecycle diagram is a jazzy interactive part of the BU Research Blog that shows the support and initiatives that are available to staff and students at each stage of the research lifecycle. The information is general enough so as to apply to all disciplines and you can use it to organize and identify the many activities involved in your research. You can explore the Research Lifecycle to find information on how to get started with:

1. Developing your research strategy

2. Developing your proposal

3. The research process

4. Publication and dissemination

5. Impact

RKEO will be adding to the Research Lifecycle to ensure it always contains the most up to date information to support you with planning, organising and undertaking your research.

You can access the diagram from the links in this post or from the menu bar that appears on all screens in the Research Blog.

FOSTER e-learning resources on open science and open access in Horizon 2020 now freely available

Open-Access-logoThe European project FOSTER (Facilitate Open Science Training for European Research) aims to establish mechanisms for researchers to embed open sciences in their daily workflow, thus supporting them to optimize their research visibility and impact and comply with the EU open access policies.

Two of the current courses are particularly relevant for BU staff:

  • Introduction to open science: provides a general introduction to the various components and philosophies of open science including why open science is essential to rigorous, reproducible and transparent research, as well as to future research evaluation criteria focused on societal impact. This is relevant to anyone undertaking research.
  • Open access to publications in Horizon 2020: provides information on how to adhere to the H2020 mandate by depositing publications in open access and therefore ensuring they are freely available. This is relevant to anyone currently working on a Horizon 2020 research project and anyone considering applying to Horizon 2020.

These resources are freely available from the FOSTER website.

Five Minutes with Ulrich Herb on Open Science: “Open Science must be adapted to disciplinary specificities”

sociologyYesterday the Research Blog featured a post on open science, what it entails and how it is different to open access. In a recent interview conducted by OpenAire, open science veteran Ulrich Herb shares the main findings of his research on the extent of open research practices in the discipline of sociology, as well as his wider thoughts on the history and future of the Open Science movement. This interview originally appeared on the OpenAIRE portal here.

 

Ulrich_HerbWhat do you understand by the term “Open Science”? Is it a cohesive phenomenon?

Open Science, as I understand it, is the area of Open Knowledge that deals with scientific information. Open Knowledge, in turn, is knowledge that can be used, edited and distributed according to Open Source principles. The ideal of Open Science is to make all objects involved in the research cycle openly accessible in this sense.
Open Science, as generally understood, is mainly about the objects or items of scientific work, such as text, data and software, but also includes “Open Review” (of text, data and possibly code), as well as “Open Metrics” as scientific para-information. Review and metrics are crucial since they often don’t merely report on the impact of science but can actively steer it as scientists often strongly orient their actions towards such evaluative criteria. In Open Review and Open Metrics the focus is less on OA to research products per se, but on transparency in the evaluation and assessment of scientific work. However, ideally reviews and the raw data that underlies metrics should also be made openly accessible.

 

openscienceYou studied the state of play of Open Science in Sociology. What were your main findings?

OA to journal articles is well established in Sociology. This is especially true for the German-speaking world, where it is strongly promoted by journals that often allow the published versions of articles to be made available in Green OA at the end of an embargo period or even make them Open Access themselves. In addition, Closed Access journals usually have liberal OA policies as regards Green OA. Gold OA journals in Sociology very rarely charge APCs; where they do so, charges are low. On the other hand, OA to book publications is very weak in Sociology. I attribute this to a lack of professional brand building among OA book publishers. OA books will likely become more standard as established publishers develop OA options or a disciplinarily-accepted publisher develops organically from the sociological community.
OA to research data and research software is almost non-existent in Sociology, in both the German-speaking countries and the rest of the world. There is a dearth of disciplinary training, as well as a lack of positioning by the community, for example occurs through the issuing of statements as commonly occurs in other subjects.
However, incentives to move towards data-sharing that exist in other disciplines are unlikely to be effective in Sociology. Data citations are not widespread in Sociology, probably as a result, firstly, of less emphasis in general on citations as a measure of impact than in STM subjects, and secondly because domains like theoretical Sociology do not produce data at all. Sociologists, more than natural scientists, seem still to consider data to be intellectual property and fear loss of control and misuse in regards to making data OA. Finally, Open Review and Open Metrics are very rare in Sociology.

 

What results where most surprising for you?

I was positively surprised by the prevalence of OA to literature in Sociology. However, I was disappointed to find such limited use of Open Review. Peer review is thought more problematic in Sociology than in STM subjects. This can be attributed to a few factors. To give just one example, Sociology is less concerned with what Schimank und Volkmann term “puzzle-solving”, so much as with discussion of fundamental principles. In addition, Sociology sometimes deals with ideologically charged issues that imply deep ethical/moral disputes. But since its review practice is problematic, Sociology could especially benefit from the transparency of the Open Review, because this allows checks to be placed on the objectivity of assessment.

The rarity of OA to data and software was surprising in a negative sense as well. Social science data is especially well-suited for secondary analysis. Open Data also has an ethical dimension: for example, the re-use of qualitative data derived from surveys with victims of abuse, would free such people from multiple requests for information regarding these events. And considering Sociology’s widespread use of the open-source statistics framework R, including its open repository infrastructure, mean that the scarcity of OA to research software in Sociology is disappointing. In sum, Sociology could benefit greatly from all the areas of Open Science, yet has yet to take up this potential.

 

open science principlesHow does Sociology most differ from other fields as regards the uptake of Open Science?

Besides the prevalence of OA to literature, the most striking difference is the level of hesitancy to Open Science that exists among sociologists, despite the potential benefits I just described and the good infrastructural conditions, for example, provided for Germany by GESIS or the R-environments. I think this can, however, be partly explained by the inherent characteristics of the discipline. There are, for example, important sub-disciplines like theoretical sociology which deal with scientific reflection upon the discipline itself and hence do not produce any data or software itself. Another particularity is the privacy issue: Sociology frequently uses very sensitive data whose non-anonymized disclosure is of course impossible, but which are worthless in an anonymized form.

 

Where do you see Science Open in five years? What are the main challenges to come?

Fueled by increasingly stringent funder policies and mandates, OA to sscientific objects like text, data and software will continue to increase. This will also be true for books, albeit to a lesser extent than for journal articles. As for Open Review, I am more skeptical. Although I myself like the idea, I don’t think open peer review will establish itself in Sociology. In metrics, I would like to see a proliferation of metrics whose data and parameters are openly visible and re-usable and can be read via open APIs. However, I rather suspect that commercial actors such as Elsevier and Thomson Scientific for citation or MacMillan as a provider of Altmetric or Ebsco as a provider of PLUM will prevail. It is to be assumed that those providers won’t open up their data. I hope that Sociology takes up Open Science to most fully realize its potential, albeit with the caveat that Open Science must be adapted to the aforementioned disciplinary specificities.

“Open science does not equal open access” – so what is it then?

open science principlesOpen science is the movement to make scientific research, data and dissemination accessible to all levels of an inquiring society, amateur or professional. It incorporates open access publishing as a key principle, alongside open data, open source, open methodology, open peer review and open educational resources. Examples of movements within open science include citizen science (whereby research is conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur or nonprofessional scientists) and open data (data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control). There is an excellent introduction to open science available here: what, exactly, is open science?

open science does not equal open access The open science movement is gaining momentum. Some research funders, such as the UK Research Councils and European Commission for example, now have mandates in place to enforce open access publishing and open data sharing as a requirement of receiving their funding. The RCUK public engagement strategy states the UK Research Councils will support collaborative and co-produced research (e.g. citizen science, community engagement and social participation) and the councils have funded a number of open science research projects, for example, EPSRC funded UCL’s ‘Extreme’ Citizen Science (ExCiteS) project and AHRC funded Oxford’s Constructing Scientific Communities: Citizen Science in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

A substantial and growing number of researchers are now embedding the principles of open science in how they design and conduct research. Dr Michael Pocock, an ecologist at CEH NERC, for example, is a keen advocate of open science and has led several citizen science projects with the aim of collectively undertaking hypothesis-led research. He has authored these excellent slides – Real science and real engagement: the value of citizen science.
openscienceThe European-funded project FOSTER (Facilitate Open Science Training for European Research) aims to establish mechanisms for researchers to embed open sciences in their daily workflow, thus supporting them to optimize their research visibility and impact. The project has created an excellent resource bank that provides a general introduction to the various components and philosophies of open science including why open science is essential to rigorous, reproducible and transparent research, as well as to future research evaluation criteria focused on societal impact.

The Open Science Federation website is an excellent source of information and inspiring ideas of how to embed open science into your research. There is an open science Twitter account if you want to keep up to date with open science information from around the world – @openscience.

If you are interested in building open science principles into your next research project, then speak with your Research Facilitator.

RKEO faculty-facing staff – when and where?

RKEO has a number of posts that directly support colleagues in the Faculties with bid preparation and submission and the post-award management of grants and contracts. These staff members spend approximately 50% of their time based in the Faculty offices. Information on when and where you can expect to find them when they are working in your Faculty is available here on the Research Blog here: http://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/contact/faculty-facing-staff/.

Lessons from Bowie – being a successful researcher

david bowieThe world today mourns the sad loss of David Bowie, thought of across the world as a legendary artist and performer. Part of this mourning involves a reflection on what it was that made David Bowie legendary. In doing so there are a number of parrallels with the world of research:

1. Being a pioneer and challenging the status quo – In the early days Bowie was a pioneer of glam rock and is considered to have joint responsibility with Marc Bolan for creating the genre. In doing so he recognised the lack of progression in rock music and challenged it by creating something new. John Peel said of the era, “The one distinguishing feature about early-70s progressive rock was that it didn’t progress. Before Bowie came along, people didn’t want too much change.”

Bowie’s lesson for research: change is a good thing and breeds creativity and new ways of thinking. Ensure your research contributes and progresses the field.

2. Interdisciplinarity – Bowie didn’t just pioneer glam rock; he also inspired the innovators of punk rock and pop music, amonsgt other genres. Biographer Thomas Forget said, “Because he has succeeded in so many different styles of music, it is almost impossible to find a popular artist today that has not been influenced by David Bowie.” He took his influences from many different sources and genres, melted them together and made new genres. He also moved seamlessly between genres. He worked collaboratively with musicians from across the musical spectrum including Bing Crosby, John Lennon, Queen, Tina Turner, Mick Jagger, Lenny Kravitz, etc. This enabled him to stay ahead of the crowd, move things forward and be considered an influential thought-leader across many genres.

Bowie’s lesson for research: take your influences from a multitude of different sources and disciplines and work collaboratively with colleagues from other fields.

3. Creativity – He reinvented himself, his music and his style numerous times to stay ahead of the pack and standout as unique and niche, and was described by many as a ‘one of a kind’. This creativity combined with an interdisciplinary approach and a challenge of the status quo enabled him to stay fresh and appealling throughout a career that spanned several decades. Bowie has become known as a ‘musical chameleon’, changing and dictating trends as much as he has altered his style to fit, influencing fashion and pop culture. He therefore brought innovation to music, style, fashion and ways of thinking.

Bowie’s lesson for research: ensure your ideas are creative and truly innovative. Ensure your idea hasn’t been researched before and will deliver something new to academic thinking and/or society.

4. Standing out from the crowd – The combination of the above resulted in Bowie standing out from the crowd. His work was recognisable, respected and on step ahead of other musicians. This increased his popularity and resulted in significant increases in the number of records sold.

Bowie’s lesson for research: when submitting a research proposal it will be in competition with many other proposals – ensure it is original, well-crafted and memorable. This will increase its appeal and its likelihood of being funded.

5. Inspired by current affairs and had a vision for future trends – Throughout his career Bowie was influenced by current affairs of the day and used these as mechanisms to shape his music and style (either through accepting them or challenging them) and to boost his popularity and success. He was also able to set the scene for future trends by staying one step ahead of the game.

Bowie’s lesson for research: keep abreast of current affairs as research funding often follows what is big in the news. Be willing to shape your research focus and ideas as a result of this. For example, the ebola crisis resulted in significant funding being made available for research into ebola, infectious diseases, disaster management, etc.

6. Get people on board – All of this enabled Bowie to sell his music, style and vision to millions of people, to influence individuals, groups, generations and genres.

Bowie’s lesson for research: research topics that are meaningful to people and society and ensure your research is done ethically. Consider the potential impact of your research to both academic and society when drafting research proposals.

RIP David Bowie.

REF review to be led by Lord Stern of Brentford

Lord SternSummary from press release:

The HE green paper (Fulfilling our potential: teaching excellence, social mobility and student choice) and the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review, both released in November 2015, mentioned that there would be a review UK research funding and the REF as a mechanism for allocating funding. Further information about this review was released on 16 December 2015 in a press release from Jo Johnson, Universities and Science Minister (Government launches review to improve university research funding). The aim of the review is to reduce the burden and cost to universities and government that has become associated with preparing for, and submitting to, the REF, therefore ensuring the government gets the most return for its investment.

The review will be chaired by the President of the British Academy and former World Bank Chief Economist Lord Nicholas Stern. He will be assisted by a high-level steering group of academic experts, including the Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, Professor Julia King, and the Past President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, Professor Sir John Tooke.

Lord Stern commented: “Research assessment should not unwittingly introduce incentives for perverse behaviour, nor should it be overly burdensome. Excellence, properly defined, must remain the central basis for allocating support and funding for research. We will explore ways in which a simpler, lighter-touch, system for the REF might be developed.”

ref-logoThe review aims to:

1. Investigate different approaches to the evaluation of UK higher education research performance which can encourage and strengthen the emphasis on delivering excellent research and impact, while simplifying and reducing the administrative burden on the HE sector.

2. Draw on the evidence from the evaluation of REF2014 and consider other models of research performance assessment, which could provide robust means of informing future research funding allocations.
3. Provide options for future iterations of the REF focusing on a simpler, lighter-touch method of research assessment, that more effectively uses data and metrics while retaining the benefits of peer review. The review should ensure that a future process identifies and supports excellent research across the UK, including dynamic changes in research quality and emerging areas of research excellence, retains the frequency of approach of the current REF arrangements (at 5-6 year cycle) and secures the confidence of the HE/academic sector.

The full terms of reference for the review, including membership of the steering group, are available here: REF review terms of reference.

The outcome is due to be delivered in summer 2016.

 

Comments from the sector:

russell group logoUnsurprisingly many of the criticisms of the review have focused on the membership of the nine-member steering committee which includes seven academics and vice-chancellors from UK universities, all but one from members of the Russell Group. There are also no representatives from Wales, Northern Ireland or the funding councils and only one university in Scotland. Lord Stern defended the committee membership, saying he had looked for panel members from a “range of subjects” and for “people who are outstanding”. “Outstanding people are necessary to recognise excellence,” he said. “They are of the highest intellectual quality” and had experience in “running things”. The panel was not meant to be “a parliament of universities”, he said, but added that “we want to hear from everybody” about the future of the REF.

There have also been murmurings that the REF already offers a good return on investment, with costs estimated to only be 2.4% of the total funds its results will inform. If this is the case then is it even posible or desirable to reduce costs further?

The THE labelled Lord Stern as a ‘REF sceptic’, quoting a joint letter he wrote with Sir Paul Nurse in which he asked: “Have criteria of quality become too narrow and formulaic in some subjects? Are researchers feeling pressured to adopt short-term horizons and a narrow focus, and chasing publication rather than following their own judgements on which are the most fruitful avenues for research and most likely to yield major outcomes?” He also questioned whether the impact element of the REF was “insufficiently deep and broad”. The letter added: “is the REF incentivisation of universities to hire stars in the closing months, like an imminent transfer deadline in the Premier League, really a way to build a long-term scholarly department?”.

The suggestion of a more metrics-based approach is concerning, especially taking into account the recommendations in the Metric Tide report (July 2015) that concluded that metrics are not yet sufficiently robust to replace peer review or to be relied upon any more than they were in REF 2014.

Lord Stern defended the review, saying there was no “foregone conclusion” about the results, despite the HE green paper and CSR presuming it would lead to changes to the REF system. Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group said that the Russell Group was supportive of the review but would be concerned if it resulted in any dilution of the REF’s rigour and international reputation.

 

Further reading:

THE – Lord Stern review: no ‘foregone conclusions’ about future of REF, 22 December 2015

THE – REF sceptic to lead review into research assessment, 16 December 2015

Russell Group – Stern review of research funding, 16 December 2015

Times – Prove research is useful or lose funds, universities are told, 16 December 2015

University Alliance – University Alliance responds to the announcement of Stern Review of university research funding, 16 December 2015

Happy new year! BU’s research highlights of 2015

20152015 was another great year for research at BU.  Here are the fabulous highlights for your perusal, in no particular order:

1. University rankings – During 2015 BU entered the ranking of the world’s top 500 universities for the first time (one of only two UK post-1992s in the top 500), as well as rising in all three major university league tables, published by The Guardian, The Sunday Times and The Complete University Guide. For most of these league tables BU’s research strength and performance significantly contributed to the increase in position.

award2. External recognition for BU research – 2015 was a great year for research awards at BU. The SHIVA Project won the Outstanding Digital Innovation in Teaching or Research Award at the THE Awards (full story) in November 2015, the smartphone device for monitoring sensation loss in patients with diabetes designed by Dr Venky Dubey and Dr Neil Vaughan was awarded ‘highly commended’ in three categories at the Institution of Engineering and Technology awards (full story), Dr Kip Jones’ AHRC-funded film Rufus Stone was shortlisted in the AHRC research in film awards (full story), BU’s Emeritus Professor Paul Lewis was awarded an OBE for services to midwifery (full story), and PGR student Rosa Spencer-Tansley was awarded ‘Student Star of the Future’ in the Rock Awards (full story). BU’s Dr Sam Goodman became one of BBC Radio 3 and the AHRC’s New Generational Thinkers, making several appearances on BBC Radio 3 and Prof Ann Brooks was conferred as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS) in recognition of her world-leading social science research.  The BU research website won the Best Research Website award in the international eduStyle awards (full story) and was shortlisted at the Heist Awards in the best website category (full story). Research into facial recognition by Dr Sarah Bate and PGR student Anna Bobak was featured in the New Scientist in November (full story). BU was also awarded the Athena SWAN bronze award in 2015 in recognition of our commitment to tackling gender inequality in HE (full story).

Research-income-graph-2014-153. Growth in RKE activity – Our annual RKE income at BU has continued to grow. In 2014-15 our RKE income was c. £7m, up 16% on the previous year (this figure increases further when the NHS CPD income is added in). What’s particularly interesting is the change in where this income comes from: we are now significantly less reliant on UK Government funding (NHS, English Heritage, etc) and are successfully obtaining more prestigious research funding, such as UK Research Councils, British Academy, EC, etc.  BU’s Research Council income has increased by 148% since 2008-09 and has been our largest research funding stream for the past three years.  EU income has increased from c. £200k in 2008-09 to c. £760k in 2014-15 (an increase of c. 263%). Although still small, research income received from international sources outside of the EU is also steadily increasing. Our research council success rates for 2014-15 were respectable – BU’s overall success rate was 17% (12 bids submitted of which 2 were awarded) against a sector average of 28%. This is one of the highest annual success rates we have achieved as an institution. The two grants won were awarded by NERC. The sector average success rate with NERC was 26%, compared to BU’s impressive 67%.

4. Significant grants/contracts awarded – Over the past year, BU has been awarded hundreds of research grants and contracts ensuring the continued success of our diverse and wide-ranging research programmes. Highlights include:

  • A number of UK Research Council grants including funding from the ESRC to enable our researchers to work on the issue of dementia-friendly architecture and the need to create care homes that are easily navigable by people with dementia (£200k, PI – Jan Wiener), funding from NERC to develop an integrated software system for the 3-d capture and analysis of footwear evidence (£90k, PI – Matthew Bennett) and funding from the AHRC to explore regulating the e-platform in China (£80k, PI – Lingling Wei)
  • A grant from the prestigious European Research Council (£315k) to explore the little-known Hyksos period of Egyptian history. BU researchers are working as co-investigators with partners all across Europe to find out about the origins, impact and legacy of this enigmatic era of Egyptian history (PI – Holger Schutkowski)
  • A number of grants from the European Commission including £310k for the PROTEUS project (PI – Abdelhamid Bouchachia), £170k for the SMART ETHIC project (PI – Barry Richards), £150k for the NuFEAST project (PI – Jane Murphy), £150k for a project looking into strategies for the mass customisation of jewellery (PI – Alexander Pasko) and £130k for a project looking into innovative remote sesnsing techniques in ecosystem modelling (PI – Ross Hill)
  • A number of grants from the National Institute for Health Research, including grants to develop a sustainable research programme to prevent falls and promote physical activity among older people with dementia (£515k, PI – Samuel Nyman) and to investigate whether early mobilisation after ankle fracture enhances recovery (£85k, PI – Zoe Sheppard)
  • The Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) who provided £700k of seed funding for BU’s new Orthopaedic Research Institute to purchase state-of-the-art gait analysis equipment and eventually establish new research laboratories (PI – Tom Wainwright)
  • Support from English Heritage to carry out further post-excavation assessment of the Swash Channel Wreck (PI – Dave Parham)

5. RKEO structure – Back in September 2014 we launched the new RKEO structure, one of the aims of which was to improve the service offered to academic colleagues. During 2015 we undertook a number of feedback exercises to ascertain whether the new structure was having the desired impact in the Faculties. Our major service excellence project ran in two inquiry cycles in 2015, with improvements made in response to each round. The last lot of feedback indicates significant improvements in all areas. We also ran our pre- and post-award surveys in 2015, the feedback to which was largely positive. Anecdotal feedback from Faculties indicates that the relationship between academics and RKEO has improved over the past 12 months which is great news. We will continue to strive to embed the new structure and strengthen relationships and processes throughout 2016.

ORI launch6. New RKE institutes launched – During 2015 two new research institutes were launched – ORI and ISLHE. In October 2015 BU launched the new Orthopaedic Research Institute (ORI) with the intention of working across the University and with local hospitals and industry partners to carry out research that will improve patient care and develop clinician practice in the UK. ORI is being led by Professor Rob Middleton and Associate Professor Tom Wainwright, both of whom have national and international reputations for their research work. The Institute for Studies in Landscape and Human Evolution (ISLHE) was launched in February 2015 and is establishing an interdisciplinary research programme focused on the interaction of human (hominin) ancestors with the landscape. ISLHE is led by Professor Matthew Bennett and Dr Sally Reynolds. Also in 2015 BU launched new policies and procedures for the establishment and review of RKE Institutes and Centres. We are still in the process of implementing these and aim to have a full list of verified RKE entities in early 2016.

FoL 20157. Festival of Learning 2015 – The third Festival of Learning took place in July 2015 and was a resounding success, attracting over 5,000 visits to more than 200 free activities/events and receiving excellent feedback across the board from attendees. The Festival is the largest and most successful public engagement event that BU has ever run and is now established as a major event in the RKEO and BU calendar. The next Festival will take place in June 2016; preparations are already taking place. Read more about the Festival of Learning 2016 here: submitting a proposal to the next FoL.

IRW8. Launch of sparkly new initiatives – BU launched a number of amazing new research initiatives this year, including: the inaugural public lecture series, the annual Interdisciplinary Research Week, the termly Lightning Talks series, 14:Live – the lunchtime research chat, a research spotlight series, RKE academic induction events, Research Photo Competition and the BU Bridging Fund scheme. We also published a new Bournemouth Research Chronicle and are now preparing the next edition. We welcomed our first intake of undergraduate research assistants in semester 2 and second intake in summer 2015. The BU Research Staff Association, led by Michelle Heward and Marcellus Mbah, went from strength to strength in 2015. We launched the new BU Research Twitter account @BU_Research.

9. RKEO’s external engagement – RKEO have continued to engage externally to raise the profile of RKEO and BU, to further professionalise research management and to gain credibility and kudos within the sector. RKEO staff have presented at a number of key conferences this year: Julie Northam and Jo Garrad presented at both the AUA and ARMA Conferences in 2015, ran a webinar for the Canadian Association of Research Administrators (CARA) and had an article published in the Protagonist.  Jenny Roddis and Julie Northam continue to undertake additional external roles, Jenny as a Qualification Assessor for ARMA’s Certificate in Research Administration and Julie for ARMA’s Certificate in Research Management and also as an external peer reviewer for Vitae. Jayne Codling and Rachel Clarke continue to be active externally, particularly with regional businesses and organisations.

Roll on 2016!

Careers guidance resources for researchers

careerIn October we launched a suite of careers guidance resources for researchers and their managers. The resources include detailed guidance on how to progress from a research career to an academic career as well as information for PhD students on postdoctoral research positions. There is also information on other career pathways including administration/management within HE and research careers outside of HE. The resources have been enhanced over the past few months and now include a number of case studies for different career pathways.

RKEO faculty-facing staff – when and where?

RKEO has a number of posts that directly support colleagues in the Faculties with bid preparation and submission and the post-award management of grants and contracts. These staff members spend approximately 50% of their time based in the Faculty offices. Information on when and where you can expect to find them when they are working in your Faculty is available here on the Research Blog here: http://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/contact/faculty-facing-staff/.

Nominations invited from academics to join the BU REF Circumstances Board

ref logoThe BU REF Circumstances Board has been established to oversee the individual staff circumstances process for the post-2014 REF exercise. This includes:

  • determining whether individual staff circumstances submitted by BU academics meet the REF eligibility requirements;
  • verifying the evidence provided;
  • calculating the reduction in outputs using the methodology set out in the REF guidance documentation and the ECU case studies;
  • contributing to BU’s culture of equality and diversity.

The Board is chaired by a HR Manager with support from the Equality and Diversity Adviser and a member of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Office. These post-holders will be selected based on their prior knowledge and expertise in individual staff circumstances and equality and diversity issues. Membership will also include two academics and an early career researcher (ECR).

We are now seeking expressions of interest from academics who are interested in joining the Circs Board. Successful applicants will be required to attend meetings of the BU REF Circumstances Board (schedule tbc, but likely to be one or two meetings per year), ensure they are aware of the REF guidance and regulations, undertake equality and diversity training, and promote a positive culture of equality and diversity at BU. We therefore ask for your commitment, active contribution and, most importantly, confidentiality due to the sensitive work of the Board. In return you will be involved in an important cross-University committee, gain an insight into the REF and equality a diversity (both highly topical issues in the sector), and be engaged in academic citizenship.

Nomination procedure:

The vacant roles on the BU REF Circumstances Board are:

  • 2 x academic representatives
  • 1 x early career researcher (ECR) representative

Anyone interested should submit an expression of interest stating your interest in equality and diversity, why you think equality and diversity is important for the REF and why your involvement would strengthen the BU REF Circumstances Board (max 300 words). You must also state whether you are applying to be an academic member or an ECR. Your nomination should state your name, job title and Faculty.

The deadline for expressions of interest is Friday 11th December 2015. Nominations should be emailed to Julie Northam, Head of Research and Knowledge Exchange (jnortham@bournemouth.ac.uk).

Expressions of interest will be reviewed by a panel of reviewers who are responsible for agreeing on which applicants to invite to serve on the BU REF Circumstances Board.

Eligibility:

Applications are invited from any BU staff member on an academic contract, however, you must be independent from REF preparations (for example, applicants cannot be UOA Leaders, impact champions or output champions).

ECRs in this context are defined as members of staff who started their careers as independent researchers on or after 1 August 2015. In line with the REF guidance, an individual is deemed to have started their career as an independent researcher from the point at which:

  1. They held a contract of employment which included a primary employment function of undertaking ‘research’ or ‘teaching and research’, and
  2. They undertook independent research, for example, leading or acting as principal investigator or equivalent on a research grant or significant piece of research work.

 

If you have any queries, please speak with Julie Northam in the first instance.

CSR – highlights for research and KE

george osborneOn Wednesday the government outlined their plans for spending over the next five years in the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) and Autumn Statement. The main points in relation to research and KE are:

Research councils:

  • The Nurse Review recommendations will be implemented (see an overview of the recommendations here).
  • Subject to legislation, the government will introduce a new body – Research UK – which will work across the seven Research Councils.
  • Innovate UK with remain and will be integrated into Research UK.

 

Budget:

  • The BIS budget will be cut by 17% (£2.2bn).
  • The science budget will be protected in real terms.
  • This includes a new £1.5 billion Global Challenges fund to ensure UK science takes the lead in addressing the problems faced by developing countries whilst developing our ability to deliver cutting-edge research

 

Research Excellence Framework:

  • The government will take forward a review of the Research Excellence Framework in order to examine how to simplify and strengthen funding on the basis of excellence, and will set out further details shortly.

 

Funding, priorities and investments:

Health and social care:

  • £5bn more to be invested in Health Research, key priorities being the genomes project, anti-microbial resistance and tackling malaria.
  • £600m additional funding will be available for mental health.
  • £150m will be invested in launching a competition for a Dementia Institute with the remit of tackling the progression of the disease.
  • Women’s Health charities/sector will be invested in, as will military charities.

Science and technology:

  • £1bn will be invested in energy research, with a key priority being the reduction in costs of low carbon energy.
  • Defence budget will be increased from £34bn to £40bn – emphasis will be on new equipment, capabilities and fighting cybercrime.
  • Investment in a new Cyber Innovation Centre in Cheltenham to supporting cyber excellence across south west.

Arts, sports and culture:

  • Arts and culture budget will be protected and £1bn will be invested.
  • The Arts Council will be invested in.
  • Funding in UK Sport will be increased in run up to the Olympic Games in Rio.

Knowledge exchange / enterprise:

  • £12bn invested in local growth fund.
  • 26 Enterprise Zones to be created including 15 in towns and rural areas. Two new zones are planned for the south west region.
  • Innovate UK will remain but based on a grant system with £165m in loans will be on offer. It will be integrated into Research UK (overarching body of the Research Councils).
  • Funding to Catapult Centres will increase.

Reminder of BU’s Bridging Fund Scheme for researchers

Golden gate Bridge wallpaperBack in August we launched the new BU Bridging Fund Scheme which aims to provide additional stability to fixed-term researchers who continue to rely heavily on short-term contracts usually linked to external funding. This situation sometimes impacts negatively on continuity of employment and job security and can result in a costly loss of researcher talent for the institution.

The new Bridging Fund Scheme aims to mitigate these circumstances by redeploying the researcher where possible, or where feasible, by providing ‘bridging funding’ for the continuation of employment for a short-term (maximum three months) between research grants. It is intended to permit the temporary employment, in certain circumstances, of researchers between fixed-term contracts at BU, for whom no other source of funding is available, in order to:

(a) encourage the retention of experienced and skilled staff, and sustain research teams and expertise;

(b) aconcordat to support the career development of researchersvoid the break in employment and career which might otherwise be faced by such staff;

(c) maximise the opportunity for such staff to produce high-quality outputs and/or research impact at the end of funded contracts/grants.

This is a great step forward for BU and for BU’s researchers and is an action from our EC HR Excellence in Research Award which aims to increase BU’s alignment with the national Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers (further information is available here: https://research.bournemouth.ac.uk/research-environment/research-concordat/).

You can read the full guidelines here: BU bridging fund scheme guidelines v1 070815

Nominations invited from academics to join the BU REF Circumstances Board

ref logoThe BU REF Circumstances Board has been established to oversee the individual staff circumstances process for the post-2014 REF exercise. This includes:

  • determining whether individual staff circumstances submitted by BU academics meet the REF eligibility requirements;
  • verifying the evidence provided;
  • calculating the reduction in outputs using the methodology set out in the REF guidance documentation and the ECU case studies;
  • contributing to BU’s culture of equality and diversity.

The Board is chaired by a HR Manager with support from the Equality and Diversity Adviser and a member of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Office. These post-holders will be selected based on their prior knowledge and expertise in individual staff circumstances and equality and diversity issues. Membership will also include two academics and an early career researcher (ECR).

We are now seeking expressions of interest from academics who are interested in joining the Circs Board. Successful applicants will be required to attend meetings of the BU REF Circumstances Board (schedule tbc, but likely to be one or two meetings per year), ensure they are aware of the REF guidance and regulations, undertake equality and diversity training, and promote a positive culture of equality and diversity at BU. We therefore ask for your commitment, active contribution and, most importantly, confidentiality due to the sensitive work of the Board. In return you will be involved in an important cross-University committee, gain an insight into the REF and equality a diversity (both highly topical issues in the sector), and be engaged in academic citizenship.

Nomination procedure:

The vacant roles on the BU REF Circumstances Board are:

  • 2 x academic representatives
  • 1 x early career researcher (ECR) representative

Anyone interested should submit an expression of interest stating your interest in equality and diversity, why you think equality and diversity is important for the REF and why your involvement would strengthen the BU REF Circumstances Board (max 300 words). You must also state whether you are applying to be an academic member or an ECR. Your nomination should state your name, job title and Faculty.

The deadline for expressions of interest is Friday 11th December 2015. Nominations should be emailed to Julie Northam, Head of Research and Knowledge Exchange (jnortham@bournemouth.ac.uk).

Expressions of interest will be reviewed by a panel of reviewers who are responsible for agreeing on which applicants to invite to serve on the BU REF Circumstances Board.

Eligibility:

Applications are invited from any BU staff member on an academic contract, however, you must be independent from REF preparations (for example, applicants cannot be UOA Leaders, impact champions or output champions).

ECRs in this context are defined as members of staff who started their careers as independent researchers on or after 1 August 2015. In line with the REF guidance, an individual is deemed to have started their career as an independent researcher from the point at which:

  1. They held a contract of employment which included a primary employment function of undertaking ‘research’ or ‘teaching and research’, and
  2. They undertook independent research, for example, leading or acting as principal investigator or equivalent on a research grant or significant piece of research work.

 

If you have any queries, please speak with Julie Northam in the first instance.

Nurse review of the research councils – key messages:

sir paul nurseSir Paul Nurse published his review of the UK research councils on 19 November. The full report is available here: Ensuring a Successful Research Endeavour: Review of the UK Research Councils by Paul Nurse. This follows close on the heels of the HE Green Paper (see this blog post for an overview), which stated that it would take the finding of the Nurse review into account alongside feedback received to the consultation.

The key messages of the Nurse review are:

Nurse strongly argues against the merger of the seven research councils.

Instead he recommends the establishment of a new body to oversee research – Research UK, “evolving out of” RCUK. Governance should include representation from government, HEFCE, Innovate UK as well as the research councils.

It’s functions world include:

  1. – engaging with government on behalf of the research councils
  2. – formulation of the overall research strategy for the UK
  3. – cross-council strategy, including best practice in research funding
  4. – managing cross-cutting funds for multi- and inter-disciplinary research
  5. – development and maintenance of research data management systems
  6. – taking on some shared admin / business support on behalf of the councils

The individual research councils should concentrate on providing “high quality strategic leadership to their research communities” in the shape of international quality peer review; speeding up grant assessments; improving reporting systems; ensuring diversity and strengthening links with their research communities.

The dual support system of research funding should be maintained and government should set up a ministerial committee to coordinate strategic research priorities across government.

He argues strongly for the retention of ring fencing for the science budget.

Interesting academic impact stats from Scopus

Scopus logoI wanted to share with you some interesting academic impact stats based on BU’s publications. Looking at the period 2012 to date:

  • BU academics have published 1,888 outputs indexed in Scopus
  • These have received a total of 4,093 citations (2.2 per publication)
  • 20.6% were published in the top 10% of journals (based on the SNIP ranking) (UK average is 26.8%)
  • 39.7% were co-authored with colleagues at institutions in other countries (UK average is 46.8%)
  • 9.7% were in the top 10% of publications most cited worldwide (UK average is 18.9%)

Although BU is tracking below the UK average on these measures, it is not far below and BU’s performance is increasing significantly each year.

For advice on publishing you can speak with Pengpeng Hatch in RKEO or your Faculty Librarian.

Publications