Posts By / Julie Northam

The HE Green Paper and research – what does it tell us?

green paperNot much. The primary focus is on teaching excellence and social mobility, however, it does reiterate and propose the following about research:

  • Government is committed to the Haldane Principle, and therefore peer review and decisions on funding made by researchers.

 

Dual support system:

  • Government is committed to the retention of the dual support system (allocation of research funding via block grants (currently via the REF) and competitive calls (currently via Research Councils)
  • It is proposed to abolish HEFCE. HEFCE’s current remit in terms of research includes policy development and management of the REF and the allocation of research block grant funding.
  • The Paper provides some options for replacing HEFCE and delivering the dual support system in future:
    • Via separate bodies (as per now, i.e. a replacement for HEFCE’s research function and the Research Councils)
    • Via one overarching body (i.e. one super research body that controls both parts of the dual support system)
  • Neither of these are perfect. With option 1, one could argue that this would cause significant disruption in the sector and achieve no benefits to the current arrangement. With option 2, having one super research body calls into question how the integrity, transparency and fairness of dual support could be maintained?

 

Research Councils:

  • Sir Paul Nurse led a review of the Research Councils in 2015 and this is due to report soon. The Green Paper states that this will be critical in informing the final decisions made about research funding in future.
  • The Triennial Review of the Research Councils 2014 noted a number of efficiencies that could be made to the work process of the councils and the Green Paper proposes that these are addressed.
  • Government wants to ensure that discipline specific leaders remain a key part of the landscape.

 

Research Excellence Framework (REF):

  • The next REF will be held by 2021.
  • The review process itself will be reviewed with the aim of retaining the strengths of the current system (such as peer review), build on the successes (such as impact), and challenge the cost and bureaucracy associated with running such an exercise.
  • There is likely to be a greater emphasis on metrics.
  • There is the suggestion of running two types of REF exercise – a full peer review exercise periodically (e.g. every 6-8 years) with a mini REF held between full exercises (every 3-4 years) for which the focus would very much be on metrics.

 

You can read the full document here: Fulfilling our potential: teaching excellence, social mobility and student choice

The Green paper is open for consultation with the sector until 15 January 2016.

BU’s research income profile

Provided in this post is information about BU’s RKE income profile, covering the period 2008-09 to 2014-15. BU’s overall RKE income is increasing steadily, from just below £5m in 2008-09 to almost £7m in 2014-15 (this later figure increases further when the NHS CPD income is added in). Within this, the profile of our research income has changed – 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.

All of this is excellent news and shows how BU is increasing research income, especially from highly prestigious sources such as the UK Research Councils.

If you’re interested in applying for research funding then RKEO is here to support you through the process. Contact your Funding Development Officer early on in the process.

 

Research income graph 2014-15

BU’s research council success rates 2014-15

RCUK logoYesterday Jo added a post to the Blog about the national Research Councils’ success rates in 2014-15. This post is a follow-on from that one and provides the data at BU-level. The coverage is decisions made between April 2014 to March 2015.

BU’s success rate in 2014-15 was a respectable 17% with two bids awarded out of the 12 submitted. In 2013-14 BU’s success rate was 33%, also based on 12 applications. Although the success rate this year has decreased slightly it is still one of BU’s highest annual success rates with the research councils. The sector average success rate in 2014-15 also declined slightly, from 30% to 28%. The successful BU awards were:

  • NERC – Integrated software system for the 3-dimensional capture and analysis of footwear evidence (Prof Matthew Bennett)
  • NERC – X-band radar applications for coastal monitoring to support improved management of coastal erosion (Dr Luciana Slomp-Esteves)

The sector average success rate with NERC was 26%, compared to BU’s impressive 67%.

BU has had more grants awarded from the Research Councils over the past year than are reported here, however, the official stats only show results against the lead institution so successful bids where BU is the collaborating institution are not shown against BU in the data.

BU is especially keen to increase the quality of bids submitted to Research Councils and RKEO run a number of initiatives, such as the Grants Academy, to support you to design, write and structure competitive, fundable research proposals and to maximise your chances of being awarded funding. Anyone considering submitting a bid to a research council should speak with their Research Facilitator as early on in the process as possible. The Research Facilitators have extensive experience of reviewing research proposals and can provide you with expert guidance on how to shape your bid. You can also access guidance documents on the Research Blog here: http://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/researcher-toolbox/je-s-guidance/

Read more about the demand management measures that the Research Councils have put in place here: Demand Management. As the councils are still seeing an increase in applications received alongside declining success rates then there is a possibility that demand management requirements will be stepped up in future. This may also form part of the BIS changes likely to result from the HE Green Paper published last week and the CSR decisions announced at the end of the month. We’ll keep you posted via the Blog of any developments.

BU signs the LERU statement on open access

LERU logoBournemouth University has today signed up to the statement Moving Forwards on Open Access proposed by the League of European Research Universities (LERU), released in October 2015. The document calls upon the European Commission and the forthcoming Dutch EU Presidency to actively support open access policies to ensure that research funding goes to research, not to publishers, by working with all stakeholders to bring sensible solutions to the fore.

no double dippingOne of the key aims will be to stop the practice of ‘double dipping’ whereby institutions effectively pay publishers twice – once via a journal subscription fee and secondly via article processing charges (APCs) for gold open access articles. LERU is calling on the EC to review the business models of open access publishing and cites practices adopted by some publishers that allow universities to offset APCs against subscription costs, thus lessening the danger of ‘double dipping’. The aim of this approach is to allow European research to have maximum impact by making it publicly available immediately and to release funds for universities to invest in further research.

green open accessThe other key agenda item is to achieve greater consistency in embargo periods for green open access. The current situation is that there exist a variety of embargo periods (ranging from six to 24 months plus) which is confusing for authors, readers and universities. The aim is to ensure these are as short as possible to ensure cutting edge research makes its way into the public domain as quickly as possible. There is also currently a lack of uniformity of embargo periods for publishers and journals in different countries, and LERU are proposing this should be standardised.moedas

LERU are currently calling upon the research community to sign up to the statement. To date over 3,000 individuals and institutions have signed up. The next step is for the statement and its support to be submitted to Commissioner Carols Moedas (research, science and innovation) and the Dutch EU Presidency in the first half of 2016.

The impact of the enshrining of the research intensive university

teaching-vs-research-chartEarlier this year a large number of academics across the UK completed the biennial Principal Investigators and Research Leaders Survey (PIRLS) run by Vitae. Looking through the responses from BU academics I was interested to note a number of conflicting responses on the theme of research vs education and which is more valued at BU, as well as in the sector as a whole. Some respondents reported that the primary focus is education, enhancing the student experience, student administration, etc. whilst other felt that research activity is valued ahead of education and that institutional developments over the past ten years have been to the advantage of research.

From an internal perspective I found this interesting for two main reasons:

1. The BU strategy focuses on fusion – the equal importance of education, research and professional practice and how these support and strengthen each other.

2. Is it a case of research vs education, i.e. two separate activities each vying for time, or are these mutually supportive activities?

Looking externally, however, it is clear that over the past 50 or so years the sector at large has enshrined the research-oriented university and therefore the role of the research-oriented academic as an ideal model. We can see this in the way the majority of the league tables are constructed, with research metrics playing a dominant role. We can see it in the stratification of universities with the ‘elite’ institutions being those that are considered research-intensive. And we can see it in the concentration of funding and sponsorship for research that flows into these institutions, enabling them to remain research orientated.

But what are the consequences of this? How does this impact on the HE sector at large?

For starters, it has created a stratified hierarchy among institutions and within the academy where arguably none need exist. Academia has a multitude of different missions that need to be addressed by the profession as a whole. The focus on research as the holy grail devalues the breadth and diversity of universities and undermines the role they all play in advancing society.

Erving_Goffman_128x128Secondly there is a link between the rise of the importance of the research intensive university and the increased managerialism of higher education, i.e. that higher education and research must be efficient and productive and measurable. This as a policy in itself is not a bad thing – high quality teaching depends on research, reputation is built on scholarly output, and reputation influences an institution’s ability to attract students and staff. This favours research-intensive institutions that earn significant amounts of income and can ensure research activity forms a central part (and in some cases the majority) of academics’ roles. There are, however, few institutions where the research model fits and works and it becomes detrimental to those not in the top few as it causes greater tensions between teaching (the bulk of the work), research (usually a small portion of work) and time/energy. I don’t believe that life is rosy for those academics in the top tier of institutions – the pressures placed upon them to perform, bring in more and more funding, produce better quality papers in the top journals, etc. must be enormous. But that is a different type of pressure to that experienced in universities such as BU where the tension between teaching and research and time are very real. Goffman described this tension by stating that it makes an academic career “perhaps as complex and troubled as the moral career of the mental patient”.

Fusion glow edgeI’m not sure what the answer is that gives this a happy ending. It is likely there isn’t one and the tensions will remain, but BU’s fusion strategy and the new academic career framework should ensure that, internally at least, all activities are equally valued. None of the information in this post is new, however, sometimes it does us good to step back from the precipice and acknowledge the tensions before deciding the next step. We need to continue to play the game of the research-oriented university as this is what the sector is increasingly basing itself upon, but we must do it in a way that is right for BU and doesn’t tie us all up in knots. Any thoughts?

Have you been involved with an event designed for the external community?

Then we want to hear from you! 🙂

The University is currently compiling the data for the annual Higher Education – Business & Community Interaction survey (HE-BCI) due to be submitted to HESA shortly. Data returned is used to calculate our HEIF grant.

We are asked to submit details of social, cultural and community events designed for the external community (to include both free and chargeable events) which took place between 1 August 2014 and 31 July 2015.

Event types that should be returned include, but are not limited to:

  • public lectures
  • performance arts (dance, drama, music, etc)
  • exhibitions
  • museum education
  • events for schools and community groups
  • business breakfasts

We cannot return events such as open days, Student Union activity, commercial conferences, etc.

All events that we ran as part of the Festival of Learning, ESRC Festival of Social Science and Cafe Scientifique series are likely to be eligible for inclusion and we will collate this information on your behalf centrally.

If you have been involved with any other event which could be returned, please could you let your contact (see below) know the event name and date, whether it was free or chargeable, the estimated number of attendees, and an estimate of how much academic time was spent preparing for (but not delivering) the event:

  • SciTech – Norman Stock
  • FoM – Rob Hydon
  • HSS – Deirdre Sparrowhawk
  • FMC – Mark Brocklehurst
  • Professional Service – Julie Northam (RKEO)

The data returned is used by HEFCE to allocate the HEIF funding so it is important that we return as accurate a picture as possible.

New careers guidance resources for research staff

career-developmentThis week our new careers guidance resources for research staff have gone live on the Research Blog. They include detailed guidance on how to progress from a research career to an academic career, drawing on a wide range of resources. There is also information on other career pathways, including administration/management within HE and research careers outside of HE.

We will be adding to the resources to ensure they are as useful as possible and will be adding some case studies for different career pathways over the following months.

You can access them here: http://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/researcher-toolbox/researcher-development/careers-guidance-for-research-staff/.

Code of Practice for the Employment and Development of Research Staff – NEW VERSION

I am delighted to share with you the new and improved version of BU’s Code of Practice for the Employment and Development of Research Staff. Research staff in this context are defined as staff with a primary responsibility to undertake research, including pre-and post-doctoral staff on fixed-term and open-ended contracts funded through limited period grants, named fellowships and sometimes institutional funds.

The code provides guidance on the University’s expectations for the recruitment, support, management and development of research staff in line with the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers (2008) and the European Charter for Researchers (2005). It is relevant to research staff and their managers as well as to BU staff in general. It has been written by the University’s Research Concordat Steering Group and is one of the objectives from our action plan to further align BU’s policy and practice to the seven principles of the Concordat and to further improve the working environment for research staff at BU.

When launched last autumn this was the first time that BU had had a code of practice specifically for research staff and the document acknowledges the valued contribution made by research staff to the research undertaken at BU. The further recognition of the value of research staff and the development of career opportunities for them are key matters on which we will continue to work.

Access information about BU’s work to embed the principles of the Concordat here: http://research.bournemouth.ac.uk/research-concordat/ 

Have you checked out the interactive Research Lifecycle diagram yet?

If you haven’t 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.

76,659 unique visitors in one year! A review of the readership of the BU Research Blog

We regularly monitor engagement with our award-winning BU Research Blog using the fabulous Google Analytics tool. Over the past year engagement has been incredible. The stats below are based on the period 11 September 2014 to 10 September 2015 (1 year).

On average during this period the blog received 76,659  unique visitors, each spending approximately 1.5 minutes on the site. The blog is generally much busier on weekdays attracting between 250 and 1,000 unique visitors each day. In total there have been almost 175,000 page views.

The majority of our visitors came, unsurprisingly, from the UK (64%) and over the past year we have received visits from people based in 192 different countries. After the UK, the next ten countries from which visitors most frequented the blog were:

  1. United States
  2. Philippines
  3. Germany
  4. India
  5. France
  6. Spain
  7. Australia
  8. Netherlands
  9. Canada
  10. Italy

Also unsurprisingly the majority of visitors came from Bournemouth and Poole (30.8%) indicating that the blog is alive and well among BU colleagues. The next ten UK cities from which visitors most frequented the blog were:

  1. London
  2. Southampton
  3. Birmingham
  4. Edinburgh
  5. Manchester
  6. Bristol
  7. Leeds
  8. Oxford
  9. Cambridge
  10. Sheffield

This map shows the locations of all the cities from where the blog has been accessed in the past year:

blog city map 14-15

 

Approximately 60% of visitors find us via internet search engines. The top search terms that led readers to our blog over the past year are:

  • sky
  • poverty
  • sport
  • good luck
  • research blog
  • bu research blog
  • environment
  • help
  • ref 2020
  • usa
  • transport
  • bournemouth university research blog
  • erasmus mundus fusion mobility
  • professor matt bentley

33% of visitors are direct traffic, i.e. via the web address, the BU Staff Intranet, or the Daily Digest email. This is excellent as it shows that you lovely people who work at Bournemouth University are using the blog – hooray!

Over the year 35% (25%) of visits to the blog were made by returning visitors and 65% (75%) were made by new visitors (last year’s figures shown in brackets).

Of those who access the blog direct (i.e. mainly BU staff) the 10 most accessed pages last year were:

This is all excellent news. We’re always open to receiving feedback about the blog – please email us at any time with any comments, suggestions, etc, or add a comment to this blog post.

If you would like access to add your own stories and posts to the blog then email Rhyannan Hurst (rhurst@bournemouth.ac.uk) and she’ll get you started!

 

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/.

Launch of BU’s new Bridging Fund Scheme for research staff

Golden gate Bridge wallpaperThis month sees the launch of 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

Have you checked out the interactive Research Lifecycle diagram yet?

If you haven’t then you most definitely should! Our Research Lifecycle diagram is a jazzy new 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.

 

Come to the Impact by Design creative networking event, on 11th July

pecha-kucha-logo (2)Do you want to meet creative people, exchange ideas, create new ones, and find people to work with? Then come along to BU’s Impact by Design event! Presentations will be in a PechaKucha style which provides a conversation starter, a networking opportunity, and an informal night for people to come together, share and draw inspiration. And just as crucially, it’s a brilliant night out! The key to PechaKucha Night is its patented democratic system. Each presenter is allowed 20 images, each shown for 20 seconds – giving 6 minutes 40 seconds of fame before the next presenter is up.

Featured speakers:

Saturday 11th July, 6-8pm, Talbot Campus

To book a free place, visit: https://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/festival-of-learning/events/bournemouth-pechakucha-night/ 

Lightning Talks event – come and find out about the exciting research undertaken by BU staff and student researchers!

lightning talksLightning Talks: An adrenaline rush of research

Interested in finding out more about the research that takes place at BU? Then come to the Lightning Talks event on Monday 13th July. A group of BU researchers and postgraduate research students will each provide a short and snappy summary of their research and its significance. Each researcher has just five minutes to do this. The audience will vote for the best presentation at the end, followed by a drinks reception.

This is a great opportunity to network with colleagues and find out more about the excellent and exciting research that takes place at BU.

 Featured speakers:
• Mastoureh Fathi
• Melanie Grey – brand co-creation: the experience effect
• Marcellus Mbah – the idea of the interconnected university
• Ana Ruiz-Navarro – predicting responses to climate warming of freshwater fish
• Carole Pound – exploring the human dimensions of stroke care
• Simon Hanney
• Michelle Heward – fire safety and dementia
• Adil Saeed – rust in steel
• Kevin Moloney – Media Wars: public relations versus journalism

Monday 13th July, 6-8pm, Talbot Campus.

Book you free place at: https://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/festival-of-learning/events/lightning-talks-an-adrenaline-rush-of-research/ 

Lightning Talks event – come and find out about the exciting research undertaken by BU staff and student researchers!

lightning talksLightning Talks: An adrenaline rush of research

On Monday 13 July, between 6-8pm, a group of BU staff and student researchers will present lightning talks of their research and its significance. They each have just five minutes to do this. The audience will vote for the best presentation at the end, followed by a drinks reception.

Come along and find out more about the research undertaken by BU researchers! Talks cover a whole range of topics, from dementia to climate change to PR.

To book a place, visit: https://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/festival-of-learning/events/lightning-talks-an-adrenaline-rush-of-research/.  This event is part of BU’s Festival of Learning.

Have you checked out the interactive Research Lifecycle diagram yet?

If you haven’t then you most definitely should! Our Research Lifecycle diagram is a jazzy new 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.

 

A de facto Conservative majority – what next for universities?

The following highlights are taken from a WonkHE article by Mark Leach, Martin McQuillan and Graeme Wise. Read it in full here: http://www.wonkhe.com/blogs/general-election-what-next-for-universities/

EU referendum in 2017 – this would have real implications for universities given their reliance on international student numbers and European Union research funding.

Whitehall – there will be a new Business Secretary, and possibly a new HE minister. Where HE sits is uncertain – there could be a BIS and DCMS merger or HE might be moved into the Department for Education. If it remains, BIS may need to find £4-5bn in savings which could affect funding for initiatives such as widening participation. There’s also a potential for tuition fees to increase further to offset departmental cuts.

Immigration – the government stance on immigration is likely to tighten. The Conservative manifesto outlines plans for immigration that would affect universities, such as reforming the student visa system (including a review of the sponsor system for visas), the clamping down on the number of so-called ‘satellite campuses’ opened in London by universities located elsewhere in the UK and including students in the net migration calculation.