Posts By / Julie Northam

Is interdisciplinarity the future?

There is a lot of talk in the sector at present about the benefits of interdisciplinary research. But what exactly does this mean? The best definition I have found is from a report by The National Academies (2004) – “Interdisciplinary research is a mode of research by teams or individuals that integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines or bodies of specialized knowledge to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of research practice.” (download the full report for free here).

At the HEFCE REFlections event last month there was a lot of talk about interdisciplinary research. Apparently most of the high-scoring impact case studies and outputs submitted to REF 2014 featured interdisciplinary research, and HEFCE are considering making interdisciplinary research a feature of the next REF assessment in which it could carry additional marks. They have commissioned Elsevier to conduct a review of interdisciplinary research with a view to the data feeding into the review of the REF and informing future exercises (read the sides here).

This seems a surprising turn of events, considering REF 2014 took so much flack in the months and years leading up to submission from academics who feared it would disadvantage interdisciplinary research. Ismael Rafols (University of Sussex), for example, claimed there is a systematic bias against interdisciplinarity in journal rankings, with the top-ranking journals covering a few specialist disciplines (read the full article here). In the run up to the REF submission there was concern that it wasn’t REF that was disadvantaging interdisciplinary research but institutions that were choosing not to submit it due to it being ‘too risky’ (see this article in The Guardian). But later articles started to look at how the REF actually benefited interdisciplinary researchers (for example, see this article in The Guardian).

The word from the HEFCE camp is that interdisciplinary research contributes to more world-leading research, as evidenced by it featuring in the highest scoring case studies and outputs, and that further interdisciplinarity is therefore beneficial and to be encouraged. Interdisciplinary research is one of the government’s research priorities and was listed, for example, as one of the UK research landscape’s strengths in the BIS science and innovation strategy.

Major funding initiatives are now more frequently interdisciplinary in nature, guided by the strategic priorities of major research funders, for example the Research Councils UK cross-council themes and the Horizon 2020 societal challenges.

There are inherent advantages to interdisciplinary research that are well known. Findings indicate that it is often in the spaces between disciplines from where innovative perspectives, collaborations and solutions emerge. Interdisciplinary researchers frequently speak of being more interested, engaged and stimulated by their work.

In support of interdisciplinarity, BU’s inaugural Interdisciplinary Research Week is taking place from 11-15 May. It includes a programme of lectures, demonstrations, discussions, and a film, all aimed at showcasing examples of the fantastic interdisciplinary research being undertaken at the University. It is open to staff, students and members of the public so please do come along.

REF update: HEFCE’s REFlections event, 25 March 2015

I went to HEFCE’s (rather cleverly named) REFlections event on Wednesday to hear about the review of REF 2014 and plans for the future of research assessment.

The key points were:

  • Collaboration and multi-/interdisciplinary research are likely to be important for the next REF
  • HEFCE have commissioned Elsevier to undertake a project on measuring multidisciplinary research to inform the next REF
  • The REF impact case studies database went live yesterday and is an excellent resource
  • Dual support system is likely to stay
  • Impact case studies are likely to stay, however, the impact template may change/become obsolete
  • Peer review will stay, informed by metrics in some disciplines (akin to REF 2014)
  • Metrics are not yet robust enough to have a metrics-driven REF. In particular, this is not yet possible for the assessment of outputs or impact. It is possible, however, to rely more heavily on metrics for the environment assessment and there could be changes to this part for the next REF.

 

HEFCE plan to consult with the sector on future plans for the REF this coming autumn.

 

Further information:

BU successful in retaining EC HR Excellence in Research Award!

Good news – BU has been successful in retaining the European Commission HR Excellence in Research Award and is now one of 72 universities in the UK who have successfully passed their two-year review.

The Award demonstrates BU’s commitment to aligning process and practice to the UK Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and therefore improving the working conditions and career development for research staff. In turn this will improve the quantity, quality and impact of research for the benefit of UK society and the economy. The two year review required BU to highlight the key achievements and progress we have made since we gained the Award in January 2013 and to outline the focus of our strategy, success measures and next steps for the following two years.

Key achievements made at BU since 2013 in support of this agenda include:

You can read our progress review and future action plan (2015-17) in full here: https://research.bournemouth.ac.uk/research-environment/research-concordat/

Since 2012 the EC have been exploring a ‘stronger’ implementation approach, including the potential for using quality standards and/or a more formal certification/accreditation process for HR management of researchers across Europe. Recently a new expert group has been appointed to further discussions and Vitae’s recent event, on 23 January, enabled Award holders to provide input into the current five-step process and moving towards a ‘quality assessment’. Detail and outcomes from the event can be found here.

Read the full announcement on the Vitae website here: https://www.vitae.ac.uk/news/72-uk-institutions-have-the-european-commission2019s-hr-excellence-in-research-award

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/.

Apply for the Undergraduate Research Assistantship programme now!

On 1st March we announced the launch of the next round of the Undergraduate Research Assistantship (URA) programme and opened the call for applications for positions to run in summer 2015 (see Launch of the summer round of the BU URA programme). The deadline is fast approaching (20th March) so you will need to get your applications in soon (apply here).

Having a URA working with you has many benefits to both you and the student. These include:

  • Increased opportunity for co-creation between you and the student
  • Increased satisfaction for you and the student
  • Promotion of careers in academia and research to the student
  • Promotion of opportunities for postgraduate study to the student
  • The student will support you with your research

Picking up on this last point, this could include supporting you with undertaking a pilot study which could then be used to strengthen your application for external research funding. Typical duties of a URA include (but are not restricted to):

  • performing experiments and analysing the results
  • disseminating new knowledge orally or in written outputs
  • literature searches
  • presenting results at conferences
  • providing general research support to academics

You can apply for a URA position to run in summer 2015 by competing this short application form and submitting it by 20th March.

HR Wallingford – Careers open day

Are you a postgraduate or graduate student in a relevant engineering or scientific discipline? HR Wallingford (http://www.hrwallingford.com/)would like to invite you to come to an Open Day at their Howbery Park campus to find out more about what they do.

As well as hearing about what they do, you’ll find out about some of their recent research and consultancy projects, and they’ll show you around their unique facilities. You will also get to meet some of their most recent recruits and learn about their experiences since joining HR Wallingford. It’s taking place on Thursday 23 April from 09.30 to 16.00 (refreshments and lunch provided).

There are a limited number of places available. Please contact Sarah Moxon at HR Wallingford (training@hrwallingford.com, tel 01491 822364) by Wednesday 15 April 2015 to secure your place.

Launch of the summer round of the BU Undergraduate Research Assistantship programme

I am delighted to announce today the launch of summer round of BU’s Undergraduate Research Assistantship (URA) programme. Funded by the Fusion Investment Fund, this programme offers paid employment opportunities for approximately 40 BU undergraduate students per year to work in clusters, centres and institutes, under the guidance of experienced academics, in a research position that is directly related to their career path and/or academic discipline. This enables the students to assist academic staff with their research whilst also gaining valuable research experience themselves.

Research shows there is a direct link between student satisfaction and research-based learning, particularly when the opportunity is in their field of study[1], and that the undergraduate student experience is improved by engaging them with research early and often.[2] URA programmes are common in North America and are offered in a significant number of universities, for example Harvard University, Northern Illinois University, Kent State University and Cornell University.

In 2015 BU is offering two modes of the URA programme:

  1. semester-based programme (c. 20 part-time positions running for eight weeks in semester 2)
  2. summer programme (c. 20 full-time positions running for six weeks in June/July 2015)

There are two stages to the application process: 1) Faculty application stage whereby BU academic staff can apply for URA positions, and 2) student selection stage whereby Faculty staff recruit to the positions.

We are now accepting applications from academic staff for URA positions for the summer-based programme. The deadline for applications is Friday 20th March 2015. All applications received will be reviewed by a panel comprising two Deputy Deans (Research and Professional Practice) and the Head of Research and Knowledge Exchange. Decisions on which positions to fund will be announced at the start of April.
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Further details, including the application form, are available here: Undergraduate Research Assistantship (URA) programme

[1] For example: Healey and Jenkins (2011) Linking discipline-based research with teaching to benefit student learning, available from: http://www.mickhealey.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Linking-RT-Handout-Website1.doc

[2] For example: Madan, C R & Braden, D T (2013) The Benefits of Undergraduate Research: The Student’s Perspective, available from: http://dus.psu.edu/mentor/2013/05/undergraduate-research-students-perspective/

Social science research at BU

During the consultation on Faculty structures it became evident that there is an interest across the University in closer cross-Faculty collaboration amongst those whose work is based in or influenced by the social sciences. To this end, Prof. Barry Richards of FMC and Prof. Jonathan Parker of HSS are convening a meeting at 2.30 (note start time) on Tuesday 17th March (in PG11, Talbot Campus) to discuss cross-Faculty collaborations in social science-based research. There are already a number of such collaborative projects underway, and the aim of this meeting would be to explore the prospects for developing existing links and shared activities in a more strategic way. This could create new synergies, raise BU’s profile as a place where ‘4*’ social research and thought leadership can be found, and strengthen our hand in funding bids. It could also have implications for research organization and REF planning.

So if you are engaged in or planning some research which you think might benefit from an environment with stronger inter-Faculty links and a richer interdisciplinary context, or would just like to know more about SS research across BU, do put this meeting in your calendar.

Welcoming our newest Erasmus Mundus TECHNO II post-doc

I am Dr Helmi Norman, an Erasmus Mundus post-doctoral researcher at the Faculty of Science and Technology, Bournemouth University (BU). I arrived here late December 2014 and will be attached here until the end of June 2015. My research interest is in the area of emerging learning technologies, where I am particularly interested in the mobile, online and ubiquitous technologies that can applied for 21st century learning.

Currently, at BU, I am working with Dr Huseyin Dogan on three main research initiatives. First, we are working with the Technology-Enhanced Learning Division under the Centre for Excellence in Learning at BU on creating a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for education technology. The MOOC created could serve as platform for educators in exploring potential teaching and learning technologies for promoting learner-driven innovations. I have been previously involved with a national MOOC initiative in Malaysia and the BU MOOC initiative can further spark new cross-regional research between Europe and Asia in this field.

Second, we are currently studying on social media addiction which is currently becoming a serious issue and we are investigating effective approaches and techniques of intervening with the addiction. Third, we are also currently working on a research about peer assessment using online learning technologies.

Feel free to contact me on future collaborations at mnorman@bournemouth.ac.uk or helmi.norman@gmail.com.  

 

BU has two Erasmus Mundus Academic Partnerships TECHNO and TECHNO II partnerships. Please contact Dr Demetra Andreou if you would like more information: dandreou@bournemouth.ac.uk

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.

 

Who to contact in RKEO?

RKEO has had a lot of changes over the past six months and this guide aims to explain who to contact in the new structure.

You can read more about the roles about all staff in RKEO and access a structure chart here: http://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/contact/

Support with writing your bid and identify a funder/scheme/call:

– For support with developing your ideas, horizon scanning for possible funding, building networks or advice on structure and content, you should speak with your Research Facilitator:

  • Faculty of Management – Alexandra Pekalski
  • Faculty of Media & Communication – Alexandra Pekalski
  • Faculty of Science and Technology – Jennifer Roddis
  • Faculty of Health and Social Sciences – Jennifer Roddis

– For support with EU and/or international research bids you should speak with one of our EU/international funding specialist Research Facilitators:

  • Any Faculty – Emily Cieciura and Paul Lynch

 

Support with submitting a bid:

– For support with costings, internal approvals, submitting your bid, recording it on RED, using Research Professional, etc. you should contact your Funding Development Officer:

  • Faculty of Management – Ehren Milner
  • Faculty of Media & Communication – Dianne Goodman
  • Faculty of Science and Technology – Kerri Jones and Alice Brown
  • Faculty of Health and Social Sciences – Jason Edwards

 

Support with managing your research project(s):

– For support with financial and project management of your research grant, legal and audit queries, reporting, etc. you should contact your Project Officer:

  • Faculty of Management – Philip Leahy-Harland
  • Faculty of Media & Communication – Dean Eatherton
  • Faculty of Science and Technology – Laura Zisa-Swann (Laura is due to go on maternity leave soon and will be replaced by Giles Ashton)
  • Faculty of Health and Social Sciences – Cristina Lujan Barroso

– For specialist support you should contact:

  • Outputs, publishing, open access – Pengpeng Hatch
  • Complex financial queries, budgeting, forecasting – Gary Cowen
  • Ethics, governance and research data management – Eva Papadopoulou
  • Fusion investment fund administration – Sue Townrow

 

Support with knowledge exchange:

For specislist support with KE activities, you should speak with:

  • Public engagement, including the Festival of Learning – Naomi Kay or Harry Gibson
  • HEIF projects and business development – Jayne Codling
  • KTPs – Rachel Clarke
  • Research communications, PR, research website – Rachel Bowen
  • Student engagement with research – Sam Squelch

BU’s research website wins an international award

Exciting news – I am delighted to announce that BU’s research website, launched in January 2014, has won ‘Best Research Website’ in the annual international eduStyle Awards. These celebrate the best work in college and university websites and aim to recognise the most innovative and exciting developments in key areas of HE web development.

The BU research website won in both the People’s Choice and the Judged Award categories – a fantastic achievement!

BU was the only UK institution to be short listed in this category this year. The other short listed institutions were Yale University, MIT, Columbia University and Biola University.

See the full list of winners on the eduStyle website.

The BU research website complements our BU Research Blog which won a Heist award in 2012.

To find out more about how you can contribute your research news to the website, contact Rachel Bowen in RKEO.

BU’s research website is short listed for an international award

Exciting news – BU’s research website, launched in January 2014, has been short listed in the Best Research Website category in the international eduStyle Awards. These celebrate the best work in college and university websites and aim to recognise the most innovative and exciting developments in key areas of HE web development.

Each award is given as both a People’s Choice and a Judged Award. People’s Choice voting closes this Wednesday (21 January) so please do visit the  eduStyle website and vote for BU! To vote you need to register on the site and then vote on the nominees page (http://www.edustyle.net/awards/2014/nominees.php) using the radio buttons.

BU is the only UK institution to be short listed this year and is up against four other institutions – Yale University, MIT, Columbia University and Biola University.

The winners will be announced on 28 January 2015.

New Year’s Research Resolution #4 – update your staff profile page

Happy New Year to you all and welcome back to work!

Each day this week we’ll be posting a New Year’s Research Resolution to help you get back into the swing of things. Today’s resolution is to update your staff profile page.

Our staff profile pages provide an excellent opportunity to promote yourself both internally and externally.  Jo Garrad’s post demonstrates that the pages are attracting thousands of views from all over the world.

The easiest way to navigate to your profile is to open the application (or click on the ‘academic profile’ link from the staff portal home page).  Next, click on ‘People’ in the page header and then on the start letter of your surname.  Finally, click on your name.  Your profile will then appear.  You can also search for your name.

You can update your profile page via BRIAN and fields you can add include:

  • photo of yourself
  • biography
  • research interests and keywords
  • teaching profile
  • PhD students supervised
  • invites lectures
  • qualifications
  • memberships
  • honours / awards
  • RKE grants
  • outreach and public engagement activities
Your publications will automatically be pulled through from BRIAN.

Having a complete and professional staff profile page can help to attract potential students and collaborators.  It will raise your profile externally and will ensure your page appears in web searches.

If you have any queries about BRIAN or the Staff Profile Pages then please direct these to BRIAN@bournemouth.ac.uk

New Year’s Research Resolution #3 – plan your research strategy

Happy New Year to you all and welcome back to work! Each day this week we’ll be posting a New Year’s Research Resolution to help you get back into the swing of things. Today’s resolution is to forward plan your research strategy.

WHY? – To ensure your time and efforts are utilised in the most effective and advantageous way then you should have an up to date research strategy. This should set out a plan of how you want your research to develop, what your goals are for the next year, three years, five years, fifteen years, etc., and the steps you need to take to get there. It should cover funding (internal and external), publishing and other activities, such as public engagement, that will support you to develop your career over the years.

HOW? The steps below will take you at least a couple of hours to work through and could take significantly longer. Working through them, however, will pay dividends as a plan will give structure and objectives for your short- and long-term research career development.

Ensure you are aware of the support available to you and the research strategy of your Faculty. Check out stage 1 of BU’s research lifecycleYour Research Strategy. This outlines the support and resources available to you when designing your research strategy, including support from RKEO, horizon scanning for future funding calls and policy news/issues, and support from the academic development schemes that BU offers. It also provides links to the most recent versions of the Faculty strategies.

 

Start to write your plan. Start by asking yourself what your ultimate goals are. These could be:

– to be the lead partner for a collaborative EU project

– to establish and lead a research centre or institute

– to publish an article in a leading journal

– to be a keynote speaker at a leading international conference

– for your research to result in a change to a national policy

– for your research to result in a significant benefit in the local community

– to land a senior academic position at a leading university in another country

Once you have these listed then put realistic dates against when you wish to achieve these.

 

Then work backwards and identify the steps you need to get there, setting yourself targets to achieve each task.

For example, if your goal is to lead a collaborative EU project then you will need to: ensure you are fully conversant with Horizon 2020 and EU strategy, join/establish a network (ideally to join one that has already had some EU success), apply for some internal funding (via the Fusion Investment Fund or the URA Programme) to undertake some pilot research, apply for small research grants (these help you to gather data and build a track record), engage with business/industry to undertake contract research, KTPs, consultancy, etc (this helps you to build your profile, make connections, build you track record, develop real-world case studies to support your teaching), publish your work in highly ranked journals and ensure your work is freely available (open access publication fund and via BURO), use your network to bid for EU funding with you as a work package leader, apply for a research fellowship, undertake some public engagement work, etc.

 

Set yourself success measures where appropriate and add in specifics. For example, if one of your interim goals is to publish in a journal then identify two or three journals highly ranked journals (such as Q1 journals on Web of Science or Scopus) that closely align to your research field and make your interim goal to specifically publish in one of these journals.

 

 

Review the interim tasks and think about the support you need to achieve these. Would additional support help you to achieve these goals? Maybe an industry-based mentor would help? Add these to your plan.

 

 

Share your plan (or at least parts of it) with those who can support you in making it a reality. For example, share your long-term bidding plan with the Research Facilitators in RKEO who can help you with horizon scanning, identifying potential funders and calls, shaping ideas, etc. Share the highlights of the plan with your line manager and Deputy Dean Research who can help you with time, support and resources.

 

 

Once you have finalised your plan then try not to be diverted from it and regularly check progress against your goals.

 

 

 

 

Sources of further information include:

Elsevier’s Charting a course for a successful research career

Strategic approaches to getting your work published

Academic career pathway diagram

The perfect academic career path (includes an excellent career path diagram from the ESRC)

Winning grant funding and writing papers for publication

New Year’s Research Resolution #2 – Consider open access publishing via the GOLD route

open access logo, Public Library of Science

Happy New Year to you all and welcome back to work!

Each day this week we’ll be posting a New Year’s Research Resolution to help you get back into the swing of things. Today’s resolution is to consider open access publishing via the GOLD route!

Research shows that making your research freely available dramatically increases the number of citations and leads to more people downloading the research papers, this increasing the academic and societal impact of your research.

The gold route to open access is considered at the moment to be the most sustainable method in the long term, and was recommended by the Finch report.  It involves publishing in a fully open access journal or website, or in a hybrid journal (i.e. the paper appears in the traditional print journal and is freely available online).  Authors usually need to pay for their work to be published via this route.

BU has operated a central dedicated budget for open access payments via the gold route since April 2011.  The fund is open to all BU academics and PGRs, and you can find out how to apply here: BU Open Access Fund

New Year’s Research Resolution #1 – Love your drafts, don’t delete them!

Happy New Year to you all and welcome back!

Each day this week we’ll be posting a New Year’s Research Resolution to help you get back into the swing of things, starting with today’s – Love your drafts, don’t delete them, add them to BRIAN!

open access logo, Public Library of ScienceDon’t delete your drafts!  You will hear this A LOT over the next couple of years as the open access movement gathers even more momentum and the role of green open access and institutional repositories is moved to the fore of the next REF (likely to be REF 2020).  HEFCE policy states that all journal papers and conference proceedings must be made freely available in an institutional repository (like BURO) at the time of acceptance if they are to be eligible for submission to the next REF (likely to be 2020).

This policy is summarised as:

  • All journal papers and conference proceedings submitted to the next REF will have to be freely available in BURO from the point of acceptance.
  • A journal paper / conference proceeding that was not made freely available in BURO from the point of acceptance will not be eligible to be submitted, even if it is made available retrospectively.
  • The version made available in BURO should be the final accepted version but does not have to be the publisher’s PDF.
  • This is applicable for outputs accepted for publication from April 2016 onwards.

It is excellent to see the Funding Councils promoting the open access agenda and embedding it within the REF.  Making outputs freely available increases their visibility and is likely to increase their impact, not only within the academic community but in the public sphere too.  It ensures research is easily accessible to our students, politicians and policy-makers, charities and businesses and industry, as well as to potential collaborators in other countries which can help with building networks and the internationalisation of research.

Talking to academic colleagues around the University it is apparent that the normal practice is to delete previous drafts, including the final accepted version, as soon as a paper is accepted for publication.  This needs to change!  Many publisher’s will already allow you to add the final accepted version of your paper to BURO (just not the version with the publisher’s header, logo, etc) and this is set to increase in light of the HEFCE consultation.  Rather than deleting the final version, add it to BRIAN so it will be freely available to everyone in the institutional repository, BURO.

We need to get into the habit now of doing this now.  BRIAN is linked to the Sherpa-Romeo database of journals so you can easily check the archiving policy of the journal.  All you need to do is:

1. Log into your BRIAN account and find the paper.

2. One of the tabs is named ‘full text’.

3. If you click into this tab you will see a link near the Sherpa-Romeo logo to check your ‘publisher’s policy’.

4. Click on this and you will see the archiving policy for this particular journal, clearly stating which version of the paper can be uploaded. Ideally you are looking for your journal to be a green journal which allows the accepted version or (even better but quite rare, unless you have paid extra to make it freely available*) the publisher’s version/PDF. See the screen shot.

5. Click ‘back’ and then click on the ‘full text’ tab again and you will see a link (in a blue box) to ‘upload new file for this publication’.

6. Upload the file and follow the onscreen instructions.

7. Your full text will then automatically feed through to BURO and be available open access in the next few days.

 

*In point 4 I mentioned about paying extra to the publisher at the point of acceptance to make it freely available upon publication.  This is often referred to as the gold route to open access publishing and at BU we have a central dedicated budget for paying these fees.  You can find out about the GOLD route to open access publishing here: Gold route

So the overriding message for New Year’s Resolution #1 is:

LOVE YOUR DRAFTS – DON’T DELETE THEM – ADD THEM TO BRIAN!