Posts By / Julie Northam

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.

 

RKE Ops and the RDU are no more – welcome the revamped Research and Knowledge Exchange Office

Two months ago we launched the revamped Research and Knowledge Exchange Office (RKEO). This signaled the end of the previous structure and with it the end of RKE Ops and the Research Development Unit (RDU). Going forth we are simply called RKEO.

RKEO is made up of three functional teams:

  • Funding Development Team
  • Project Delivery Team
  • Knowledge Exchange and Impact Team

This new structure mirrors the research life cycle and will ensure that academics get dedicated and high quality support throughout all parts of the research and knowledge exchange process. A summary of the remit of each of the new teams is provided below:

  • Funding Development Team: Support and advice with all pre-award activities, such as horizon-scanning, identifying funding opportunities, developing and submitting proposals, and development schemes such as the Grants Academy.
  • Project Delivery Team: Support and advice for all post-award activities, to include project and financial management of grants and contracts, ethics and outputs.
  • Knowledge Exchange and Impact Team: Support and advice for all corporate-level knowledge exchange initiatives, including business engagement, the Festival of Learning, research communications and research impact.

You can access information on the new structure, team members and the new structure chart here: http://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/contact/

Apply for the Undergraduate Research Assistantship programme now!

Last week we announced the launch of the Undergraduate Research Assistantship (URA) programme and opened the call for applications for positions to run in semester 2 (see Launch of the BU URA programme). The deadline is fast approaching (14th November) 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 semester 2 by competing this short application form and submitting it by 14th November.

HEFCE are looking for views on a potential international REF in future…

HEFCE has published a survey inviting views on an internationalised system of research assessment.

This survey forms part of a project exploring the benefits and challenges of expanding the UK’s research assessment system, the Research Excellence Framework (REF), on an international basis. At the broadest level, this means an extension of the assessment to incorporate submissions from universities overseas.

This follows an invitation earlier this year from the then Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts, for HEFCE to provide an opinion on the feasibility of an international REF. The project belongs in a wider context of international interest in the exercise, on which HEFCE frequently provides information and advice to higher education policymakers and university senior management from overseas.

The THE ran a story about this in April 2014: HEFCE looks at overseas links for research excellence 

Responses are invited from any organisation or individual with an interest in higher education research or its assessment. The survey will be open until Wednesday 12 November 2014.

The survey only has four questions –

1. What do you think the key benefits would be of expanding the REF internationally?

2. What do you think the key challenges would be in expanding the REF internationally?

3. In view of the potential benefits and challenges overall, how supportive would you be of further work to explore the issues in more depth?

4. Have you got any further comments relating to internationalisation of REF?

To complete the survey visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/refinternationalisation

Launch of the BU Undergraduate Research Assistantship programme

I am delighted to announce today the launch of BU’s Undergraduate Research Assistantship (URA) programme. Funded by the Fusion Investment Fund, this programme will offer paid employment opportunities for approximately 40 BU undergraduate students 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 will enable the students to assist academic staff with their research whilst also gaining valuable research experience.

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] URAs 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 2014-15 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) School/Faculty application stage whereby BU academic staff can apply for URA positions, and 2) student selection stage whereby School/Faculty staff recruit to the positions.

We are now accepting applications from academic staff for URA positions for the semester-based programme. The deadline for applications is 14th November 2014. All applications received will be reviewed by representatives from the University Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee, with decisions on which positions to fund announced at the start of December. There will be a second round next year for the summer programme.
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/

REF 2020 update

In approximately 7 weeks we will know the outcome of the REF 2014 exercise. It is hard to believe that it is almost a year since we submitted to the exercise and that the results are round the corner. Whilst the expert panels have been assessing the submissions this past year, HEFCE have been working hard to design and shape the post-2014 REF, currently being referred to as REF 2020. They are currently midway through a review of the role of metrics in research assessment to ascertain the extent to which metrics could be used in the assessment and management of research. They have commissioned RAND Europe to undertake an assessment of the impact element of REF 2014, part of which will include recommendations to the assessment of impact in future REF exercises. They are currently consulting on whether an international REF exercise, rather than a national one, is the way forward. And, arguably the most important announcement to date, they have confirmed their open access policy for the next REF which stipulates that in order to be eligible for submission to the next REF from April 2016 all journal papers and conference proceedings have to be made freely available in an institutional and/or subject repository at the time of acceptance. Outputs not made freely available in a repository at the time of acceptance after April 2016 will be exempt from inclusion.

The Research Blog’s REF pages have recently been updated and you can read more of what we know about REF 2020 here: http://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/ref/

As soon as we know more we will post it on the Blog. Until then we wait with anticipation for the REF 2014 results!

Want to know how to publish a journal article and retain your rights? – International Open Access Week

Then say hello to the SPARC Author Addendum – http://www.sparc.arl.org/resources/authors/addendum

SPARC is The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication.

Your article has been accepted for publication in a journal and, like your colleagues, you want it to have the widest possible distribution and impact in the scholarly community. In the past, this required print publication. Today you have other options, like online archiving, but the publication agreement you’ll likely encounter will actually prevent broad distribution of your work.

It is unlikely that you would knowingly keep your research from a readership that could benefit from it, but signing a restrictive publication agreement limits your scholarly universe and lessens your impact as an author.

Why? According to the traditional publication agreement, all rights —including copyright — go to the journal. You probably want to include sections of your article in later works. You might want to give copies to your class or distribute it among colleagues. And you are likely to want to place it on your staff profile page and in BU’s institutional repository (BURO, especially as this is now a requirement for the next REF exercise – see this post for further information). These are all ways to give your research wide exposure and fulfill your goals as a scholar, but they are inhibited by the traditional agreement. If you sign on the publisher’s dotted line, is there any way to retain these critical rights?

Yes. The SPARC Author Addendum is a legal instrument that modifies the publisher’s agreement and allows you to keep key rights to your articles. The Author Addendum is a free resource developed by SPARC in partnership with Creative Commons and Science Commons, established non-profit organizations that offer a range of copyright options for many different creative endeavors.

Visit the SPARC website for further information – http://www.sparc.arl.org/resources/authors/addendum

Have you got any experience of using this to negotiate your rights as an author with publishers? Share your experiences by contributing to the Research Blog!

LOVE your drafts, DON’T delete them, ADD them to BRIAN! – International Open Access Week

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 have confirmed that all journal papers and conference proceedings submitted to the next REF will have to be made freely available in an institutional or subject repository (such as BURO) upon acceptance (subject to publisher’s embargo periods).

Therefore:

  • A journal paper / conference proceeding that was not made freely available in a repository, such as 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 to outputs published 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 approved 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 is:

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

Code of Practice for the Employment and Development of Research Staff

I am delighted to share with you BU’s new 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.

This is the first time that BU has 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/ 

HEFCE are looking for views on a potential international REF in future…

HEFCE has published a survey inviting views on an internationalised system of research assessment.

This survey forms part of a project exploring the benefits and challenges of expanding the UK’s research assessment system, the Research Excellence Framework (REF), on an international basis. At the broadest level, this means an extension of the assessment to incorporate submissions from universities overseas.

This follows an invitation earlier this year from the then Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts, for HEFCE to provide an opinion on the feasibility of an international REF. The project belongs in a wider context of international interest in the exercise, on which HEFCE frequently provides information and advice to higher education policymakers and university senior management from overseas.

The THE ran a story about this in April 2014: HEFCE looks at overseas links for research excellence 

Responses are invited from any organisation or individual with an interest in higher education research or its assessment. The survey will be open until Wednesday 12 November 2014.

The survey only has four questions –

1. What do you think the key benefits would be of expanding the REF internationally?

2. What do you think the key challenges would be in expanding the REF internationally?

3. In view of the potential benefits and challenges overall, how supportive would you be of further work to explore the issues in more depth?

4. Have you got any further comments relating to internationalisation of REF?

To complete the survey visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/refinternationalisation

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 in early December.

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 2013 and 31 July 2014.

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
  • BS – Corrina Lailla Osborne
  • HSC – Andy Scott
  • MS – Mark Borcklehurst
  • ST – Rob Hydon
  • Professional Service – please contact Julie Northam in 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.

International History of the Radio Documentary

The first open meeting of the Centre for Media History will be this coming Monday, 13 October. The guest speaker will be Virginia Madsen, Convenor Radio at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia who will be talking about her forthcoming book on the international history of the radio documentary

 

Monday 13 October

6 – 7.30 pm

Lecture theatre KG03 in Kimmeridge House, Talbot campus Refreshments served from 5.30 pm

 

Virginia Madsen is a Senior Lecturer and Convenor Radio at Macquarie University, Sydney. Formerly a producer for Australia’s ABC, she was a founding member of the national audio arts programme, ‘The Listening Room’. She has published pioneering essays exploring the radio documentary and ‘feature’, and ‘cultural radio’ traditions. She is currently writing the first international history of ‘the documentary imagination’ in radio, examining forms and developments from the 1920s to the present renaissance. Virginia is Chair of the Management Committee of Australia’s only Centre for Media History and Chief Investigator of the ARC Project (2014): “Cultural Conversations: A History of ABC Radio National”.

 

Introducing the BU Research Lifecycle diagram!

I am delighted to introduce you to our Research Lifecycle diagram – 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.

 

BFX Academic Conference 2014

The BFX Conference “Digital Convergences 2014” runs next Monday and Tuesday on the Talbot Campus.

Keynote Speakers are Professor Lev Manovich, author of ‘Software Takes Command’ and ‘The Language of New Media’; and Professor Sean Cubitt, author of ‘The Cinema Effect’ and ‘Studying the Event Film: The Lord of the Rings’.

This conference intends to present and analyse the convergences that are occurring across and within the genres of moving image, in part resulting from the impact of digital technologies. Through an interdisciplinary approach, the BFX conference invites authors to examine various theoretical positionings with a view to realign the discussion in the light of current technologies. The conference seeks to revisit the arguments that position film, animation and art as aesthetically, structurally and intellectually different.

The conference director is Ms Paula Callus of the NCCA Visual Research Group.

Further information is available from:

http://www.bfxfestival.com/conference/

https://bfxconf.bournemouth.ac.uk/index.php?conference=BFX&schedConf=2014

Say it once, say it right: Seven strategies to improve your academic writing (Patrick Dunleavy)

Whether writing a research article or a grant proposal, it can be difficult to pinpoint the sections and areas that need further improvement. It is useful to have a set of tactics on hand to address the work. Patrick Dunleavy outlines seven upgrade strategies for a problematic article or chapter: Do one thing well. Flatten the structure. Say it once, say it right. Try paragraph re-planning. Make the motivation clearer. Strengthen the argument tokens. Improve the data and exhibits.

I guess every researcher and academic writer has often faced the task of trying to upgrade a piece of work that just will not come out right. Sometimes it’s clear what the problem is, and colleagues, friends or supervisors who read the article or chapter can make concrete suggestions for change. But often it’s not so clear-cut. Readers are cordial but obviously unenthused. There’s nothing massively wrong, but the piece feels thin or unconvincing in some diffuse way.

Sometimes too the problem occurs well before you want anyone else to read your text. If it is a one-off piece of research then maybe it can just be filed for later reconsideration. But often the research plan in a grant bid, or the book contents page crafted a year ago, or the PhD structure devised two or more years ago, mean that an article or chapter just has to get done. Here an unsatisfactory first draft is not just much less than you’d hoped for at the distant planning stage, but instead a depressing roadblock to completing a whole, long-term project.

At times like these it is handy to have a set of standard things to try to improve matters — familiar strategies that you can frequently use, deploying them quickly because you’re deliberately not treating each article or chapter as sui generis or unique. Everyone has their own moves for coping with the upgrade task. Here are my top seven, in hopes that some of them work for you.

1. Do one thing well. Many writing problems stem from trying to do too much within the same few pages, causing texts to inflate beyond journal length limits (often fatal for passing review), or just introducing ‘confuser’ themes that referees love to jump on. ‘I’m not clear if the author is advocating X, or trying to do Y’. Keeping it simple (within well defended boundaries) makes things clearer, so long as your paper is also substantive i.e don’t go from this point to try and ‘salami slice’ a given piece of research across multiple journal articles. A nice blog by Pat Thomson puts this point alongside other common mistakes.

2. Flatten the structure. All articles in social science should be 8,000 words or less and most chapters are similar or verge up to 10,000 words. Given the attention span of serious, research readers, you need a sub-heading about every 2,000 words or so — that’s just four or five main sub-headings in total. They should all be first-order sub-heads, at the same level, and preferably dividing the text up into similar-sized chunks, that come in a predictable way and have a common rhythm. If you have two or three tiers of sub-headings in a hierarchy, make it simpler.

In other fields, length limits are much less — e.g. just 3,000 words for medical journal articles. So the numbers of subheadings needed here will be correspondingly reduced. Each of your section headings should be substantive (not just formal, conventional, vacuous or interogative). Ideally they should give readers a logically sequenced set of narrative cues, about what you did, and what you have found out. You can add a short Conclusions section with its own smaller kind of heading. Also, never label the beginning bit of text ‘Introduction’ — this is already blindingly obvious.

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Image credit: Nic McPhee (Flickr, CC BY-SA)

Many structural problems and inaccessible text are caused by people using outliner software to create overly hierarchized sets of headings at multiple levels, made worse still by adding complex numbering systems (e.g section 2.1.4.3) to ‘help’ readers. At an extreme, an analytic over-fragmentation of the text results, with sections, sub-sections and sub-sub sections proliferating in bizarre complexity. The text can become like the traditional British tinned desert called ‘fruit cocktail’, which contains many different kinds of fruit, but all in small cubes and smothered in a syrup so thick that you cannot taste at all what any component is.

The writing coach, Thomas Basboll, shrewdly remarked that :

A well-written journal article will present a single, easily identifiable claim; it will show that something is the case… The [typical academic] article will consist of roughly 40 paragraphs. Five of them will provide the introductory and concluding remarks. Five of them will establish a general, human background. Five of them will state the theory that informs the analysis. Five of them will state the method by which the data was gathered. The analysis (or “results” section) will make roughly three overarching claims (that support the main thesis) in three five-paragraph sections. The implications of the research will be outlined in five paragraphs. These are ball-park figures, not hard and fast rules, but “knowing” something for academic purposes means being able to articulate yourself in roughly these proportions.

3. Say it once, say it right. Nothing is so corrosive of readers’ confidence in a writer than repeating things. Academic readers are not like soap opera fans — they do not need a thing previewed, then actually said, then resaid, and then summarized. So it a bad idea to take one decent point and fragment it across your text in little bits. If your current structure is forcing you to do this, recast it to make this problem go away.

Simple, big block structures are generally best. Complex structures, with points developed recursively on in frequent discrete iterations, are easier to mess up. Close to every nuance of your own argument, you may well feel that you are thematically advancing, embroidering and extending your arguments each time you come back to a linked point. But readers will just see repetition. So, say each point once— and say it right first time.

This motto also has resonance at the micro-level. Fellow scientists or academics normally do not need points to be so hammered home that every tiny scintilla of meaning has been triple-locked in case some doubt remains. This way lies turgid prose. (As Voltaire shrewdly remarked: ‘The secret of being a bore is to say everything’).

4. Try paragraph re-planning, as discussed in my separate blogpost. This is a great technique for really helping you understand what you have done/got in the existing draft of your article or chapter. Rachael Cayley has a similar approach, which she calls ‘reverse outlining’. The core idea is to start with your finished text and then to resurface a detailed, paragraph-by-paragraph structure from that. Looking at this synoptic view of your whole text, you should find it easier to come up with an alternative Plan B sequence for your text. Unless you are a genius writer already, re-modelling text is an inescapable burden at multiple stages of securing acceptance by a journal.

5. Make the motivation clearer. Give readers a stronger sense of why the research has been done, why the topic is salient and how the findings illuminate important problems. Researchers who live with their topic over months and years often lose track of why they started, why they shaped the study as they did, and what the significance of their findings is for a larger audience. If a text is not working, or not quite working, the author is often too close-up to the detail of the findings, too convinced that the study could only have been done this way and that its importance is ‘obvious’. Being unable to write an effective conclusion is a good ‘tell’ for this problem — an apparently separate symptom that is actually closely linked.

Trying to achieve a high impact start for an article (or a clean, forward-looking beginning to each chapter in a book or PhD) can help readers to better appreciate a motive for reading on. A quick start usually helps readers commit to learning more.

6. Strengthen the argument tokens. At research level every paragraph draws on ‘tokens’ to sustain the case being made — which might be literature citations, supportive quotations, empirical evidence, or systematic data presented in charts or tables (see point 7). On citations, quotes or evidence it is usually worthwhile to ask if your search and presentation could be made more convincing — for instance, by multiplying references, showing evidence of systematic and inclusive search, more methodical evidence-gathering, or simply updating and refreshing a literature search that is now a little dated. People often do a literature search at an early stage of their research, when they only understand their topic rather poorly — but then neglect to do a ‘top up’ search just before submission, when they are likely to be much better at recognizing material that is relevant.

7. Improve the data and exhibits. This works at two levels. First, at an overall level it is important to design effective exhibits that display in a consistent way and follow good design principles. Second, at the level of each chart, table or diagram, make sure you provide full and accurate labelling of what is being shown, and that the data being reported are in a form that will matter to readers — not ‘dead on arrival’.

This post has been taken from LSE’s Impact of Social Sciences blog and is available from this linkThis piece was originally published on the Writing For Research blog and is reposted with the author’s permission.

To follow up these ideas in more detail see this book: Patrick Dunleavy, ‘Authoring a PhD’ (Palgrave, 2003) or the Kindle edition, where Chapter 5 covers ‘Writing clearly’ and Chapter 6 ‘Developing as a Writer’.

There is also very useful advice on Rachael Cayley’s blog Explorations of Style and on Thomas Bassboll’s blog ‘Research as a second language’.

Make Your Voice Heard: communications support for BU’s academic community

There are so many important reasons for researchers to share their knowledge with the wider society. To name a few:

  • Communication of research findings is an important part of the research lifecycle and significant in achieving impact;
  • It’s important that our researchers share their knowledge and insights on wider societal issues so their informed opinions are heard and (we hope) listened to;
  • Having a recognisable voice on your subject matter, means you’re known by policy makers when the time comes to inform a change.

That’s why the Press Office, together with R&KEO, is hosting Make Your Voice Heard on Wednesday 10th September. At this event you’ll learn how to do this as effectively as possible, with practical communications tips and techniques, whilst joining in discussions on what academics bring to media discourse.

John Fletcher has some particularly interesting insights on the importance of communication. You can read his recent blog post online here.

Please book onto this event if you haven’t already done so via this Eventbrite link. There are a limited number of places still available.

Launch of the new RKEO structure

This week is the official launch of the new structure in RKEO. As of 1 September, RKEO has been split into three teams:

  • Funding Development Team
  • Project Delivery Team
  • Knowledge Exchange and Impact Team

This new structure mirrors the research and knowledge exchange life cycle and should ensure that academics get dedicated and high quality support throughout all parts of the research and knowledge exchange process. A summary of the remit of each of the new teams is provided below:

  • Funding Development Team: Support and advice with all pre-award activities, such as horizon-scanning, identifying funding opportunities, developing and submitting proposals, and development schemes such as the Grants Academy.
  • Project Delivery Team: Support and advice for all post-award activities, to include project and financial management of grants and contracts, ethics and outputs.
  • Knowledge Exchange and Impact Team: Support and advice for all corporate-level knowledge exchange initiatives, including business engagement, the Festival of Learning, research communications and research impact.

You can access a new structure chart here: RKEO structure chart September 2014

Key contacts in the new structure include:

  • Julie Northam, Head of Research and Knowledge Exchange, ext: 61208
  • Jo Garrad, Funding Development Manager, ext: 61209
  • Shelly Anne Stringer, Project Delivery Manager, ext: 61205
  • Rebecca Edwards, KE and Impact Manager, ext: 61538
  • General RKEO office number, ext: 68268

There are a number of RKEO staff members who are focused on supporting specific Schools/Faculty – these individuals are shown on the structure chart.

We will be visiting School/Faculty Academic Board meetings this autumn to introduce the new structure and the key individuals who will be working with you at pre- and post-award stages.

Our next RKEO coffee morning will be held on 30th October, 9:30-10:30am in the Retreat, Poole House. All are welcome!

Promote your research internally by contributing to the BU Research Blog

Blogging is an excellent way to share your research, reach new audiences and join new networks (see my previous blog post ‘The benefits of academic blogging – should you enter the blogosphere?‘). You can add your own posts to the BU Research Blog to promote your research internally and as the BU Research Blog is available externally then you get the added benefit of reaching external audiences too. Here are some top tips for contributing to the Blog:

1. Figure out what it is you want to blog about

You may be a researcher wanting to share your research findings, or you may want to raise your profile or find new collaborators. Maybe you’ve read something really exciting about HE policy or research in your discipline and want to share it? It may be that you may want to comment on one of the topical research discussions going on in the sector (such as open access). Whatever your reason for wanting to blog, think about who you want to reach with your writing – be it potential collaborators, potential employers, or people on the street.

2. Get access

If you don’t already have access to contribute to the Blog then contact Rhyannan Hurst in RKEO and she will set you up with an account.

3. Write good headlines

If you want people to read what you’ve written, you’ll have to make them want to. Don’t fall into the trap of typing up any old headline and hitting publish after spending ages polishing the blog post itself. Always ask yourself if you’d click on a link based solely on the headline (and be honest). If you wouldn’t, change it.

Descriptive headlines that tell a reader exactly what to expect often work well. You should think about getting key words in there, but don’t fret too much about search engine optimisation. It’s more important to make actual humans want to read your work.

Google Analytics shows us that the most popular posts on the BU Research Blog are those with interesting and sometimes bizarre headlines!

4. Use the internet properly

Remember to add links to sources, news articles and other people’s blog posts in your own. Use images or video when they are a better way to communicate than words.

And, thanks to the unlimited space online, you don’t have a word count. But as well as giving you the space to go in-depth when you want to, it means you can write short if the subject doesn’t need a dissertation-length exploration. Don’t write an essay just because you can.

5. Promote your blog post

After publishing your blog post then you should shout about it, ideally using social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Don’t be afraid to send the post directly to certain people who you think will be interested in it.

These have been adapted from Kelly Oakes, Science Editor of BuzzfeedUK’s blog post on ‘How to Start a Science Blog‘.