Category / BU research

BU on the EU stage

Recent research conducted by a team in the School of Applied Sciences (ApSci) has highlighted the need for a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to environmental management and policy development.  It is a project which is well placed in BU’s movement towards research focused on societal themes and aims to establish how stakeholder values of their local environment can be used to improve the effectiveness of ecosystem management creating stronger links between citizens and policy makers.

This European collaboration is nearing completion. The Transactional Environmental Support System Project (TESS), supported by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission was coordinated by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (www.tess-project.eu) and involved several ApSci staff.  The rationale for this project had its foundations in the move towards citizen-driven environmental governance and policy development.  The aim of TESS was to provide a platform through which biodiversity information collected at a local level can be incorporated into policy development and land-use management.  Could a system of this type encourage local communities to have more involvement in collection of these important data, and a greater role in the maintenance and restoration of their local environment and ecosystem services?

The project involved partnership with 14 other institutions from 10 different European countries. The project identified what information is required by both local land users and policy makers in order to develop effective environmental policy which will benefit both biodiversity and economic development.  The results were tested through 11 local case studies which were then used to further develop the TESS portal (due to go online in the next month or so).  BU’s involvement with the project has allowed us to develop strong, collaborative relationships with a number of institutions across Europe, linking strongly with the University’s desire to become more active on the European stage. 

During the project, the ApSci team, including Prof. Adrian Newton, Dr. Kathy Hodder, Lorretta Perrella, Jennifer Birch, Elena Cantarello, Sarah Douglas, James Robins and Chris Moody, carried out a local case study within Dorset’s Frome Catchment Area.  This case study site falls within the Dorset AONB and includes a SSSI, Local Nature Reserves, National Nature Reserves and Special Areas of Conservation. We were able to incorporate local knowledge and opinion into a novel evaluation of the ecosystem services and biodiversity benefits that might be realised through implementation of SW Biodiversity Implementation Plan. Such strategies have the implicit assumption that working on a landscape-scale to develop ‘ecological networks’ should have potential to  facilitate adaption to climate change, increase ecological ‘resilience’ and  improve the UK’s ability to conform to international policy commitments, such as the Habitat Directive.  However, it is accepted that the cost of the ecological restoration required for such initiatives could be substantial and little work has been conducted on cost-benefit analysis of restoration initiatives.  The work carried out by BU for the TESS project addressed the knowledge gap surrounding the cost effectiveness of ecological restoration approaches to climate change adaptation.

We currently have a paper in review with the Journal of Applied Ecology based on this work. It shows that spatial Multi Criteria Analysis could be used to identify important ecological restoration zones based on a range of criteria, including those relating to ecosystem services, biodiversity and incorporating the values of a range of stakeholders.  This tool could be of direct value to the development of ecological networks in the UK as a climate change adaptation measure.  Such tools developed through TESS may enable future plans for ecological restoration to incorporate local stakeholder values, improving the chances of societal benefits and long-term success of the schemes.

The wider results of the TESS project were presented at a conference in May 2011, hosted by the European Parliament Intergroup at the European Parliament in Brussels.  BU was represented at the conference by one of our postdoctoral researches, Emma McKinley.

Footprints & Fieldwork!

Next week I get a chance to get out in to the field when I am due to visit the Roccamonfina footprint site in central Italy about 60 Km from Naples.  It is quite a well known footprint site and certainly the oldest in Europe.  Roccamonfina is a stratovolcano located north of the Campanian plain and the Devil’s footsteps are preserved in one of the ash layers on its flank and where first publicised by a group of Italian colleagues in 2003 (Mietto et al., 2003; Nature 422).  There are around 56 prints forming three trackways recording the movement of one or more individuals adopting a ziz-zag path as they negotiated a soft and potentially unstable slope formed of volcanic ash.  In terms of anatomical detail the prints are not perfect due to the slope and consistence of the ash, but at 350,000 years old they fill an important gap in our understanding of the evolution of gait which is the main thrust of my current NERC grant held jointly with Liverpool University.  We hope with Italian colleagues to document the prints using photogrammetry to preserve their digital signature for comparison with other footprint sites such as those we found in northern Kenya back in 2009.  Above all else for me it is nice to be let out of the office to enjoy a brief spell of fieldwork!

My last spell in the field was back in December when I was working in Namibia on a much younger footprint site (<2000 years old) which has some fantastic prints and provides a perfect laboratory with which to explore the control of substrate on print formation.  The research team made a short video clip during this trip which much to my embarrassment has just made it to the website in Applied Sciences, but despite my shyness it does give you an idea of what sort of tasks I get involved with when in the field.  You can watch the video if you are interested here: httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZ8Qxsoxh68

I am keen to hear about your fieldwork or research experiences so why not post on the blog about these as well?

Professor Matthew Bennett

PVC (Research, Enterprise & Internationalisation)

Feedback, not failure…

Prof Alan Fyall, Deputy Dean (Research and Enterprise) in the School of Tourism, discusses the experience of receiving reviewers’ comments…

After nearly 15 years of publishing in peer-reviewed academic journals I am sure I am not alone in still living in fear of emails containing the “feedback” from editors and reviewers of journals about my papers. Over the years, the inconsistency of reviewers’ comments never ceases to amaze me, while the often unhelpful and sometimes down right rude tone of some reviewers does make me sometimes beg the question …. why do I bother? After a “time out”, however, often a period of two-to-three days, upon revisiting the comments advanced I often, albeit reluctantly, accept that the two or three reviewers have probably made some good comments and that, if I calm down and just adhere to the questions raised, will generate a paper far superior to the one I first submitted. This is not always the case but more often than not reviewers do actually provide very honest, fair and helpful comments in an attempt to improve the quality of submissions. Yes, they can sometimes be pedantic, over-emphasise their own contribution and state the obvious. More often, however, they will provide a critical overview of the broad theme of the paper and its rationale, the methodology and sampling, presentation of findings and conclusions drawn, as well as an overview of the way in which the paper is organised and presented.

My advice to old and new researchers is quite simple. In the first instance, take a deep breath when opening that email, read its contents and then leave for a while and avoid at all costs a hasty and reactive response that will only make things worse. Secondly, accept that editors and reviewers are only human (well, most of them) and that what they are communicating is their views and opinions which most probably do not concur with yours and more often than not will conflict with those of other reviewers. Thirdly, take all the feedback provided and take time in amending your paper and the reply to editors and reviewers that explains exactly what changes have been made in improving the quality of your submission. Where you still disagree be constructive in your explanation and offer further insights that the reviewers may have missed in their interpretation of your work. Finally, resubmit your paper and promise to yourself that you bear no grudges against the editor and/or reviewers as you can normally guarantee that at some point in the future they will once again review your work and remember the professional manner in which you dealt with their feedback the first time. For me, after 15 years of publishing I am still learning, still amazed at some of the comments I receive and am still ……. slightly nervous about opening that email; a fear which is unlikely to vanish perhaps as we continue to learn and learn from others in our respective academic publishing journeys

Future energy needs and efficiency

Depleting non-renewable resources and limited alternative (heat pumps and solar photovoltaic), renewable (tidal, wind, solar) options of energy generation are posing challenging questions. In addition sustained energy supply and security are important factors to consider.

European Union ministers meeting  in Luxembourg have signalled support for draft European Commission plans for an energy efficiency law impacting directly on utilitieshttp://www.utilityweek.co.uk/news/news.asp . Among other considerations it is noted that “Reinvigorated efforts are necessary in order to reach the 20% EU energy saving objective by 2020.” This is an optimistic, challenging but achievable target. However these savings could easily be topped up with available options and technologies available to us without painful cuts to energy consumption in our daily lives. This should not necessarily mean that energy inlets are to be reduced or energy flow through these inlets is reduced. As both of these are directly related to life standard and output. For example we will have to choose either have a TV or laptop and/or have a smaller TV at domestic level. Or reduced manufacturing lines in the industry or reduced number of industry.

One third of the available energy is dissipated through frictional heat in mechanical interacting machines for example motors, pumps, compressors, internal combustion engines, steam/tidal/wind turbines and manufacturing tools etc. A significant part of this energy is recoverable. This is achieved through mathematically adjusting the surface profile of the interacting surface through which energy is transferred. This key aspect is part of the science and engineering of friction, wear and lubrication; Tribology.

Colleagues in the Sustainable Design Research Centre have expertise and resources in this key and strategically important area of activity and are also actively engaged in the BU initiative within Green Knowledge Economy. If you are interested in this area or would like to find out more contact Professor Mark Hadfield / Dr Zulfiqar Khan. For details please see the SDRC webpage.

Investigating academic impact at the London School of Economics: Blogs, Twitter and bumblebees!


The 'Current Thinking in Assessing Impact’ panel discussion during the LSE impact event on 12 June.

As someone who is still getting to grips with exactly how impact might be defined and operationalised for the REF, I went along to the Investigating Academic Impact Conference at LSE on the 12th June looking forward to learning more about precisely how we could create more effective impact case studies for the REF.  The day was opened by Patrick Dunleavy from the Impact of Social Sciences Project at LSE with the challenging statement that we needed to think about impact as a long-term, integral part of our research work and that simply trying to maximise impact for the REF was a short-term strategy.

What followed were sessions on how to use blogging, Wikipedia and Twitter to help enhance your electronic footprint and to engage with the public in new ways.  Following their own advice, all the presentations are now available, along with blogs and tweets, at http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/presentations/.  On the site there is a comprehensive (200-page) handbook detailing exactly how to increase your citations and how to achieve external impacts and, for those with a shorter attention span, there are some short how-to guides.  These include standard information about citation tools (such as ISI Web of Science and Scopus) as well as more esoteric measures of citation impact (such as the G-index and H scores).

There are also simple tips on how to get more widely read:

  • make sure your titles are informative
  • work on cross-disciplinary projects
  • build dissemination plans
  • have a distinctive name (many thanks to my parents on this one!).

The Impact of Social Sciences project at LSE has created a great resource which means that if you didn’t attend the day it doesn’t matter – the information is there for you to browse and look at anyway.

In the unexpected way that often happens at conferences, there are single pieces of information that are particularly memorable.  For this one it was the importance of the bumblebees!  At both the recent BU Research Impact Event and the LSE conference, one particular case study from the REF impact pilot exercise was singled out for particular praise. This was an elegant case study submitted by the University of Stirling on the conservation of bumblebees which was able to show tangible and far-reaching impact (for further details see http://www.hefce.ac.uk/research/ref/impact/ under Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences).  This is a great concrete example of how good impact case studies might be formulated and from which those still struggling with impact might be able to gain insights.

Perhaps one final message from the day was that, of course, if you wished to have academic impact then the best starting point of all is to have good research to talk about!

Siné McDougall

 

Linking Tourism and Health Initiatives

Dr Heather Hartwell considers the link between tourism and health initiatives…

Some timely news and evidence for a potential strength within our University, we have just been featured in the Big Ideas for the Future, a new report from Research Councils UK (RCUK) and Universities UK that explores the excellent research taking place in UK higher education at the moment and what it will mean for us in 20 years time.

Interestingly we were featured in the chapter ‘recreation and leisure’ where we shared some current research linking tourism and public health. The focus of our interest is about co-locating tourism and public health strategy as a means of developing an inclusive culture where the “tourist” destination is seen to enhance and promote the advancement of both physical and mental health for both tourist and local residents.

Therefore, a research stream of ‘recreation and leisure’ building on our School of Tourism reputation seems to me to be a theme that could have future significance for us, particularly when aligned to our strength in health and wellbeing.

Reminder – 5 day internal deadline for Research Councils

Just a reminder that from 1st February 2011 ULT has agreed an internal deadline of five working days prior to the published submission deadline for all Research Council bids made via the Je-S system. 

If proposals are submitted with technical errors they are either returned by the Research Council for amendment or, in the worst case scenario, the application will fail the initial Research Council sift and be rejected. These problems can easily be spotted by CRE Operations prior to final submission if they have enough time to review the application.  The new internal deadline is in line with Research Council recommendations and will allow checks to take place so that the academic content can shine and give the project the best chance of being funded!

Prof Stella Fearnley’s research into audit committees

Prof Stella FearnleyProfessor Stella Fearnley’s research into audit committees has been published in a book titled Reaching Key Financial Reporting Decisions: How Directors and Auditors Interact (co-authored by Professors Vivien Beattie and Tony Hines).

Robert Hodgkinson – ICAEW Executive Director, Technical, said of the research: “This valuable new research found evidence that auditors challenge management frequently. There was no evidence to support the recent concerns about auditor scepticism or that auditors merely seek corroboration of management views.”

“Public discussion of corporate reporting and auditing is frustrated by the fact that directors and auditors debate issues and take decisions in private. The need to respect confidentiality means that policy makers and the public find insiders’ accounts of what happens bland and unconvincing. The resulting lack of public information is particularly dangerous at the present time when the financial crisis is prompting questions about whether new regulation is called for.”

“Through this book, Beattie, Fearnley and Hines present case studies that tell the reporting and auditing stories of nine  companies based on interviews with their finance directors, audit committee chairs and lead auditors. This research is required reading for anybody who has ever wondered what really happens in an audit.”

Congratulatons Stella! 🙂

You can buy Stella’s book on Amazon.

Developing a successful Research Centre at BU!

We recently visited the Design Simulation Research Centre in DEC and were really impressed with the passion and enthusiasm that the staff and students demonstrated for research. The Centre has recently won the Vice-Chancellor’s award for the best Research/Enterprise Project. We asked Research Centre Director Prof Siamak Noroozi to write a blog post about how this magic happens and a successful Research Centre grows and develops…

Starting from zero.
I did not come to BU to continue with my old research. I came here to develop research that underpins what DEC School is about and to create something that is both interesting and challenging both to me as well as everyone else in my centre. 

How did I do it? And was I successful?
I have come to the conclusion that everyone has a certain natural ability in something. For example, one can be natural at sport or art or music, maths, engineering, DIY, medicine, science, management, leadership, etc.  Whatever that natural ability is, if identified and nurtured properly it can change the person’s quality of life. Not everyone is a natural research scientist, even if that person is working in an academic institution or has a PhD. In the past 30 years I have seen many reasons why people engage with research. Sometimes it is because they are creative, driven and passionate about it. And, sometimes the pressure of competitive academic life and challenges that come with that! 

I found it hard to engage people with a PhD in research that is outside their comfort zone or their PhD topic, but I quickly noticed that within my team there are people with a variety of skills or natural abilities. These abilities were ranging from Implementers, Co-ordinators, Shaper, Resource investigators, Evaluators, Team-workers or Completers/Finishers, etc.  However there were not many Planters. By Planters I mean those who could see beyond their PhD who could create projects that are outside their comfort zone. Those who could create new research aligned with experiences, skills or background of other rather than their own. In other words develop different applications of the original research. This is particularly needed to ensure staff without PhD can engage and register for a PhD. Also to make sure projects do not to re-invent the wheel or, as one may put it, search about nothing.

I realised that research does not take place without PhD students (or legs on the ground) so I had to quickly expand our pool of research students and to team them up with different members/group of staff in my team. I had to engage staff in live PhD projects. This was important as their transferable skills was needed to help students to identify and develop their new and novel PhD project proposals, so that everyone in the team could identify with and was aligned or linked to the individual’s background. That resulted in Projects that everyone could get their teeth into and develop a sense of ownership of the original idea. Also to make sure projects have functional outcomes that inform and under-pin what we teach or that we wish to develop in terms of skill-sets or natural abilities.

Who are the people?
Of those involved in research, some are resourceful, creative and can develop new research ideas. Some do it by joining others or managing other people’s research ideas. But some just can’t engage with research full stop. Why? I do not know. Maybe because they need to be told how, and in research no one can. Also personality may have a lot to do with it. So you come to realise that everyone has a different view or definition of what research or research activities is all about.

So what is all this?
So this blog post is not about who is right or wrong. It is about me having a vision of starting a research centre from scratch, and with limited or no financial resources. Having to find funds or sponsors to get the badly needed PhD students, who are essential to get the job done. To enable a diverse group of people all with different ambitions, agendas, interests, natural abilities and passion to form small research teams and collectively engage with research management, supervision and meetings. To bring about an atmosphere where everyone willingly participate in challenging research that is sometimes, or in most cases, outside their comfort zone. To help them develop their confidence in their ability to lead, manage and deliver on the research objectives and also contribute as a team member.

This is about delivering on my vision which was to ensure:

  • All academics in my centre are research active (if they are willing),
  • That we had the research students to satisfy the needs of all the members of the team I inherited,
  • Support exists for a diverse range of funded/sponsored research projects.

This was also about:

  • Identifying the needs, abilities and strength of the members of my team and exploit them in a positive way to bring about the necessary changes.
  • Showing how one’s passion and natural ability in research generation & research informed teaching can quickly result in the creation of a range of diverse and sustainable research activities, all underpinned and based around the expertise of individual staff.
  • My effort to develop a strong and vibrant and sustainable research infrastructure. An environment that is open, forward looking, supportive.
  • A centre that provides opportunities for everyone to engage with research in one form or other.
  • It is about developing projects that are challenging and have strong industrial or commercial relevance,
    projects that push the boundaries of science and engineering by engaging both staff and students in ground breaking research in all aspects of applied design, innovation, engineering and technology.
  • Developing credibility, respect and competence to engage with our customers who are the end users of our research outputs.
  • Developing collaboration with large international companies through CPD or industrial research collaboration that bring with it financial security as well as sustainable KT & TT activities between University and industry.

As I was working in a design school, the generic research to underpin design was a must in my book. So it was also about searching relentlessly to secure fully funded research students willing to work in this areas and to initiate different lines of research that underpin generic design.

The people in my research centre have different academic backgrounds so I tried to create a multidimensional research centre that allowed everyone to engage and participate in research and be able to contribute. I relentlessly pushed and encouraged people to write bids and apply for research funding. In one area where we had the most amount of track record we developed and submitted a substantial number of bids to various research councils and funding institutions such as the EPSRC, the NIHR, the Leverhulme, the RAE etc.  This was quite a hard work and not often successful. It also had a negative effect on my personal profile in terms of actual research and publication but it had to be done.

What is happening now?
I am now enjoying fruits of my labours, watching how research and the sense of research ownership has empowered individual colleagues and transformed their academic life. I see them becoming more and more confident, innovative and dynamic with their ideas. I see how it informs their teaching and teaching material development. I enjoy watching them engaging in heated research discussions, disputes or debates which is necessary, informative, motivating, satisfying and educational all at the same time.  I think most people in my team appreciate now what research can do for them.

We realise that our PhD’s, when we did them, were the state of the art at that time. But 10 or 20 years later, things have changed and moved on so we must change and move on with it. We have also realised that we learn the most when we are challenged. So taking on challenges is needed if one is to remain up-to-date, relevant and skilled. Only then, as academics, can we educate and equip our students with transferable skills that are relevant, modern and continually evolving. So we are the key in creating talented professionals who can secure the future of this country, through sustainable innovation and the export of manufactured goods.

Research is not just about digging out historical data or creating strong justification. Facilitating research provision and enabling engagement in research activity and creating new and valid and relevant lines of research itself is an art or a natural ability. It is not a project management exercise. It needs experience, insight, vision and passion and not just some basic scientific knowledge, which we all have. You need to be able to translate the ideas or visions into sequential activities that bring about changes in the form of knowledge generation, scientific or technological discoveries and their transfer. Some times this relies on intangible things such as instinct or common sense. A very structured, methodical and sequential person will find research hard and slow and frustrating. But as a team that complements each other it can succeed and we have a lot of examples and success stories that I look forward to sharing with you in the future.

A new story and just off the press.
I recently found out that we have been nominated for the VC award. I attended the ceremony and I was even more surprised when I saw just my name appearing on the list. When I was reminded not to get excited and not to say too much if I win, I became even more nervous and as a result forgot to thank those who are instrumental for us to achieve this. So I would like to thank Philip Sewell, who keeps me on the straight and narrow and without whom I could not do any of this. Prof John Vinney who started this project when we were in Bristol. Also I like to thank Bryce Dyer for his passion for success, drive, enthusiasm and support. As a centre/team (those engaged in research) we all complement each other very nicely and together we are a strong team. That is why we have done well in such a relatively short time.

        

But most of all, I like to say this is not about just me.  This is about all of us as a team (both staff and students). Every day I feel the Buzz in the atmosphere of my research centre and that stems from the diversity of our research projects and our research students for their passion, drive and their sense of ownership of their project. and I love it.
To finish off, I like to say blogging or giving public speeches or addressing huge audiences or writing excessively! are not in the list of my natural abilities. So I hope I have not let the side down by all this.

End of Blog 🙂

Update on the Collaboration Tools for Academics project

This is an update on the ‘Collaboration Tools for Academics’ project that many of you will have contributed to.  The project is being run by Amina Uddin, Steve Webster, Matthew Bennett, Julie Northam, Alan Fyall, Sarah Hearn and Clive Andrews on behalf of the academic community as a whole.  The project seeks to deliver a set of useful services that have been identified by the academic/research community as the most useful  in supporting collaborative work whether it be for education or research.

A service proposal document produced by the project after several iterations is available on the I drive at “I:\CRKT\Public\Research Blog Docs\CTA Candidate Service Proposals 280411.pdf”.  It shows you the set of candidate services that the academic community suggested and explains how we got there. The final section of the document promises a survey to validate the priorities of these services, this has now been completed – thanks to those of you who took part.  The results of this survey demonstrate where there is most concern and interest in support.

Service   Weighting
Install of non-standard software   392
Moving large files externally   296
Questionnaire software   293
Blogs and Wikis   236
Guidance and advice on cloud options   222

We are currently specifying these services in detail and trying to estimate the amount of work required to deliver them in order to plan their implementation.  The project has come a long way since it started with the focus being on creating a tool to enable academics at BU to collaborate with one another more effectively, perhaps via some form of ‘facebook for academics’.  On careful analysis this requirement can be meet by existing services available within the cloud or already available at BU.  The issue was more around documentation and support for some of these services. 

We also have put a lot of emphasis on the importance of being able to find collaborators at BU – the find a colleague or expert functions.  We see these as vital to unlocking the intellectual capital at BU but they have been picked up via other projects, namely the publication management system and the new content management system for our web site.  By the early autumn the find an expert or colleague functions will be enabled allowing you to search for potential colleagues or information within BU more effectively.  The Research Ontology is critical here – effectively the keywords by which we will classify our expertise and interests – and avid readers of the blog will see that we have been consulting on this recently to get your views.

Prof Rudy Gozlan – ‘A Fish Tale, World Preservation and You’

Last month Rudy Gozlan gave an inaugural lecture as part of BU’s Public Lecture series. He discussed the biggest issue in ecology right now – how we going to accommodate another 3 billion people on this planet in the next 40 years.  Watch Rudy’s lecture (‘A Fish Tale, world preservation and you’) on this subject here:  httpv://youtu.be/kK3IsaZ2FYc

New BU Blog poll is published

Many thanks to everyone who voted in the first BU Research Blog poll! This was on whether journal impact factors are a good indicator of quality. Anita will write a future blog post on the results.

We’ve now issued the second poll which you should be able to see on the right hand side of the Blog homepage, alongside the Quick Links. The second poll focuses on academic support for specific research activities (such as writing proposals, managing grants, etc) and asks which you’d appreciate more support with.

Please do take the time (it honestly only takes a couple of seconds) to respond as this will shape the support offered to academics in future 🙂

 

Research Themes – Culture and Society meeting

Prof Barry Richards, Media School, is convening a meeting of interested people to explore whether there is sufficient common ground for a meaningful Culture and Society theme to be defined.

If you are interested in attending please could you let Barry know by email (brichards@bournemouth.ac.uk) which of the times below would be most convenient (or register interest if neither time is possible for you). Dr Rosie Read, Health and Social Care, has drafted a possible prospectus for such a theme, as a starting point for discussion, which is available via the Research Themes section of the Blog (you can access it here).

The options for the meeting are:
9.30 Friday 24th June
1.00 Monday 27th June

Creative & Digital Economy Theme

I’d like to update colleagues on the Digital Hub HEIF-funded project which runs in its current format to the end of July. Picking up on an earlier post by John Oliver of the Media School, the Hub is currently providing a lead on this important theme across the university with colleagues from the School of Tourism, Media School, DEC, Applied Sciences and the Busines School involved – it is by any definition a cross-university project. There have already been several tangible outputs:

  • The Hub has just secured £70k of funding for three projects related to digital tourism and online consumer behaviour – two of these projects are a collaboration between Dr Philip Alford (School of Tourism) and Dr Jacqui Taylor (DEC) and are inter-discplinary projects involving psychology and digital marketing (in a tourism context);
  • The Digital Hub website is up and running with the current objective of building a community of experts around the digital theme;
  • The Hub has also embraced social media and has both a Facebook page and a Twitter feed (LinkedIn is under development);
  • The Hub has two events planned – both aimed at external organisations (businesses, charities, public sector): A Digital Dinner which will be an invitation-only event designed to showcase our expertise around this theme; a Digital Day event on the 19th July at Kimmeridge House which, although showcasing our expertise, will be more of a consultative event and an opportunity for us to listen to what organisations’ needs are around the CDE theme. After the keynotes the central value-added proposition of the event is to feature breakout seminars where Digital Theme leaders will present but also use them as an opportunity to engage with organisations.
  • Both events feature Tiffany St James as a keynote speaker. Tiffany is currently retained by Microsoft, The Guardian, Channel 4 and built the world’s first social media laboratory as a managed service for Euro RSCG London, one of the UK’s top integrated advertising agencies. She is a Special Advisor to the British Interactive Media Association and Advisor to the Speaker of the House of Commons. And as a bonus she is a BU graduate! This will give the Digital Hub at Bournemouth University great profile and form a positive association.

If you’re interested in being involved the BU digital community then send me an email (Philip Alford:  palford@bournemouth.ac.uk)

Flushed with conference success

 The BU Research Development Unit (RDU) walked away from this year’s Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA) annual conference with the award for best poster. With 14 posters submitted to this, ARMA’s 21st anniversary conference, in Glasgow, there was hot competition for the prize.

The posters covered a range of issues across research management and administration. The BU entry, put together by Corrina Dickson, Anita Somner and Julie Northam with the help of the Marketing and Communications team, focused on how the RDU has tailored support for academics in the pre-award process by:

  • customising funding alerts
  • redesigning the internal peer review process
  • improving the quality of Je-S proposals prior to submission
  • providing personalised recognition for funding success.

A pdf copy of the poster is available here.

The prize, which included a free delegate place at next year’s INORMS conference in Copenhagen, was presented on the second day of the two-day event, shortly after the team wiped the floor at the previous evening’s conference dinner quiz!

This success closely follows other recent achievements for the RDU and wider Centre for Research and Enterprise Operations team, most notably their shortlisting for the 2011 Times Higher Education Leadership & Management Awards (THELMAs) under the ‘Outstanding Research Management Team’ category. This was for the work done to improve the management and infrastructure of research support at BU during 2009-2010.

The awards ceremony for the THELMAs will be held in London on 16 June 2011 where the team will be joined by representatives from BU’s Financial and Commercial Services (FCS) as part of FCS’s nomination for ‘Outstanding Finance Team’.

Find an Expert: Further Comments

A while back I posted looking for comments on which research ontology to use in order to drive our ‘find an expert’ search engine both for external and crucially for internal users.  How can we increase collaboration in BU if we can’t find each other and seek out the expertise we need?  The find an expert function will help with this.  To help the search engine we need to classify our expertise against some form of research taxonomy or ontology; basically a list of subjects and expertise.  In the original post I favoured the Science Metrix subject list as a simple solution.  The alternative is the Library of Congress list which is much more exhaustive and Holger Schutkowski (Applied Sciences) has made a strong plea via his blog posts for this with the idea that we could edit this list down to something more managable, essentially removing those subject areas that we simply do not have at BU.  I am keen to take a decision on this soon so any further views would be very much appreciated.  May be there is an alternative ontology that we should consider for example.

Research Themes: A Gentle Reminder

A little while back I put out a call for ‘champions’ to help define the emerging BU Research Themes.  The call was heard by some and posts against some of the themes followed, and in a few cases alternative takes on the same theme have been posted which is excellent.  The idea was/is to get different academics to define the themes using a simple template which you can find on the original post [http://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/2011/05/24/champions-answer-the-call/].  Debate is essential if we are to understand the scope of these themes and help define them further and I am keen for there to be as many different views as possible.  Don’t just leave it to the usual suspects but have your say and help define the theme most relevant to you.  If someone else has posted then post your own views and perspective; be brave and enter the debtate!  We will be closing the debate soon in order to take stock of where we are with each theme.  I still hanker after reducing the number of themes further and one way to do this is by culling those that haven’t attracted much interest.  Towards the end of next week I will try to pull together the different views and provide a briefing document on all the themes.  So please engage and have your say before its to late!