Category / Guidance

How to avoid being late

I published the updated late submissions procedure earlier this week.  I thought it might be useful to those applying for funding to have a few tips on how to avoid being late:

  • Plan out your research for the year, five years and even ten years – the RDS Research Facilitators can help you with this by discussing your career progression, the impact you want your research to have both short- and long-term, and opportunities available to support you with your research plans
  • Ensure your Research Professional searches are up-to-date and finding the opportunities for you – RDS Funding Development Officers can help you set up searchers that ensure you get the heads-up on what’s coming up
  • Look for schemes where there are multiple calls and plan realistically for the call deadline that suits you – you don’t have to go for the one in two weeks’ time when there is another in 3 months’ time
  • Look for opportunities to ‘attend’ funder town meetings/information days for specific calls/ schemes – not only are these great opportunities to get a heads up on what calls are coming out soon but it is also an opportunity to network and find potential research collaborations. Most of these will now be online, making attendance easier
  • If you require partners to support your research, ensure these are in place and on board with your plans before considering applying. Similarly, ensure your research team are in place and can support you with the application preparation
  • Don’t put yourself under unnecessary pressure – start writing down your case for support and research ideas before looking for the right funding opportunity
  • Talk to your HoD and peers about what you want to achieve – they will be able to offer you support and can provide peer review
  • Take up the opportunities available under the RKEDF to help you with application writing
  • Get all those involved in a proposal on board before writing, especially if the funder has e-submission. Ensure investigators are registered on the e-submission sites; ensure CVs are updated for all those required; ensure letters of support from partners include a recent date, are on headed paper, and are signed; and make sure that any BU letters of support are drafted and that those who will sign it know what your application is about and what support you’re asking BU for.
  • TIME – this is the biggest thing you need! – to ensure your application stands a good chance of success you need to think through your objectives and ensure they’re well defined, make your hypothesis clear, consider the impact of your research, include relevant preliminary data, tell a compelling story, and justify your methods.  See the 12 top tips for writing a grant application provided by the MRC when they visited BU in 2017.

We’re here to support you and so do get in touch with your RDS colleagues as soon as you have an idea

Procedures for late submission of external research and KE applications

The procedures for late submissions of external research and knowledge exchange applications has been updated in line with strategic guidance from UET to ensure that quality applications are submitted and adhere to BU’s financial regulations. The updated procedure can be found on the staff intranet here. The Faculty Executive Deans and Deputy Deans for Research and Professional Practice have provided input and their support to the procedure.

RDS will endeavour to support and submit all applications where possible. We recognise that some funders will give short-notice of a call and that there may be other circumstances where sufficient notice cannot be given. However, all applications, regardless of time to submit, have to go through the same costing and approval process and there is an expectation that only good quality and competitive applications should be submitted. Applicants should also note that time has to be factored in for Faculty Executives and/or UET to read and sign-off final submissions (these are busy people who spend a lot of time in meetings). RDS will be flexible where we can for those exceptional cases.

If you have any queries then please contact Jo Garrad, RDS Funding Development Manager.

InnovateUK Smart Grants: Internal Deadlines

The current round of the Innovate UK Smart grant call has a submission deadline of 25 November 2020 at 11.00 am.

Due to the volume of bids that are received by RDS in every round, the internal deadlines will be strictly applied to ensure that the pre-award team can provide all interested academics with optimal support in a timely manner.

Innovate UK has provided guidance for academic partners participating in proposed Smart grant projects.

INTERNAL DEADLINES


21 October, close of business*
Intention to Bid forms to be submitted to your Faculty Funding Development Officer (FDO).

28 October at 12 noon
Completed Due Diligence form and draft application to be sent to FDO.
Costing to be finalised with FDO.

This will enable the FDO to move the bid to the next step of internal approvals, which is the review by Legal Services and Finance.
This Legal Services/Finance step is required before the approval request can be sent to the Dean and the University Executive Team.

17 November, close of business
PI to complete all Je-s form sections, upload all required attachments and submit on Je-s.

18 – 24 November
PI and FDO to work on final checks of the Je-s application to get it submission-ready.

24 November
Latest date for FDO to officially submit on Je-s, pdf the Je-s form and forward to the Lead.

25 November
Lead to submit the main application on the Innovation Funding Service by 11.00am.


*Where ITB forms are received after 21 October 2020, they will be moved automatically to the next round or alternatively, RDS will work with you to find another funding opportunity.

Unfortunately, if any of the internal deadlines above are not followed, the bid cannot proceed as approvals will not be obtained on time.

Please fully consider this timeframe and if you wish to submit, please commit to being available to work with your FDO to support you through the internal approval process.

If you have any queries, please contact Ehren Milner, the Research Facilitator for Industrial Collaborations.

HE policy update for the w/e 10th September 2020

We thought it might be a quiet week, this week, but we were wrong.  The DfE has started the new academic year with a bang, and the Ofs are going to be busy.

So we are back properly to our weekly schedule although with a bit of flexibility on days of the week.

International student visas

The Home Office have made an announcement about student visas.  The new international student immigration route is opening early, from 5th October to allow the “best and brightest” to apply for a visa under the new points based system.  That includes EU students.  This will mean that “as a result of coronavirus, some overseas students are choosing to defer their entry onto courses in the UK until the spring semester of 2021. Introducing these new routes now means that students will be able to benefit from the new streamlined process whilst still giving sponsors time to adapt after their autumn intake”.

The Secretary of State and the Minister for Universities speak

Gavin Williamson has been speaking to UUK.  He starts with a bouquet of praise and thanks for the sector and almost an apology for the extra work on admissions this year, although not quite.  There was always going to be a “but…”.

First he wanted to “land three key messages” related to the pandemic:

  • Keep going – and he looks forward to working with us all as the situation evolves over the autumn term
  • The importance of collaboration – specifically with local authorities.
  • And to stay alert, which includes comms to students and keeping them at uni rather than sending them home if there are local restrictions

And then the “but”.  It starts nicely:

  • Too often, there can be an implicit narrative that every university needs to measure itself against Oxbridge. That if a university isn’t winning Nobel prizes and taking in triple A students it is somehow second rate.
  • In reality, it is the diversity of our sector which will drive the levelling up agenda that is central to everything this Government does.

But…

  • There are still pockets of low quality. One only has to look at the Guardian subject league tables to see there are too many courses where well under 50% of students proceed to graduate employment.
  • But more fundamentally, in order to create a fairer, more prosperous and more productive country, we need to reverse the generational decline in higher technical education.
  • We have already announced that, over the next few years, we will be establishing a system of higher technical education where learners and employers can have confidence in high-quality courses that provide the skills they need to succeed in the workplace, whether they are taught in a further education college, a university or an independent training provider.
  • Of course, a large proportion of this will be delivered in our great further education colleges, but what I also want to see is for universities to end their preoccupation with three-year bachelors’ degrees and offer far more higher technical qualifications and apprenticeships. These would be more occupation focused and provide a better targeted route for some students, and benefit employers and the economy.

Again, none of this is new, he has been completely consistent.  It will be interesting to see how the sector responds.

Michelle Donelan

There was a double act at UUK this morning, as the Universities Minister also spoke.

Again, lots of thanks and different examples too.  I want to say a special thank you. Thank you for bending over backwards to unlock the dreams and opportunities of this year’s cohort.

Her speech is mostly about the bureaucracy reduction announcements set out below.  But in return for this her speech also has a “but”.  Her but is also consistent with what we have heard before.  She wants:

  • readily accessible bitesized learning for people looking to upskill and reskill…. and also foster a culture of lifelong learning”.

And it comes with a carrot – or a stick – hard to tell which:

  • You will remember that the Augar review looked in detail at flexible learning and argued for widespread changes to the organisation and funding of higher education to enable that flexibility. And we will respond in parallel with the Spending Review. Rest assured, the global pandemic has not and will not throw us off course.”

Her last point was about mental health, and the need for on-going support.

Bonfire of the metrics (and general reduction of bureaucracy)

The OfS were due to review the NSS this year, and of course we are also waiting (and have been waiting for ever, it seems) for the government response to the Pearce review of the TEF.  But the DfE have gone early.  In a move which confirms what we and everyone else has been saying all summer, the DFE have confirmed that they only really care about outcomes (and continuation) and asked the OfS to do a serious review of the NSS by the end of the year.

The announcement is here.  It is much broader than just the NSS, and there are some really interesting developments, so we will set them all out by area.

Starting with the Office for Students

The measures outlined below are a combination of decisions taken by the OfS to help achieve those aims, and changes that DfE would like the OfS to implement. DfE will be following up this policy document with strategic guidance to the OfS,”

  • Enhanced monitoring – the OfS intends to report to the DfE within 3 months on how it is reducing its use of enhanced monitoring
  • Data futures – OfS has agreed to review the proposed termly data collection to make sure it is proportionate – also looking at making data collection more timely. Due by end October with final decisions alongside an OfS data strategy in April.
  • Random sampling – the OfS has suspended this
  • No further regulatory action on student transfers – this was a “big issue” in the original Jo Johnson Green/White Paper – students were being prevented or discouraged from transferring, apparently. The OfS has decided to review their current requirements for monitoring and consult on changes – but the headline suggests they won’t get more onerous.
  • The announcement welcomes the already announced decision to make estates and non-academic data collected by HESA optional.
  • Review of TRAC (T). The Transparent Approach to Costing for Teaching.  This data was used by Augar to attack fees and the announcement recognises that the government have used it to look at efficiency.  The OfS have been asked to review it because the sector have said that it is “disproportionately burdensome”.  This year’s return has been cancelled.  A “way forward” for the review is due by October alongside the UKRI review of the other stream of TRAC (see below).
  • Review of the transparency condition – this is the monitoring data provided to the OfS relating to offers and acceptable, completion and outcomes, including by gender, ethnicity and background. The OfS have said that they will explore if the amount of information requested can be reduced and replaced by other sources, and the DfE are “pleased” with that.  Due by end October.
  • Reduction in OfS fees – the OfS have to review their own efficiency with a view to reducing fees, and to help them along the government’s review of fees (which are set by the Secretary of State) will take place this Autumn instead of next year. The QAA and HESA are expected to reduce their fees too.

So, the NSS.  Hold on to your hats – these statements are bold!

  • We have asked the OfS to undertake a radical, root and branch review of the National Student Survey (NSS)…..Since its inception in 2005, the NSS has exerted a downwards pressure on standards within our higher education system, and there have been consistent calls for it to be reformed. There is valid concern from some in the sector that good scores can more easily be achieved through dumbing down and spoon-feeding students, rather than pursuing high standards and embedding the subject knowledge and intellectual skills needed to succeed in the modern workplace. These concerns have been driven by both the survey’s current structure and its usage in developing sector league tables and rankings. While government acknowledges that the NSS can be a helpful tool for providers and regulators, we believe its benefits are currently outweighed by these concerns. Further, its results do not correlate well with other, more robust, measures of quality, with some of the worst courses in the country, in terms of drop-out rates and progression to highly skilled employment, receiving high NSS scores. Accordingly, the extensive use of the NSS in league tables may cause some students to choose courses that are easy and entertaining, rather than robust and rigorous.
  • The government shares concerns raised by some in the sector that, in its current form, the NSS is open to gaming, with reports of some institutions deliberately encouraging their final year students to answer positively with incentives or messaging about their future career prospects. Academics have also criticised the cost and bureaucracy the NSS creates, arguing that the level of activity it generates can be a distraction from more important teaching and research activities. There is a sense that the level of activity it drives in universities and colleges has become excessive and inefficient. For example, we are aware that some providers employ analysts to drill down into NSS performance, in some cases at module level, and investigate any sub-par performance.
  • Student perspectives do play a valuable role in boosting quality and value across the sector, but there is concern that the benefits of this survey are currently outweighed by the negative behaviours and inefficiencies it drives. Universities must be empowered to have the confidence to educate their students to high standards rather than simply to seek ‘satisfaction’.

Now, many people will agree with at least some of that.  The sector blows hot and cold on the NSS – heavily critiquing its use in the TEF, then worrying that there was no voice for students when it was diluted in later iterations.  Many have criticised it for being subjective and unhelpful (so not so much a criticism of the survey as a tool for driving improvements, as a criticism of its inclusion in the TEF and league tables) – but that was a case of the TEF using the metrics that they had, because there wasn’t anything else.  Lots of people have criticised the methodology, despite the reviews that have been carried out before.  Some universities have had consistent boycotts (Oxbridge).

But don’t think that abolishing it will mean that we can stop worrying about the underlying issues.  The OfS have been asked (by the end of the calendar year!) to:

…undertake a radical, root and branch review of the NSS, which:

  • reduces the bureaucratic burden it places on providers
  • ensures it does not drive the lowering of standards or grade inflation
  • provides reliable data on the student perspective at an appropriate level, without depending on a universal annual sample
  • examines the extent to which data from the NSS should be made public
  • ensures the OfS has the data it needs to regulate quality effectively
  • will stand the test of time and can be adapted and refined periodically to prevent gaming

Expectations are high.  No annual survey and yet reliable data….that reduces the bureaucratic burden, and prevents gaming and avoids lowering standards and grade inflation.  Notably there are no positive suggestions about what a new approach actually will achieve other than “reliable data on the student perspective”.  You might ask perspective on what?  Not satisfaction, it seems, or even experience, but “quality and value”.   It sounds like getting rid of it completely is on the table, replacing it with something else that isn’t a survey at all.  But what?  So this is your moment.  What is the best way to get “reliable data on the student perspective”.  We look forward to engaging with staff across BU on the inevitable OfS call for evidence.

Obviously the OfS have responded to all this.  They seem to think that they will be keeping the survey.  Maybe the requirement to avoid an annual universal sample means just that – not annual, not everyone, just a sample?

  • ‘On the NSS, our review will seek to reduce any unnecessary bureaucracy, prevent any unintended consequences and gaming of the survey, whilst ensuring that the NSS stands the test of time as an important indicator of students’ opinions and experiences at every level.

UKRI and BEIS

UKRI are being asked to make a lot of changes

Selection

  • simplify eligibility criteria for bidding
  • streamline grant schemes
  • streamlined two stage application process for grants – only necessary information provided at each stage
  • single format for CVs
  • “brand new, fully digital, user-designed, applicant-focused and streamlined grants application system with the first pilot launched in August”
  • single information document for a call rather than lots

Assurance and outcomes

  • harmonising reporting
  • reducing the number of questions and making it “minimally demanding”
  • enhance risk based funding assurance approach to reduce the burden and assure an organisation not individual projects
  • review end of award reporting

Other things

  • provide additional independent challenge (on costs and bureaucracy)
  • Stop multiple asks for information that already exists
  • review TRAC (as mentioned above)

NIHR

The NIHR are congratulated for already taking a number of steps to reduce the burden on researchers.  Now there are a set of new commitments to take this further.

  • Will consider ways of making peer review more proportionate
  • “will immediately delete clauses which place obligations on research institutions which add limited value to the general research endeavour and end user from the standard NIHR contract”
  • “review eligibility criteria for all funding streams including requirements for compliance with charters and concordats”
  • Will drop the requirement for Silver Athena Swan – but instead “We will expect organisations that apply for any NIHR funding to be able to demonstrate their commitment to tackling disadvantage and discrimination in respect of the nine protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act (2010). These are: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation” [that sounds like more not less bureaucracy….]
  • “NIHR currently obliges researchers, through a standard contractual provision, to notify DHSC of all publications associated with their research. ….This contractual clause will be deleted for almost all new contracts from 1st August 2020 “

Reductions in providers’ internal bureaucracy

What could this mean?  Well:

  • We …expect providers to ensure reductions in government or regulator imposed regulatory activity are not replaced with internal bureaucracy. In addition, we want them to go even further to enable academics to focus on front line teaching and research: stripping out their existing unnecessary internal bureaucracy, layers of management and management processes. [now that interesting, we flagged it a few weeks ago because it featured in the introduction to the financial restructuring document as an objective…but it is still unclear how this should be implemented – and one person’s internal bureaucracy is another person’s sensible internal control measure]
  • There are a wide variety of organisations which offer voluntary membership awards or other forms of recognition to support or validate an organisation’s performance in particular areas. …. Such schemes can be helpful but can also generate large volumes of bureaucracy and result in a high cumulative cost of subscriptions. Where a university believes that membership of such schemes are genuinely the best way of addressing a matter, it is of course free to do so, but in general universities should feel confident in their ability to address such matters themselves and not feel pressured to take part in such initiatives to demonstrate their support for the cause the scheme addresses. [from the points made above, that probably includes Athena Swan – what else?]
  • We will engage with the sector, and in partnership with research funding bodies across the UK, to tackle the broader issues that are often causes of unnecessary bureaucracy. [Like what?]
  • This is also an opportunity to shift the research sector to more modern methods of research, which will help cut red tape too. This means embracing modern methods of peer review and evaluation. It also means tackling the problematic uses of metrics in research and driving up the integrity and reproducibility of research. Crucially, we must embrace the potential of open research practices.

David Kernohan was quick to respond on Wonkhe.  One thing he points out is that the government are correct that the NSS does not correlate with highly skilled employment or outcomes.  But he points out that the government’s favourite two metrics don’t correlate with each other either  – and of course why would they.

Brexit

Have you missed it?

As you know, the trade deal with the EU has to be done by the end of the year because that is when the transitional period ends.  It could have been extended, but the deadline to request an extension was 30th June 2020 – and there was no way this government (with its large majority all signed up to a possible no deal Brexit) was going to ask for an extension.

The deadline for a deal has similarly been a bit flexible – of course, and despite all the talk of dates, the most real deadline is 31st December.  Originally it had been suggested that the deal needed to be done by July to allow for ratification – now both sides are saying that the EU leaders’ meeting on 15th October is the deadline.  But no-one will really be surprised if it carries on after that.  The withdrawal agreement was sorted in October last year, as you will remember and was then approved by Parliament in December 2020, receiving royal assent in January, just days before the UK left the EU on 31st January.  It was close.  The draft legislation wasn’t even published during all the backwards and forwards before the election, because it was such a hostage to fortune for the May government.  Then Boris negotiated changes to the withdrawal agreement and “got it done”, just in time.

So, the government are getting ahead.  Hence all the fuss about the new draft bill. Press coverage has been very excitable, especially as the NI Secretary confirmed in Parliament before it was published that the new law will “breach international law in a specific and limited way”.  As many are saying, that is not usually a defence (“sorry officer, but I only [insert criminal offence of choice here] in a specific and limited way”).  You can read the Hansard extracts here.

The Internal Markets Bill was published yesterday.  If you want to read it, it is here, which is where you will also find all the amendments etc. as it goes through.

The Institute for Government have a short blog here:

  • The bill would give ministers powers to make regulations about state aid and customs procedures for trade from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, and would allow ministers to make regulations inconsistent with the UK’s obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement.
  • The existence of those powers is a breach of Article 4 of the Withdrawal Agreement, which provides that the UK must use primary legislation to give full effect to the Withdrawal Agreement in domestic law.
  • However, unless the powers were actually used, the UK would not be in breach of the state aid and customs provisions of the Northern Ireland protocol.

So that answers that question.

And also:

  • Perhaps more extraordinary than the bill’s provisions on international law are those on domestic law. Under s45(4)(g) of the bill, regulations made by the minister on state aid or customs declarations would have legal effect notwithstanding their incompatibility with “any rule of international or domestic law whatsoever”.
  • This appears to be an attempt to oust the jurisdiction of the courts to review the legality of ministerial decisions under these powers at all.
  • Such clauses are rare, and they rarely work. The courts have repeatedly found ways of reviewing government decisions even where similar clauses have tried to keep them out of the picture.
  • That is because the judges consider them an affront both to the rule of law and to parliamentary sovereignty. “It is a necessary corollary of the sovereignty of Parliament,” the Supreme Court said in a case on this issue last year, “that there should exist an authoritative and independent body which can interpret and mediate legislation made by Parliament.”
  • Section 45 of this bill will make uncomfortable reading for anyone who believes in the principle that governments are subject to the law, at home and abroad. It requires careful scrutiny in parliament.

The other concerns are about timing.  We can look forward to the arguments being aired in full over the next two weeks.

So what is the issue?

From the BBC:

  • The UK and EU settled on the Northern Ireland Protocol. This would see Northern Ireland continue to follow some EU customs rules after the transition period – meaning customs declarations would be needed for goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, as well as some new checks on goods going from Great Britain into Northern Ireland.
  • It was unpopular with some sections of the Tory backbenches and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party – which had been supporting the government until that point. But the agreement was passed through Parliament and the Northern Ireland Protocol became part of the international treaty.

You will remember all this, because the PM said there would be no checks, and then the government said well actually there would, etc…..

From the BBC again:

  • Downing Street said one thing it would do is allow ministers to unilaterally decide what particular goods were “at risk” of entering the EU when passing between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and therefore subject to EU tariffs.
  • The law would also give ministers the powers to scrap export declarations on goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain and would make it clear that EU state aid requirements – where governments give financial support to homegrown businesses – would only apply in Northern Ireland.
  • But the government insists the bill only introduces “limited and reasonable steps” to “remove ambiguity” – not “overriding” the withdrawal agreement, as government sources had suggested on Sunday.

We will see.  Maybe they are just making sure that there is time for proper Parliamentary scrutiny this time, by publishing something technical in good time rather than waiting for October when the deal is finalised and there is no time to discuss it properly.  Or maybe it is sabre rattling.  And why might they need to sabre-rattle?  Because, apart from the NI border issue, there are also a couple of (unsurprising) issues outstanding in the main trade deal negotiations with the EU.

One is fishing rights, which was always going to be tricky.  You will recall that at one point it nearly derailed the discussions last year when France and Spain demanded extra concessions at the last minute.  There is an Institute for Government article from March and a  Guardian article (from June).

And the other issue is state aid – the rules about supporting domestic businesses, which are seen as anti-competitive.  There is an FT article on that.

We can expect a lot more rhetoric, bitterness, and positioning over the next few weeks.  It is clear that the deal won’t be done until it is done, and also that all the other bits, like research collaboration and participation in Erasmus, are dependent on there being a deal at all.  So we’ll just have to wait and see.

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HRA UPDATE: guidance on undergraduate and master’s research projects

Please see below for an update from the Health Research Authority surrounding the review of undergraduate and master’s research projects.

‘Back in March the HRA and devolved administrations announced we had decided to stop reviewing applications for individual undergraduate and master’s student projects until further notice while we prioritised the urgent review of COVID-19 studies. This was also due to the significant pressure on the NHS/HSC, limiting its ability to participate in research studies unrelated to COVID-19.

As the lockdown eases, we wanted to update students, supervisors and HEIs on our current position in relation to student research and ethics review. For now, our existing position of not reviewing applications for individual undergraduate and master’s student projects will remain in place. This means that any student project requiring approvals will not be able to proceed. Any students with approved studies are reminded to check with the relevant NHS/HSC organisations locally about whether or not their projects may continue.

In the autumn we will publish our proposed new guidelines for student research for consultation in use. Students, research supervisors and HEIs will be invited to share their opinions and help shape our framework.

You can find more information on our current position on our website: https://www.hra.nhs.uk/planning-and-improving-research/research-planning/student-research/

HRA launch new ‘Make It Public’ strategy

The Health Research Authority have launched a new strategy to ensure information about all health and social care research – including COVID-19 research – is made publicly available to benefit patients, researchers and policy makers. The new strategy aims to build on this good practice and make it easy for researchers to be transparent about their work.

You can read the announcement here.

For further information on the strategy itself you can take a look at the dedicated page on the HRA website.

 

Due Diligence: International Research Collaborations & Partnerships – Best practice guidance

The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) has provided guidance on due diligence regarding the legitimacy of international research collaborators and partners.

We recommend that academics wishing to apply for research funding with collaborators and partners, particularly those out of the UK, should peruse this guidance.

Typical calls requiring such collaborations include funding opportunities that involve the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), the Newton Fund and many others.

When you have fully considered this guidance when developing your networks and have identified a call, please contact your pre-award team for submission support. The more partners are involved in a bid, the more work will be required in co-ordinating the research writing and budgets. In parallel, we will need more time to support you with due diligence checks, costing and internal approvals, so please give yourself a minimum of 3 months before the deadline to work on such bids. The earlier you contact us, the more time we will have to work with you.

Jisc, UK institutions and SAGE agree open access deal

BU authors can now publish open access in 900+ SAGE subscription journals at no extra cost!

The UK Jisc Agreement, open to all UK institutions who are members of the consortium, will run between 2020 and 2022 and includes back dating to the 1st January.

Corresponding authors publishing an article in 900+ subscription journals in the current SAGE Premier package, as well as in the IMechE Journal Collection and the Royal Society of Medicine Collection can now publish open access, free of charge. Eligible journals are those which offer hybrid open access publishing (SAGE Choice).

Please check with Open Access if you are unsure whether your journal is included.

Authors in subscription journals do not need to take any action to benefit from this offer – SAGE will contact all eligible authors to inform them of the Open Access agreement with Jisc and to invite them to the SAGE Open Access Portal to take up the offer as soon as their accepted article has been received into SAGE’s Production department.


Gold open access journals: Corresponding authors publishing an article in a gold open access journal are entitled to a 20% discount on the prevailing article processing charge (APC). This is available on 150+ pure Gold journals a list of which are available here.

Where an author is eligible for more than one discount, discounts cannot be combined but the highest discount available to the author will be automatically applied to the APC due.

Further information on the agreement and gold open access journals can be found here.
If you have any further queries, please email Open Access.

HRA announcement – Amendment Tool now live

Please see below for a recent update from the Health Research Authority with regard to a new amendment tool and the online submission of amendments.

If you have any queries please email Suzy Wignall in Research Development & Support.


Online submission of amendments and a new amendment tool is now live across the UK, as of today Tuesday 2 June 2020.

These new processes for handling amendments are part of our ongoing Research Systems programme to improve services for applicants.

  • The amendment tool is designed to simplify the amendment process for applicants and
  • The ability to submit amendments online means that applicants can track the submission history of amendments.

From 2 June, all applicants making an amendment to project-based research will need to complete the amendment tool and submit their amendment online. The tool replaces the Notification of Substantial Amendment (NoSA) and Non-Substantial Amendment forms. Amendments to Research Tissue Banks and Research Databases will also be submitted online from this date.

To help with these changes, we have now published:

For queries on how to complete the tool, questions on the results from the tool, once complete or how to submit your amendment online, please contact amendments@hra.nhs.uk

Amendment Tool

The new amendment tool should be used for all project-based research including amendments being made under the COVID-19 fast-track process, from 2 June. (Research Tissue Banks and Research Databases will continue to use the IRAS generated substantial amendment forms.)

The tool categorises the amendment and provides tailored guidance on how to submit. It will identify any review bodies the amendment needs to be sent to, based on the changes that are being made to the study. It also provides detailed information about the amendment to participating sites.

The Notice of Substantial Amendment/annex 2 form can be generated by completing the tool. This version of the form can then be submitted to the REC and the MHRA (as required) when making a substantial amendment to a trial.

The amendment tool is based in Excel, but in the longer term we plan to fully integrate the tool functionality into IRAS.

The introduction of the amendment tool may require changes to Sponsor’s quality system (e.g. SOPs, guidance documents and templates etc.). Organisations should do this in accordance with the new process in good time. Given the additional demands placed across the healthcare research systems at this time, the MHRA has confirmed that it will adopt a pragmatic approach during inspection.

Submitting amendments online

Once you have completed the amendment tool, you should follow the submission guidance provided in the submission guidance tab of the tool. If the amendment needs to be submitted, then the amendment tool, together with all the supporting documents, should be uploaded into a new part of IRAS and submitted using the online system.

For amendments to Research Tissue Banks and Research Databases the IRAS substantial amendment form should be submitted online in place of the amendment tool.

Applicants will need to set up a new login and password for the new part of IRAS. We are sharing a login process with NIHR systems for the new parts of IRAS that provide online booking, the Combined Ways of Working (CWoW) pilot, and this new amendment system. If you already have a login for any NIHR system or one of these new parts of IRAS you can use the same details. If you do not already have a login for those systems, you will need to set up a new login and password as guided by the system.

Once you have logged in, applications will need to input the IRAS ID for the study as well as some other information regarding the study and amendment, some of which will need to be copied directly from the tool itself. Applicants can upload documents including a pdf of the tool itself. The system will issue an email to confirm the amendment has been submitted.

NIHR Learn – Resources to support you through the Covid-19 pandemic

The NIHR Learn platform now contains a number of resources to offer guidance and support to help researchers during the pandemic.

There are resources in the following areas:

  • Understanding the science of Covid-19
  • Leading in uncertain times
  • Conveying Difficult Information to patients and relatives
  • Personal resilience
  • Wellbeing
  • Remote working
  • Online Webinars and Events

To access these you will need to create an account on the system* – if you run into any issues with creating an account  phone the helpdesk on 0207 333 5894 or email them.

Once you are on the system, click on ‘Bite-sized Learning’ from the options and then select ‘Resources to support you through the Covid-19 pandemic’.

*If you have used the system to access Good Clinical Practice training or dates you will already have an account.

Doctoral Supervisors – Free UKCGE Webinar – Friday 1 May, 2pm

Effective Practices in Supervising Doctoral Candidates at a Distance

Online— 2pm Friday 1st May 2020.


As we continue working remotely, UKCGE thought you may appreciate the opportunity to hear from, and put your questions to, experienced research supervisors and an academic developer sharing effective practices in research supervision at a distance.

To that end, they have set up a free-of-charge, 1-hour webinar taking place at 2pm on Friday 1st May 2020.


Register for the Webinar
The webinar will take place online via Zoom. Places are strictly limited – Register your free place here:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/


Send them your Questions
If you have any specific questions you would like answering during the webinar, please email them.


If you can’t make it at on the 1st, you can watch the recording of the webinar on YouTube or the UKCGE website.

 

Jisc, UK institutions and Wiley agree ground-breaking open access deal

Bournemouth University authors can now publish Open Access in more than 2,000 Wiley journals at no extra cost!

Jisc and Wiley, a global leader in research and education, have struck a four-year “read and publish” agreement that offers researchers at UK universities open access (OA) publishing in all Wiley journals at no cost to them.

As part of the new agreement, the proportion of OA articles published by UK researchers will increase from 27% to an estimated 85% in year one, with the potential to reach 100% by 2022. The agreement will also enable institutions and their users to access all of Wiley’s journals.

This ground-breaking agreement will enable institutions to control the costs of access and OA publishing. It will also support a simplified process for authors and their institutions, enabling compliance with funder mandates and Plan S.

The agreement begins in March 2020, and all participating Jisc member institutions and affiliated researchers are eligible. The contract has been made publicly available on 31 March 2020.

External guides for managing remote research

Given current Government guidance on the pandemic response, a number of research projects will need to be conducted remotely. Below are a number of external help guides/guidance articles that aim to assist researchers with this new way of working.

The UK Data Service’s guidance on online data collection

Warwick University’s article on using Skype to collect data

Guidance on conducting telephone interviews –
Article one
Article two

The resource ‘Fieldwork during the pandemic’

The UK Research Integrity Office’s ‘Internet-mediated research’ guide

Research should remain within the ethics approval that has been granted – if you need to make any changes as a result of COVID 19 (for example moving from face-to-face to remote interviewing) please email researchethics@bournemouth.ac.uk if a member of staff or your supervisor if a student.

PGRs Library & Learning Support

Message from Tim Calvert (Doctoral College Librarian Contact & Faculty of Health & Social Sciences Librarian)

——————————–

I hope you are finding everything you need from the library, and know where to go for any extra support or guidance in your research. We just wanted to draw your attention to some of the help offered to researchers, and let you know who to get in touch with if you have any questions – we’re always happy to help, especially if it saves you time and energy later on when you want to submit your thesis and move on to the next thing.

  • Copyright: This can be an issue for students writing a thesis which is going to be published on the university’s repository (BURO), especially if you are using any images from journal articles, books, websites etc. If you are using images you may need permission to use them if they are not made available on a Creative Commons licence, as theses are published online. You can read the library’s guidance here, or book a session with your specific Faculty Library team (see contact details below).
  • Referencing: It’s important to deal with any issues here before you come to submitting your work to the library so that you don’t experience any delays. Using EndNote can speed things up for you (check out our guide here), but the references it produces do still need to be checked, and it can produce incorrect references.
  • Researcher Guides: We have guides to help you with the research process. The Guide for Postgraduate Researchers has lots of useful information and is a good starting point for many queries.
  • Research Data: It’s becoming more and more important for the data supporting research findings to be made openly available to verify results and to encourage the discovery of new knowledge. Many funders and publishers, to promote the integrity and value of the research they fund or publish, have made this a requirement. The library supports researchers to adopt best practice data management (which ultimately saves you time and energy!) and looks after BORDaR, our research data repository. All Postgraduate Research Students are required by BU to produce a Data Management Plan (DMP) and to deposit their research data in the repository. You can access the library’s guide for more information.
  • Getting in touch. You can contact your Faculty Library team to make a one-to-one appointment if you want to discuss any of the areas raised above, or you’d like support with another area such as finding literature or using databases.
  1. Faculty of Management Library Team
  2. Faculty of Media & Communication Library Team
  3. Faculty of Science & Technology Library Team
  4. Faculty of Health & Social Sciences Library Team

Research in the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic – HRA update

You may have seen an earlier blog post with regard to a halt on the review and approval of undergraduate and master’s clinical research projects. The HRA have released another update with regard to all other research and the state of play due to COVID-19.

To recognise the significant pressures on the NHS at this time, the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) announced that all new and existing studies supported through its Clinical Research Network would be paused to focus instead on COVID-19 research. You can read the full statement on the NIHR website.

The full HRA statement can be viewed here. If you have any queries mai in Research Development & Support.

Research Development & Support are also updating the following help page regularly for academics and researchers.

Informed Consent training opportunities

Before agreeing to participate in your study, your participants should receive all the information they require in order to make an informed decision. Once they wish to participate, then an informed consent form should be completed and filed appropriately.
Although the process sounds complex, there are currently a great training opportunities to help familiarise yourself with the background to, and process of informed consent in clinical research.

The Wessex Clinical Research Network are hosting the following training sessions at University Hospital Southampton and at Wessex CRN’s office –

  • NIHR CRN Informed Consent training, Thursday 26th March, 08:45am – 1:00pm, CRN Wessex, Unit 7, Berrywood Business Village, Hedge End, Southampton, SO30 2UN;
  • NIHR CRN Informed Consent training, Thursday 7th May, 8:30am – 12:30pm, University Hospital Southampton, Level C, West Wing, NIHR WTCRF, Southampton, SO16 6YD;
  • NIHR CRN Informed Consent training, Thursday 7th May, 1:00pm – 5:00pm, University Hospital Southampton, Level C, West Wing, NIHR WTCRF, Southampton, SO16 6YD;
  • NIHR CRN Informed Consent training, Friday 26th June, 08:45am – 1:00pm, CRN Wessex, Unit 7, Berrywood Business Village, Hedge End, Southampton, SO30 2UN

If you’re interested in attending, get in touch with the Wessex CRN to book your place.