Category / Guidance

Publish Open Access in Springer Journals for Free!

BU has an agreement with Springer which enables its authors to publish articles open access in one of the Springer Open Choice journals at no additional cost.

There are hundreds of titles included in this agreement, some of which are – Hydrobiologia, European Journal of Nutrition, Annals of Biomedical Engineering, Climatic Change, Marine Biology and the Journal of Business Ethics. A full list of the journals included can be found here

To make sure that your article is covered by this new agreement, when your article has been accepted for publication, Springer will ask you to confirm the following:

  • My article has been accepted by an Open Choice eligible journal
  • I am the corresponding author (please use your institutional email address not your personal one)
  • I am affiliated with an eligible UK institution (select your institutions name)
  • My article matches one of these types: OriginalPaper, ReviewPaper, BriefCommunication or ContinuingEducation

Springer will then verify these details with us and then your article will be made available in open access with a CC BY licence.

Please note that 30 Open Choice journals are not included in this agreement as they do not offer CC BY licensing.

If you have any questions about the agreement or the process, please contact OpenAccess@bournemouth.ac.uk

Plan S – Making Open Access a reality by 2020

On 4 September 2018, 11 national research funding organisations, with the support of the European Commission including the European Research Council (ERC), announced the launch of cOAlition S, an initiative to make full and immediate Open Access to research publications a reality. It is built around Plan S, which consists of one target and 10 principles.

cOAlition S signals the commitment to implement, by 1 January 2020, the necessary measures to fulfil its main principle: “By 2020 scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants provided by participating national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms.”

Further information on cOAlition S can be found here – https://www.scienceeurope.org/coalition-s/

Some reactions can be found here –

LERU

Nature

Science

STM

Intention to Bid Form & Annexures for Quality Approval

As part of the internal approval process for external funding applications, it was agreed by all Faculties (and subsequently recorded in the BU Financial Regulations) that the following is mandatory:

  1. An Intention to Bid Form must be lodged with RKEO; and
  2. When emailed to RKEO, the PI must cc. his/her Head of Research/ Department with the ITB Form.

To help streamline processes and procedures, all Faculties will make use of this Intention to Bid Form, alongside a faculty specific AQA Annexure document to indicate the chosen Quality Approval method (please ask your Funding Development Officers for your Faculty AQA Annexure or for more information about this process).

RKEO’s Funding Development Team is available to provide pre-award support and their contact details can be found on the Research Blog. Should you have any difficulty in accessing the documents on the Staff Intranet, please request them from us and we will send you a copy.

Open Research Day – Today!!

Today colleagues will be available on both campuses to answer all your queries in regards to Open Research.

We’ll be in BG11 on Lansdowne between 9 and 12pm and FG04 on Talbot between 1 and 4pm.

Pop on down… there is cake! 🙂

 

 

 

Political Updates

 A smorgasbord of content for you this week – rifle through to find the topics most of interest to you. We’ve got: pollinators, research integrity, mental health, nursing news, plastic waste, several new funded competitions from the Government, praise for the arts and creative sectors, smart energy systems, immersive technologies, the Industrial Strategy’s Grand Challenges, tackling social challenges, Guidance from Innovate UK and on Horizon 2020, an important survey on international students, new Royal Society Fellows, an article on the AI brain drain, and the forthcoming Environmental Principles and Governance Bill. Enjoy!

 

Pollinators

On Tuesday Ben Bradley (Conservative, Mansfield) made his case for a Private Members’ Bill to make provision about the protection of pollinators. Permission to progress the Bill was granted and our regional MP Oliver Letwin will take part in presenting the bill.

 

Research Integrity

Sam Gyimah was interviewed for the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee investigation into research integrity. The committee heard that universities should be held responsible for the full compliance of upholding standards of research integrity but the Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation declined to assert that funding should be dependent on this. Other topics covered included concordant sign up, self-assessment and disclosure in clinical trials. Read the full summary of the session provided by Dods Consultants here.

 

Mental Health

The Commons Education, Health and Social Care Committees have published their response to the inquiry on young people’s mental health: The Government’s Green Paper on mental health: failing a generation.   An oral parliamentary question was also asked on the topic on Tuesday:

Q – Helen Whately: I welcome the Green Paper on mental health in schools, which was published earlier this year, but it does prompt a question about the mental health of students in further and higher education. Does my right hon. Friend have any plans to look into that issue? If he does not, may I urge him to do so?

A – Jackie Doyle-Price: I thank my hon. Friend for her question and her continued industry on these matters. As she mentioned, the Green Paper outlined plans to set up a new national strategic partnership focused on improving the mental health of 16 to 25-year-olds. That partnership is likely to support and build on sector-led initiatives in higher education, such as Universities UK’s #stepchange project, whose launch I attended in September. The strategy calls on higher education leaders to adopt mental health as a strategic priority, to take a whole-university approach to mental health and to embed it across policies, courses and practices.

 

Nursing Places

Nursing has been in the news again this week. A series of oral parliamentary questions reveal the Government’s unwavering approach towards nurse training and on Wednesday there was a debate on the Government’s plans to remove funding from post-graduate converters into nursing (announced in February). The removal affects the two-year course for those who hold degrees in other subjects. It is controversial as this is the fastest way to train a registered nurse and there is currently a shortage of 40,000 nurses in England. The change brings the post-graduate courses in line with the undergraduate nurse training which has already lost the NUS bursary and now falls under the student loan system.

The Commons debate was secured as a result of opposition pressure, following a report by the Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, which referenced evidence submitted by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). The RCN arranged for a number of student nurses, who currently receive post-graduate funding, to visit parliament during April to meet MPs and peers and explain what financial support has meant for them.

 

Michael Lawton, who received the NHS post-graduate bursary and is currently working as a registered nurse, said: “Without the bursary I couldn’t have applied and I wouldn’t be in a career I love, giving patients the great care they deserve. I know I make a difference every day.

MPs I’ve spoken to are shocked at how many hours we do in clinical placement. By removing the bursary, the Government is asking people to pay to work on placements to keep the NHS afloat and that isn’t right.

Current post-graduate nursing student Georgie Ellmore-Jones said:

“After my undergraduate degree I was already in a lot of debt. When I looked at pursuing a career in nursing and saw it was funded, it made it more certain in my mind that I wanted to do it. At post-graduate level many of the students have families and children to look after so adding more debt will only discourage potential students.”

 

On Tuesday there were a series of oral questions on nursing to the Minister for Health (Stephen Barclay), his answers reveal the Government’s thinking towards nurse training.

Q – Gill Furniss (Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough) & (Lab) Stella Creasy (Walthamstow) (Lab/Co-op) & Stella Creasy (Walthamstow) (Lab/Co-op): What assessment he has made of the effect of the withdrawal of NHS bursaries on applications for nursing degrees.

A – The Minister for Health (Stephen Barclay): Nursing remains a strong career choice, with more than 22,500 students placed during the 2017 UCAS application cycle. Demand for nursing places continues to outstrip the available training places.

Q – Gill Furniss: Figures from the Royal College of Nursing show that applications have fallen by 33% since the withdrawal of bursaries. At the same time, the Government’s Brexit shambles has led to a drastic decline in EU nursing applications. How many years of such decline do we have to see before the Secretary of State and the Minister will intervene?

A – Stephen Barclay: What matters is not the number of rejected applicants, but the increase in places—the number of people actually training to be a nurse. The reality is that 5,000 more nurses will be training each year up to 2020 as a result of the changes.

Q – Stella Creasy: The NHS already has 34,000 nursing vacancies. Given that there has been a 97% drop in nursing applications from the EU and that studies show that nearly half of all hospital shifts include agency nurses, will the Minister at least admit that cutting the bursary scheme has been a false economy for our NHS?

A – Stephen Barclay: It is not a false economy to increase the supply of nurses, which is what the changes have done. Indeed, they form part of a wider package of measures, including “Agenda for Change”, pay rises and the return to practice scheme, which has seen 4,355 starters returning to the profession. More and more nurses are being trained, which is why we now have over 13,000 more nurses than in 2010.

Q – Grahame Morris: I respectfully remind the Minister that this is about recruitment and retention. The RCN says that we can train a postgraduate nurse within 18 months, which is a significant untapped resource, so why are the Government planning to withdraw support from postgraduate nurses training, too?

A – Stephen Barclay: We have a debate involving postgraduate nursing tomorrow, but the intention is to increase the number of such nurses by removing the current cap, which means that many who want to apply for postgraduate courses cannot find the clinical places to do so. That is the nature of tomorrow’s debate, and I look forward to seeing the hon. Gentleman in the Chamber.

Q – Robert Halfon (Harlow) (Con):  Will my hon. Friend, on top of the degree nursing apprenticeships, rapidly increase the nursing apprenticeship programme so nurses can earn while they learn, have no debt and get a skill that they and our country need?

A – Stephen Barclay: My right hon. Friend is absolutely right to signpost this as one of a suite of ways to increase the number of nurses in the profession. As he alludes to, there will be 5,000 nursing apprenticeships this year, and we are expanding the programme, with 7,500 starting next year.

Q – Stephen Lloyd (Eastbourne) (LD): With every reputable independent body showing very clearly that we have a staffing crisis in the NHS nursing profession, can the Minister explain how cutting bursaries actually improves the situation?

A – Stephen Barclay: I am very happy to do so. We are removing the cap on the number of places covered by the bursaries and increasing the number of student places by 25%, which means that there will be 5,000 more nurses in training as a result of these changes.

Q – Dr Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire) (SNP): The Secretary of State’s removal of the nursing bursary and introduction of tuition fees have resulted in a 33% drop in applications in England. In Scotland, we have kept the bursary, a carer’s allowance and free tuition, which means that student nurses are up to £18,000 a year better off, and indeed they also earn more once they graduate. Does the Minister recognise that that is why applications in Scotland have remained stable while in England they have dropped by a third?

A- Stephen Barclay: The hon. Lady speaks with great authority on health matters, but, again, she misses the distinction between the number of applicants and the number of nurses in training. It is about how many places are available, and we are increasing by 25% the number of nurses in training. That is what will address the supply and address some of the vacancies in the profession.

Q – Dr Whitford: Workforce is a challenge for all four national health services across the UK, but, according to NHS Improvement, there are 36,000 nursing vacancies in England, more than twice the rate in Scotland. The Minister claims that more nurse students are training, but in fact there were 700 fewer in training in England last year, compared with an 8% increase in Scotland. The key difference is that in Scotland we are supporting the finances of student nurses, so will the Government accept that removing the nursing bursary was a mistake and reintroduce it?

A – Stephen Barclay: The distinction the hon. Lady fails to make is that in England we are increasing the number of nurses in training by 25%; we are ensuring that nurses who have left the profession can return through the return-to-work programme; and we are introducing significant additional pay through “Agenda for Change”. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon) said, we are also creating new routes so that those who come into the NHS through other routes, such as by joining as a healthcare assistant, are not trapped in those roles but are able to progress, because the Conservative party backs people who want to progress in their careers. Healthcare assistants who want to progress into nursing should have that opportunity.

Q – Justin Madders (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab): When defending the decision to scrap bursaries, the Secretary of State said that, if done right, it could provide up to 20,000 extra nursing posts by 2020. Well, that figure now looks wildly optimistic, with applications down two years in a row. Is it not time that Ministers admitted they have got this one wrong and joined the Opposition in the Lobby tomorrow to vote against any further extensions to this failed policy?

A – Stephen Barclay: If Members vote against the policy tomorrow, the reality is that they will be voting for a cap on the number of postgraduate nurses going into the system, and therefore they will be saying that more people should be rejected—more people should lose the opportunity to become nurses—because they want to have a cap that restricts the supply of teaching places.

 

Plastics

The Government have announced a new research and innovation hub to tackle plastic waste in the oceans.

 

Arts Projects Support for the North

The PM spoke on Tuesday to praise Britain’s arts sector:

But of course, the value of culture and creativity lies not only in its economic strength. Just as important is the less tangible contribution that it makes to our national life. The work you do brings joy to millions. It fosters unity, gives us a common currency. It helps to define and build our sense of national character.

“Without culture […] society is but a jungle”. Your work is a vital part of our national life and our national economy, and I am absolutely committed to supporting it.

Our ambitious sector deal for the creative industries, announced just before Easter, will see a further £150 million invested by government and industry, spreading success and making the sector fit to face the future.

She also announced a £3 million fund of new money to support creative projects within the Northern Powerhouse region on Tuesday. Offering a mix of grants and loans, the social investment fund will be open to non-profit, community-based organisations that deliver a positive social impact.

Full speech here.

 

Smart Energy Systems

The Government announced £41.5 million funds for design and trial of of new business models that intelligently link supply, storage and demand in heating, power and transport. Thee Innovate UK competition has two elements: up to £40 million is available for 3 smart energy system demonstrators, while up to £1.5 million is available for studies into new, smarter approaches to local energy.

 

Audiences of the Future – Commercial opportunities in the creative industries

The Government has announced a funding competition – Audience of the future: demonstrators opening Monday 21 May. £16 million will be invested in 4 large scale creative industries demonstrator projects (£5-£10 million each) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. It aims to explore future global, mass market, commercial opportunities in the creative industries. Primarily this will be through pre-commercial collaboration at scale. Projects should significantly improve the current state of art in their field. The projects must explore new ways of communication with mass audiences (100,000+) using new immersive technologies and experiences that are a significant advancement on the state of art in the chosen area. The high level of innovation and scale should be capable of transforming the sector and replicable across the creative industries. The project should generate audience and consumer information that could be used to test the viability of new business models. The Government suggests that areas with strong potential could include moving images, access to live sporting events, visitor experiences in museums and galleries, and music and theatre performance.  See here for more information.

A further £1 million is available for early-stage projects (£20-60k) that seek to understand customer needs for immersive experiences and the tools needed to deliver them. Early-stage projects should use human-centered design and look at audience behaviour to develop ideas for new products and services. Particular areas could include:

  • advancing the state-of-the-art with immersive experiences that are desirable and fit-for-purpose
  • producing high-quality immersive content cheaper, faster and in a way that is more accessible
  • improving physical devices such as eyewear and controllers, or haptic feedback
  • new digital platforms and services to deliver immersive content

See here for more information on the early-stage projects.

Resolving Social Challenges

On Thursday Oliver Dowden (Minister for Implementation) announced a series of competitions for tech firms to develop solutions tackling current social challenges.  While the initiatives focus on the business sector some of the topics are interesting. Each contributes to the Government’s Grand Challenges – the data economy; clean growth; reducing plastic waster, tackling loneliness and healthy ageing and the future of mobility – the competition is designed to incentivise Britain’s tech firms to come up with innovative solutions to improve public services.

The forthcoming challenges:

  • Identifying terrorist still imagery (Home Office). Home Office research shows that more than two-thirds of terrorist propaganda disseminated online is still imagery. This project will support both Government analysis of, and broader efforts to remove, this harmful material.
  • Tracking waste through the waste chain, submitted by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). A new technological approach could help record, check and track waste, helping boost productivity, reduce costs, and protect both human health and the environment.
  • Tackling loneliness and rural isolation, submitted by Monmouthshire Council. The government recognises that rural transport is vital to local communities, and businesses. A technological solution, exploiting vehicles with spare capacity could support rural economies.
  • Cutting traffic congestion, submitted by Department for Transport (DfT). Greater collection and new analysis of data could help target interventions to cut congestion.
  • Local authorities have large numbers of council vehicles crossing their areas every day. If they can be equipped with innovative data capture systems, they could understand potholes, litter, recycling, parking, air quality and more in real-time, every day, for no added cost. This could mean reduced service delivery costs and better local services.

The first of these competitions opens on Monday 14 May and runs for six weeks, with the remaining competitions being launched in subsequent months. Tech firms bidding to the fund will have free rein to create truly innovative fixes. Winning companies will be awarded up to £50,000 to develop their ideas.

 

Guidance

Innovate UK have released general guidance for grant applicants, including applying for a business innovation grant, funding rules and participation levels.

The Government have released guidance on Horizon 2020: what it is and how to apply for funding.

International Students

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has been tasked by the Government to assess the impact of international students. Previously they asked for evidence of impact from the HE sector with much response from HE institutions but little response from international students themselves. To redress this evidence gap the MAC have issued a survey directly to students. Universities have been asked to disseminate this survey and encourage their students to complete it. Here is the link.

Environmental Principles and Governance Bill

Michael Gove has announced the introduction of the Environmental Principles and Governance Bill, which will “ensure environmental protections will not be weakened as we leave the EU.” It will introduce a new body to hold the Government to account for environmental outcomes. Subject to consultation, the new body could specifically be responsible for:

  • providing independent scrutiny and advice on existing and future government environmental law and policy;
  • responding to complaints about government’s delivery of environmental law; and
  • holding government to account publicly over its delivery of environmental law and exercising enforcement powers where necessary.The Government is also consulting on an intention to require minister to produce a “statutory and comprehensive policy statement setting out how they will apply core environmental principles as they develop policy and discharge their responsibilities”. The new Bill will also ensure Government’s continue to have to regard environmental principlesRoyal SocietyArtificial Intelligence
  • The Financial Times has an article: UK universities alarmed by poaching of top computer science brains.
  • Wonkhe report that: 50 new Royal Society Fellows and Foreign Members have been elected to join the existing c.1,600. They are all scientists, engineers, and technologists who are from, or living and working in, the UK and the Commonwealth. New additions include Jim Al-Khalili, Michelle Simmons and Elon Musk, with David Willetts the Honorary Fellow,. Of the 50 12 are women.
  • The consultation will run for 12 weeks, closing on Thursday 2 August. The draft will be published in the Autumn, and the Bill will be introduced in the second session of this parliament.

Best wishes,

Sarah

British Academy – Intention to bid forms due 2nd May 2018

The call for the next round of BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants is open. The call closes at 5pm on Wednesday 6th June 2018. Due to the expected high demand, we ask that if you are interested in applying to this call then please send your intention to bid form to your Funding Development Officer by 2nd  May, after this date no new applications will be accepted.

The British Academy have provided updated guidance on the small grants – BA scheme notes for applicants and BA FAQs . They have asked that all applicants read the documentation carefully before starting their application.

Timeline

The call closes at 5pm on Wednesday 6th June 2018.

11th April 2018 Call Opens – start reading guidance
2nd May 2018 Intention to bid forms to be submitted to your faculty funding development officer.
31st May 2018 Nominated referee supporting statement to be completed via FlexiGrant
30th May 2018 Your final application must be submitted on FlexiGrant  by this date at the latest.
31st May -6th June 2018 Institutional checks to take place by RKEO

British Academy Small Grant Call – NOW OPEN

The call for the next round of BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants is open. The call closes at 5pm on Wednesday 6th June 2018.

The British Academy have provided updated guidance on the small grants – BA scheme notes for applicants and BA FAQs . They have asked that all applicants read the documentation carefully before starting their application.

Due to the expected high demand, we ask that if you are interested in applying to this call then please send your intention to bid form to your Funding Development Officer by 2nd  May, after this date no new applications will be accepted.

Timeline

The call closes at 5pm on Wednesday 6th June 2018.

11th April 2018 Call Opens – start reading guidance
2nd May 2018 Intention to bid forms to be submitted to your faculty funding development officer.
31st May 2018 Nominated referee supporting statement to be completed via FlexiGrant
30th May 2018 Your final application must be submitted on FlexiGrant  by this date at the latest.
31st May -6th June 2018 Institutional checks to take place by RKEO

Changes to the NERC Grants Handbook 2018

Changes have been made to the NERC Research Grants & Fellowships Handbook in February 2018.

The important changes include:

  1. Minimum amount per Research Organisation party – for Large Grants, there was a previous minimum of £65k per proposal or per party. This has been removed so each party can request less than £65k.
  2. Cost items that can be excluded from Full Economic Cost – the Handbook previously refers to such “exception items”, but now specifies these items, which are: “GEF Ocean Bottom Instruments, FAAM/ARSF/BAS Twin Otter aircraft, EISCAT Radar facility or other ship-time or marine facility related costs”.
  3. Innovation Schemes – previous related schemes have had their call titles changed and brought under the umbrella of Innovation Schemes – the Handbook contains updated details and requirements for applications to these Schemes.
  4. Eligibility of Fellowship Holders – new version continues to provide that Fellowship holders can largely apply to NERC grants; and such Fellowships could be held at “charities, public sector organisations and eligible UK HEIs”.
  5. Eligibility of New Investigators – previous version provided that New Investigators must be within 3 years of first becoming eligible for NERC funding as a Principal Investigator. The present version has now increased this to 5 years.
  6. Eligibility Criteria for Researcher Co-Investigators: A Researcher Co-I is defined as a Post-doc Research Assistant who is not eligible to be a PI or Co-I but who has substantially contributed to the proposal. There are 3 criteria to be a Researcher Co-I and one of the criteria has been expanded to include “The expectation is that the researcher would be employed at least 50% FTE on the grant but there may be circumstances where this may be less (for example, they might be full time for the first 2 years of a 5 year grant…)”.
  7. Associated Studentship: These continue to be applicable after the 2014/2015 year.
  8. Non-UK HEI’s Involvement – the additional line here is “Except where providing a service only, or where a call allows overseas research organisation, non-UK HEIs are expected to fund their participation in projects, so will be project partners, not subcontractors or PI/Co-Is.”
  9. Antarctic Logistic Support – If the Large grant outline requires Shiptime and/or Marine Equipment, indicative costs will be requested. To obtain these costs, a SME (Shiptime/Marine Equipment) must be submitted and approved by Marine Planning at least 2 months prior to the outline call closing date.
  10. NERC Ship Time & Marine Equipment – previous version had separate processes for the then-called “sea time” and “marine equipment”, new process is now in place for proposals including both these components, called SME.
  11. High Performance Computing – Previous version refers to HECToR, JWCRP/MONSooN. New version removes these references and replaces them with ARCHER, RDF, JASMIN.

For a clean copy of the NERC Grants Handbook 2018, please click here.

For a summary document outlining the above changes and an annotated NERC Grants Handbook, please contact Alice Brown, details can be found on the Funding Development Team page.

Research & Knowledge Development Framework – give us your feedback

It’s been over 18 month since Bournemouth University launched its new Research & Knowledge Exchange Development Framework, which was designed to offer academics at all stages of their career opportunities to develop their skills, knowledge and capabilities.

 

Since its launch, over 150 sessions have taken place, including sandpits designed to develop solutions to key research challenges, workshops with funders such as the British Academy and the Medical Research Council and skills sessions to help researchers engage with the media and policy makers.

 

The Research & Knowledge Exchange Office is currently planning activities and sessions for next year’s training programme and would like your feedback about what’s worked well, areas for improvement and suggestions for new training sessions.

 

Tell us what you think via our survey and be in with a chance of winning a £30 Amazon voucher. The deadline date is Wednesday 28th March.

What is Open Access?

Open access is about making the products of research freely accessible to all. It allows research to be disseminated quickly and widely, the research process to operate more efficiently, and increased use and understanding of research by business, government, charities and the wider public.

There are two complementary mechanisms for achieving open access to research.

The first mechanism is for authors to publish in open-access journals that do not receive income through reader subscriptions.

The second is for authors to deposit their refereed journal article in an open electronic archive.

These two mechanisms are often called the ‘gold’ and ‘green’ routes to open access:

  • Gold – This means publishing in a way that allows immediate access to everyone electronically and free of charge. Publishers can recoup their costs through a number of mechanisms, including through payments from authors called article processing charges (APCs), or through advertising, donations or other subsidies.
  • Green – This means depositing the final peer-reviewed research output in an electronic archive called a repository. Repositories can be run by the researcher’s institution, but shared or subject repositories are also commonly used. Access to the research output can be granted either immediately or after an agreed embargo period.

Article first published – http://www.hefce.ac.uk/rsrch/oa/whatis/

To encourage all academic communities to consider open access publishing, Authors Alliance has produced a comprehensive ‘Understanding Open Access‘ guide which addresses common open access related questions and concerns and provides real-life strategies and tools that authors can use to work with publishers, institutions, and funders to make their works more widely accessible to all.

To access and download the guide, please follow this link – http://authorsalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/Documents/Guides/Authors%20Alliance%20-%20Understanding%20Open%20Access.pdf

For any other open access related queries, please do get in touch with Shelly Anne Stringer in RKEO.

BORDaR – a new dedicated research data repository.

Thursday 8 February saw the launch of BORDaR (Bournemouth Online Research Data Repository), Bournemouth University’s new research data repository, which provides a secure and open access home for data emanating from BU’s world leading research projects.

Our support for Research Data Management (RDM) begins here and is complemented by a RDM Library Guide which has been developed specifically for BU staff.  Use this guide to help you deposit your data Open Access as mandated by your research funder and to increase your research impact for REF 2021 – you can find guidance on developing a Data Management Plan, managing, documenting, depositing, sharing and securing your data.  You can also email bordar@bournemouth.ac.uk with your query.

Back in November a repository naming competition was held and from the Faculty of Science & Technology, Paul Cheetham’s suggestion of BORDaR was chosen as the winner by BU’s RDM Steering Group.  As his prize Paul received a much cherished copy of Armin Schmidt’s Earth resistance for archaeologists, from Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor (Research and Innovation), John Fletcher.

There’s no such thing as a bad metric.

Lizzie Gadd warns against jumping on ‘bad metrics’ bandwagons without really engaging with the more complex responsible metrics agenda beneath.

An undoubted legacy of the Metric Tide report has been an increased focus on the responsible use of metrics and along with this a notion of ‘bad metrics’.  Indeed, the report itself even recommended awarding an annual ‘Bad Metrics Prize’.  This has never been awarded as far as I’m aware, but nominations are still open on their web pages.  There has been a lot of focus on responsible metrics recently.  The Forum for Responsible Metrics have done a survey of UK institutions and is reporting the findings on 8 February in London.  DORA has upped its game and appointed a champion to promote their work and they seem to be regularly retweeting messages that remind us all of their take on what it means to do metrics responsibly.   There are also frequent twitter conversations about the impact of metrics in the up-coming REF.  In all of this I see an increasing amount of ‘bad metrics’ bandwagon-hopping.  The anti-Journal Impact Factor (JIF) wagon is now full and its big sister, the “metrics are ruining science” wagon, is taking on supporters at a heady pace.

It looks to me like we have moved from a state of ignorance about metrics, to a little knowledge.  Which, I hear, is a dangerous thing.

It’s not a bad thing, this increased awareness of responsible metrics; all these conversations.  I’m responsible metrics’ biggest supporter and a regular slide in my slide-deck shouts ‘metrics can kill people!’.  So why am I writing a blog post that claims that there is no such thing as a bad metric?  Surely these things can kill people? Well, yes, but guns can also kill people, they just can’t do so unless they’re in the hands of a human.  Similarly, metrics aren’t bad in and of themselves, it’s what we do with them that can make them dangerous.

In Yves Gingras’ book, “Bibliometrics and Research Evaluation” he defines the characteristics of a good indicator as follows:

  • Adequacy of the indicator for the object that it measures
  • Sensitivity to the intrinsic inertia of the object being measured
  • Homogeneity of the dimensions of the indicator.

So, you might have an indicator such as ‘shoe size’, where folks with feet of a certain length get assigned a certain shoe size indicator. No problem there – it’s adequate (length of foot consistently maps on to shoe size); it’s sensitive to the thing it measures (foot grows, shoe size increases accordingly), and it’s homogenous (one characteristic – length, leads to one indicator – shoe size).  However, in research evaluation we struggle on all of these counts.  Because the thing we really want to measure, this elusive, multi-faceted “research quality” thing, doesn’t have any adequate, sensitive and homogeneous indicators. We need to measure the immeasurable. So we end up making false assumptions about the meanings of our indicators, and then make bad decisions based on those false assumptions.  In all of this, it is not the metric that’s at fault, it’s us.

In my view, the JIF is the biggest scapegoat of the Responsible Metrics agenda.  The JIF is just the average number of cites per paper for a journal over two years.  That’s it.  A simple calculation. And as an indicator of the communication effectiveness of a journal for collection development purposes (the reason it was introduced) it served us well.  It’s just been misused as an indicator of the quality of individual academics and individual papers.  It wasn’t designed for that.  This is misuse of a metric, not a bad metric. (Although recent work has suggested that it’s not that bad an indicator for the latter anyway, but that’s not my purpose here).  If the JIF is a bad metric, so is Elsevier’s CiteScore which is based on EXACTLY the same principle but uses a three-year time window not two, a slightly different set of document types and journals, and makes itself freely available.

If we’re not careful, I fear that in a hugely ironic turn, DORA and the Leiden Manifesto might themselves become bad (misused) metrics: an unreliable indicator of a commitment to the responsible use of metrics that may or may not be there in practice.

I understand why DORA trumpets the misuse of JIFs; it is rife and there are less imperfect tools for the job. But there are also other metrics that DORA doesn’t get in a flap about – like the individual h-index – which are subject to the same amount of misuse, but are actually more damaging.  The individual h-index disadvantages certain demographics more than others (women, early-career researchers, anyone with non-standard career lengths); at least the JIF mis-serves everyone equally.  And whilst we’re at it peer review can be an equally inadequate research evaluation tool (which, ironically, metrics have proven). So if we’re to be really fair we should be campaigning for responsible peer review with as much vigour as our calls for responsible metrics.

Bumper stickers by Paul van der Werf
Bumper stickers by Paul van der Werf (CC-BY)

 

It looks to me like we have moved from a state of ignorance about metrics, to a little knowledge.  Which, I hear, is a dangerous thing.  A little knowledge can lead to a bumper sticker culture ( “I HEART DORA” anyone?  “Ban the JIF”?) which could move us away from, rather than towards, the responsible use of metrics. These concepts are easy to grasp hold of, but they mask a far more complex and challenging set of research evaluation problems that lie beneath.  The responsible use of metrics is about more than the avoidance of certain indicators, or signing DORA, or even developing your own bespoke Responsible Metrics policy (as I’ve said before this is certainly easier said than done).

The responsible use of metrics requires responsible scientometricians.  People who understand that there is really no such thing as a bad metric, but it is very possible to misuse them. People with a deeper level of understanding about what we are trying to measure, what the systemic effects of this might be, what indicators are available, what their limitations are, where they are appropriate, how they can best triangulate them with peer review.  We have good guidance on this in the form of the Leiden Manifesto, the Metric Tide and DORA.  However, these are the starting points of often painful responsible metric journeys, not easy-ride bandwagons to be jumped on.  If we’re not careful, I fear that in a hugely ironic turn, DORA and the Leiden Manifesto might themselves become bad (misused) metrics: an unreliable indicator of a commitment to the responsible use of metrics that may or may not be there in practice.

Let’s get off the ‘metric-shaming’ bandwagons, deepen our understanding and press on with the hard work of responsible research evaluation.

 


Elizabeth Gadd

Elizabeth Gadd is the Research Policy Manager (Publications) at Loughborough University. She has a background in Libraries and Scholarly Communication research. She is the co-founder of the Lis-Bibliometrics Forum and is the ARMA Metrics Special Interest Group Champion

 

 

Creative Commons LicenceOriginal content posted on The Bibliomagician reposted here with permission. Content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

REMINDER: ADRC presents NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) Wessex Seminar this Wednesday

You are cordially invited to this lunchtime seminar which is open to all BU staff.

Please feel free to bring your lunch.

Wednesday 24th January 2018

1 – 2 pm

B407, Bournemouth House, Lansdown Campus

The NIHR is the UK’s major funder of applied health research. The NIHR develops and supports the people who conduct and contribute to health research and equally supports the training of the next generation of health researchers. The NIHR CRN Study Support Service helps researchers set up and deliver high quality research to time and target in the NHS in England.

We are fortunate to have two Research Delivery Managers from the NIHR CRN  Wessex, David Higenbottam and Alex Jones  coming to BU who  will be presenting a seminar about the network, funding opportunities and forthcoming strategic plan for 2018, followed by Q & A session.

Please email Michelle O’Brien (mobrien@bournemouth.ac.uk) if you are planning to attend.  See you there!

Biographies

David Higenbottam
Has worked in research since 2012.
2012 – 2014 South Coast DeNDRoN Network Manager.
2014 – to date Research Delivery Manager for Divisions 2 and 4 (Division 4 includes dementia as one of its specialities).

 

Alex Jones
Worked for Hampshire & Isle of Wight CLRN from July 2013 – April 2014.
Division 5 Assistant Portfolio Manager then Portfolio Manager April 2014 – December 2017 (Division 5 includes ageing as one of its specialities).
Currently Acting Research Delivery Manager for Division 5.

Wessex CRN
The Wessex CRN was formed  in April 2014, its geographic footprint is Hampshire & Isle of Wight, Dorset and South Wiltshire. It comprises 12 partner NHS organisations and 10 clinical commissioning groups. Research specialities are spread across 6 Divisions.

ECR Policy Lab on the determinants of food choice for healthy and sustainable diets

The BBSRCs Global Food Security (GFS) programme invites expressions of interest from post-doctoral researchers to take part in a Policy Lab on the determinants of food choice (e.g. biological, social, environmental, physical and economic) and the combination of interventions across these that will lead to healthier and more sustainable diets. Policy Labs bring together early career researchers from different disciplines to scope a policy-relevant issue, with teams forming at the workshop and then competing to write a synthesis report. The winning team at the workshop will receive a £5,000 Policy Lab award to write a policy-facing report.

See the website for details of the eligibility criteria and how to apply

Closing date for applications: 19 February 2018

NERC Call for ideas for strategic research

NERC invites ideas for scientific advances that will, over time, contribute to addressing some of these major challenges of the 21st century: benefiting from natural resources, resilience to environmental hazards, and managing environmental change. The ideas will be used to inform the development of new strategic research investments through either highlight topics (HTs) or strategic programme areas (SPAs).

Ideas can be sent to NERC at any time and can come from any individual or group, and any part of the environmental science community (including researchers and those who use environmental science research). Ideas must be submitted using the template provided for either highlight topics or strategic programme areas; this should be up to two sides of A4 written in language that is clear to a broad section of the NERC community.

Once an idea is sent to NERC, the proposer relinquishes ownership of that idea and transfers it to NERC. NERC may choose to publish or share material received.

Please refer to the guidance below, which explains what they are looking for in more detail.

Guidance for developing and submitting ideas for strategic research (PDF, 231KB)

For further information, they have also compiled some frequently asked questions (FAQ), which cover the different aspects of the ideas process and role of SPAG.

FAQ for developing and submitting ideas for strategic research (PDF, 111KB)

You can download the appropriate template for submitting your ideas below.

Highlight topic idea template (Word, 48KB)

Strategic programme area idea template (Word, 49KB)

A summary of the ideas received by the 2016 and 2017 cut-offs is provided below.

Summary of the ideas 2016 cut-off (PDF, 124KB)

Summary of the ideas 2017 cut-off (PDF, 318KB)

Cut-off dates

Please note that timings are indicative only and so may change.

HT timetable

Cut-off date for HT ideas – 15 May 2018

New HTs announced, feedback on ideas available – November 2018

SPA timetable

Cut-off date for SPA ideas – 7 September 2017

Potential SPA(s) for further development announced, feedback on ideas available – February 2018

New SPA(s) announced – Autumn 2018

Contact

NERC encourages ideas from all parts of the environmental science community and NERC staff are available to discuss potential ideas and provide advice. If you have any queries on the process or would like advice on a potential idea please contact them at in the first instance, and they will put you in touch with a NERC colleague who can help.