Category / PG research

This part of the blog features news and information for postgraduate research students and supervisors

UKCGE Route to Recognition for Supervisory Practice: Deadline for Submission 13 October 2023

 

Are you an established research degree supervisor? Or are you new to supervising research degree students?

Would you like your supervisory practice acknowledged at national level and join a growing number of BU staff who have gained recognition?

The UK Council for Graduate Education (UKCGE) has developed the Good Supervisory Practice Framework (GSPF) and the Research Supervision Recognition Programme to allow established supervisors to gain recognition for this challenging, but rewarding, role.

  • Acknowledging the Complexity of Your Role
  • Identify your professional development needs
  • Recognition of your expertise by a national body
  • Recognition of your developing knowledge by a national body

Further details and how to apply can be found here.

The Doctoral College will meet the cost for individuals who wish to apply. In line with the UKCGE guidance, individuals should send their completed application to the Doctoral College (fknight@bournemouth.ac.uk) before the BU Window Closing date below:

BU Window Closes UKCGE Window Closes Expected Outcome
13th October 2023 20th October 2023 January 2024

Future dates for applications will be released soon.

Dates for a Supervisory Lunchbite aimed at supporting the application process for future windows will be confirmed asap.

 

Online Events from the UKCGE: Free to BU Staff

The UK Council for Graduate Education (UKCGE) is the representative body for postgraduate education and research. As BU is a member of the UKCGE, staff can attend online events free of charge.

The following online events are coming up in the next few months and may be of interest to research degree supervisors and academic and professional staff who support our PGRs:

Session Details Date, Time & Book
Supporting Neurodivergent PGRs The online discussion session will examine issues surround how best to support neurodivergent PGRs. Attendees will also have opportunity to share and discuss challenges & successes in supporting neurodivergent PGRs in their own institutions. 26 Oct 2023

13:00 – 14:00

Book now

Administrative Milestones to Support On-Time Completion This online Town Hall discussion will focus on ways to improve completion rates amongst PGRs. Using a new initiative at the University of Sheffield as a starting point, attendees will have to opportunity to discuss & share challenges & successes in instigating administrative processes to support PGRs & their supervisors to completion. 15 Nov 2023

13:00 – 14:00

Book now

Administrative Checks for Examiners of Vivas: Right to Work Checks and Other Challenges This online discussion will examine some of the administrative issues faced by institutions in ensuring that examiners of vivas are appointed in an appropriate manner. For example a number of institutions have reported challenges with right to work checks for viva examiners. This discussion, led by the University of Westminster and held under the Chatham House rule, will allow colleagues from across the sector to share and discuss their own, and other institutions’, approaches in this area. 22 Nov 2023

13:00 – 14:00

Book now

What is the impact of doctoral research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences? This online discussion, run in collaboration with The British Academy, will examine the impact of doctoral research in the arts, humanities and social sciences. 6 December

13:00 – 14:00

Book now

 

HE policy update for the w/e 29th September 23

It was a funny old week. TEF and KEF results popped out with little fanfare, OfS announced a degree apprenticeship push and are getting on with the sexual misconduct survey (finally). We’ve got to hope the Government keep their receipts safe if they wish to claim the Horizon Europe guarantee refund – through a voucher discount for the next scheme (which we may or may not join). UKRI’s PGR new deal scheme gets a pasting and Minister Halfon sneers at the criticism that the Lords Committee dished out to the OfS. It’s a parliamentary recess for conferences so you can expect more politics and less policy in the news for the next couple of weeks!

Teaching Excellence Framework

The new TEF results were announced on Thursday for 228 providers, the remaining 23% (53 providers) are pending appeal. More detail will be provided in November when the provider submissions, panel statements, and student submissions are published (along with the outcome of the appeals). Once this is released we’ll have a fuller national picture of how institutions have engaged with TEF across the nation.

You can search the results here.

If you’re not familiar with TEF it’s changed a lot since BU received the previous silver award – since then there were lots of experiments and interim exercises. Wonkhe have an explainer: TEF now contains two “mini TEFs” – one covering student experience (the NSS metrics plus evidence from submissions) and the other covering student outcomes (continuation, completion, progression, plus evidence from the submissions. You get an award for each, which are then combined into your main TEF award

73 universities and colleges were awarded Gold for at least one aspect.   Of the Gold ratings awarded:

  • Ten are for what the OfS has categorised as “low entry tariff” providers. A further seven low tariff providers have been awarded Gold for one of the two aspects.
  • Seven are for what the OfS has categorised as “medium entry tariff” providers. A further five have been awarded Gold for one of the two aspects.
  • Ten are for what the OfS has categorised “high entry tariff” providers. A further eight have been awarded Gold for one of the two aspects.
  • Nine are for specialist providers in creative arts subjects.
  • Three are for specialist providers in other subjects. A further three have been awarded Gold for one of the two aspects.

It is interesting to see how little the new “requires improvement” award was used in practice – no-one received an overall RI rating and only a few had one aspect rated as requiring improvement.  Which is good, of course.

Prior to the announcement Wonkhe questioned: But what – if anything – does TEF mean in a world of dwindling resources and acute student hardship? The 2015 Conservative manifesto that sparked the exercise was speaking to a different world, and it seems highly unlikely that anyone in power will use these results as a spur to praise the excellence and diversity in the sector.

What does it all really mean – we don’t know until we can read the submissions and the panel assessments.

Blogs:

KEF

Research England published the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF 3) results on Wednesday. If you’re unfamiliar with the KEF the best explainer is on the Research England website. KEF is a series of dashboards which summarise an institution’s performance on seven areas of knowledge exchange (or ‘perspectives’) – public and community engagement, research partnerships, working with business, working with the public and third sector, CPD and grad start-ups, local growth and regeneration, IP and commercialisation. If you scroll down to table 1 (on the webpage) you’ll see what activities are measured to provide the KEF judgement for each of the perspectives listed above. The data for the KEF is pulled from the Higher Education Business and Community Interaction survey.

For the KEF, institutions are grouped into “clusters” and results are compared across the cluster, with every institution being given a rating for each perspective based on which quartile it falls into in its cluster.  Confused?  Well yes, it is confusing!

For more coverage delve into:

  • NCUB blog: What can the KEF tell us about university KE performance and improvement?
  • Wonkhe blog analysing the KEF 2023 results across providers and clusters.
  • Some good (if rather chatty) coverage from Research Professional (suitable for novices to KEF) in At KEF’s door. It begins:
    • some of our readers may be old enough to remember when former universities and science minister Jo Johnson told the Universities UK annual conference that the KEF was “a challenge” that all universities “did not need to rise to”. The fact that the architect of the KEF did not expect all universities to take part in it has not prevented the entire sector from having a go …with the KEF: the large research-intensives of the Russell Group have their own group of death, and the specialist arts providers play among themselves….It’s all in a good cause, we are told, because obviously the Royal College of Music should not be compared with the University of Oxford when it comes to industrial research collaborations. Over the years, the KEF has developed a basket of metrics to allow meaningful comparison, to encourage institutional improvement.
    • …[this] third instalment…leaves us wondering if anyone is enjoying this apart from the people who produced it.
    • …Is the KEF driving improvement in knowledge exchange across the board or has it created another battleground for institutions to compete against one another? At the moment, Research England is sitting on the fence on that one.
  • UKRI article: KEF3 gives insights on emerging trends in performance improvement

Research

Horizon Europe voucher refund. Following intervention from the Lords last week Science|Business have broken the news that the financial guarantee mechanism will only be implemented if the UK participates in the Framework Programme 10 Horizon successor programme (FP10). Underperformance against contributions in Horizon will be ‘refunded’ in the form of a voucher against FP10 participation. The guarantee assures the UK if they pay over 16% more in Horizon costs than they receive credit back through the voucher. Martin Smith, Head of the policy lab at the Wellcome Trust said the rollover clause is good news, because it lays the groundwork for the UK to take part in future framework programmes. “It’s setting up an expectation that participation is a long-term thing, which is great”. Full details here.

Wonkhe blog:  With Horizon association secured, Maëlle Gibbons-Patoure takes us through the challenges, joys and practicalities of working with the world’s largest funding framework.

Quick News

  • Consultations: REF 2028 planning continues to move forward. There are currently two consultations open for contributions – our tracker outlines who to contact if you wish to contribute to BU’s responses. Wonkhe have two blogs on the topic:
  • Business links: Research Professional – the performance of very large universities with a major research focus has dropped slightly when it comes to linking with businesses, according to a major assessment.
  • PGR New Deal: Wonkhe criticise UKRI’s new deal for PGRs, excerpts:
    • If I thought the Office for Students’ work on student voice and engagement was weak, I wasn’t quite prepared for UKRI’s “New Deal” for PGRs…The trifecta of a pretty weak set of rights to start with, institutions that are trying to squeeze every last drop and effort and value from dwindling funding, and an environment in which PGRs think any attempt to enforce the rights that are there will result in perceived reputational damage when trying to build a career means that we really do need to work out how their “voice” can engender protection and change…As such, the “New Deal” for PGRs…is a real let down.
    • …The “baseline” of support it’s thinking of establishing – over everything from supervision standards to mental health – ought to have a real relationship with quality frameworks from OfS and QAA, and government-backed work like the University Mental Health charter. That neither the Quality Code, OfS’ B Conditions nor Student Minds are mentioned doesn’t fill me with hope that PGRs will be properly considered 
    • …A genuine sector collaboration on the issue – drawing in providers, funders, regulators, the unions and actual PGR students – is long, long overdue. Read the short blog in full here.

Try this blog for a rundown on what the new deal includes or read the official version by UKRI.
Meanwhile the Russell Group issued a statement welcoming the new deal for PGRs.

  • PGR stipends: UKRI to review stipend payments to improve support for postgraduate researchers.
  • Spinouts (part 1): Wonkhe – Investment group Parkwalk has releaseda report on equity investment in UK university spinouts, finding that the total amount invested fell from £2.7bn in 2021 to £2.3bn in 2022, and “looks set to fall again in 2023.” However, the figure for 2022 was significantly higher than that of 2020 (£1.5bn) and all preceding years, and the number of spinouts over the last three years has been largely unchanged. Life sciences continues to be the main area for spinouts, though the report also highlights the growing importance of artificial intelligence-related companies. It’s also suggested that since 2021 there has been a decline in the proportion of investments exclusively from UK investors – historically around 80 per cent, but in the last two years at 64 per cent – with an increase in the share of UK-foreign co-investment deals. The Financial Times covers the report.
  • Spinouts (part 2): Wonkhe – The government should introduce standardised agreements with universities regarding the equity shares they take from spinouts, the Social Market Foundation has argued in a new report – the think tank suggests five to ten per cent in companies founded by staff, and no share in student-founded firms. The report also suggests identifying regional hubs for high value industries, and scaling up the local universities with increased investment and research funding. The Times covers the report.

Lifelong Learning Entitlement

The Lifelong Learning Entitlement (LLE) became law last week, closely followed by the DfE publishing the modelling assumptions behind the LLE financial planning. It assumes learner numbers for modular programmes will start small.

Wonkhe say: There are also some very generous assumptions about costs incurred by providers and the modelling on which the Department for Education is basing the business case contains assumptions about staff time that many in the sector will find generous to the point of fantasy. There’s plenty of time for that to change because the LLE is only in the planning stages, it will be implemented from 2025 onwards. Blogs:

Regulatory

Cracking quality: Research Professional report on the announcement in the Sunday Times that Rishi Sunak is planning yet another “crackdown” on low-quality university courses as part of his pre-election reset of Conservative policies. However, they anticipate it to be more bark than bite: The last time the government rattled a sabre over low-quality university courses, the attack was all but abandoned by lunchtime as ministers struggled in media interviews to name a course or university that would be subject to restrictions. We can expect a line or two about Mickey Mouse degrees in Sunak’s conference speech in Manchester next week, but little more in the way of action from a regulator licking its wounds following the Lords select committee report that criticised the Office for Students as too close to government.

Of course, the government already announced how it was tackling low quality courses earlier in September – through the regulatory system.

In favour:  Universities Minister Robert Halfon responded to a comment in the Financial Times defending the university sector and trotting out a reminder of his pet projects (degree apprenticeships, lifelong learning entitlement, cracking down on low quality courses). What was most interesting in the response was Halfon’s dismissive mention of the Lords inquiry which heavily criticised the OfS. Halfon states: while I recognise there is always more to be done to reduce regulatory burdens, the Office for Students is an essential part of our mission to drive up the quality of higher education by holding universities to account, championing students’ interests and improving social justice. It’s a strong indication that the Government’s response to the Lords formal report won’t call for significant change or rebuke the regulator publicly.

Sexual Misconduct: The OfS launched a pilot survey aiming to identify how widespread sexual misconduct in HE is. They’ve commissioned independent research by IFF Research who will work with the 13 HEIs that put themselves forward for the pilot. All students at the HEIs will be invited to complete the survey and answer questions about their experiences of sexual misconduct, how these experiences have affected their lives and studies, and their experiences of using the reporting mechanisms in their university. Note, this is the fieldwork element of the pilot survey announced in January 2023 (here).

Wonkhe highlight a warning for the sector regarding what the pilot may find: this pilot survey should offer some insight into the scale of the issue facing institutions and what kind of support students might need…At a Wonkhe event last week, academic and founding member of The 1752 Group Anna Bull warned that the sector should prepare for the discovery that the scale of sexual misconduct is higher than anticipated – smaller-scale prevalence surveys have indicated that around one in five students in any given year may be affected, and up to two-thirds of students during their time enrolled in higher education. These students are predominantly, though not exclusively, women – and perpetrators are typically other students at the same institution. Replication of these findings could change the picture considerably for how institutions seek to tackle the problem, encourage reporting, support survivors, and handle alleged incidents. 

Blogs on the topic:

Degree Apprenticeships: The OfS have earmarked £40 million (awarded through competitive bidding) for HEIs to expand their Level 6 degree apprenticeship programmes.

Apprenticeship levy: There’s a parliamentary question on the total amount of unspent apprenticeship levy and the funds returned to the Treasury.

Cooperation: the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education has signed a memorandum of understanding with Ofqual agreeing to work together and share information in order to meet their respective responsibilities in the HE sector.

Student News

  • Turing: Parliamentary Question revealing the DfE cannot currently calculate the actual average cost to the public purse per participant supported by the Turing Scheme in each academic year. And that data on the international mobilities delivered in the first year of the Turing Scheme (2021/22) is coming soon.
  • Accommodation: Wonkhe – Cushman and Wakefield’s annual student accommodation report highlights the brewing “student accommodation crisis” – with average private sector rents outside of London now at 77% of the maximum available maintenance loan. Fewer than one in ten spaces are now affordable for the average student, with university cities including Durham and Exeter offering even less affordable housing. Overall average rental costs have risen by more than 8% this academic year – driven by a growth in demand, rising operational and development costs, high inflation, and fewer new spaces available. The Guardian has the story.
  • Student support: Wonkhe have a neat blog looking at student support across the four nations and which students/parents get the best deal for their household income. HEPI also published a paper earlier this month on how different institutions are approaching student support with cost of living.
  • Loan forgiveness: It feels as though one organisation or another calls (or writes about) the need for student loan forgiveness for nursing (and often other allied health disciplines) every week. This week it’s the BBC’s turn covering calls for the loans to be written off once the student has completed 10 years of NHS service, although much of the article focuses on non-completion of training. The research behind the BBC’s article comes from a Nuffield Trust report: Waste not, want not. Nuffield state the estimated cost would be somewhere in the region of £230 million for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals per cohort in England. A similar scheme, or early-career loan repayment holidays for doctors and dentists in eligible NHS roles, should also be seriously considered. We believe this would represent a very sound investment.
  • Meanwhile the Royal College of Midwives highlight a report which finds that midwifery degree apprentices improved accessibility and retention within the workforce. There were lower drop outs (almost 0%) than through a traditional degree route (13%) – likely influenced by the majority of apprentices already holding positions in the maternity support workforce. And the programme was also found to support diversity, both in terms of supporting mature apprentices and those with caring responsibilities, and those from non-white backgrounds.

Admissions

A Levels: The Times reported that Rishi Sunak plans to replace A levels with a British baccalaureate qualification incorporating more subjects including compulsory English and his manifesto committee of maths to age 18. The extension of compulsory maths already has an expert advisory group looking into it. Dods report that the DfE have not denied Rishi’s proposals are being explored but that they had already reformed post-16 education (T levels and apprenticeship changes) and that the baccalaureate policy was a personal mission for Rishi, not the DfE.

Sector response to the possibility of replacing A levels has been dismissive. The concept faces many barriers because it would require significant infrastructure change for the educational curriculum, the overcoming of the maths teacher shortage, and the policy has to convince not only the DfE but also the electorate in the upcoming general election. Even if adopted it may polarise education in the nations further as Wales and Northern Ireland may choose to retain their current systems.

Here’s a comment from Research Professional on the baccalaureate:

  • Just as with the seven recycling bins, all of this can be filed in the category of never going to happen. Even if Sunak were to win a general election, the teacher shortage would make such a curriculum impossible.
  • Universities have not been consulted on replacing A-levels and there are no details on the changes that would need to be made to both GCSEs and higher education admissions to make any of this possible. Given how long it would take for these wholesale reforms of English education, it is almost as if Sunak himself has no real expectations of any of it happening.

What is interesting is the timing of this announcement. We’ve entered conference season and the political parties and party leadership need to be seen to make bold changes for the future demonstrating both their worth and that of their party – positioning it well in the electorate’s eyes for the forthcoming general election.

The party conferences are staggered so we’ll provide coverage across the next few policy updates.

Finally, Lord Willets weighs in on the A level debate in this Conservative Home blog: Why Sunak is right about A-levels and what should be done next.

Quick news

  • Recruitment caps: Wonkhe blog – Northumbria SU’s Tom Wellesley is concerned that the government’s plansfor recruitment caps on “low-quality” courses will restrict opportunities for prospective students.
  • New UCAS Chief: Dr Jo Saxton steps down as Chief Regulatory of Ofqual (in Dec 2023) to become the Chief Executive of UCAS (in Jan 2024 – replacing Clare Marchant). Recruitment for her Ofqual replacement has begun. Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: I am hugely grateful to Jo for guiding Ofqual through the challenges that followed the pandemic, ultimately overseeing a smooth return to exams and normal grading. Jo’s knowledge and experience have been invaluable as we’ve navigated the past 2 years and returned to the exam arrangements that best serve young people. I look forward to continuing to work with Jo in her new role at UCAS, supporting students to progress onto university, degree apprenticeships and the world of work.

Access & Participation

Parliamentary Question: Care leavers’ access to HE.

TASO published: Student mental health in 2023 – Who is struggling and how the situation is changing. It highlights more and more students are experiencing (or reporting) mental health difficulties and looks at how gender, LGBTQ+, ethnicity and student background factors interact with poor mental health. It also highlights mental health as the leading reason to withdraw from university. If you don’t fancy reading all 32 pages check out the conclusion starting on page 27 or read Research Professional’s analysis of the TASO paper which also delves into university resources and the Government’s attention to student mental health to provide a rounded picture.

International Recruitment

The Big Issue reports on international recruiters: £500 million is being spent by UK universities on a murky and unregulated industry. Education agents, who are paid a commission for each international student they enlist, are involved in 50% of international student admissions in the UK. In some countries such as China, this number reaches 70%. Twenty years ago the figure was just 10%. So who are they, and why are they now so widespread?  The article is timely given Lord Jo Johnson’s call for international recruiters to be regulated and for HE providers to diversify their international portfolio to reduce financial risk and alleviate security concerns about the influence of overseas nations.

Inquiries and Consultations

Click here to view the updated inquiries and consultation tracker. Email the contact listed against the item you’re interested in (or policy@bournemouth.ac.uk) if you’d like to contribute to any of the current consultations.

Other news

Skills shortages: The DfE published the 2022 employer skills survey demonstrating that 10% of employers have a skill shortage related vacancy. Skills shortages as a proportion of all vacancies rose from 22% in 2017 to 36% in 2022. 15% of employers stated they had an employee (or employees) who lacked the skills for the job and overall 5.7% of the workforce have a skills gap (up from 4.4% in 2017).

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JANE FORSTER                                            |                       SARAH CARTER

VC’s Policy Advisor                                                              Policy & Public Affairs Officer

Follow: @PolicyBU on Twitter             |                       policy@bournemouth.ac.uk

Call for abstracts | The 15th Annual Postgraduate Research Conference


The 15th Annual Postgraduate Research Conference 2023 will take place on Wednesday 29 November, and the call for abstracts is now open.


The conference is a great opportunity for postgraduate researchers to showcase and promote their research to the BU community whether they have just started or are approaching the end of their journey at BU.

Attending the conference is a great opportunity to engage and network with the postgraduate research community and find out more about the exciting and fascinating research that is happening across BU.

Abstracts are invited from postgraduate researchers to present via oral or poster presentation.

For full details on how to apply please visit the Doctoral College Conference Brightspace.

Closing date 09:00 Monday 23 October 2023.

Registration to attend will open in November, all members of BU are welcome!

For any questions, please email pgconference@bournemouth.ac.uk and a member of the Doctoral College conference team will get back to you.

PGR Re-Orientations


Next week the Doctoral College is running the annual re-orientation sessions for PGRs approaching their Major Review or Viva Voce examination.


Maintaining Progress Re-Orientation

Audience: PGRs approaching their Major Review milestone.

Duration: 3 Hours.

Frequency: Once per academic year.

Date: Tuesday 3 October, 10am – 1pm, IN PERSON – room BG-217, Bournemouth Gateway Building, Lansdowne Campus.

Register to attend.

 

Final Stages Re-Orientation

Audience: PGRs approaching their Viva Voce examination.

Duration: 3 Hours.

Frequency: Once per academic year.

Date: Wednesday 4 October, 10am – 1pm, IN PERSON – room P221, Poole House, Talbot Campus.

Register to attend.

 

Any questions, please get in touch doctoralcollege@bournemouth.ac.uk

Doctoral College Team

PGR Coffee and Cake Social Event


A free social event for Postgraduate Research students. 


To welcome back all PGRs at the start of the new academic year, join the Doctoral College team, your PGR colleagues and new PGRs for coffee and cake.

Date: Wednesday 4 October, 1pm – 2 pm.

Location: Talbot Campus, K103 Kimmeridge House

Book here

We look forward to seeing you!

Doctoral College Team

Doctoral Supervision | New Supervisors Development Workshop

Whether you are a new supervisor, you plan to be one, or you have experience but are new to Bournemouth University, this development workshop is for you.

The workshop, which is mandatory for new supervisors, offers the necessary knowledge to supervise Postgraduate Research students by placing this knowledge within both the internal and external regulatory framework.

This workshop will cover the following key areas:

  • The nature and scope of doctoral study and the role of a supervisor
  • Purpose and operation of the BU Code of Practice for Research Degrees
  • Monitoring, progression, completion and the process of research degrees at BU
  • The importance of diversity, equality and cultural awareness
  • Student recruitment and selection
  • Keeping students on track – motivation and guidance

Book your place onto one of the Doctoral Supervision: New Supervisors Development workshops below. Further details about this workshop can also be found on the staff intranet.

Date Time Location Booking (via Eventbrite)
Tuesday 10 October 2023 10:00 – 15:15 Talbot Campus (in person) Book
Thursday 16 November 2023 10:00 – 15:15 Talbot Campus (in person) Book
Wednesday 31 January 2024 10:00 – 15:15 Online Book
Tuesday 5 March 2024 10:00 – 15:15 Talbot Campus (in person) Book
Wednesday 15 May 2024 10:00 – 15:15 Lansdowne Campus (in person) Book

 

 

 

 

Postdoc Appreciation Week: Anastasia Vayona

This week is UK Postdoc Appreciation Week and we are celebrating and showcasing the achievements of our postdoctoral researchers and their important contribution to research at BU. 

Today’s post is by Anastasia Vayona, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Social Science and Policy, about her research journey to date… 

Confucius said, “Find something you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. I admit it took me a while (!) but I finally got there…

Being a Postdoc has proven to be the most fulfilling career choice that I have made to date. I am working on things that I am passionate about with people who share the same passion and interest.

I started my professional career as a Landscape Architect who was always interested in sustainability and the societal aspects of designing for people and through that I got exposed to the concept of Circular Economy. It was the Eureka moment for me, I developed an appetite for further research and explored the societal aspects of Circular Economy, so I pursued a doctorate on the subject. I was fortunate to work on EU-funded projects along with my studies and got to meet like-minded scholars and further develop my knowledge and interests.

Anastasia Vayona presenting her research

Anastasia Vayona presenting her research into the circular economy

I have recently been given the opportunity to work as Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Social Science & Policy, at the Faculty of Science and Technology. I am one of the 4 postdocs working on the Research Capacity Transformation Scheme (RCaTS): Resolving the extinction crisis: sustainable and technological solutions for biodiversity and society project, along with academics from Life and Environmental Sciences and the Business School.

This role has allowed me to work with an interdisciplinary team of colleagues and academics on a series of different projects, all involving biodiversity and society. As a social scientist, I constantly explore new ways of involving society in practice and broadening the consumer/ residence/ human understanding of issues that involve sustainability and their livelihood.

Being a postdoc is an important first step of an academic career. It provides one with a relatively high degree of freedom to pursue their research interests – free from the pressure of completing and submitting their PhD thesis! It gives one the luxury to dedicate their time wholly on research and pump their research skills during the outset of their career. In the six months I have been in my current post, I managed to publish three papers and I am in the process of preparing a further five at the time of writing.

However, a postdoc role is not permanent by design, so it also comes with some degree of job insecurity and anxiety: time is ticking, and you need to deliver outputs that will showcase your capabilities and competency as a researcher.

Being an all-rounded researcher involves building and mastering a wide range of competencies – not just the obvious skill of writing scientific papers, but also understanding and participating in funded research (both pre and post award), gaining research independence by working with colleagues within and outside your institution, participating in supervision of undergraduate and postgraduate student projects, and of course teaching, through the delivery of targeted, guest lectures showcasing your research.

This complex and challenging landscape was one of the reasons I volunteered for the role of institutional Research Staff Association (RSA) representative, where I aspire to make a difference through working together with other members of the university to produce an actionable plan for supporting early career researchers in navigating through the various options, opportunities, expectations and responsibilities.

When I started this journey, I could only dream of what I have succeeded to date but now I am grateful for what I have achieved; I am thankful to all the people who helped me through the journey so far and look forward to the future.

Thank you to everybody who has shared their experiences as part of Postdoc Appreciation Week – and thank you to our postdocs for all you do, this week and every week, to support research at BU. 

You can get involved on social media during Postdoc Appreciation Week by using #LovePostdocs and #NPAW2023 on Twitter and Instagram and tagging us @BU_Research or @UK_NPAW.

Postdoc Appreciation Week: Dr Aralisa Shedden

This week is UK Postdoc Appreciation Week and we are celebrating and showcasing the achievements of our postdoctoral researchers and their important contribution to research at BU. 

Today’s post is by Dr Aralisa Shedden, who writes about her experiences as a postdoctoral researcher… 

I am a terrestrial ecologist who aims to understand the emerging challenges for biodiversity conservation in a changing world. I obtained my BSc and my MSc at the University of Veracruz, Mexico. My MSc thesis investigated sustainable use of tropical forest fragments to enhance biodiversity conservation and how endangered species adapted to changes in their environment. I also worked as a Research Assistant at the Institute of Neuroethology, where I supported research development and management.

I was then invited to join the Center for Tropical Research at the University of Veracruz, where I worked as a Scientific Associate until 2012, when I began my PhD at Bournemouth University. I completed my PhD in 2016 and my thesis combined environmental, ecological and social data to rank the suitability of areas for conservation in a multi-user and multi-use landscape in Mexico. I explored using primates as flagship species to establish these conservation sites and also aimed to support decision making and planning in response to threats including agriculture and hunting.

After a five year break in my career due to full-time care responsibilities, I re-joined academia and began a Post Doctoral position at Bournemouth University working on a EU Horizon 2020 project called RESONATE that investigates how past and current site factors and management affect forest system resilience in different forest types and management systems across Europe.

I also continue to collaborate with colleagues from universities in Mexico and the U.S.A. on topics related to interactions between wildlife (e.g. jaguar and puma predation on primates), the effects of landscape transformation on animal health (e.g. increase in parasitism in animals living in human impacted forests) and enhancing our knowledge on how to tackle conservation issues in the tropics.

Through my applied research, I am driven to understand the intricate relationships between the need for economic growth in rural communities and the necessity for environmental conservation. I am interested in how species respond to changes in their ecosystems, ongoing climatic events and human pressures. With this knowledge, I aim to provide practical solutions for conservation under varying scenarios.

For me, the best part about being a post-doc has been learning new skills and being exposed to topics/concepts that I had not been involved with in my previous research. And worst thing about being a post-doc is it can be somewhat isolating and the learning curve can be steeper than expected, which can be quite challenging.

If you’d like to write a blog post to share your experiences, or show your appreciation for our postdoctoral researchers, please contact research@bournemouth.ac.uk. You can also get involved on social media during Postdoc Appreciation Week by using #LovePostdocs and #NPAW2023 on Twitter and Instagram and tagging us @BU_Research or @UK_NPAW.

 

Announcement: Research Café

Announcing a new “Research Café”: twice-monthly informal and open-format online sessions for all things research (including practice-related research), starting in October. These sessions are hosted and supported by BU academic staff members, for staff and research students.

  • 2nd Tuesday of the month, 1300-1400, Zoom (first Tues session will be 10 Oct)
  • 4th Thursday of the month, 1300-1400, Zoom (first Thurs session will be 26 Oct)

The sessions are open to all—academic staff, student, professional support staff, ECRs, profs, whoever!

Each session will be a drop-in; no need to RSVP unless a special session has been announced. You can pop in for 5 minutes or the full hour, have your lunch and/or a cuppa, and talk about research at Bournemouth.

Where requested, we can set up dedicated sessions on topics of interest. Some suggested areas include (but are not limited to!):

  • Networking, making connections for collaborations
  • Sharing experiences on projects and committees
  • Exchanging support and advice
  • Applying for grants
  • Publication strategies
  • REF strategies

Keep an eye out for calendar invitations; if you don’t receive an invitation and you’d like to, please contact Lyle at lskains at bournemouth.ac.uk.

The Research Cafe is hosted by Lyle Skains and sponsored by the Centre for Science, Health, and Data Communications Research. 

Postdoc Appreciation Week: Postdoc Appreciation meet-up

This week is UK Postdoc Appreciation Week and we are celebrating and showcasing the achievements of our postdoctoral researchers and their important contribution to research at BU. 

To mark the week, we hosted a Postdoc Appreciation meet-up event on Talbot Campus…

A photo through a window of people gathered in a room with a poster saying Postdoc Appreciation Week

The Postdoc Appreciation Week meet-up

The event offered the opportunity for postdoctoral researchers, their line managers, and research staff from across the university to come together and network, as well as find out more about current postdoctoral research taking place at BU.

The event was opened by Professor Mike Silk, Co-Chair of the Research Concordat Steering Group at BU.

Introducing the event as an opportunity to increase and enhance the visibility of postdoc researchers at BU, he said: “Postdoctoral researchers really are the ones who drive forward the research agenda at any institution.

“They are the lifeblood of my research and career – I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing without the postdoctoral researchers that I have managed.”

As part of the event, postdoctoral researchers Sina Safari and Anastasia Vayona presented short summaries of their current research.

Sina Safari stood in front of a screen

Sina Safari presents his work as part of the ADDISONIC cluster

Sina, a Postdoctoral Research Assistant in Structural Dynamics and Advanced Materials, shared his work as part of the ADDISONIC research cluster, which is looking at how ultrasonic fatigue testing can provide valuable data around how long materials will last.

The work has applications for industry in helping them develop more robust modelling around the lifespan of materials, as well as exploring ways of potentially using less material while extending their life.

Anastasia, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Social Science and Policy, spoke about her research exploring greenwashing, wish cycling and the circular economy.

Anastasia Vayona presenting her research

Anastasia Vayona presenting her research into the circular economy

She shared a brief history of the introduction of plastic packaging and the development of a ‘throwaway culture’, which peaked around the 1990s. She also spoke about some of the challenges around recycling – including the responsibility being largely left with consumers, and unclear messaging which leads to recycling becoming contaminated and ended up in landfill.

The event ended with the chance to chat over coffee and cake, and offered a great opportunity to learn more about postdoctoral research at BU and meet some of our current researchers, as well as say thank you for the contribution they make to research at BU. The hope is to hold similar events in future – watch this space!

If you’d like to write a blog post to share your appreciation for our postdoctoral researchers, please contact research@bournemouth.ac.uk. You can also get involved on social media during Postdoc Appreciation Week by using #LovePostdocs and #NPAW2023 on Twitter and Instagram and tagging us @BU_Research or @UK_NPAW.

 

 

Postdoc Appreciation Week: Local Authority Adult Social Care Recruitment and Retention research project

This week is UK Postostdoc Appreciation Week and we are celebrating and showcasing the achievements of our postdoctoral researchers and their important contribution to research at BU. 

Today’s post is by Dr Andy Pulman, Postdoctoral Researcher in Social Care, who shares details of his research exploring recruitment and retention in social care… 

An effective health service is reliant on an effective social care system, and it is therefore vital that we develop a robust research base for social care, to ensure that local authorities (LAs) and third sector organisations provide the most effective services within a wider integrated system of health and social care.

The National Centre for Post-Qualifying Social Work (NCPQSW) has been contributing to this area of national research recently by helping to generate deeper insights into the challenges of building capacity to undertake social care research across the sector and the opportunities for building research engagement and capacity across Higher Education Institutions and the social care sector in the Wessex region (Dorset, South Wiltshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight).

In 2022, Professor Lee-Ann Fenge (PI) and Dr Andy Pulman (Post Doc) completed a year-long study examining social care research enablers – which could help to build a positive research environment – and barriers – which might prevent or limit a positive research environment for practitioners. We are currently working on a follow up project – one of four in the Wessex region being funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) – building on this initial scoping work.

Our study explores local recruitment (employing people as adult social care staff) and retention (providing a working environment where they want to stay) issues in adult social care from the perspective of four populations of interest:

  1. Social care practitioners currently working in two local LAs – Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) and Dorset.
  2. Social care staff with responsibility for performing exit interviews with LA staff (prior to their leaving the LA) currently working in the two local LAs.
  3. Students currently enrolled in social care undergraduate and postgraduate programmes (within the Wessex region) who might enter the adult social care workforce locally once qualified.
  4. Service users with lived experience of receiving services in BCP or Dorset/advocates drawn from Wessex Region Local Authority contracted services and the impacts of practitioner retention in relation to use of these services.

This project runs between November 2022 and April 2024 and at time of writing (11/09/23), we are currently collecting and analysing qualitative data from over n=100 participants. 

More information on our project:

Dr Andy Pulman – apulman@bournemouth.ac.uk

https://ncpqsw.com/building-research-capacity-in-social-care/

https://www.arc-wx.nihr.ac.uk/research-areas-list/social-care%3A-local-authority-adult-social-care-recruitment-and-retention-research-project

Further viewing:

Pulman, A. 2023. NIHR ARC Wessex Social Care Lunchtime Seminar #2 – Building Research Capacity in Social Care.

Further reading:

Pulman, A. and Fenge, L.-A., 2023. Building Capacity for Social Care Research—Individual-Level and Organisational Barriers Facing Practitioners. The British Journal of Social Work.

Pulman, A. and Fenge, L.-A., 2023. Building Capacity for Social Care Research – Ways of Improving Research Skills for Social Workers. Social Work Education.

If you’d like to write a blog post to share your appreciation for our postdoctoral researchers, please contact research@bournemouth.ac.uk. You can also get involved on social media during Postdoc Appreciation Week by using #LovePostdocs and #NPAW2023 on Twitter and Instagram and tagging us @BU_Research or @UK_NPAW.

Postdoc Appreciation Week: Dr Rejoice Chipuriro

This week is UK Postdoc Appreciation Week and we are celebrating and showcasing the achievements of our postdoctoral researchers and their important contribution to research at BU. 

Today’s post is by Dr Rejoice Chipuriro, Post-Doctoral Researcher In Social Care, about her experiences as a postdoctoral researcher… 

I trained as a social worker in Zimbabwe before relocating to South Africa where I obtained my MA in Social Development and PhD in Sociology. I joined Bournemouth University in February 2022 as a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Social Science and Social Work.

A group of researchers stood on steps

Dr Rejoice Chipuriro with her wider research team

I have worked in community-led interventions and health research programmes in Southern Africa and in the UK. My current research projects are both funded by the National Institute of Health and Social Care and focus on community assets and how these contribute to people’s health and wellbeing (commonhealthassets.uk).

I also work with a local arts-based community organisation which supports mental health for marginalised populations such as asylum seekers, people in recovery from drug and alcohol use.

I was initially drawn to social work as a helping profession and later I ventured into research to learn from and understand the societies that I worked in. When I practised social work, I noticed that beyond individual pathologies lay structural and socio-economic issues that either developed or deprived access to life enhancing choices and opportunities. This led me to studying social development and sociology. I found these inter-disciplinary postgraduate courses helpful for my community work.

I was able to co-design participatory and anti-oppressive interventions with the help of people in the communities as experts by experience. I enjoy supporting people going through life transitions as well as groups and communities striving for a more equitable and just society for all.

What I like about being a post-doctoral researcher

I have travelled widely and met researchers, academics, and communities of practice across the globe, which is an enriching experience. I have presented my research in three continents and collaborated on research across the globe. My network is expansive, and I have accessed resources, intellectual support, and mentorship which has helped me grow professionally. I bring with me this international experience into my work, and this benefits the students and communities I support. When work is challenging, I have empathetic colleagues who hold the space for me and offer encouragement when I need it most.

I have been granted opportunities to teach social work and sociology units as well as to co-facilitate CPD units. I am still mastering teaching skills whilst I support colleagues in lesson planning, delivering virtual and in-person teaching and assessments. I enjoy doing things out of my comfort zone and this aspect of my academic training was at first intimidating but now pleasant. I have settled into my teaching duties well and I like infusing the creative as well as pragmatic aspects of my research into the lectures to enhance student learning experience from different fields of practice.

I was allocated a fellow post doc to be my uni buddy, who helped me settle into my role and the practicalities of living in Bournemouth and we became friends, which alleviated some loneliness away from home. I was assigned mentors to help direct my career progression. From the mentorship I managed to submit a successful portfolio of evidence for my associate fellow Advance HE. I also got mentorship in submitting research bids and got my first grant as a Principal Investigator. These achievements are an indicator of the time and effort invested into professional development for post-docs at BU.

The difficult part of being a post-doc

The writing process for peer reviewed publication can be lonely and arduous. However, BU has put in place support for post-docs to attend writing retreats, meet fellow post-docs, exchange ideas and make friendships. This alleviates loneliness and the retreats are an opportunity to learn from established academics. I have joined research centres such as the Centre for Seldom Heard Voices and the Women’s Academic Network, where I present my work and get feedback, which has also positively impacted my academic publishing.

If you’d like to write a blog post to share your appreciation for our postdoctoral researchers, please contact research@bournemouth.ac.uk. You can also get involved on social media during Postdoc Appreciation Week by using #LovePostdocs and #NPAW2023 on Twitter and Instagram and tagging us @BU_Research or @UK_NPAW.

How to talk to journalists – online workshop


Online workshop opportunity for PGRs at Bournemouth University


If you’re interested in having your work and research reported in the media, join this practical workshop – Impress the Press: How to talk to journalists.

This online workshop will run from 10am to 12.30pm on Thursday 5th October.

This will cover what makes a good news story and how to talk about your work, as well as tips and techniques for speaking with broadcast media (TV and radio) – followed by the chance to put it all into practice through some mock interviews. Engaging with the media can be a great way to raise your profile and share your research with a broad range of audiences, which can increase the reach and potential impact of your work. By the end of the session, you’ll feel confident in undertaking media interviews and talking to journalists about what you do.

This workshop will be facilitated by Stephen Bates (Senior Press Officer, Marketing & Communications) and Emma Matthews (Research Communications Adviser, Research & Development Support).

To sign up, complete this form: https://forms.office.com/e/TisHrnjbMT