I am delighted to announce that the call for abstracts for The 12th Annual Postgraduate Research Conference is now open.
The Annual Postgraduate Research Conference is an opportunity for postgraduate researcher 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 and this year we are going virtual.
Attending the conference is a great opportunity to engage and network with your PGRs and the wider PGR community and find out more about the exciting and fascinating research that is happening across BU.
For our 12th Annual Postgraduate Research Conference we will be hosting oral presentations via Zoom and showcasing research posters virtually on the website and the research and Faculty blogs.
But although we are on the frontline of this crisis, nurses are too often being left out of responses to the pandemic.
Uniquely at risk
In the UK and other countries with high rates of coronavirus deaths, there are increasing inequalities in health outcomes for different income groups. In England and Wales, the mortality rates from COVID-19 in the most deprived areas are more than double the least deprived.
In general, the risk of ill health increases for people who live on a low income. Common health issues that affect these groups include high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, lung disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity. All of these put people at higher risk of becoming sicker and dying from COVID-19. Death rates are highest among people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.
Nurses working in hospitals, care homes and within communities are often put at greater risk from COVID-19 because they have not been given adequate personal protective equipment, or PPE.
A study of nearly 100,000 health workers in the UK and US found that people working on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic were three times more likely to test positive for the disease than the general community. Health workers from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background were found to be five times more likely to test positive than white people who did not work in healthcare. Workers who reported a lack of adequate PPE in their healthcare institutions were at greater risk still.
Another study by the UK’s Royal College of Nursing, meanwhile, found that more than half of Black, Asian and minority ethnic respondents have felt pressure to work without the correct PPE compared to just over a third of other respondents. These groups were also asked to reuse PPE more frequently than their white counterparts.
Denied a voice
It’s a painful irony that as nurses battle against the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 is the World Health Organization’s Year of the Nurse and Midwife which was supposed to raise the profile and perceptions of nurses globally.
But the response to the pandemic in the UK has starkly shown that our expertise and experience as a profession is not being called upon and our potential is not recognised. We are the biggest work force for health in the UK working in hospitals, care homes and community settings to care for those with COVID-19 and help prevent its spread yet we have no representation on the official scientific advisory group (SAGE), which advises the government on its coronavirus response. Nor are we represented on the rival Independent SAGE group.
Our role in policy development and planning is negligible despite the invaluable insights our unique position in health systems gives us. Our lack of representation and reward means that we are also suffering from the impacts of inequalities along with those we care for.
Given the chance, nurses could help guide coronavirus policy in a number of ways. First, by being a witness to the health impacts of COVID-19 on our local communities and staff, recording and researching inequity of access to services. Second, we can advise on how to provide prevention and treatment resources to those most at risk. Finally, we can set a positive example in terms of equality of opportunity, fair working conditions, protection from infection and pay. This could start with ensuring equal provision of PPE for all staff.
Nurses are at the forefront of trying to reduce existing health inequalities which are being made worse by COVID-19. We are also victims of those inequalities – a feminised, racialised workforce dealing with poor conditions and lacking a political voice. Care and prevention of disease are not perceived as being as important as finding a cure or a vaccine, but in the global recovery from COVID-19, all these elements are equally vital.
We have already lost too many colleagues in the fight against this disease. It’s time our work is recognised and we are given an official voice to help us all recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s been a rollercoaster year for Airbnb and its much-anticipated plans for an initial public offering or IPO. The home sharing platform had planned to file back in March to go public but then coronavirus hit and its revenue nose-dived.
Now, it looks like plans are back on track. Airbnb confidentially filed its IPO paperwork with the securities and exchange commission in mid-August. None of the financial specifics were revealed but the company was valued at US$18 billion in its last funding round in April, which is a long way down from its previous 2017 valuation of US$31 billion.
So the decision to file its IPO paperwork and potentially list in 2020 was surprising to some. Critics point to the ongoing pandemic and the many issues it continues to throw up: the hosts and guests that have been angered by changing cancellation policies, new laws and regulations in cities seeking to reclaim housing for locals, as well as the falling revenue and ongoing losses. Others point to the lacklustre IPOs from sharing economy bedfellows Uber and Lyft in 2019, not to mention WeWork’s fall from grace.
Reasons to IPO
But there are lots of reasons to go public, including pressure from employees (shares held by early employees will expire this year). But another big motivation is the fact that Airbnb has rebounded better than its competitors from coronavirus. Booking rates were above expectations from June 2020 onwards and the Airbnb model could take advantage of changing host and tourist behaviour during the pandemic.
The company’s overheads are far less than the hotel sector due to its limited fixed costs. It also took advantage of the rise in domestic staycations in rural locations across the globe, and the increased demand for countryside retreats where people could safely socially distance. Unlike hotels, short-term rentals tend to facilitate longer stays and can offer full-service amenities, living space, and gardens. Research shows that the more spacious environments of short-term lets have been popular with holidaymakers and people wanting to work from home elsewhere.
Despite broad marketing cuts to reduce losses, Airbnb has strong brand recognition through past campaigns like “Don’t go there. Live there” that tapped into people’s desire to not just visit a place but have a more authentic experience of it. This helped it become the go-to platform for short-term rentals during the pandemic.
While the broader tourism and hospitality sector is weak, perhaps Airbnb sees this stage of the pandemic as its time to shine and push ahead with its IPO. Plus, stock markets in the US are on a record high, fuelled by stimulus from Washington.
Questions remain for Airbnb, however. In particular, when will travel behaviour revert to business as usual, if ever? This will determine whether current bookings growth will lead to profitability.
Then there are the safety issues that have dogged the company for years and played a big role in Airbnb’s loss of profitability in 2019. It spent US$150 million on safety initiatives, including verifying the accuracy of listings, creating a 24/7 safety hotline and even tied employee bonuses to safety.
There is also the threat of more tax and regulation in major markets, which could emerge as authorities seek new revenue to pay for the effect of coronavirus on their economies. The basis of the favourable market conditions are also open to question, as there is concern that the current strength of the stock markets isn’t based on strong economic fundamentals and is a bubble that’s waiting to burst.
Success in the tourism industry is never a given. Airbnb will be all too aware of this, having totally disrupted the hotel industry. Airbnb has more than 7 million listings – dwarfing the largest hotel chain, Wyndham Worldwide, which has 8,000 hotels. But rather than seeing this as a burden, Airbnb is capitalising on it.
But for all its market positioning as a different kind of travel provider – one that offers unique, authentic and personalised experiences – Airbnb still sits firmly with the tourism sector. Like its competitors, its success still depends on post-pandemic travel rebound.
Social media influencers are often seen as lazy freelancers who make a living being paid to pretend they like products. But these “celebrities’” are more than just marketing vehicles. If used properly, they can be effective agents of positive social change.
Yet the UK government has taken a bold step by working with influencers to try to stop the spread of coronavirus. It has paid several social media influencers and reality TV stars to promote the NHS test and trace service – the system used when someone tests positive for COVID-19 to work out who else might be at risk after coming in contact with them. The service relies on local public health teams contacting those that may be potentially infected to ask them to self-isolate and test for the virus. However, to date, the service is failing to deliver. This is for many reasons, one of which is the public’s reluctance to share their contact details.
Phillips, just like other influencers involved in this campaign, was paid for her posts. While the government hasn’t revealed how much was spent on the campaign, it claims “over 7 million people have been reached” with the messages.
Typically a mega influencer who has more than a million followers will be paid around £10,000 per post so, of course, there was a debate about whether taxpayers’ money should be used in this way.
However, the right public health messaging doesn’t always reach young people. They are often less engaged with mainstream traditional communication channels such as TV, radio and press. Paying popular influencers to promote credible public health messaging is a genuine alternative if the government wants to reach young people.
Powerful but ordinary
The impact social media influencers have – on young people in particular – is beyond doubt. And their clout is particularly strong now that we’re spending more time at home online.
Of course, their power is most readily associated with commercial interests. The rise of the influencer has transformed the beauty and fashion industries beyond recognition. Finding the right star to endorse your product on their Instragram or TikTok feed, can make or break a brand these days.
They achieve these results by presenting themselves as an approachable “friend” to their social media followers. They have a greater than average potential to influence others because they build a special, intimate bond with their followers by posting content very regularly and communicating with their audience directly. When a fan leaves a comment on an influencer’s post and receives a reply, they feel like they have a relationship with them, which reinforces the influencer’s ability to market products.
In our survey of 465 young people, we found that social media influencers’ content and their “authentic” behaviours are linked to consumers’ tendencies to buy products spontaneously without reflection.
Unlike traditional celebrities, who often keep their private lives behind closed doors, social media influencers discuss personal experiences, good or bad, with their followers. They see such sharing as more sincere and trustworthy than content coming from elsewhere.
Beyond these commercial activities, however, influencers have more recently been seen pushing followers to engage with social issues. Audiences are interested in influencers who engage in activism and who take a stand on issues. This has been particularly in evidence during the Black Lives Matter movement, when fans looked to social media stars for meaningful statements and positions and even demanded it of them when they were not forthcoming.
In our work around relationships between influencers and followers, we have found that many young people are interested in social media stars who seek to drive change rather than just sell products. This, combined with the personal approach, is what makes influencers an attractive prospect for a government trying to reach young people. If someone like Phillips talks about test and trace on Instagram, young people are likely to react and act.
The World Health Organization has been using influencer marketing techniques in its coronavirus messaging since April. It has gone a step further by using a CGI influencer called Knox Frost to “get accurate, vetted information about COVID-19 in front of millennials and Gen Z”. The computer-generated 20-year-old has been posting to just under a million Instagram followers about coronavirus safety and raising funding for the WHO.
In times when the economy is suffering, many might question why the UK government is paying social media stars to promote test and trace services. In reality, spending of this kind has enormous potential to deliver a positive impact. As our studies show, influencers are powerful in shaping the behaviour of their followers. Until now, this was mainly done in the commercial sphere to drive consumption, but now we are seeing more positive uses for their high profiles.
The PGR Peer Support area has just been launched and is now accessible for PGRs from your Brightspace homepage. The area will provide a forum to connect with others, ask questions and share advice about the PGR journey.
Within the PGR Peer Support area, under the heading of Peer-led Content, there is a series of interviews with current PGRs and graduates from BU. These video blogs will shed some light on the research milestones and common challenges.
In addition to this, there are Discussion Boards where you can ask questions or respond to others, post information about key events or calls for research participants too. There is also a Frequently Asked Questions tab, this will be populated with common questions from the discussion boards. This will create a repository of key questions with useful links to quickly solve small queries.
Please explore the area and engage with other PGRs. If you have any questions or suggestions for additional content you would find useful, please email Chloe Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From 8th September, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) are launching a weekly zoom for early career researchers working in the broad field of Paleo sciences.
PERCS (Paleo EaRly Career Seminars) is a weekly seminar series that promotes and features work by Early Career Researchers in a range of paleo sciences including paleontology, paleoecology, paleoceanography and paleoclimatology. While the speakers will be Early Career Researchers, the seminar is for people at every career stage. PERCS take place on Zoom, and consist of a live streamed short (~30 min) seminar followed by a Q&A session and an opportunity for small group discussion and networking with other attendees using break-out rooms. Recordings of most PERCS will be available to participants unable to attend live seminars. Seminars are (mostly) weekly on Tuesdays at 1500 UTC. PERCS are intended as a venue to share research, strengthen our global community, and facilitate collaboration between the Palaeo sciences. All palaeo-researchers and fans (regardless of career stage) are enthusiastically welcome.
NERC strive towards diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility with a diverse line-up of speakers from around the world, and a strong commitment towards fostering an inclusive environment. They also implement live auto-captions, and have both synchronous and asynchronous viewing options.
To be added to the email list that receives seminar invitations and announcements, please review their code of conduct and then sign up through a google form.
Over the past half year or so BU academics have produced a healthy crop of publications on COVID-19/ corona virus. Searching the word ‘COVID’ today Saturday 5th September, on the university’s repository BURO (Bournemouth University Research Online), resulted in 59 records of publications whilst searching for ‘corona’ gave 48 publications. Removing duplicates, obviously irrelevant papers (e.g. one paper had a co-author called ‘Corona’) and papers published prior to 2020 resulted in a combined total of 66 BU publications. Some papers are obviously focused on COVID-19/corona virus, as the title suggests. Others may merely mention corona virus or COVID-19 in the body of the text, perhaps as a reason for delay in the research, as a new opportunity or barrier and so on. A search on Scopus and BRIAN added nine more Bournemouth co-authored papers to the reference list below.
References from BURO & Scopus:
Adedoyin, F., Bekun, F.V., Driha, M.O. and Balsalobre-Lorente, D., 2020. The Effects of Air Transportation, Energy, ICT and FDI on Economic Growth in The Industry 4.0 Era: Evidence from the United States. Technological Forecasting and Social Change. (In Press)
Ahmed, O., Carmody, S., Walker, L. and Ahmad, I., 2020. The need for speed! 10 ways that WhatsApp and instant messaging can enhance communication (and clinical care) in sport & exercise medicine. British Journal of Sports Medicine. (In Press)
Ahmed, O., Fulcher, M., Malone, D., Mira Y Lopez, C., Rho, M. and Strojna, A., 2020. The introduction of temporary concussion substitutions in disability football: Are we “headed” in the right direction? Football Medicine & Performance, Spring (32), 13 – 16.
Akudjedu, T.N., Lawal, O., Sharma, M., Elliott, J., Stewart, S., Gilleece, T., McFadden, S. and Franklin, J.M., 2020. Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on radiography practice: findings from a UK radiography workforce survey. British Journal of Radiology. (In Press)
Alhassan, G., Adedoyin, F., Bekun, F.V. and Agabo, T., 2020. Does Life Expectancy, Death Rate and Public Health Expenditure matter in sustaining Economic growth under COVID-19: Empirical Evidence from Nigeria? Journal of Public Affairs. (In Press)
Al Maamari, G., 2020. Multiple stakeholders’ perception of the long-term success of project: a critical study of Oman tourism resort projects. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University
Angelopoulos, C.M. and Katos, V., 2020. DHP Framework: Digital Health Passports Using Blockchain – Use case on international tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic. arXiv (2005.08922v2 [cs.CY]).
Asim, M., Sathian, B., van Teijlingen, E., Mekkodathil, A., Subramanya, S.H. and Simkhada, P., 2020. COVID-19 Pandemic: Public Health Implications in Nepal. Nepal Journal of Epidemiology, 10 (1), 817 – 820.
Azman, A., Singh, P., Parker, J. and Ashencaen Crabtree, S., 2020. Addressing competency requirements of social work students during the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia. Social Work Education. (In Press) DOI: 10.1080/02615479.2020.1815692
Balsalobre- Lorente, D., Driha, O.M., Bekun, F.V., Sinha, A. and Adedoyin, F., 2020. Consequences of Covid-19 on the Social Isolation of the Chinese Economy: Accounting for the Role of Reduction in Carbon Emissions. Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health. (In Press)
Cai, W., McKenna, B., Wassler, P. and Williams, N., 2020. Rethinking Knowledge Creation in Information Technology and Tourism. Journal of Travel Research. (In Press)
Caudwell, J., 2020. Transgender and Non-binary Swimming in the UK: Indoor Public Pool Spaces and Un/Safety. Frontiers in Sociology, 5, 64
Clarkson, B.G., Culvin, A., Pope, S. and Parry, K. D., 2020. Covid-19: Reflections on threat and uncertainty for the future of elite women’s football in England. Managing Sport and Leisure. (In Press)
Côté, P, Bussières, A, Cassidy, J., Hartvigsen, J, Kawchuk, G., Leboeuf-Yde, C, Mior, S, Schneider, M, and more than 140 signatories# call for an end to pseudoscientif, and Breen, A. C., 2020. A united statement of the global chiropractic research community against the pseudoscientific claim that chiropractic care boosts immunity. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 28 (1), 21.
Cretan, R. and Light, D., 2020. COVID-19 in Romania: transnational labour, geopolitics, and the Roma ‘outsiders’. Eurasian Geography & Economics. (In Press)
Escaith, H., Khorana, S., MacGregor, J., Vickers, B. and Ali, S., 2020. The Potential Impact of COVID-19 on Commonwealth Trade, Recovery and Resilience. The Commonwealth Trade Hot Topics, 161.
Esteves, L., Ashencaen Crabtree, S. and Hemingway, A., 2020. Impacts of C-19 lockdown on the work-life balance of BU academics – Preliminary results. Working Paper. Poole, England: Bournemouth University.
Fowler-Watt, K., Majin, G., Sunderland, M., Phillips, M., Brine, D., Bissell, A. and Murphy, J., 2020. Reflections on the Shifting Shape of Journalism Education in the Covid-19 pandemic. Digital Culture and Education (June 22). (In Press)
Gingrich, O., Shemza, A. and Almena, M., 2020. TRANSFORMATIONS: New media art between communities and professional practice. In: EVA London, 16-18 November 2020, London. (In Press)
Giousmpasoglou C, Marinakou E, Zopiatis A. 2020. Ο ρόλος των Γενικών Διευθυντών στα ξενοδοχεία 4* και 5* κατά τη διάρκεια της πανδημίας COVID-19: μία έρευνα σε 45 χώρες. Money & Tourism Magazine
Hobson, S., Hind, M, Mojsilovic, A, Varshney, KR. 2020 Trust and Transparency in Contact Tracing Applications, CoRR, abs/2006.11356
Hodge, S. and Johnson, L., 2020. The digitally resilient student. The Psychologist.
Hughes, J.G., Leydon, G.M., Watts, S., Hughes, S., Brindle, L.A., Arden-Close, E., Bacon, R., Birch, B., Carballo, L., Plant, H., Moore, C.M., Stuart, B., Yao, G., Lewith, G. and Richardson, A., 2020. A feasibility study of a psycho-educational support intervention for men with prostate cancer on active surveillance. Cancer Reports, 3 (2), e1230.
Jackson, D., Bradbury-Jones, C., Baptiste, D., Gelling, L. H., Morin, K., Neville, S. and Smith, G.D., 2020. Life in the pandemic: Some reflections on nursing in the context of COVID-19. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 29 (13-14), 2041-2043.
Jackson, D., Bradbury-Jones, C., Baptiste, D., Gelling, L.H., Morin, K., Neville, S. and Smith, G.D., 2020. International Nurses Day 2020: Remembering nurses who have died in the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 29 (13-14), 2050-52.
Jan, R. and van Teijlingen, E., 2020. COVID-19: The New Corona Virus Upsetting Our World. Journal of Asian Midwives, 7 (1), 1 – 3.
Kaolawanich, R., Oe, H., Yamaoka, Y. and Chang, C. Y., 2020. A discussion of a luxury apparel brand strategy in an emerging market: Conceptual model with network perspectives. Journal of Social, Cultural and Political Studies, 4 (2), 58 – 72.
Khashu, M., Provenzi, L., Adama, E., Garfield, C., Koliouli, F., Fisher, D., Nørgaard, B., Thomson-Salo, F., van Teijlingen, E., Ireland, J. and Feeley, N., 2020. COVID-19 restrictions and fathers of infants in neonatal care. BMJ Global Health, 5 (4).
Khorana, S, Escaith, H, MacGregor J, Vickers B, Ali S., 2020 The Potential Impact of COVID-19 on Commonwealth Trade, Recovery and Resilience he Commonwealth Trade Hot Topics Article number 161
Li, Z., Feng, C., Zheng, J., Wu, M. and Yu, H., 2020. Towards Adversarial Robustness via Feature Matching. IEEE Access, 8, 88594 – 88603.
Light, D., Cretan, R., Voiculescu, S. and Juca, S., 2020. Introduction: Changing Tourism in the Cities of Post-communist Central and Eastern Europe. Journal of Balkans and Near Eastern Studies, 22 (4), 465-477.
Lyne, M., Brown, K. and Grimshaw, K., 2020. Advance care planning. Poole, England: NCPQSW Bournemouth University.
Lyne, M., Grimshaw, K. and Brown, K., 2020a. The Mental Capacity Act requirements for clinical decisions regarding treatment and care. Poole, England: NCPQSW Bournemouth University
Lyne, M., Grimshaw, K. and Brown, K., 2020b. Guidance on the use of the Mental Capacity Act for decisions regarding clinical treatment and care: An introduction. Poole, England: NCPQSW Bournemouth University.
Lyne, M., Grimshaw, K. and Brown, K., 2020c. The Mental Capacity Act requirements when an individual lacks the mental capacity to consent to treatment and care. Poole, England: NCPQSW Bournemouth University.
Lyne, M. and Parker, J., 2020. From Ovid to Covid: The metamorphosis of Advanced Decisions to Refuse Treatment into a safeguarding issue. Journal of Adult Protection. (In Press)
Mahato, P. K., Tamang, P., Shahi, P., Aryal, N., Regmi, P., Van Teijlingen, E. and Simkhada, P., 2020. Effects of COVID-19 during lockdown in Nepal. Europasian Journal of Medical Sciences, 2 (2).
Matthews, J., 2020. “Cultural exceptionalism” in the global exchange of (mis)information around Japan’s responses to Covid-19. Media and Communication, 8 (2), 448-451.
McAlaney, J. and Hills, P.J., 2020. Understanding Phishing Email Processing and Perceived Trustworthiness Through Eye Tracking. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1756.
Miles, L. and Shipway, R., 2020. Exploring the COVID-19 Pandemic as a Catalyst for Stimulating Future Research Agendas for Managing Crises and Disasters at International Sport Events. Event Management, 24 (4), 537- 552.
Mimler, M., 2020. Current developments – Europe: The final nail in the coffin for the patent with unitary effect or just another bump in the road? The German Constitutional Court declares void the German Act of Approval on a Unified Patent Court (2 BvR 739/17). Intellectual Property Forum, 120 (June), 89 – 91.
Muniz-Pardos, B., Shurlock, J., Debruyne, A., Steinacker, J.M., Börjesson, M., Wolfarth, B., Bilzon, J.L.J., Löllgen, H., Ionescu, A., Zupet, P., Dohi, M., Swart, J., Badtieva, V., Zelenkova, I., Casasco, M., Geistlinger, M., Bachl, N., Tsofliou, F., Di Luigi, L., Bigard, X., Papadopoulou, T., Webborn, N., Singleton, P., Miller, M., Pigozzi, F. and Pitsiladis, Y.P., 2020. Collateral Health Issues Derived from the Covid-19 Pandemic. Sports Medicine – Open, 6 (1), 35.
Ndasi, W., Bolat, E. and Roushan, G., 2020. Digital cause-related marketing advertising formats: Do the perceived donation amount offer and gender matters in display advertising on non-profit digital sites? Journal of Advertising Research. (In Press)
Nguyen, A. and Catalan, D., 2020. Digital Mis/Disinformation and Public Engagment with Health and Science Controversies: Fresh Perspectives from Covid-19. Media and Communication, 8 (2), 323 – 328.
Nguyen, H. and Nguyen, A., 2020. Covid-19 Misinformation and the Social (Media) Amplification of Risk: A Vietnamese Perspective. Media and Communication, 8 (2), 444-447.
O’Carroll, V., Owens, M., Sy, M., El-Awaisi, A., Xyrichis, A., Leigh, J., Nagraj, S., Huber, M., Hutchings, M. and McFadyen, A., 2020. Top tips for interprofessional education and collaborative practice research: a guide for students and early career researchers. Journal of Interprofessional Care. (In Press)
Oe, H., 2020. Discussion of digital gaming’s impact on players’ well-being during the COVID-19. arXiv (2005.00594v1 [cs.CY]).
Oe, H., Takemoto, T. and Ridwan, M., 2020. Is Gamification a Magic Tool?: Illusion, Remedy, and Future Opportunities in Enhancing Learning Outcomes during and beyond the COVID-19. Budapest International Research and Critics in Linguistics and Education (BirLE) Journal, 3 (3), 1401 – 1414.
Oe, H. and Weeks, M., 2020. How to Support Vulnerable Citizens during the COVID-19 Lockdown: A Community Initiative from Ubiquitous Network Perspectives. Budapest International Research and Critics Institute (BIRCI-Journal), 3 (2), 1369 – 1377.
Parrilli, M. D., Balavac, M. and Radicic, D., 2020. Business innovation modes and their impact on innovation outputs: Regional variations and the nature of innovation across EU regions. Research Policy, 49 (8), 104047.
Patsakis, C., Casino, F. and Katos, V., 2020. Encrypted and Covert DNS Queries for Botnets: Challenges and Countermeasures. Computers and Security, 88 (January), 101614.
Pinder, A.C., Raghavan, R., Britton, J. R. and Cooke, S.J., 2020. COVID-19 and biodiversity: The paradox of cleaner rivers and elevated extinction risk to iconic fish species. Aquatic Conservation: Marine & Freshwater Ecosystems, 30 (6), 1061-1062.
Richards, B., 2020. The causes of sanity. Free Associations (78), 19-32.
Rosser, E. Westcott, L., Ali, P.A., Bosanquet, J., Castro-Sanchez, E., Dewing, J., McCormack, B., Merrell, J., Witham, G. 2020 The Need for Visible Nursing Leadership During COVID-19. Journal of Nursing Scholarship. (In Press)
Rutherford, and Cownie, F., 2020. Teaching Advertising for the Public Good. Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture, 15 (2), 162-177.
Short, M., Bitzer, J. and Rowlands, S., 2020. Testing times. The European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care. (In Press)
Sathian, B., Asim, M., Mekkodathil, A., van Teijlingen, E., Subramanya, S.H., Simkhada, P., Marahatta, S.B. and Shrestha, U.M., 2020. Impact of COVID-19 on community health: A systematic review of a population of 82 million. Journal of Advances in Internal Medicine, 9 (1), 4 – 11.
Simmonds A, Nunn A, Gray M, Hardie C, Mayo S, Peter E, Richards J. 2020. Pedagogical practices that influence professional identity formation in baccalaureate nursing education: A scoping review. Nurse Education Today 93:104516
Soopramanien, A., Jamwal, S. and Thomas, P., 2020. Digital health rehabilitation can improve access to care in spinal cord injury in the UK: A proposed solution. International Journal of Telerehabilitation, 12 (1), 3 – 16.
Sreedharan, C., Thorsen, E., Upreti, L. and Sharma, S., 2020. Impact of COVID-19 on journalism in Nepal. Project Report. Tripureshwor, Kathmandu: Nepal Press Institute.
Stankov, U., Filimonau, V. and Vujičić, M.D. 2020. A mindful shift: an opportunity for mindfulness-driven tourism in a post-pandemic world. Tourism Geographies. (In Press)
Swain, I. D., 2020. Why the mask? The effectiveness of face masks in preventing the spread of respiratory infections such as COVID-19 – a home testing protocol. Journal of Medical Engineering & Technology, 1 – 4.
Tang,S., Brady,M., Mildenhall, J., Rolfe, U., Bowles,. A., Morgan,K,. 2020. The new coronavirus disease: what do we know so far? Journal of Paramedic Science, 12(5) https://doi.org/10.12968/jpar.2020.12.5.193
Umesh U, Kundu, D, Selvaraj, C, Singh SK, Dubey, VK., 2020 Identification of new anti-nCoV drug chemical compounds from Indian spices exploiting SARS-CoV-2 main protease as target, Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics
van Teijlingen, E., Asim, M. and Sathian, B., 2020. Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and the risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A mental health concern in Nepal. Nepal Journal of Epidemiology, 10 (2), 841 – 844.
Wallis, R. and Van Raalte, C., 2020a. If industry-oriented degrees are the answer, what are some of the questions? How do students attribute value to their undergraduate experience from the perspective of post-university employment? WONKHE (19 May 2020).
Wallis, R. and Van Raalte, C., 2020b. ‘Just the way the industry works’: how film and TV need to be more than fair weather industries. The Talent Manager (29 June 2020), 377.
Wallis, R. and Van Raalte, C., 2020. Growing a sustainable workforce: A response to the DCMS Committee’s Call for Evidence for its inquiry into the ‘Impact of Covid-19 on DCMS sectors’. Discussion Paper. UK Parliament.
Wainwright, T. and Low, M., 2020c. Beyond Acute Care: Why collaborative self-management should be an essential part of rehabilitation pathways for COVID-19 patients. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 52, jrm00055.
Wainwright, T., Gill, M., McDonald, D.A., Middleton, R.G., Reed, M., Sahota, O., Yates, P. and Ljungqvist, O., 2020. Consensus statement for perioperative care in total hip replacement and total knee replacement surgery: Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS®) Society recommendations. Acta Orthopaedica, 91 (1), 3- 19.
Weidhase, N. and Wilde, P. 2020. ‘Art’s in pop culture in me’: Posthuman Performance and Authorship in Lady Gaga’s Artpop (2013). Queer Studies in Media and Popular Culture. (In Press)
Wood, C. 2020. COVID-19: Protecting the medically vulnerable, British Journal of Nursing 29(12):660
Zhao, X., 2020a. How China’s State Actors Create a “Us vs US” world during Covid-19 Pandemic on Social Media. Media & Communication, 8 (2), 452 – 457.
Zhao, X., 2020b. Auditing the “Me Inc.”: Teaching personal branding on LinkedIn through an experiential learning method. Communication Teacher. (In Press)
Whilst searching BU Research Blog added a further eight references:
Batey, J., Parry, K. 2020. Coronavirus: why self-isolation brings mental health strain for elite athletes, The Conversation (14 April) https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-why-self-isolation-brings-mental-health-strain-for-elite-athletes-135273
Hemingway, A. 2020. Nurses are on the coronavirus frontline, so why are they being left out of the response? The Conversation (9 Sept) https://theconversation.com/nurses-are-on-the-coronavirus-frontline-so-why-are-they-being-left-out-of-the-response-143658
Dr. Alina Dolea, member of BU Centre for Comparative Politics and Media Research, published open access together with Prof. Diana Ingenhoff from University of Fribourg (Switzerland) and Dr. Anabella Beju from Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu (Romania) the article “Country images and identities in times of populism: Swiss media discourses on the ‘stop mass immigration’ initiative” in International Communication Gazzette: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1748048520913462
The research was carried out during Dr. Dolea’s SCIEX postdoctoral fellowship at University of Fribourg and funded through the SCIEX competitive grant “Discourses on country image promotion and identity in Western and Eastern Europe. A comparative study on Switzerland and Romania (DiCoPro)”. The Scientific Exchange Programme (Sciex-NMSch) was part of the Swiss Contribution to the New Member States (NMS) of the European Union.
The article shows country images are instrumentalized in public debates beyond strategic communication contexts and practices. The authors innovatively linked studies on country images and identities with migration and populism as communication phenomenon and ideology discursively articulated by political and media actors. They used Critical Discourse Analysis to show how media construct, re-construct and mobilize various representations and descriptors of Switzerland (as a country, as a state or as a nation) in the debates following the 2014 Swiss referendum on “stop mass immigration initiative”. Projecting fictitious scenarios, fear and uncertainty, media have ultimately constructed Switzerland’s image through a populist type of discourse, reproducing the populist ideology of dividing society into polarized categories through strategies of inclusion and exclusion.
This free online masterclass will explore how best to promote your public engagement activity so that it reaches your intended audience and has the maximum impact. It will also cover ideas for generating local and national media around your research and event.
Led by the Being Human Festival team, Dr Michael Eades will share tips on promotion, communication and reaching intended audiences, while Professor Sarah Churchwell will discuss ways to make academic research converge with the media agenda. Organisers from last year’s festival will also give flash talks that provide helpful insights and tips from their Being Human events, which included hosting popular activities for families and local communities.
Throughout there will be opportunities to get involved in the conversation and ask questions. Attendees will also be emailed a masterclass pack full of helpful information and toolkits on the topic.
Although this event is aimed at those taking part in this year’s Being Human festival, it may also be of interest to those generally thinking about public engagement in the humanities.
Professor Sarah Churchwell is the director of the Being Human festival. A prominent advocate for literature and the humanities, Sarah appears regularly in the media and writes for both academic and non-academic audiences.
Dr Michael Eades is manager and curator of the Being Human festival. He has also run numerous public engagement initiatives such as ‘Bloomsbury Festival in a Box’ which engaged socially isolated people with dementia.
Dr Misha Ewen is a Hallsworth Research Fellow at the University of Manchester. She ran a popular family history workshop for the 2019 festival entitled ‘Discovering Caribbean Family Memories’, which featured in the Manchester Evening News.
Dr Elaine Canning is Head of Cultural Engagement and Development at Swansea University and has led several successful Being Human festival hub programmes, including their 2019 family-friendly programme of activities that included museum takeovers, plays and a big book treasure hunt.
Joining the event:
This event is free, but booking is required. It will be held online with details about how to join the virtual meet-up being circulated via email to registered attendees. The masterclass will begin at 11:00am, but you will be able to join the event’s online waiting room from 10:30am.
The PPI scandal led to the largest consumer redress scheme in British history, with over £38 billion paid to claimants to date. The deadline for customers to submit their claims was set at midnight on August 29 2019. But, almost one year later, hundreds of thousands of registered claims remain outstanding. And to make matters worse for the banks, a swathe of new claims have started rolling in.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) hoped the deadline would bring the scandal to an orderly conclusion and offer protection to consumers while helping to restore market integrity. The banks hoped it would enable them to draw a line under it and move on. But the situation seems to be getting worse.
The problem now comes in the form of unfair commission payments. PPI commission rates were deemed to be unfair for two main reasons: when they were too high or when they were kept secret.
When they were too high they accounted for, on average, 67% of the PPI price. In the most serious cases they accounted for 95% of the cost of a PPI policy.
When secret, they were (obviously) undisclosed to the customer. That customer – had they been better informed – may have queried the value of their PPI policy. Especially if they had they known that the majority of the price was not going to the product provider (for example, the insurer underwriting the protection cover for the loan or credit card) but to the bank who sold the PPI policy to them.
Awareness of the unfair commission payments on PPI policies is not new. But recent court decisions mean that customers can potentially claw back all of the commission they have paid and claim after the 2019 deadline.
The issue first came to light in the November 2014 Supreme Court case, Plevin v Paragon Personal Finance Ltd, after which the FCA changed its guidance on what could be claimed as part of the PPI redress scheme. This change enabled customers to claim commission that accounted for over 50% of the price of the PPI policy and became known as the Plevin rule.
Payments to customers were however restricted to commission that was in excess of 50%. In other words, successful claimants only received part of the commission that had been paid to the banks.
A series of other court cases saw the position change again, as claimants were awarded the full commission where the bank failed to disclose large commission payments to the customer. As almost all PPI policies earned high commission rates, this change was significant and opened the floodgates to new claims.
Customers who have received a partial payment, have had their claims rejected or have not claimed so far can now claim, citing the unfair compensation. Even customers who were not mis-sold PPI and were happy with their policy can potentially claim as the high commission payments may not have been disclosed to them.
The potential for new PPI claims based on the unfair commission payments could not have come at a worse time for the banks as they are still facing a backlog of existing claims to process. A survey conducted in March this year found that 60% of PPI claimants had not heard from their bank about the progress of their claim and half of these had not even received an acknowledgement letter.
Banks were overwhelmed by the volume of claims and although the expected time for banks to respond to such claims is typically eight weeks, the FCA managed this expectation by predicting that most claims would be resolved by summer 2020.
But this deadline was set before COVID-19 disrupted the world and it now appears unlikely to be met. Now many customers remain frustrated that their cases have not been resolved as the new unfair commission charges issue further aggravates and complicates the issue.
The original PPI scandal severely damaged consumer trust in the banks as a lack of integrity was at the heart of the case. PPI mis-selling was something that the banks could have controlled and was an intentional act as the banks placed profits above their customer welfare.
My own research has shown that when trust is damaged by a lack of integrity, it is difficult to restore. The banks needed to display clear evidence of an intention to get rid of negative influences.
For a start, all banks should have immediately apologised for the mis-selling. Some did, but this was only after they lost a high court case trying to overturn the FCAs ruling on PPI mis-selling. The banks really needed to signal to employees the importance of a customer-centered culture and change employee incentive systems to align with long-term performance, rather than short-term profit.
Banks need to embed ethical values into their routine actions and decisions. So far, the evidence is that not all banks have bothered to take such steps.
The onset of the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown have imperilled businesses worldwide. It will be tempting for firms to put any commitment to the environment in the back seat as they attempt to recover, especially as some governments reduce requirements and undermine environmental protection.
This is short-sighted: businesses do not have to sacrifice their environmental goals for protecting their growth. Greening initiatives like offering green products or services, introducing green processes internally, hiring employees to promote sustainable practices, or going beyond compliance requirements, can actually help firms.
Using data on 9,236 small and medium businesses in 35 countries across Europe and the US, our research suggests that on average, businesses benefit from going green, although the type of greening that gives the most significant benefit may differ between firms.
Here are four main ways that greening can benefit businesses.
1. Innovative market niches
By offering new green products or services, a business is more likely to cater to an emerging trend or niche market, which can make it more competitive. Frugalpac, a UK-based company that makes paper-based packaging for liquids that cut carbon footprints, received a £2 million investment during the pandemic – a time when most other companies were struggling for finance.
Already seeing widespread success for their recycled paper coffee cup, Frugalpac’s innovative paper wine bottle, also made from 94% recycled paper, has led to new opportunities and partnerships.
Earlier this year, the Danish energy supplier Ørsted, formerly known as Danish Oil and Natural Gas, was named the most sustainable company in the world. This success followed from its transformation to a green energy supplier – which went hand in hand with accelerated profits.
By catering to new niche markets using green products and services, these businesses have emerged as future leaders in their sectors. Of course, not all companies are suited to finding such niches. But sustainability can be promoted in other ways like green working practices and processes, for example.
Greening initiatives signal to external stakeholders, such as investors and customers, that a business is committed to doing good. This can lead to increased investment, customers and stakeholder loyalty. This is pertinent in the aftermath of COVID-19 as there is heightened awareness about the need to protect the environment.
For example, highly sustainable companies benefit from superior stock market performance in the long run, according to research looking at American companies in the period 1993-2009. Investors are increasingly questioning firms on their commitment to sustainability, and expecting meaningful steps from them for integrating consideration of such issues into their investing criteria. This is reflected by the tenfold increase in global sustainability investment to US$30.7 trillion by April 2019 since 2004.
More recently, Polysolar, a company that makes glazed windows that generate electricity, has secured more than double the investment it sought on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. And large companies such as Unilever have benefited from increased stakeholder engagement and loyalty by adopting greening practices and products, addressing a dark history of environmental exploitation.
4. Increased efficiency
Greening processes can result in efficiency gains by reducing energy costs, allowing businesses to secure green tax credits, improving operational efficiency, and embedding circular economy principles internally.
Such gains directly translate into commercial benefits. As many as 75% of UK businesses that invested in green technologies subsequently enjoyed commercial benefits, even if financial concerns pose barriers to making these green investments in the first place. For large companies such as Proctor & Gamble, these gains can run into billions of pounds.
Conversely, in cases where businesses harm the environment, they have to be prepared to incur significant costs. A prominent example is the famous case of Volkswagen, which has even adversely impacted the performance of other German car manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes Benz.
For all these reasons, time is ripe for business to go green.
We know well by now that coronavirus does not affect everyone equally. In England and Wales, Black people are four times more likely die from COVID-19 than white people, while people from a Bangladeshi background are twice as likely. Coronavirus has also had a disproportionate effect on people experiencing poverty.
It’s clear that this disease heightens existing inequalities. Some of the most marginalised people in the UK are Gypsy, Roma Travellers, yet they are often left out of research and outreach programmes.
We do not currently know the rates of death and severe illness among these communities. And without better data about their experiences of COVID-19, the true impacts of the pandemic on Gypsy, Roma Travellers could remain dangerously hidden.
Gypsy, Roma Travellers are not a homogeneous group, but rather consist of different communities with diverse needs. Even within the same community group, there can be many varied experiences of living through the pandemic depending upon personal, social and environmental factors.
That said, research indicates that the continuing COVID-19 pandemic will be extremely challenging for many individuals within the disparate communities.
The last census in 2011 noted that 76% of Gypsy, Roma Travellers in England and Wales lived in houses or apartments. This offers the least challenging experience, as people have access to basic amenities such as electricity, gas, sanitation and water supplies.
Those living in caravans, however, are likely to experience more difficulties. A 2019 Houses of Commons briefing paper noted there were 22,662 Traveller caravans in England, of which 57% were on private sites, 29% were on local authority sites and 14% were on caravan sites. There are increased challenges for those living on these sites during the pandemic, including accessibility of gas bottles, sewerage and obtaining fresh water. Those living on unauthorised sites experience the most significant problems, especially in accessing suitable sanitation and waste disposal.
Discriminatory policies towards these communities have meant that sites, whether they are provided by a local authority or privately run, are more likely to be located close to motorways, major roads, railways, refuse tips, sewage works and industrial estates, all of which are damaging to the health of people who live there. It is perhaps not surprising therefore, that Gypsy, Roma Travellers have a worse health status than the wider community average, dying between seven to 20 years earlier than the rest of the population.
A review across five regions in England and Wales noted that 66% of Gypsy, Roma Travellers had bad, very bad or poor health. Poor air quality, proximity to industrial sites, asthma and repeated chest infections in children and older people were noted in around half of all interviews undertaken for the review. Health access is incredibly difficult for people in these communities, which means that such problems are often not picked up until much later in the illness trajectory, leading to poorly managed chronic conditions.
As COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory disease, this places Gypsy, Roma Travellers in a precarious position – many will meet the criteria for high or moderate risk.
The impact of social distancing
As well as physical health impacts, we also know that there are mental health consequences that come from the COVID-19 pandemic. These too are likely to disproportionately affect Gypsy, Roma Travellers.
These communities often have a very strong family culture, and many live in large, extended family groups. This culture is an important protective mechanism against the harsh stigma and discrimination they face in wider society.
A desire to roam and travel is also deeply embedded as a core part of the identity of Gypsy, Roma Travellers. The distancing measures enacted in response to coronavirus reduce social contact within communities as well as people’s ability to be nomadic and roam. Both of these factors have implications for the long-term mental health and well-being of people within these communities in which mental ill-health is on the increase.
A lack of data
As well as widespread stigma, a major difficulty in truly understanding the impact of coronavirus on Gypsy, Roma Traveller communities is a lack of systematic data collection.
While Gypsy, Roma Travellers were recognised as a distinct ethnic minority category in the last census, the NHS does not currently incorporate this category into their ethnicity data. As such, individuals are not identified in health services as originating from these communities. Nor are they included as a specific ethnicity in Public Health England’s reports on COVID-19 health disparities. Instead they are merged into the category of “any other white background”.
Unless this is addressed at a national level, the health impact of coronavirus on these marginalised communities will remain hidden.
Please see below for an update from the Health Research Authority surrounding the review of undergraduate and master’s research projects.
‘Back in March the HRA and devolved administrations announced we had decided to stop reviewing applications for individual undergraduate and master’s student projects until further notice while we prioritised the urgent review of COVID-19 studies. This was also due to the significant pressure on the NHS/HSC, limiting its ability to participate in research studies unrelated to COVID-19.
As the lockdown eases, we wanted to update students, supervisors and HEIs on our current position in relation to student research and ethics review. For now, our existing position of not reviewing applications for individual undergraduate and master’s student projects will remain in place. This means that any student project requiring approvals will not be able to proceed. Any students with approved studies are reminded to check with the relevant NHS/HSC organisations locally about whether or not their projects may continue.
In the autumn we will publish our proposed new guidelines for student research for consultation in use. Students, research supervisors and HEIs will be invited to share their opinions and help shape our framework.
Eating disorders in autistic people are poorly understood, but they tend to be more severe and long-lasting. The longer a person lives with their eating disorder, the harder it is to recover. This may partly explain why some studies suggest autistic people have a poorer prognosis in therapy.
Longer-lasting eating disorders are associated with a greater likelihood of death. The fact that autistic people are vulnerable to chronic eating disorders, alongside other mental illnesses, may be one reason why they die one to three decades earlier, on average, than non-autistic people.
So why are autistic people more vulnerable to eating disorders? A couple of reasons have been suggested.
One general and major risk factor for developing an eating disorder is dieting. For people who might already be genetically vulnerable to eating disorders, dieting seems to kick-start something in the brain that can develop the disorder.
While autistic people aren’t more likely to diet than the average person, certain features of autism – including attention to detail, determination and intense fixated interests – may make them better able to maintain the restrictions needed for long-term weight loss when they choose to diet.
The cognitive rigidity that we see in autistic people may also make it easy for them to get stuck in patterns of eating behaviour, while their preference for sameness may cause them to have a limited diet to begin with. For some autistic people, insensitivity to hunger, gastrointestinal problems and sensitivity to tastes, smells and textures make eating difficult anyway.
Moreover, because autistic people are often bullied and socially isolated, dieting and weight loss may give them back a sense of control, predictability, reward and self-worth. Eating disorders may even numb feelings of anxiety and depression.
A core feature of people with eating disorders is that they find it difficult to identify and cope with emotion. As autistic people struggle with emotions in similar ways, our research team wondered whether this might help explain why they are more likely to have eating disorders.
The personality trait characterised by an inability to identify and describe emotions is called alexithymia. Being alexithymic is like being emotionally colour-blind, and it ranges from subtle to severe. While one alexithymic person might find it hard to pinpoint what emotion they’re feeling, another might notice physical signs such as a racing heart and be able to identify they’re feeling angry or frightened.
Alexithymia is associated with many negative outcomes like suicide and self-injury. In part, this may be because people who cannot identify or express their emotions find it hard to soothe themselves or get support from others.
To see whether alexithymia might contribute to eating disorders in autism, we looked at eating-disorder symptoms and autistic traits in the general population. Autism is a spectrum disorder, so everyone has some level of autistic traits – it does not mean they are actually autistic. Nevertheless, these traits can tell us something about the nature of autism itself.
In two experiments with 421 participants, we found that higher autistic traits correlated with higher eating-disorder symptoms. We also found that higher levels of alexithymia wholly or partially explained this relationship. Our results suggest that having higher autistic traits alongside difficulties identifying and describing emotions may make these people more vulnerable to developing eating-disorder symptoms.
Interestingly, we found differences between male and female participants. While alexithymia was related to eating-disorder symptoms in women, there were no links between alexithymia and eating-disorder symptoms in men. Since the male group was small, however, we couldn’t be sure these findings would hold up in a bigger sample.
This research can’t show conclusively that alexithymia causes eating disorder symptoms in people with autistic traits, or indeed autistic people. It might be that the relationships work backwards, and eating-disorder symptoms give rise to alexithymia and to autistic features.
However, first-person accounts from autistic people are consistent with the idea that alexithymia might play a role in their eating disorders. One participant even described how restricting her calorie intake reduced internal sensations that – unknown to her, being unable to identify them – caused her much anxiety.
If supported by further research, these findings have potential implications for treatment. Clinicians already know that therapies need to be tailored for autistic and non-autistic patients, but how best to achieve this is still uncertain. Preliminary research like this may offer some clue by highlighting alexithymia as a potential target. Alexithymia is currently not addressed by clinicians either in autistic people or in those with eating disorders
As there are many negative outcomes associated with being autistic – such as high suicide rates and greater risk of eating disorders – it will be important to explore how much alexithymia, not autism itself, actually contributes to these negative outcomes. Focused interventions to treat alexithymia might potentially reduce these risks.
Young people have probably spent much more of their time than usual playing video games over the last few months thanks to the coronvirus pandemic. One report from telecoms firm Verizon said online gaming use went up 75% in the first week of lockdown in the US.
What impact might this have on young people’s development? One area that people are often concerned about is the effect of video games, particularly violent ones, on moral reasoning. My colleagues and I recently published research that suggested games have no significant effect on the moral development of university-age students but can affect younger adolescents. This supports the use of an age-rating system for video game purchases.
Our sense of morality and the way we make moral decisions – our moral reasoning – develop as we grow up and become more aware of life in wider society. For example, our thoughts about right and wrong are initially based on what we think the punishments and/or rewards could be. This then develops into a greater understanding of the role of social factors and circumstances in moral decisions.
Yet the moral dimension of video games is far more complex than just their representation of violence, as they often require players to make a range of moral choices. For example, players from the game BioShock have to choose whether to kill or rescue a little girl character known as a little sister.
A player with more mature moral reasoning may consider the wider social implications and consequences of this choice rather than just the punishment or rewards meted out by the game. For example, they may consider their own conscience and that they could feel bad about choosing to kill the little girl.
We surveyed a group of 166 secondary school students aged 11-18 and a group of 135 university students aged 17-27 to assess their gaming habits and the development of their moral reasoning using what’s known as the sociomoral reflection measure . This involved asking participants 11 questions on topics such as the importance of keeping promises, telling the truth, obeying the law and preserving life. The results suggested a stark difference between the two groups.
Among secondary students, we found evidence that playing video games could have an affect on moral development. Whereas female adolescents usually have more developed moral reasoning, in this case we found that males, who were more likely to play video games for longer, actually had higher levels of reasoning. We also found those who played a greater variety of genres of video games also had more developed reasoning.
This suggests that playing video games could actually support moral development. But other factors, including feeling less engaged with and immersed in a game, playing games with more mature content, and specifically playing the games Call of Duty and playing Grand Theft Auto, were linked (albeit weakly) with less developed moral reasoning.
No effect after 18
Overall, the evidence suggested adolescent moral development could be affected in some way by playing video games. However, there was little to no relationship between the university students’ moral reasoning development and video game play. This echoes previous research that found playing violent video games between the ages of 14 and 17 made you more likely to do so in the future, but found no such relationship for 18- to 21-year-olds.
This might be explained by the fact that 18 is the age at which young people in many countries are deemed to have become adult, leading to many changes and new experiences in their lives, such as starting full-time work or higher education. This could help support their moral development such that video games are no longer likely to be influential, or at least that currently available video games are no longer challenging enough to affect people.
The implication is that age rating systems on video games, such as the PEGI and ESRB systems, are important because under-18s appear more susceptible to the moral effects of games. But our research also highlights that it is not just what teenagers play but how they play it that can make a difference. So engaging with games for a wide variety of genres could be as important for encouraging moral development as playing age-appropriate games.
The Health Research Authority have launched a new strategy to ensure information about all health and social care research – including COVID-19 research – is made publicly available to benefit patients, researchers and policy makers. The new strategy aims to build on this good practice and make it easy for researchers to be transparent about their work.
Stonehenge, an icon of European prehistory that attracts more than a million visitors a year, is rarely out of the news. Yet, surprisingly, there is much we don’t know about it. Finding the sources of the stones used to build the monument is a fundamental question that has vexed antiquaries and archaeologists for over four centuries.
Our interdisciplinary team, including researchers from four UK universities (Brighton, Bournemouth, Reading and UCL) and English Heritage, has used a novel geochemical approach to examine the large “sarsen” stones at Stonehenge. Our results confirm that the nearby Marlborough Downs were the source region for the sarsens, but also pinpoint a specific area as the most likely place from where the stones were obtained.
Two main types of stone are present at Stonehenge: sarsen sandstone for the massive framework of upright stones capped by horizontal lintels; and a mix of igneous rocks and sandstones collectively known as “bluestones” for the smaller elements within the central area.
Research in the last decade has confirmed that the igneous bluestones were brought to Stonehenge from the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire, over 200km to the west. The sandstones have been tracked to eastern Wales although the exact outcrops have yet to be found. However, the origins of the sarsen stones has, until now, remained a mystery.
Stonehenge is a complicated and long-lived monument constructed in five main phases. The earliest, dated to about 3000BC, comprised a roughly 100m-diameter circular enclosure bounded by a bank and external ditch. Inside were various stone and timber structures, and numerous cremation burials.
The sarsen structures visible today were erected around 2500BC and comprised five trilithons (the doorway-like structures formed from two uprights joined by a lintel) surrounded by a circle of a further 30 uprights linked by lintels. The trilithons were arranged in a horseshoe formation with its principal axis aligned to the rising midsummer sun in the northeast and the setting midwinter sun to the southwest.
Locating the sarsen source
Conventional wisdom holds that the sarsens were brought to Stonehenge from the Marlborough Downs, some 30km to the north, the closest area with substantial scatters of large sarsen boulders. However, the Marlborough Downs are extensive and greater precision is needed to understand how prehistoric peoples used the landscape and its resources.
Our research has identified what might be termed the “geochemical fingerprint” of the Stonehenge sarsens. We started by analysing the geochemistry of all 52 remaining sarsens at Stonehenge (28 of those originally present are now missing, having been removed long ago).
This phase of the work involved using a non-destructive technology called portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometry (PXRF). Carrying out the PXRF analyses required access to the monument when it was closed to visitors and included several night shifts and one early morning analysing the lintel stones from a mobile scaffold tower. Data collection is never easy!
Analysis of the PXRF data showed that the geochemistry of most of the stones at Stonehenge was highly consistent, and only two sarsens (stones 26 and 160) had a statistically different chemical signature. This was an interesting result as it suggested we were looking for a single main source.
Then came a major stroke of luck. We were able to analyse three small samples that had been taken from one of the stones in 1958, Stone 58, part of the group of sarsens with a consistent chemistry. Using a method known as inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) gave a high-resolution geochemical fingerprint for the Stonehenge sarsen. Like all good detectives, we could now compare our fingerprint with those of the potential sources.
Sarsen blocks are found widely scattered across southern Britain, broadly south of a line from Devon to Norfolk. We sampled stones from 20 areas, including six in the Marlborough Downs, and analysed them using ICP-MS.
Comparing the geochemical signature from Stone 58 against our resulting data revealed only one direct chemical match: the area known as West Woods to the south-west of Marlborough. We could therefore conclude that most of the Stonehenge sarsens were from West Woods.
Our results not only identify a specific source for most of the sarsens used to build Stonehenge, but also open up debate about many connected issues. Researchers have previously suggested several routes by which the sarsens may have been transported to Stonehenge, without actually knowing where they came from.
Now these can be revisited as we better appreciate the effort of moving boulders as long as 9m and weighing over 30 tonnes some 25km across the undulating landscape of Salisbury Plain. We can feel the pain of the Neolithic people who took part in this collective effort and think about how they managed such a Herculean task.
We can also ask what was special about the West Woods plateaux and its sarsens. Was it simply their shape and size that attracted attention? Or was there some more deep-seated reason rooted in the beliefs and identities of the people that built Stonehenge?
Revealing that all the stones came from a single main source is also important and accords with the evidence that the sarsens were all erected at much the same time. But what about the two sarsens whose fingerprints differ from the main source? Where did they come from? The quest continues, and the questions just keep coming.