Category / Research communication

The 15th Annual Postgraduate Research Conference – Thank You

Thank you to all of our presenters, poster exhibitors, session chairs and of course delegates who supported the 15th Annual Postgraduate Research Conference. It is always a highlight on the Doctoral College events calendar and we hope you all enjoyed the day.

We were thrilled with the energy and enthusiasm on the day, and we were delighted to see a strong turnout of PGRs and colleagues showing their support and helping to promote our positive PGR research culture and community across BU.

Last chance to submit your feedback!

If you attended, either as a presenter or delegate, we would love to hear your feedback via this anonymous feedback form.

Your feedback will help us improve future conferences so please let us know your thoughts.

Feedback collection will close soon –  15 December 2023.

Postgraduate Research Showcase

Did you miss the 15th Annual Postgraduate Research Conference? Do not worry you will be able to visit the Atrium Gallery to view the posters that were exhibited on the day!

Half of the posters will be on display from 2 January. These will then be swapped out for the remaining posters, halfway through the exhibition, which will be displayed until 23 February.

We will be holding a celebration event on the 7 February 2024, with more information to follow so watch this space!

A Virtual Exhibition is now available via the BU website.

 

You can see more of the highlights from the day on twitter #BUPGRConf23 and #BUDoctoralCollege. 

I look forward to seeing many of your again next year!

Arabella [Doctoral College Marketing & Events Coordinator]

The Month in Research: November 2023

A cartoon image of black and white hands clapping on a yellow background

The Month in Research

The Month in Research is our new monthly round-up sharing research and knowledge exchange successes from across the previous month, showcasing the amazing work taking place across BU.

Your achievements

Thank you to everyone who has used the online form to put forward their achievements, or those of colleagues, this month.

Funding  

Congratulations to all those who have had funding for research and knowledge exchange projects and activities awarded this month. Highlights include

  • Dr Kathryn Collins (Faculty of Health and Social Science) has been awarded c.£186,000 by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) for their project Exploring the feasibility of using neuromuscular electrical stimulation for lower limb weakness after stroke
  • Professor Anna Feigenbaum (Faculty of Media and Communication) has been awarded c.£24,000 by the NHS for their project Co-creating storytelling artefacts on the Secure Data Environments project
  • Dr Alex Fry (Faculty of Health and Social Science) has been awarded c.£30,000 by the Church of England for their project Understanding the Wellbeing of Disabled Clergy

Publications

Congratulations to all those who have had work published across the last month. Below is a selection of publications from throughout November:

Content for The Month in Research has been collected using the research and knowledge exchange database (RED), the Bournemouth University Research Online (BURO) repository and submissions via The Month in Research online form. It is by no means intended to be an exhaustive list. All information is correct as of 27.11.23.

Please use The Month in Research online form to share your highlights and achievements, or those of colleagues, for the next monthly round-up.

The Fog of Streaming Wars: Prof. John Oliver delivers keynote speech at Digital Agenda Summit in Cyprus

Professor John Oliver delivering a talk on stageProf. John Oliver (FMC) recently delivery a keynote speech to over 1000 delegates at the 6th Digital Agenda Summit in Cyprus. The talk, titled the Fog of Streaming Wars, examined the subscription video on demand (SVOD) market which has seen explosive growth in recent years with global revenues reaching US$154bn in 2022.

He argued that a new phase of low-growth competitive rivalry is emerging with global and local European players fighting for market share and that future growth will be achieved by merger and acquisition in an industry that will inevitably consolidate.

Other keynote speakers taking to the main stage included the President of Cyprus, the Head of Global Communications & Marketing at Google DeepMind & Space X, and the Global Lead of Design Communication at BMW.

Prof. Oliver is a leading academic in the field of media management and a former President of the European Media Management Association. He has a successful track record in delivering world class impact from his research which has informed the UK Government’s Innovation Strategy, UK communications policy and regulation, and influenced the public policy debate on internet regulation. His research into ‘strategic transformations in the media’ resulted in multi-million pound investments made by FTSE 100 firms.

Prof. Oliver currently serves as an advisor to the Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology’s Horizon Scanning & Foresight Committee.

Conversation article: The Legend of Zelda film – past adaptations have gotten Link’s character wrong

Dr José Blázquez writes for The Conversation about the upcoming live-action film of The Legend of Zelda and some of the potential challenges adapting this beloved videogame…

The Legend of Zelda film: past adaptations have gotten Link’s character wrong

José Blázquez, Bournemouth University

The Legend of Zelda (first produced in 1986) is one of the most beloved videogames around the world, so when Nintendo announced the development of a live-action movie a couple of weeks ago, it inspired a lot of speculation (and fear) about how they might pull off a film.

Despite being haunted by the infamous adaptation made 30 years ago, the recent The Super Mario Bros. Movie was a global family hit. However, for some fans – myself included – it failed to deliver a compelling story about its central characters, which are some of the most iconic in videogame history. If Nintendo’s aim is to put smiles on every fan’s face, then adapting The Legend of Zelda will be a real challenge.

Set in a fantasy medieval world, the game series follows Link, an Hylian elf-like hero, and Zelda, princess of the kingdom of Hyrule. The stories differ from game to game, but often involve Link’s quest to rescue Zelda, defeat Ganon (the main antagonist of the series) and save Hyrule. They also tend to feature stories around the Triforce, a divine artefact formed by three equilateral triangles, each of which represent a virtue (power, wisdom and courage). The triangles can grant a wish to players who possess them all.

There is not a magic formula for a good adaptation and the process is made more complicated by such a vast, narrative-rich source material. Like many other fans, I would like to see a film that echoes what I felt when playing the games and preserves its DNA.

Losing Link

The original game was first released in 1986 and since then, another 19 games have followed (excluding spin-offs, remakes and re-releases). The latest instalment, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, has become one of the most lucrative.

From the vibrant landscapes and welcoming inhabitants of Hyrule to the daunting puzzles in dungeons and caves, feelings and emotions are the essence of Zelda’s storytelling. Recent titles have provided an expanded view of the settings, underpinned by open worlds offering a vast array of side quests, locations, monsters and non-playable characters.

A major part of getting the adaptation “right” will be in how the film chooses to portray Link.

Link is an archetype of a hero. He is brave, pure and communicates non-verbally in the games. His muteness is one of his most recognisable traits and one which helps anyone to identify with the character during the gameplay.

Although we barely know anything about his past, Link is somehow given depth by the players’ actions, who decide if they want to spend hours talking and helping villagers in side quests or embody an introvert hero who simply sticks to the main plan. This approach used in the games is not easily transferable to other media and, unsurprisingly, previous adaptations diverted from this path.

Earlier official adaptations of the game series were deemed non-canonical and distanced themselves from the source material in different aspects and degrees.

Many Zelda games have their own manga adaptations, which follow the original game storylines and add depth and provide backstories to the main characters. In the manga, Link talks, expresses emotions with facial expressions and is given a more rounded personality. We also learn about his past, providing more context about how the hero came to be.

The animated series was released in 1989, alongside Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, and lasted only 13 episodes due to the negative reception. In this adaptation, Link has brown hair and eyes (in contrast to his blonde hair and blue eyes in the games) and is chatty and immature.

While protecting the kingdom and the Triforce of Wisdom from Ganon, he is truly invested in flirting with Zelda, who – far from being a damsel in distress – rejects all his attempts to get a kiss. This diverts from the games, which have never depicted Zelda as Link’s love interest.

In Hollywood’s hands

In 2015, The Wall Street Journal reported that Netflix was preparing a live-action series based on The Legend of Zelda, which was described as “Game of Thrones for a family audience”. This was eventually denied by Nintendo.

Game of Thrones is notoriously dark, bloody and highly sexual, it’s hard to imagine what it looks like re-imagined as family entertainment. The Zelda series does feature more complex stories, which sometimes get quite dark (such as Twilight Princess and Majora’s Mask).

However, it’s difficult to imagine Nintendo moving away from light, family fun – it’s what they do best. Players will also expect them to produce a film with a PG rating. They tried a flirty Link before and it didn’t quite work – here’s hoping they leave that iteration alone.

Nothing has yet been said about the plot of the film adaptation, but Nintendo has confirmed that it will be directed by Wes Ball (The Maze Runner trilogy). It will be produced by Shigeru Miyamoto – co-creator of the game series and one of the most influential and acclaimed game designers of all time – and Avi Arad, chairman of Arad Productions Inc. The company has been involved in a long list of videogame, anime and comic adaptations. Miyamoto has also said that he has been working on the theatrical adaptation for many years.

It seems to be in safe hands and hopefully Nintendo has learnt from past failures. The least we can hope for is that with Miyamoto on board the legendary world of Zelda will be able to inspire similar feelings in viewers as the games have for nearly 40 years.


Looking for something good? Cut through the noise with a carefully curated selection of the latest releases, live events and exhibitions, straight to your inbox every fortnight, on Fridays. Sign up here.The Conversation


José Blázquez, Senior lecturer, Bournemouth University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

BS and lies: Study identifies how political leaders spread disinformation

Professor Darren Lilleker writes about his latest research, identifying how political leaders spread misinformation and disinformation… 

The flow of misinformation is a blight on societies. It leads to mistrust of facts, media, institutions. This is particularly the case with disinformation. Misinformation covers out of date facts and material shared which may be misleading but not with a deliberate intention to misinform.

Disinformation is spread strategically to further the objectives of an individual or organisation, often for political purposes. An analysis of literature found increased interest in studying mis/disinformation 2019-21, with a perhaps natural focus on health communication. One good thing that emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic was increased concern about the quality and veracity of information circulating within society. The concerns raised led to greater focus on how disinformation spreads within mainstream media and not just how it is used by extremist political groups or during election campaigns but more widely within political discourse.

A small project examining how disinformation enters mainstream discourse focused on political party leaders. We analysed items which had been factchecked and developed a coding scheme which explored two of the most serious forms of disinformation: bullshit and lies. While lies are obviously provably false, we draw on Henry Frankfurt who argued bullshit to be a claim that was impossible to prove or disprove and is utilised by actors who have no concern whatsoever for the truth.

Firstly, we found that of the items factchecked 31% could be classified as bullshit, 34% as lies. The remaining items found politicians misspeaking (5%) and alternative, partisan interpretations of data (30%). Bullshit and lies appeared mostly when either attacking the policies of opponents, defending one’s own policy or in policy promotion. Such forms of disinformation were not isolated to content on social media, which are rarely factchecked. Bullshit was used significantly in speeches and television interviews, lies similarly but also in policy statements. As these are designed for mainstream media consumption and appear above the radar it suggests many political leaders are unconcerned about the importance of the truth.

When politicians lie their opponents will call them out, but this can simply result in the politicisation of facts. Each side of a political divide has its own truth. The more each side claims ownership over immutable truths the deeper the polarization within a society. Once a society is divided a range of bad actors can exploit divisions for their own ends.

The next stages of this research will focus on surveys and experiments which explores who in society believes what. We hypothesize that individual interests and concerns are interwoven with confirmation bias regarding what is viewed, what is believed and hence what is shared. We also explore whether continuous exposure leads to acceptance, in particular if continuous exposure to evidence that a particular message is bullshit or a lie leads to inoculation regarding similar messages. Our purpose is to understand how to increase resilience against disinformation through understanding the most important cognitive mechanisms which can be activated as defences.

Within many societies media are major source of disinformation, and even in stable democracies politicians themselves strategically deploy bullshit and lies. Major social media can be encouraged to remove some content, but there are a plethora of platforms that cannot be regulated: Telegram, 4Chan, 8Chan etc. Content from any space can leak out, be spread across other platforms and can be used to reinforce the argument of a journalist or politician who lacks an ethical compass. Hence this work builds on previous arguments that political and media literacy, designed to reinforce natural cognitive defences, is the most reliable weapon in the fight against disinformation and its impacts on democratic societies.

The findings have been published in Javnost – Journal of the European Institute for Communication and Culture.

Read more about the study

Conversation article: When to give your child their first mobile phone and how to keep them safe

Professor Andy Phippen answers some key questions for The Conversation about giving children mobile devices, based on his research into young people and the internet…

When to give your child their first mobile phone – and how to keep them safe

Pressmaster/Shutterstock

Andy Phippen, Bournemouth University

I spend my career researching young people and the internet: what they do online, what they think about it and how their views differ to those of their parents.

I often get questions from parents about their children’s internet use. One of the most common is when to get their child a mobile phone, as well as how to keep them safe when they have one. Here are my answers to some key questions.

How old should my child be when they get their first phone?

I’m afraid I often disappoint parents in my answer to this question by not giving them a definite number. But the key here is what your child is going to use the phone for – and when might be suitable for that individual child.

According to a 2023 report by UK communications regulator Ofcom, 20% of three year olds now own a mobile phone. But this phone may just be used for taking pictures, playing simple games and supervised video calls with family.

The more pertinent question is when children should have their own fully-connected phone, which they can use unsupervised to contact others online.

When a child is primary school age, it’s highly likely that they will be used to adult supervision in most aspects of their life. They will either be at school, at home, with friends and trusted adults or with other family members.

Their need to contact a distant adult may not be that great – but you will want to think about what the specific needs of your own child might be.

Typically the transition from primary school to secondary is when children might be more distant from home, or be involved in school activities or socialising with friends where being able to contact home becomes more important. I have spoken to plenty of young people who talk about starting secondary school as the point where they first had their own phone.

How do I make sure they use a phone safely?

First of all, it’s important that if your child is going online – at whatever age and regardless of the device they’re using – you have a conversation with them about online safety.

Parents have a role to play in educating their children and making them aware of the risks that come with being online, as well as being mindful that most online experiences are not harmful.

I have carried out extensive research with young people on online harms. As part of this research, I and colleagues developed a number of resources for parents, put together with the help of over 1,000 young people.

What these young people say the most is they want to know who to turn to when they need help. They want to be confident they will receive support, not a telling off or confiscation of their phone. This means that a key first step is to reassure your child that they can come to you with any problems they encounter and you will help them without judgment.

It’s also important to discuss with your child what they can and can’t do with their device. This could mean, for instance, setting ground rules about which apps they can have installed on their phone, and when they should stop using their phone at the end of the day.

You should also explore the privacy settings for the apps that your child uses, in order to ensure that they cannot be contacted by strangers or access inappropriate content. The NSPCC has resources for parents on how to use privacy settings.

Should I check my child’s phone?

Sometimes parents ask me about whether they should be able to check a child’s device – either by physically looking at the phone or by using “safetytech”, software on another device that can access the communications on the child’s phone.

Father and son looking at mobile phone
Open conversations about phone use are key.
Khorzhevska/Shutterstock

I believe it’s important that this is also something you discuss with your child. Trust is important to ensure that your child comes to you with any online issues, so if you want to monitor their phone, talk to them about it rather than doing so covertly.

It seems reasonable parental supervision to be accessing a child’s device when they are of primary age, in the same way a parent would check with another child’s parent before agreeing to let them visit their home.

However, as your child gets older, they might not want their parent to see all of their messages and online interactions. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly states that a child does have a right to privacy.

Should I track my child’s location through their phone?

I have spoken to some families that track each other’s devices in an open and transparent manner, and this is a decision for the family. However, I have also spoken to children who find it very creepy that a teenage friend is tracked by their parents.

The question here is whether parents are reassuring themselves that their child is safe – or whether they want to know what they are doing without them knowing. I had a particularly memorable conversation with someone who told me their friend was extremely upset because their daughter had changed device and so they could no longer track her. When I asked how old the daughter was, they said she was 22.

It’s also worth considering whether tech like this actually provides false reassurance. It may allow parents to know where their child is, but not necessarily whether they are safe.

As with monitoring a child’s phone, it is worth reflecting upon whether a surveillance approach creates the ideal conditions for them to come to you with problems, or whether this is more likely to be fostered by open conversations and an environment of mutual trust.The Conversation

Andy Phippen, Professor of IT Ethics and Digital Rights, Bournemouth University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Conversation article: Big cats eat more monkeys in a damaged tropical forest – and this could threaten their survival

Aralisa Sheddon writes about her research which found that big cats in southern Mexico are increasingly preying on endangered howler and spider monkeys…

Big cats eat more monkeys in a damaged tropical forest – and this could threaten their survival

A jaguar in the jungle of southern Mexico.
Mardoz/Shutterstock

Aralisa Shedden, Bournemouth University

Monkeys are not usually a popular menu item for big cats. Primates are, after all, hard to catch: living in the canopies of large trees and rarely coming down to the ground. Jaguar and puma have varied diets and will normally hunt the species that are most common where they live, such as deer, peccary (a type of wild pig) and armadillo.

But jaguar and puma living in southern Mexican forests with a high human footprint (where wood and other resources are regularly harvested and there are large clearings for farms or expanding settlements) seem to be changing their feeding preferences to include more monkeys, according to new research.

Other studies have already found that when there is less of their usual prey around, big cats turn to alternatives. The changes in jaguar and puma diets that my colleagues and I recorded may indicate that the populations of these normal prey are shrinking, or that something in the environment has changed to make catching and eating primates easier.

This change in the diet of large cats could make the disappearance of primate populations in tropical forests like this one in southern Mexico more likely. This would, in turn, make the disappearance of large cats themselves more likely due to a lack of food, threatening the stability of an entire ecosystem.

On the trail of big cats

When forests are cut down or altered by loggers and hunters, primates are particularly affected, as many species depend on tall trees for food, shelter and to chart paths through the forest. Globally, more than 60% of primate species are threatened with extinction.

These changes to forests have also put large predators at risk. Understanding what is happening in these areas can inform more effective conservation measures, which may prevent species from disappearing.

The Uxpanapa valley in southeastern Mexico is one of the last relicts of tall evergreen forest in the country, and is classified as one of the most biodiverse areas in both Mexico and the world. It is home to jaguar, puma and many other species, including two endangered primates: howler and spider monkeys.

A black monkey in a tropical forest canopy.
Howler monkeys are native to South and Central American forests.
David Havel/Shutterstock

I led a research team that studied the distribution of primates in the Uxpanapa Valley for the first time. We recorded the number of primates and where they were found, as well as the type of forest they preferred.

Another team looked for large cats with the help of a dog which could detect their faeces, otherwise known as scat. Scat was collected to obtain DNA and determine the species that left it, whether it had any parasites, and what its diet was like. The team found out what prey these large cats were eating by using microscopes to study the hairs left in each scat. Special identification guides can link each kind of animal to its hair – each has a particular colour, pattern and shape.

Large carnivores maintain biodiversity and the functioning of an ecosystem by controlling populations of certain species – for example, herbivores that might otherwise harm trees or prevent forests regrowing. The presence of such predators can indicate an ecosystem’s health. Knowing what top predators are eating can tell us even more about how an ecosystem is functioning.

What we found

When we combined the data and information we collected, we began to understand that something out of the ordinary was happening.

Primates were the most frequent prey found in jaguar and puma scats, making up nearly 35% of the remains. Primate remains were also more likely to be found in scats collected from areas with less forest. Spider monkey remains, for example, were more likely to be found in scats collected in areas with more villages, and in forest that was regrowing after being disturbed.

A possible explanation is that where there are more villages, it is likely that there is more hunting and tree-cutting taking place. Where there is more hunting, the prey that jaguar and puma usually prefer might not be as plentiful. And regrowing forests do not offer primates the same protection as tall, untouched forests. These two factors may explain why large cats are eating spider monkeys more often here.

Jaguar and puma will usually eat the prey that is more abundant. If their preferred prey is scarce, they will hunt the species they encounter most. Similar to what we observed with spider monkeys, in areas where there was less tall forest, howler monkey remains were more likely than non-primate prey to be found in the scats, possibly as big cats found it easier to reach primates.

A pile of logs in a deforested Mexican plain.
Logging robs monkeys of hiding places from predators.
Eduardo Cota/Shutterstock

Less tree cover and overhunting of other prey (combined with general habitat loss) could explain the high rates of primate predation we discovered. Nevertheless, we need to continue monitoring these sites to fully understand these changes in large cat diets.

Our results highlight the importance of maintaining tall forest cover to ensure primates and other forest-dependent species can survive. They also raise the urgent need for conservation, before the negative effects of human activities on both primate and large cat populations become irreversible, and the ecosystems they live in are lost.


Imagine weekly climate newsletter

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Get a weekly roundup in your inbox instead. Every Wednesday, The Conversation’s environment editor writes Imagine, a short email that goes a little deeper into just one climate issue. Join the 20,000+ readers who’ve subscribed so far.The Conversation


Aralisa Shedden, Postdoctoral Researcher in Conservation, Bournemouth University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Month in Research: October 2023

A cartoon image of black and white hands clapping on a yellow background

The Month in Research is our new monthly round-up sharing research and knowledge exchange successes from across the previous month, showcasing the amazing work taking place across BU.

Your achievements

Thank you to everyone who has used the online form to put forward their achievements, or those of colleagues, this month.

  • Dr Rounaq Nayak, Senior Lecturer in Sustainability, has been awarded the prestigious UKRI (ESRC) Policy Fellowship. They will be hosted by the Wales Centre for Public Policy for 18 months where they will explore the utility of using evidence from people with lived experience in informing public policy. Read more.
  • Dr Jan Lewis, Visiting Fellow in the Faculty of Media and Communication, was awarded the MeCCSA (Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association) Outstanding Achievement Award, Doctoral Research of the Year, for their PhD thesis entitled “Mediating the Past: BBC Radio Archaeology Broadcasting, 1922-1966”
  • Mike Scott, Postgraduate Researcher in the Centre for Excellence in Media Practice (CEMP) presented at the Neurodiversity in Higher Education (NDinHE) conference at Bristol University with a talk about Virtual Communities of Practice. Watch the talk.
  • Professor Darren Lilleker, Professor of Political Communication, participated in a live and streamed debate on the topic: Citizens or Spectators
  • Professor Zulfiqar Khan, Professor of Engineering, has received research exchange funding by Tsinghua University in Beijing, China to collaborate with Professor Yonggang Meng of Tsinghua University to explore the question of how to achieve super low friction in water-based ultralow or super low friction experiments. This has the potential to improve the efficiency of mechanical components and reduce energy consumption in various industries.
  • Professor Dinusha Mendis, Professor of Intellectual Property and Innovation Law, had their research cited as part of a Parliamentary report published by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee around cryptoassets and intellectual property rights. Read more.

Funding

Congratulations to all those who have had funding for research and knowledge exchange projects and activities awarded this month. Highlights include:

  • Dr Hongchuan Yu (Faculty of Media and Communication) has been awarded c.£287,000 by Horizon Europe MSCA for their project Affective Computing Models: from Facial Expression to Mind-Reading
  • Dr Kate Terkanian (Faculty of Media and Communication) has been awarded c.£47,000 by the Heritage Lottery fund for their project Coastal Communities, Coastal Stories
  • Dr Pramod Regmi (Faculty of Health and Social Sciences) has been awarded c.£426,000 by the US Federal Government for their project Modern Slavery and kidney disease in migrant workers in Nepal. Read more.
  • Professor Marcin Budka (Faculty of Science and Technology) has been awarded c.£220,000 by Innovate UK for a Knowledge Exchange Transfer partnership with Bluestar Software Ltd for their project Investigative Assistance Module for Police Forces.
  • Dr Mili Shrivastava (Business School) has been awarded c.£29,000 by Innovate UK for their project Local Industrial Decarbonisation Plans (LIDP), Innovate UK Poole Harbour Commissioners
  • Professor Mel Hughes (Faculty of Health and Social Sciences) has been awarded c.£84,000 by the NHS for their project Dorset ICS engaging homeless and vulnerably housed in research
  • Dr Catherine Talbot, Dr Xin Zhao and Dr Tabitha Baker were all awarded seed funding from the British Academy as part of the BA Early Career Researcher Network. Read more

Publications

Congratulations to all those who have had work published across the last month. Below is a selection of publications from throughout October:

 Content for The Month in Research has been collected using the research and knowledge exchange database (RED), the Bournemouth University Research Online (BURO) repository and submissions via The Month in Research online form. It is by no means intended to be an exhaustive list. All information is correct as of 27.10.23.

Please use The Month in Research online form to share your highlights and achievements, or those of colleagues, for the next monthly round-up.

BU retains Vitae HR Excellence in Research Award for tenth year

We are delighted to announce that we have successfully retained the HR Excellence in Research Award for a tenth year.

HR excellence in research logoThe award demonstrates BU’s commitment to aligning process and practice to the UK Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and thereby improving the working conditions and career development for research staff.

It is awarded by Vitae, a global leader in supporting the professional development of researchers, and was retained following an external review.

As part of the review process, institutions need to demonstrate that they have completed a gap analysis of their existing policies and practice against the Concordat, developed a robust action plan for implementation, and taken into account the views of researchers.

Key achievements highlighted in our ten-year submission include providing Bridging Funding to enable research staff on fixed term contracts to remain in post while awaiting the outcome of future funding applications, and creating 12 new research posts within high-performing academic teams as part of the Research Capacity Transformation Scheme.

Research staff at BU can also participate in a range of training and development opportunities through the Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Framework (RKEDF) and can access support through networks including the Early Career Researcher (ECR) Network and the Research Staff Association (RSA).

BU is one of three institutions to retain the award after their 10-year review and one of 87 Vitae UK member institutions with the award.

Professor Mike Silk, Co-Chair of the Research Concordat Steering Group (RCSG) at BU, said:

“We are absolutely delighted to have retained the HR Excellence in Research Award following our 10-year review. The award demonstrates our long-term commitment to supporting the career development of our research staff, developing policies to support researcher development, and providing space to empower our research staff to impact their careers.

“Our research staff are integral to the success of Bournemouth University and I’m particularly pleased with how well the RCSG have worked collaboratively this last couple of years to ensure the voices of our research staff have been at the very centre of our progress towards the award.”

He added: “The award not only recognises the progress we have made to date, but provides the impetus for further development in three key areas: our environment and culture, employment conditions, and professional and career development for research staff.

“Our forward-looking action plan will be demanding, but progressing our key actions will ensure we further embed the principles of the research concordat into our processes, procedures, strategic goals and research culture at BU.”

Find out more about BU’s commitment to the UK Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers

Conversation article: Many Australian kids abused in sport won’t ever speak up. It’s time we break the silence

Dr Emma Kavanagh co-authors this article for The Conversation about new research exploring how children talk about – or don’t talk about – their experiences of abuse in sport:

Many Australian kids abused in sport won’t ever speak up. It’s time we break the silence

Shutterstock

Mary Woessner, Victoria University; Alexandra Parker, Victoria University; Aurélie Pankowiak, Victoria University, and Emma Kavanagh, Bournemouth University

Sport is supposed to be a safe place for kids to learn and play.

Too often, however, sporting clubs can be places where children are abused psychologically, physically or sexually.

Imagine, then, a child in your life had been abused, but never told an adult about it.

Our new research shows that’s the case for many children who’ve experienced abuse in a community sport club.

Here’s what we found about how children talk about – or don’t talk about – their experiences of abuse in sport.

Survey shows abuse goes undisclosed

Our research is the first to explore how often children tell adults about abuse in community sport.

Before this, we knew very little about how children spoke about their experiences of abuse.

This data builds on our previous study, focusing on the responses of the 800 adults who had all experienced abuse in community sport as children.

In our new study, our survey tool asked about childhood experiences of abuse in sport. These ranged from psychological violence (excessive criticism and humiliation), physical abuse (throwing equipment, striking someone), sexual violence (sexualised comments or acts) and neglect (ignoring a child after a poor performance).

We found more than half said they never spoke to an adult about it.

Three in four children never spoke to an adult about abuse from a coach.

Rates of disclosure were even lower when the abuse was from a parent, with eight in nine children not speaking to another adult about their experiences.

We also found boys disclose peer abuse in sport less frequently than girls, while girls had lower rates of disclosing to an adult within the sport club (coach/club manager) than boys.

The evidence shows delayed disclosures of abuse (or never disclosing) can have severe and long-lasting impacts on a child’s mental health.

This makes these findings highly concerning.

A man yelling from the sidelines of a running race
Even when children are aware and able to say something is wrong, we found they think twice before speaking to an adult.
Shutterstock

Having a policy is important, but not enough

Clubs often try to stamp out abuse by having policies aimed at protecting children.

But we found while policies can provide guidance on who to report abuse to, even getting that far can be difficult.

First, a child victim/survivor (and adults around them) needs to recognise their experience as abuse. In community sporting clubs, a child would then need to talk to an adult (a club member protection officer, for example). Finally, the adult/child would need to formally report the abuse for the policy to be enacted.

In an environment where abuse has become so normalised, children may not even realise they’re experiencing it.

The response system relies on reports of abuse, but participants are often afraid to come forward, or aren’t believed when they do.

Even when children are aware and able to say something is wrong, we found they think twice before speaking to an adult.

The children often questioned whether their experiences were bad enough, especially when they saw other kids going through the same things.

One participant shared bullying was so widespread that:

[…] it’s [violence] a cultural thing in the sport. And so you just learn to live with it, ignore it.

How we respond to children matters

Often children will not have the words to say “I am experiencing abuse”.

In our study children would simply tell their parents they weren’t enjoying sport.

They often didn’t even think they were talking about abuse. One of the people we spoke to said:

I didn’t know I was disclosing […] I just thought I was reiterating what happened during the day.

In most instances, the responses from adults normalised or rationalised the child’s experience of abuse.

A participant shared her parents’ response was:

Sorry you’re experiencing this, but time to just be resilient. Like, just don’t think about it.

Sometimes, the adult offered a supportive and empathetic response, but this was rarely followed up with long-term support or lodging an official report of abuse.

This leaves the experiences of abuse undocumented and unaddressed.

A young girl being comforted by her mother
Believe children when they say they are uncomfortable, not enjoying sport or feel unsafe, and ask them how you can help.
Shutterstock

Taking action against abuse in sport

We need to talk more about abuse in sport.

The issue is gaining some traction, with the launch of international and national campaigns.

Start To Talk encourages people to have conversations about poor behaviours and improving safety in sport.

Our team in Australia is running workshops on abuse with community sporting organisations.

We have passionate volunteers who want to change the culture, but need support to do so.

Abuse thrives in the shadows, and it is time for more significant action to realise real change. Here is what you can do to help:

  • listen to children, really listen to what they say
  • believe them when they say they are uncomfortable, not enjoying sport or feel unsafe, and ask them how you can help
  • seek support for them and yourself
  • when it’s safe to do so, call out poor behaviours.

Sport has so much power for good, but we all must play our part in ensuring it is first and foremost, a safe environment.


If this article has raised issues for you or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.The Conversation

Mary Woessner, Lecturer in Clinical Exercise and Research Fellow, Institute for Health and Sport (iHeS), Victoria University, Victoria University; Alexandra Parker, Executive Director of the Institute for Health and Sport, Professor of Physical Activity and Mental Health, Victoria University; Aurélie Pankowiak, Research Fellow, Institute for Health and Sport, Victoria University, and Emma Kavanagh, Associate Professor in Sport Psychology and Safe Sport, Bournemouth University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation launches new online, on-demand training courses

BU is a partner of The Conversation, a news analysis and opinion website with content written by academics working with professional journalists.

In addition to the training sessions run by Conversation editors throughout the year, they have now created four new asynchronous online courses to help you learn more about working with The Conversation and what they are looking for from pitches and articles.

Four short courses are now available for you to complete online at your leisure:

The courses are open to all BU academics and PhD candidates who are interested in finding out more about working with The Conversation. They will help you to understand how The Conversation works, the editorial support provided, and develop the skills to write for non-academic audiences.

The courses are being mapped to Vitae’s researcher development framework to help further contribute to professional development at all levels.

The courses can be accessed at: https://theconversationuktraining.teachable.com/

Why write for The Conversation?

The Conversation is a great way to share research and informed comment on topical issues. Academics work with editors to write pieces, which can then be republished via a creative commons license.

Since we first partnered with The Conversation, articles by BU authors have had over 9.5 million reads and been republished by the likes of The i, Metro, National Geographic Indonesia and the Washington Post.

You can learn more about working with The Conversation on the Research and Knowledge Exchange Sharepoint site

Conversation article: Artificial coral reefs showing early signs they can mimic real reefs killed by climate change – new research

Professor Rick Stafford and Zach Boakes write for The Conversation about their research exploring whether artificial reefs in the tropics can function in the same way as natural ones…

Artificial coral reefs showing early signs they can mimic real reefs killed by climate change – new research

Alexey UW/Shutterstock

Rick Stafford, Bournemouth University and Zach Boakes, Bournemouth University

Earth’s average temperature in September 2023 was 1.75°C above its pre-industrial baseline, breaching (if only temporarily) the 1.5°C threshold at which world leaders agreed to try and limit long-term warming.

Persistent warming at this level will make it difficult for the ocean’s coral reefs to survive. The same goes for those communities who rely on the reefs for food, to protect their coastline from storms and for other sources of income, such as tourism. Recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments have predicted that even if global heating is kept within the most optimistic scenarios, up to two-thirds of all coral reefs could deteriorate over the next few decades.

It will not be possible to restore all the reefs lost to climate change. But we are scientists who study how to preserve these habitats, and we hope that artificial structures (made from concrete or other hard materials) could replicate the complex forms of natural reefs and retain some of the benefits they provide.

We know artificial reefs can attract fish and host high levels of biodiversity – often similar to natural reefs. This is partly due to them providing a hard surface for invertebrates like sponges and corals to grow on. Artificial reefs also offer a complex habitat of crevices, tunnels and other hiding places for species that move around a lot, such as fish, crabs and octopus.

Until now though, scientists were unsure if artificial reefs attracted wildlife which would otherwise live on nearby coral reefs or whether they helped support entirely new communities, enlarging existing populations. This is important, because if natural reefs do die, these artificial structures must be self-sustaining to continue benefiting species, including our own.

A fisher casts a net over the camera in shallow water at sunset.
Millions of people worldwide rely on fish as their main source of protein.
BankZa/Shutterstock

Our recent study is the first to examine whether artificial reefs in the tropics can function in the same way as their naturally formed counterparts. The answer is: not yet, but these concrete structures are beginning to mimic some of the key functions of coral reefs – and they should get better at it over time.

Follow the nutrients

Coral reefs support lots of different species in high numbers despite growing in tropical waters low in nutrients (chemicals such as nitrates and phosphates which boost plant growth). This puzzled naturalist Charles Darwin, and it became known as Darwin’s Paradox. We now know reefs achieve this by circulating nutrients extremely rapidly through the invertebrates, corals and fish that live on them.

In a healthy coral reef system, nutrients from dead animals and faeces are rapidly consumed by animals living on the reef, such as small fish or invertebrates, and these small animals are frequently eaten by larger animals. This ensures these nutrients cannot accumulate and so they remain at low levels, preventing algae from overgrowing and smothering the reef.

If artificial reefs perform a similar function to natural reefs then we would expect them to rapidly process nutrients entering the system and keep overall nutrient levels low too. This would indicate they are also highly productive ecosystems, similarly capable of supporting diverse and abundant wildlife even if many natural reefs die.

We tried to make an accurate comparison of natural and artificial reefs by comparing nutrient levels and how they are stored between the two.

From concrete to corals

Our study was conducted in north Bali, Indonesia. A local non-profit, North Bali Reef Conservation, which Zach co-founded, has been making artificial reefs for the last six years with the help of international volunteers and local fishers who use their boats to drop them offshore.

While over 15,000 reefs have been deployed so far, they only cover around 2 hectares – roughly the size of two football pitches.

But these structures are beginning to show signs of functioning like coral reef communities. In water we extracted from just under the sand near the artificial reefs we found high levels of phosphates – evidence of a large number of fish excreting. And in water samples from above the sediment, levels of all the nutrients we measured were low and similar to those recorded on natural reefs, indicating the artificial reef was rapidly recycling these nutrients.

However, the sediment around the concrete structures we tested appeared to be storing less carbon than that surrounding the natural reefs. We think the difference may be related to the relative abundance of invertebrate species such as hydroids (plant-like relatives of corals which feed by sifting detritus from seawater). These were common on the natural reefs we studied, but were only found in small, but increasing numbers on the artificial reefs. We think, as more of these species colonise the concrete over time, the reefs will function even more like their natural counterparts.

The study offers some hope that over time, artificial reefs can mimic more of the processes maintained by natural reefs. Our findings are an early indication that artificial reefs may be able to support local communities affected by reefs lost to climate change.

The climate threat to coral reefs will not be solved by artificial reefs. Only rapidly eliminating emissions of greenhouse gases can preserve a future for these ecosystems. But our research indicates that, where reefs have already been lost, through pollution, destructive fishing or coastal development, it may be possible to restore some of the lost benefits with artificial structures.

Our study suggests it can take up to five years for artificial reefs to begin functioning like coral reefs, so these recovery programmes must begin right away.


Imagine weekly climate newsletter

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Rick Stafford, Professor of Marine Biology and Conservation, Bournemouth University and Zach Boakes, PhD Candidate in Conservation, Bournemouth University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

How to turn research into news: An online workshop

Join us on 31 October 2023 | 14:00-15:00

Register online

image of Anna Feigenbaum wearing headphones and speaking into microphone with event details

Whether explaining scientific details, introducing concepts from postcolonial politics or quoting archival texts, turning research into news is often a challenge. In this research process seminar Professor of Digital Storytelling, Anna Feigenbaum, introduces her process for identifying ‘infobites’ and tailoring them for an intended audience to maximise the reach and impact of your academic research. She also offers tips on ‘what not to wear’ and how to deal with journalists’ questions that you don’t want to answer. This seminar draws from Prof Feigenbaum’s extensive experience working with media outlets ranging from Vice News to the BBC, from Elle magazine to Business Insider. At the end of this seminar, you will know:

  • How to identify ‘infobites’ that target a specific outlet and audience
  • How to deal with difficult questions
  • How to link research to impact via engagement with the media

Professor Anna Feigenbaum is an internationally known expert and innovator in the field of data storytelling. Her projects have been funded by UKRI, the Wellcome Trust, British Academy, the US Embassy, and the United Nations. Her research has informed journalistic reporting, NGO strategy including a Webby Award-winning data storytelling project, multiple web-comics, and museum exhibitions at the V&A, Barbican and The Whitney.  She has led digital storytelling and media trainings with the NHS, NGOs and universities around the world. Prof Feigenbaum’s work reaches  wide audiences through public engagement and media activities including the British Science Festival, The Conversation, The Guardian, The Financial Times, BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4.