Category / Research communication

Research Staff Association (RSA) is organised a Writing Day for Researchers

Do you have a piece of writing to do or an article to finish up,

but can never seem to find the time to do it? This event is for you!

 

This Writing Day aims to provide a dedicated space and time away from our usual hectic schedules, to enable us as researchers to get our heads down and… write!

We’ll begin with some introductions – a chance to meet other researchers, make friends and support each other.

Then we’ll get down to business… writing!

Tuesday 13 June, 9am to 5pm 

Green House Hotel, BH1 3AX 

There will be tea and coffee available throughout the day, plus pastries on arrival, a buffet lunch and an afternoon snack.

Plenty of food and drink to fuel your writing!

After the day finishes at 5pm, we’ll stick around and go for drinks in the hotel bar, so please join us for more networking then if you’d like to.

 

Please sign up to attend via our EventBrite page here.

We only have 15 places available, so please sign up ASAP!

 

Please note that this event is organised by BU’s Research Staff Association – an association run by BU researchers from all faculties who want to make BU a great place to work and do research. We aim to ensure that researchers are supported to realise their full potential and to develop and produce research of the highest quality.

For queries regarding the content of this session, please email Raf Nicholson rnicholson@bournemouth.ac.uk

Conversation article: Technology can play a vital role in limiting online gambling – here’s how

Professor John McAlaney, Dr Emily Arden-Close and Dr Sarah Hodge write for The Conversation about the challenges and opportunities of using technology to support safer online gambling…

Technology can play a vital role in limiting online gambling – here’s how

Over a quarter of people in the UK gamble online at least once every four weeks.
Wpadington / Shutterstock

John McAlaney, Bournemouth University; Emily Arden-Close, Bournemouth University, and Sarah Hodge, Bournemouth University

More than a quarter of people in the UK gamble online at least once every four weeks. And 1%–2% of UK adults demonstrate moderate-to-high risk levels of gambling-related harms.

The substantive and striking changes that the rise of online gambling have introduced are acknowledged by the UK government’s recently published plans to change the law in this area.

Through smartphones or other internet-enabled devices, people can gamble online anywhere, at any time. Gambling online also often allows those experiencing gambling-related harm to more easily hide this from those around them.

The reach of online gambling by operators, and gambling overall, is further enhanced by online promotion using social media. In an analysis of Twitter posts by several UK gambling operators, we found that over 80% of tweets related to sports, but less than 11% of tweets related to responsible gambling.

Greater use of social media for responsible gambling messages would increase the impact of responsible gambling strategies. It would also enable more personalised targeting of this messaging to groups who may be at higher risk of harms, such as members of the LGBTQ+ community, who report a higher number of life stressors.

Loot boxes

There is also the increasing phenomenon of merging online gambling and other activities, notably loot boxes – which contain random game items that may or may not be desirable or valuable – in video games. These might allow the player to buy better weapons or armour for use in their game, or customise a player’s avatar. Players can purchase loot boxes in games, with either in-game or real-world currency.

In our research, we found that video game players perceive loot boxes to be a form of gambling, despite attempts by the video game industry to re-brand them with a less descriptive name, such as “surprise mechanics”.

From social psychology research, we know that how we behave and the attitudes we hold are strongly influenced by what we perceive to be the norm. Also, there are overlaps in the harms experienced with loot boxes, both in our research and media reports of issues that would be typically seen in gambling difficulties, such as overspending. Based on this, it seems likely that engaging with loot boxes will prime children and young adults towards becoming involved in gambling.

As has been noted by the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education trust (YGAM), awareness raising and training are needed. The concern about loot boxes is so great that they have been banned in Belgium, albeit with an acknowledgment that the ban will be difficult to enforce.

Responsible gambling tools and messages

The technologies that create the risks and challenges of online gambling can also be used to prevent and reduce harms. Various techniques – known in the industry as responsible gambling tools – are already available from operators to help players take control of their gambling. These include deposit limits and self-exclusion, where users can ask to be denied access.

However, uptake of these tools is low, and impact relies upon people recognising that they are at risk and being motivated to engage with these tools. So we welcome the suggestion in the government’s new white paper around making deposit limits mandatory, which is consistent with the views of people who have experienced problem gambling.

Our Gambling Research Group has explored how technology can be used to further prevent and reduce harms, including how players respond to personalised, targeted responsible gambling messaging based on social norms and goal setting.

This ability to receive immediate feedback regarding a harm prevention strategy from the target population is relatively new in psychology, and potentially very powerful. So including people with real experience of gambling problems in the co-creation of responsible gambling messages will result in more effective strategies.

The proposals included in the white paper would utilise some of the opportunities afforded by online technologies. For example, the use of affordability checks facilitated through credit reference agencies would likely reduce some of the harms associated with online gambling.

Similarly, online data-sharing on high-risk customers is a positive step, as many individuals engaging in problematic gambling report chasing losses until their money runs out.

Safer by design

We also welcome the proposed limit on online slots, which brings it in line with the 2019 reduction in stake in fixed-odds betting terminals, and the proposal to make online games safer by design. Our research has shown that individuals who are new to gambling are less aware of persuasive design techniques and thus potentially at greater risk from them.

Similarly, addressing gaps in legislation to ensure under-18s cannot gamble online may help prevent young people from developing problematic gambling behaviour later on. However, this impact may be limited by the UK government’s response in 2022 that no further legislation is planned to regulate loot boxes. Currently, little is known about the impact of gambling-related harms on children aged under 18.

It also cannot be underestimated how skilled gambling-addicted people are at finding a way around any restrictions. The white paper recognises the risks on unregulated gambling in online black markets, and calls for preventative action. But how this will be achieved remains to be seen.

The white paper’s new statutory levy is also a positive step that contributes to funding and the transparency of funding sources for quality gambling research, education and treatment.

While most people gamble online safely and responsibly, those who develop problems can experience severe effects. These negative consequences are not limited to the individual but can also affect those around them, including family, friends and work colleagues.

As technology continues evolving, it is vital that we continue to be mindful of the unique risks and opportunities that arise in online gambling to prevent people from being harmed.The Conversation

John McAlaney, Professor in Psychology, Bournemouth University; Emily Arden-Close, Principal Academic in Psychology, Bournemouth University, and Sarah Hodge, Lecturer in Psychology and Cyberpsychology, Bournemouth University

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

Deadline extended: Zinc and Dunhill Medical Trust Innovation Fellowships in Healthy Ageing

Please see below for the following fellowship opportunity for researchers working in ageing that are looking to branch out into industry.

Zinc and Dunhill Medical Trust Innovation Fellowships in Healthy Ageing

The Innovation Fellowships in Healthy Ageing comprise a 6-9 month programme, starting in September 2023, which will allow UK-based researchers the opportunity to experience first-hand what it takes to build a mission-focussed start-up from scratch, and to build science-rich products and services to improve outcomes for people in later life. Researchers will also have the opportunity to engage in training, support and mentoring to help them translate their skills, explore new career opportunities, and connect with other talented researchers.

This opportunity is open to researchers at any career stage post-PhD, but we particularly welcome applications from early career researchers (you must have submitted your PhD thesis by September, 2023). The deadline for submission of applications is 12 noon 17th May. Interviews will be held in mid-May with decisions being communicated at the end of May.

For more details and to apply, see the full advert here

Conversation article: Children have been interacting in the metaverse for years – what parents need to know about keeping them safe

Professor Andy Phippen writes for The Conversation about the virtual worlds children access, and how parents can support using them safely.

Children have been interacting in the metaverse for years – what parents need to know about keeping them safe

Frame Stock Footage/Shutterstock

Andy Phippen, Bournemouth University

The metaverse sounds like it could be a scary place. Recent headlines have highlighted the dangers to children of the metaverse – a generic term for the range of online virtual worlds, developed by different tech companies, in which users can interact. Children’s charities have raised concerns about its potential for harm.

Recently, Meta – Facebook’s parent company – announced that teenagers would be able to use its VR Horizon Worlds app in North America. In this online environment, users are represented by avatars and spend time in virtual worlds, making use of virtual reality (VR) headsets. Some politicians in the US have already voiced their unease. It is certainly possible that Meta could extend this access to teens elsewhere in the world.

It would be no surprise if parents were concerned about this technology and how it might affect their children. In fact, children are already online in the metaverse – and there are steps parents can take to understand this technology, the risks it may pose, and what they can do.

Avatars and online games

Perhaps the most famous current interactive world aimed at children is Roblox, an online platform that allows users to create avatars, play games, make their own games, and interact with others. Young people play games developed by other users – the most popular is currently Adopt Me!, in which players adopt animals and live with them in a virtual world.

This mix of gameplay, interaction with others, and opportunity for creativity are all reasons Roblox is so popular. While it can be played using VR headsets, the vast majority of interaction takes place using more traditional devices such as phones, tablets and laptops.

Another emerging platform, Zepeto, has a similar model of allowing users to create environments, access “worlds” developed by others, and chat with others within these environments. Some young people will interact solely with their own group of friends in a specific world; other worlds will allow interaction with people they don’t know.

However, there is a rich history of platforms that could be considered, in modern terminology, to be “metaverses”. One is Minecraft, perhaps the most popular platform before Roblox. Launched in 2011, Minecraft is a block-building game which also allows for interaction with other users.

Before Minecraft, there were other platforms such as multiplayer online games Club Penguin (launched 2005) and Moshi Monsters (launched 2008) which, while smaller in scope, still allowed young people to engage with others on online platforms with avatars they created. These games also attracted moral panics at the time.

While new terms such as the metaverse and unfamiliar technology like VR headsets might make us fear these things are new, as with most things in the digital world, they are simply progressions of what has come before.

And on the whole, the risks remain similar. Headsets in VR-based worlds do present new challenges in terms of how immersive the experience is, and how we might monitor what a young person is doing. But otherwise, there is little new in the risks associated with these platforms, which are still based around interactions with others. Children may be exposed to upsetting or harmful language, or they may find themselves interacting with someone who is not who they claim to be.

Parental knowledge

In my work with colleagues on online harms, we often talk about mitigating risk through knowledge. It is important for parents to have conversations with their children, understand the platforms they are using, and research the tools these platforms provide to help reduce the potential risks.

Most provide parental controls and tools to block and report abusive users. Roblox offers a wide range of tools for parents, ranging from being able to restrict who their children play with to monitoring a child’s interactions in a game. Zepeto has similar services.

As a parent, understanding these tools, how to set them up and how to use them is one of the best ways of reducing the risk of upset or harm to your child in these environments.

However, perhaps the most important thing is for parents to make sure their children are comfortable telling them about issues they may have online. If your child is worried or upset by what has happened on one of these platforms, they need to know they can tell you about it without fear of being told off, and that you can help.

It is also best to have regular conversations rather than confrontations. Ask your child’s opinion or thoughts on news stories about the metaverse. If they know you are approachable and understanding about their online lives, they are more likely to talk about them.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: Social media now trumps traditional family networks in Libya – my Facebook survey reached 446,000 women

Abier Hamidi writes for The Conversation about her PhD research around HIV awareness in Libya…

Social media now trumps traditional family networks in Libya – my Facebook survey reached 446,000 women

Connected: Facebook is by far the most popular social media platform in Libya with more than six million users.
Prostock-studio via Shutterstock

Abier Hamidi, Bournemouth University

When I told my family and friends I intended to pursue a PhD researching HIV awareness among married women in Libya, my home country, the reaction was not encouraging: “You’d be lucky to even get members of your family to respond,” said one.

They weren’t being unnecessarily pessimistic but rather managing my expectations, considering I was not only researching HIV awareness in a conservative country often perceived oppressive, but I was also looking to recruit women.

Historically, Libyan women have been placed under severe social and cultural constraints that rendered them difficult to reach. Libya is shaped by and works within a patriarchal society where simply approaching women on such a taboo topic as HIV/Aids – which in Libya is often associated with immoral practices such as pre or extra-marital sex, substance abuse and homosexuality – made the research even more complex.

I knew that the lack of confidentiality and the fear of being stigmatised were going to be a problem. So I needed a method that would provide a platform whereby the women can respond to the survey without prying eyes.

This is where the power of online surveys comes in. Using an anonymous, self-completed questionnaire reduces the effect of the topic’s sensitivity and helps reduce people’s fear of the possible social stigma attached to those self-disclosures.

But online surveys have their limitations. In Libya, these include poor telecommunication infrastructure, especially away from the large cities, as well as the high cost of internet access and the relatively poor service there. But the fast-growing smartphone market is encouraging and facilitating internet use in the country. According to the most recent available figures there were 3.14 million internet users in Libya in 2023 – approximately 45.9% of the population.

My questionnaire included five main sections. I asked for some limited demographic information (age, city, educational level, employment status). There were also sections on HIV/Aids related knowledge, responsents’ perceptions of HIV risk, their attitude toward HIV and where they sourced healthcare information. I took particular care to ensure that I was gathering the maximum amount of information while remaining sensitive to Libya’s religious and social contexts.

Armed with approval from the university’s research ethics committee, I sent out a recruitment post with the questionnaire, mainly to family and friends in the Libyan diaspora in the UK and the US. The principle aim of this pilot study was to ensure that the wording, language and questions were understandable and that the mechanics of the survey functioned correctly. Within a month I’d received more than 168 complete questionnaires, which reassured me that sharing the survey with family and friends and asking them to forward the link to their various social and family networks would be the ideal approach for my main research on Libyan women in Libya.

What is ‘wasta’?

Libya has a population of around 7.1 million which is heavily skewed towards large networked tribes and well-established families, meaning the degree of separation across the whole of society is quite small. This has traditionally meant that the best way to get things done is by using these big family or tribal networks. This is known as “wasta”.

Wasta is a common practice of calling on personal connections for assistance. It’s a social norm in most Arab countries, defined by one academic as “a personal exchange system between members of society that is entrenched in the tribal structure of the country”. The concept has been tied to a tribal tradition which obliges those within the group to provide assistance in the same network.

I have a large family in Libya which straddles two different tribes, as well as family friends, so I was confident that wasta was the best approach to take. I sent the link to all the members of my wasta network through WhatsApp and asked them to forward it onto their friends and extended family. I also posted on Twitter and reached out to various Facebook pages. I only needed 323 complete questionnaires and I was confident that method would yield the best response.

Days went by and I only had a handful of responses. Much of the feedback I received from family members was worrying. People said they had exhausted their networks without much success. Clearly, recruitment using wasta wasn’t working. So I decided to fall back on my experiences of working in marketing and created a targeted post, aimed at “women, ages 18-65+ living in Libya, married, divorced, separated and widowed”. In direct contrast to wasta, this didn’t rely on who I know.

Social media has grown massively in popularity as a research tool in recent years. So, bearing in mind that Facebook is the most popular social media platform in Libya, with more than 6 million users, I created a Facebook page with the title, in Arabic: دراسة النساء الليبيات المتزوجات (Research on Libyan married women). I linked in papers I had published in the past (also in Arabic) and the recruitment poster below.

A graphic showing an Arab woman holding a Libyan flag with two young people.
The recruitment poster used by the author in her Facebook recruitment campaign.
Abier Hamidi, Author provided

I launched the post and the response was immediate, with replies and completed questionnaires and supportive comments coming in fairly rapidly to start with. But within a few days the response rate slowed down and still I wasn’t anywhere near my response target. Then I realised my mistake. The initial post targeting women who are married, divorced, separated or widowed hadn’t taken into account that the majority of women didn’t tend to include their marital status on Facebook. This meant I was only reaching a small percentage of my target audience.

I removed the status and the reach shot up. In six months, my post reached 446,906 women in Libya. The stats were impressive: 59,422 engagements, 1,549 reactions and 703 comments. I received more than 1,000 completed questionnaires.

In the end, this showed me that while for certain things, wasta can yield results, for an issue such as this, Libyan women wanted to ensure their anonymity and the confidentiality of their responses. Social media, which doesn’t mandate use of real names or photographs, was able to offer this in a way that extended family and friends, naturally, never could.The Conversation

Abier Hamidi, PhD Candidate, Faculty of Health & Social Sciences, Bournemouth University

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

Free workshop – Data management basics: Ethical and legal issues in data sharing

Data management is essential to make sure that well-organised, well-documented, high quality and shareable research data can be produced from our research projects.

The free introductory workshops on data management basics are intended for researchers and anyone who wants to learn about research data management.

The first session, scheduled for 4th May 10am – 11.30am: Introduction to data management and sharing, provides an overview of how to manage, document and store research data. This second session focuses on the ethical and legal aspects of data management.

In this free 90-minute online workshop, participants will learn about the relevant legislation, such as data protection legislation and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Participants will also learn about strategies that enable them to share research data. This includes carrying out an assessment of disclosure risk, obtaining informed consent, anonymising data and regulating access to enable data to be shared.

There will be time at the end for questions and discussion.

This event is part of our UK Data Service introductory training series: Spring 2023.

Register for this workshop here.

Training opportunity: Engaging with the media for impact – Wednesday 26 April

Explore how working with the media can help to raise the profile of your research and lead to impact in our upcoming workshop – Engaging with the Media for Impact.

This in-person workshop will take place on Talbot Campus from 2pm – 3.30pm on Wednesday 26 April.

Engaging with the media can be a great way to raise your profile and share your research with different audiences, which can increase the reach and potential impact of your work.

Take away practical tips on talking to journalists, tracking the impact of media coverage and finding the best ways to reach your target audiences. 

This session is open to all academic staff who are interested in engaging with the media – no previous experience is necessary.

This workshop is taking place as part of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Framework (RKEDF) and will be facilitated by Nathaniel Hobby (Senior Communications Manager, M&C) and Emma Matthews (Research Communications Adviser, RDS)

Book your place

BU researchers: We need your help!

Please help to develop BU policies and initiatives relating to research at BU by completing the  BU Vitae CEDARS survey 2023 (Culture, Employment and Development in Academic Research survey)*.

This is an important survey as it benchmarks BU against the rest of the sector. It will, therefore, help us to identify where we are excelling and where there is room for improvement.

Participating in this study will also influencepolicy. Your input will help us to understand where to focus our efforts and resources – it will give us the data to make the argument for you. (The results of the previous PIRLS and CROS surveys that CEDARS has replaced were used to develop new policies and initiatives, as well as training and development opportunities).

Please complete the CEDARS survey if you are research-active (whether on a full-time, part-time or part-time hourly paid contract). This includes researchers at all stages in your career, those who manage researchers, or are Principal Investigators, or contribute to research by providing professional services for researchers, (i.e. researcher developers, research officers or technical staff).

The survey is running from 20th March to 21st April. Your responses will be anonymous; you will not be identified or identifiable in any published results. It will take approximately 20 minutes to complete the survey. BU Vitae CEDARS survey 2023

If you have any questions regarding the survey, please email Rachel Arnold: rarnold@bournemouth.ac.uk

 

Thank you, the Research Development and Support Team

*CEDARS is a national survey that explores the views and experiences of researchers and those supporting researchers across the UK. It is based on the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers, which aims to create the best culture for researchers to thrive. This survey replaces the previous CROS and PIRLS surveys.

Please find more information here on the ‘Concordat to Support the Careers of Researchers’ and what BU is doing to support researchers.