Category / Research Training

Report on the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) Age 17 Survey: Consultative Conference

I recently attended the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS7) Age 17 Survey: Consultative one day conference held at UCL’s Institute of Education in London. Cohort studies are extremely valuable because data is collected over time working with the same sample of people. Longitudinal studies permit to describe the natural history of the same population and can identify risk factors for example, for optimal health, educational attainment chances and/or employment opportunities. Professor Emla Fitzsimons is the Principal Investigator of MCS,m strategically invited leaders of the ‘Activities and Daily Life’, ‘Cognitive Development’, and the ‘Socio-Emotional Development’ to harness conference delegates’ view on what are the important and key issues that society should know when examining 17 year old adolescents’ lives. The leaders provided an overview of their current strategies for capturing participants’ unique style of life. Then through a series of workshops the pros and cons of these were discussed and summarised. I don’t envy their jobs! To study the individual characteristics and the associated environmental factors in such a large sample is a huge undertaking. The attendees were from very varied inter- and multi-disciplinary backgrounds working at a wide range of organisations, including government agencies. The common objective was to create a dataset that can inform many governmental policies on a variety of topics. The process of decision making over every aspects of the 7th sweep of the MCS is extremely complex. The key aspect of longitudinal studies is comparability. Although, each sweep is unique because of the cohort is ageing, there has to be a trend of using the same methodology overtime. Studies like the MCS are facing constant funding crises because they are very expensive to run. There is an ongoing revision of time taken to collect data, finding proxy to gold standard measures and considering cutting expensive data collection methods like, FMRI scans, use of accelerometers to assess physical activity patterns and conducting physical tests. Despite all of these difficulties, data from such studies are invaluable. For example, in the 7th sweep they want to omit interviewing parents about their child’s mental health. I argued to include this data at this sweep, as most adolescents in the study are still living at home and others (like family members) are the ones most likely to identify early signs of mental health problems. Early detection is vital, especially when 1 in 10 adolescents known to develop at least one serious depressive episode in the UK by the time they are 18. Check out the MCS website if you are interested. You can also access all speakers’ slides by following the link ( Data from the previous 6 sweeps are available for researchers to interrogate.

EURAXESS – November Newsletter

As notified in the November EURAXESS Newsletter, there are a number of research workshops open for registration under Researcher Links and the Newton Fund. The workshops give researchers the opportunity to form new international connections and Early Career Researchers may apply for grants in order to participate.
Some of the opportunities are:

Further opportunities are listed on the British Council website.

Why not sign up for the EURAXESS Newsletter so that these and further opportunities are delivered direct to your own inbox?Euraxess

Euraxess UK is a British Council hub, which aids researchers in their career development, supporting mobility and acting as a support mechanism for researchers moving abroad or moving to the UK. Their services include:


Research Councils announce unconscious bias training for peer reviewers

RCUKlogoThe Research Councils have launched a new programme for all peer reviewers and decision-makers, to raise awareness and reduce the impact of unconscious bias.

Over a period of three years, beginning in January 2016, more than 1,300 people involved in peer review from all seven Research Councils will be given access to high quality training designed and developed by the Research Councils and the consultants Pearn Kandola ( Together, they will translate this training into an online application and make it available to their geographically dispersed peer reviewers.

Professor Jackie Hunter, Chair of the Research Councils’ Equality and Diversity Group and Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), said: “Raising awareness of unconscious bias strengthens the Research Councils’ commitment to addressing equality and diversity Together, the Research Councils invest £3 billion in research each year, covering all disciplines and sectors, to meet tomorrow’s challenges today. Ensuring that fair decisions are made in peer review and funding is of the utmost importance.”

Black British Academics Career Development Programme

DGabrielBU Academic, Deborah Gabriel, created Black British Academics in 2013.  Find out below what they offer to academics across the higher education sector.

“At Black British Academics we take a proactive approach to race equality both through the provision of specialised services to HEIs and through dedicated networks that provide support to members. In terms of career progression, we recognise that tackling institutional barriers should be a priority and therefore we are working both through our institutional (E&D members) and through the provision of consultancy services to develop a range of measures that includes the development of a culturally democratic leadership programme for senior university staff targeted at VCs/PVCs, HODs, deans, associate deans and other senior operational staff.

However, within our academic community there is a wealth of knowledge, skills and expertise among senior staff who have developed strategies to successfully navigate raced and gendered spaces and who possess invaluable experiential knowledge that represents our collective social aBBAnd cultural capital. Our Academic Career Development Programme focuses on the four key areas of academic practice: Education, Research, Professional Practice and Enterprise and offers both online and offline resources including  podcasts, videos, e-guides, workshops and symposiums and promotes networking and inter-disciplinary collaboration on projects across the key areas of practice.”

Unlocking the leadership potential of BME early career academics

LF Diversifying Academic LeadershipThe Leadership Foundation has launched a new programme aimed at black and minority ethnic (BME) early career academics who are considering applying for, or aspiring to a senior leadership role in higher education.

Diversifying Academic Leadership has been developed in response to feedback from the LF’s recent BME Leadership in HE Summit, held in partnership with the Equality Challenge Unit in June 2015. Summit participants, drawn from across the UK, said that more could be done to support the career progression of BME staff working in higher education, including development activities aimed at the start of the talent pipeline to encourage more early career academics to consider and apply for leadership roles.

This non-residential programme, designed and delivered by Jannett Morgan, Associate, Leadership Foundation, will run from January to July 2016, with three cohorts (held in Birmingham, Manchester and London respectively).

Participants will explore a range of themes (primarily through face to face workshops, self-organised action learning sets and leadership stories from high profile HE leaders), including:

· Demystifying Leadership

· Increasing Visibility

· Authentic Leadership

· Cultural Identity and Cultural Capital

· Power and Influence

· Sponsors and Mentors

The LF are offering free places on the pilot cohort which starts on 13 January 2016. Delegates on the pilot cohort will co-create the programme and help to establish the programmes strengths.

Places on the pilot will be limited to two people per institution and delegates who take part in the pilot programme play a key role in its co-creation, helping to structure how the programme will work in the future.

Commenting on the programme, Ginnie Willis, Programme Director, Leadership Foundation, said;

“This programme will enable early career academics who are about to apply for, or aspire to a senior role to explore various leadership concepts and help them to identify and develop their leadership style.

Participants will also reflect on the skills necessary to work as an effective leader and have the opportunity to discuss issues relating to their experiences of working in higher education.”

For more information about the programme and to book a place visit

If you would like discuss the programme content in depth, please contact Sweta Purohit Jina, Business Consultancy Manager.

AHRC ‘Engaging with Government’ course

ahrcThe AHRC Engaging with Government programme is a three day course which will take place in March 2016 and is designed to provide an insight into the policy making process, and help participants develop the skills needed to pursue the policy implications of their research. It also aims to build links between policy makers and the most dynamic new research in the arts and humanities. AHRC are inviting eligible researchers to submit an application to attend the course.

The programme will:

  • Encourage you to see opportunities where your own research could make a valuable contribution in a public policy context;
  • Challenge you to think in more depth about the policy process, and the role of research within it;
  • Increase the influencing and communication skills that you need to achieve this.


The programme is for early career researchers (ECRs) and is open to ECRs working in any area of the AHRC’s subject domain. At the point of application, applicants must be either within eight years of the award of their doctorate or equivalent professional training, or within six years of their first academic appointment.

In addition, applicants must be employed in a full- or part-time postdoctoral or equivalent position, which may be either fixed term or permanent, and which lists academic research as one of its main responsibilities. Applicants must be in post at the time of application, and the position must extend beyond the delivery of the ‘Engaging with Government’ course in March 2016. Further, the position must be held at a research organisation which is eligible to apply to the AHRC.

The course will be held at the Institute for Government Offices in central London on 8, 9, and 10 March and applicants will need to commit to attending all three days in full. The costs of the course, accommodation, travel, and subsistence will be paid for according to AHRC’s standard terms and conditions.

  • Closing date: 5pm on Friday 27 November 2015
  • Notification of Outcomes: w/c 11 January 2016
  • Course information sent to participants: mid-February 2016
  • Course: 8, 9, and 10 March 2016

Closing Dates

Closing Date: 27/11/2015

How to make an application

Please apply via Smartsurvey.

Further Information

Engaging with Government – Call for Applications (PDF, 128KB)

Engaging with Government Case Studies (PDF, 101KB)


If you have any queries about the programme or the application process, please contact

Development for New and Aspiring Principal Investigators

Leadership Development
HEFCE funded a project to provide online resources to help principal investigators develop their skills, these excellent resources are hosted by Vitae. This collaborative project involved colleagues at a number of universities across the UK, RCUK, Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, ARMA and Universities UK.

The resources can be found here and include some fantastic sections on:

Reminder – EUADS closing date is 30th November 2015

If you wish to apply for the next EU Academic Development Scheme (EUADS), your application must be with us by 30th November 2015. The previous blog post text is given again below, just in case you missed that announcement….
euads logo
The EU Academic Development Scheme (EUADS) is a unique scheme developed to kick start your career in EU research; it’s open to all BU academic staff seeking to gain EU funding.  The EUADS will help you build up to submitting a proposal to any of the H2020 schemes by providing unlimited 1-2-1 support from an expert EU bid writer, group mentoring and unlimited assistance with writing your application over a 9 month period.
The scheme involves four separate development workshops over nine months starting in January 2016 and ongoing assistance and support in developing EU proposals during that period.   A useful budget of £1K  per participant (with additional funds up to £2,250 in total) is provided to fund activities supporting bid development, such as:

• Travel with the intent of networking
• Conference attendance with the intent of networking
• Pilot research work
• Fieldwork
• Attendance at external networking events leading to collaborative research proposals
• Meetings with external organisations to establish collaborations
• Preparation of specialist material or data
• Replacement teaching

The workshops will all take place in 2016 on 13th January, 27th April, 20th July and 28th September.  Application forms are available below and must include endorsement from your Faculty Deputy Dean for Research, who should be approached before beginning a submission.  Places are limited and applications may be reviewed internally to decide on the final cohort; please complete the form with enthusiasm and care.

We are seeking individual applications but applicants may collaborate within and across Faculties and pool their individual budgets, where appropriate – please indicate in your application if you would like to be considered as a ‘team’ along with other applicants.

The deadline for applications is Monday, 30th November 2015.  Applications and any questions should be submitted to the RKEO Funding Development Co-ordinator, Dianne Goodman.

EUADS Policy 2016


BRAD: Robust adaptive predictive modelling and data deluge workshop


To book your place on this workshop- CLICK HERE

We are currently experiencing an incredible, explosive growth in digital content and information. According to IDC [11], there currently exists over 2.7 zetabytes of data. It is estimated that the digital universe in 2020 will be 50 times as big as in 2010 and that from now until 2020 it will double every two years. Research in traditionally qualitative disciplines is fundamentally changing due to the availability of such vast amounts of data. In fact, data-intensive computing has been named as the fourth paradigm of scientific discovery [10] and is expected to be key in unifying the theoretical, experimental and simulation based approaches to science. The commercial world has also been transformed by a focus on BIG DATA with companies competing on analytics [12]. Data has become a commodity and in recent years has been referred to as the ‘new oil’.

There has been a lot of work done on the subject of intelligent data analysis, data mining and predictive modelling over the last 50 years with notable improvements which have been possible with both the advancements of the computing equipment as well as with the improvement of the algorithms [1]. However, even in the case of the static, non-changing over time data there are still many hard challenges to be solved which are related to the massive amounts, high dimensionality, sparseness or inhomogeneous nature of the data to name just a few.

What is also very challenging in today’s applications is the non-stationarity of the data which often change very quickly posing a set of new problems related to the need for robust adaptation and learning over time. In scenarios like these, many of the existing, often very powerful, methods are completely inadequate as they are simply not adaptive and require a lot of maintenance attention from highly skilled experts, in turn reducing their areas of applicability.

In order to address these challenging issues and following various inspirations coming from biology coupled with current engineering practices, we propose a major departure from the standard ways of building adaptive, intelligent predictive systems and moving somewhat away from the engineering maxim of “simple is beautiful” to biological statement of “complexity is not a problem” by utilising the biological metaphors of redundant but complementary pathways, interconnected cyclic processes, models that can be created as well as destroyed in easy way, batteries of sensors in form of pools of complementary approaches, hierarchical organisation of constantly optimised and adaptable components.

In order to achieve such high level of adaptability we have proposed a novel flexible architecture [5-6] which encapsulates many of the principles and strategies observed in adaptable biological systems. The main idea of the proposed architecture revolves around a certain degree of redundancy present at each level of processing represented by the pools of methods, multiple competitive paths (individual predictors), their flexible combinations and meta learning managing general population and ensuring both efficiency and accuracy of delivered solution while maintaining diversity for improved robustness of the overall system.

The results of extensive testing for many different benchmark problems and various snapshots of interesting results covering the last decade of our research will be shown throughout the presentation and a number of challenging real world problems including pollution/toxicity prediction studies [8-9], building adaptable soft sensors in process industry in collaboration with Evonik Industries [6-7] or forecasting demand for airline tickets covering the results of one of our collaborative research projects with Lufthansa Systems [3-4] will be discussed.

Given our experiences in many different areas we see that truly multidisciplinary teams and a new set of robust, adaptive tools are needed to tackle complex problems with intelligent data analysis, predictive modelling and visualisation already indispensible. It is also clear that complex adaptive systems and complexity science supported and driven by huge amounts of multimodal, multisource data will become a major endeavour in the 21st century.

We will hold discussions surrounding:

  • Rapidly expanding digital universe
  • New decade of advanced/predictive analytics
  • General Fuzzy Min-Max (GFMM) Neural Networks as an example of early realisation of flexible predictive system
  • To combine or not to combine? – Multiple classification and prediction systems
  • Water quality monitoring based on biomarker data – can it be done?
  • Revenue management for airlines – can we forecast anything?
  • Adaptive soft sensors for process industry – here’s a real problem!
  • Self-adapting architecture for predictive modelling
  • Complex adaptive systems and complex networks

Professor. Bogdan Gabrys

To book your place on this workshop- CLICK HERE

Researcher Development Framework

Vitae_RDF_logo_2011Vitae is an organisation set up to promote career development in both postgraduate researchers and academic staff. Their Researcher Development Framework is intended to help people monitor their skills and plan their personal development. At BU we will be using this framework to format the training on offer for the postgraduate research students and academic staff.

The Vitae website is an excellent resource and the organisation regularly runs free training events for researchers, PGRs and those involved in research development. Upcoming events include Vitae Connections: Supporting Open Researchers.

The Researcher Development Framework (RDF) is the professional development framework to realise the potential of researchers. The RDF is a tool for planning, promoting and supporting the personal, professional and career development of researchers in higher education. It was designed following interviews with many successful researchers across the sector and articulates the knowledge, behaviours and attributes of a successful researcher.

There is a planner available on the Vitae website to help you assess which stage you are at with your skills and a tutorial providing guidance on how to use the framework.

Top 10 tips from researchers on using the Researcher Development Framework (RDF):

1. You might choose to use the RDF for short term as well as long term development. The RDF can be used in planning for your long term career ambitions but also to make a feasible short term plan. It can be useful to imagine your long term ambitions in order to focus your career path however the reality of progressing through to the higher phases may be more difficult to plan. In the short term, making decisions about how to progress to the next phase or what sub-domains are most important for you will be easier. Try to be realistic when setting these short term goals.

2. Use the RDF to highlight your strengths and areas for development and how these might be used to benefit/influence your personal, professional and career development.

3. Use the RDF to highlight your applicable and transferable skills. This is important for career progression within or outside academia.

4. Prioritise those areas which are most relevant. You don’t have to try to develop in all the areas of the RDF at once. There may be some sub-domains/descriptors where there is less relevance in progressing through the phases for you.

5. Draw on experiences outside of work to evidence your capabilities.

6. Progression to the highest phase in a descriptor will not be applicable to everyone but being aware of the possibilities can aid personal and career development.

7. Talk to others to get their views about your strengths and capabilities. Your supervisor, manager, peers, family and friends are a great source of information to find out more about yourself. Talk to them about how they perceive your capabilities. By understanding how others view you, you will be able to make more informed choices about your future.

8. To move from one phase to the next why not explore attending courses. These courses may be run at a local level (within your University) or may only be run nationally or internationally so awareness of opportunities for training is important. Vitae also run a wide range of courses which address many aspects of personal and career development.

9. Some phases may only be reached through experience and practice however good self-awareness and professional development planning will aid the process.

10. Networking is likely to enable you to reach more experienced phases.

NIHR Research Design Service Research Grant Writing Retreat

Do you have a great idea for research in health or social care?

Would your team benefit from protected time and expert support to develop your idea into a competitive funding application?

The NIHR Research Design Serice (RDS) are offering a unique opportunity for health and social care professionals across England to attend a week-long residential Grant Writing Retreat at Bailbrook House, Bath in June 2016. The purpose of the Retreat is to give busy professionals dedicated time to rapidly progress their research idea into fundable proposals. The Retreat will provide a supportive environment for teams of two or three people to develop high quality research proposals prior to application to national peer-reviewed funding streams. Find out more.

Don’t forget, your local branch of the NIHR Research Design Service is based within the BU Clinical Research Unit (BUCRU) on the 5th floor of Royal London House. Feel free to pop in and see us, call us on 61939 or send us an email.

BRAD Upcoming Opportunities – 16th November 2015





For more information about the above workshops and to book – CLICK HERE

Research Application Process- 16th November 2015, 9:30- 10:30.
This session will provide a presentation on the process of costing your research at BU and the research application process. Additionally, Q & A session and the opportunity for a one on one discussion with the facilitators.

Justifying your funding request workshop – 16th November 2015, 10:45-13:00 (including Lunch)
Many funders require you to justify the funding you are requesting in a research bid. But how can you best approach this? This session will outline how to structure a justification for funding for the major funders (research councils, other government funders, main charities) and provide some examples of good and bad practice.

Financial Management Workshop – 16th November 2015, 12:00 -14:30 (including Lunch)Finance for smes
This workshop will cover several topics ranging from; financial management, income and funding budgeting, financial resourcing and strategic financial planning.


For more information about the above workshops and to book – CLICK HERE




AHRC – Do you have strong opinions on research career development issues?

ahrcThe AHRC is seeking people that are interested in research careers and training in the arts and humanities, to replace several members on the Research Careers and Training Advisory Group (RCTAG). Potential candidates should have an active interest in research career development issues, relating to both careers in academia and in wider sectors.

AHRC are looking to recruit:

  • an academic from the arts and humanities
  • an arts or humanities doctoral student, who can be at any stage in their research and who does not have to be AHRC-funded. This is a good development opportunity and will allow them to gain new insights into policy and strategy in support of research career development
  • an early career post-PhD researcher in the arts and humanities who has not yet obtained a permanent academic post. They are particularly keen to hear from post-PhD researchers who are pursuing personal research with a view to a career in academia, while undertaking fixed-term HE employment as a teacher, research assistant, administrator, or any combination of these roles
  • a representative from the non-academic sector – applications are welcome from any sector with an interest in, and engagement with, research in the arts and humanities

In determining membership of the Group, the AHRC will ensure that a range of institutions and subjects is covered, though it does not expect individual members to represent their institution or subject.

About the Research Careers and Training Advisory Group (RCTAG)

The AHRC’s RCTAG was established in January 2013 and provides advice on postgraduate support and career development for researchers, and on future strategy in these areas.

The Terms of Reference for the Group are as follows:

  1. To provide advice to the AHRC on postgraduate and researcher development matters – including both advising on the AHRC’s longer-term strategy in this area, as well as alerting the AHRC to issues and developments in the university sector
  2. To advise the AHRC on skills-development needs in discipline areas both within and outside academia. For example, health of discipline concerns and ways in which these might be addressed
  3. To provide advice on existing or developing schemes, as required, as they evolve to meet emerging needs

The Group reports to the AHRC’s Advisory Board. Its advice forms the basis of policy development within the AHRC. Membership of the Group is for an initial period of two years, and will commence from 1 January 2016. The Group normally meets three times a year (twice as a Group and an annual meeting with the Network). Members are also consulted on issues outside of the formal meetings.


To be considered for membership of RCTAG, please complete the online form here:, also uploading a CV (maximum two-sides), and submit these by Friday 6 November 2015. A CV exceeding the page length will render the application ineligible.

Applications will be considered on the basis of the case that applicants have made for their potential contribution to the group and how well this is supported by the applicant’s experience in this area. In reaching a decision on the composition of the Group, the AHRC will consider not only the individual strengths of applicants, but also the balance of expertise and equality of representation, including regional coverage.

All applicants must have an interest in, understanding of, and engagement with researcher development issues at the postgraduate and/or postdoctoral level and beyond. There are a variety of ways in which this can be demonstrated, which will depend on the capacity in which applicants are proposing to join the Group.

The AHRC will be looking for some evidence of engagement with these issues, whether this is through a formal or professional role at an institution, or through membership of a body concerned with researcher development matters. They do not wish to be prescriptive about the type of activities that applicants might include as they are open to a variety of experience that might demonstrate an active interest and engagement with researcher development.

Last Reminder for the 03/11/15 Research Professional visit – Book in now!

Research-Professional-logoThere is still time for you to attend our Research Professional visit taking place on the 3rd Nov and get expert help with setting up your personal account and searches!

Every BU academic has a Research Professional account which delivers weekly emails detailing funding opportunities in their broad subject area. Jordan Graham from Research Professional is visiting BU on the 3rd of November 2015 to demonstrate to academics and staff how to make the most of their Research Professional account.

This will include:

  • Building searches
  • Setting personalised alerts
  • Saving and bookmarking items
  • Subscribing to news alerts
  • Configuring your personal profile

Location and the session timings are:

Talbot campus P424

10.15 – 11.15 – Research Professional presentation

11.15 – 11.45 – RKEO interactive session setting up searches

Lansdowne campus S103

13.30 – 14.30 – Research Professional presentation

14.30 – 15.00 – RKEO interactive session setting up searches

After the presentation, the RKEO Funding Development Team will be on hand for an interactive session where they will help you set up your Research Professional account, searches and offer advice from a BU perspective.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about funding opportunities and to meet the Funding Development Team, particularly if you are new to BU.

Please reserve your place now at a BU Campus to suit through Organisational Development