Tagged / BU research

Funding Development Briefings – back in September

The RDS Funding Development Briefings have occurred weekly, on a Wednesday at 12 noon since January 2021.

Thank you to those of you who have joined us to discuss the latest funding opportunities, ask questions, and share your research ideas. We will be taking a break over August, with the briefings returning in September.

Over August, we will still update the Major Opportunities pipeline on a weekly basis so you have access to the latest funding opportunities. The pipeline is available on the I Drive here: I:\RDS\Public\Funding Pipeline. The Research Facilitators will still be available over the summer to discuss your research bidding plans, so please do get in touch when required.

Details of the Funding Development Briefings for 2021/22 will be available shortly. Please email RKEDF@bournemouth.ac.uk to receive the Teams invite for these sessions.

We hope you have a restful summer, and look forward to seeing you in September!

Pilot studies paper reaches 90,000 reads

Today ResearchGate informed Prof. Vanora Hundley and I that our paper in the Nursing Standard of 2002 had reached 90,000 reads.  This short methods paper called ‘The Importance of Pilot Studies’ [1] was one of our earlier attempts, nearly two decades ago, to publish more of our work in practitioners journals.  This approach has been highly successful in terms of reaching a wider audience.  We have written longer, more sophisticated research methods papers on pilot studies over the years, including in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, Social Research Update, and the SAGE encyclopedia on research methods [2-6], but none of these has been read or cited as often as our short paper in the Nursing Standard. 

The term ‘pilot studies’ refers to mini versions of a full-scale study (also called ‘feasibility’ studies), as well as the specific pre-testing of a particular research instrument such as a questionnaire or interview schedule. Pilot studies are a crucial element of good study design. Conducting a pilot study does not guarantee success in the main study, but it does increase the likelihood of success. Pilot studies fulfill a range of important functions and can provide valuable insights for other researchers. There is a need for more discussion among researchers of both the process and outcomes of pilot studies.

 

References:

  1. van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2002) ‘The importance of pilot studies’ Nursing Standard 16(40): 33-36. Web: nursing-standard.co.uk/archives/vol16-40/pdfs/vol16w40p3336.pdf
  2. van Teijlingen E, Rennie, AM., Hundley, V, Graham, W. (2001) The importance of conducting & reporting pilot studies: example of Scottish Births Survey, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 34: 289-95.
  3. van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2001) The importance of pilot studies, Social Research Update Issue 35, (Editor N. Gilbert), Guildford: University of Surrey. Web:  http://www.soc.surrey.ac.uk/sru/SRU35.html
  4. Hundley, V., van Teijlingen E. (2002) The role of pilot studies in midwifery research RCM Midwives Journal 5(11): 372-74
  5. van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2005) Pilot studies in family planning & reproductive health care, Journal of Family Planning & Reproductive Health Care 31(3): 219-21.
  6. van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2003) Pilot study, In: Encyclopaedia of Social Science Research Methods, Vol. 2, Lewis-Beck, M., Bryman, A. & Liao, T. (eds.), Oregon, Sage: 823-24.

New FHSS nutrition publication

Congratulations to Faculty of Health & Social Sciences’ PhD student Karim Khaled and supervisors Prof. Vanora Hundley and Dr. Fotini Tsofliou on the acceptance of your manuscript ‘Perceived Stress was associated with Poorer Diet Quality among Women of Reproductive Age in the UK’.  This paper will appear in the international journal Nutrients.
All three are associated with our research unit CMMPH (Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health). This paper is supported by BU’s Open Access Fund will be freely available online soon.

Well done!

 

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

CMMPH

New joint publication with  Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust

 

This morning International Journal of Mental Health Nursing informed us that our article  ‘Cultural issues on accessing mental health services in Nepali and Iranian migrants communities in the UK‘ has been published today.   This paper is written by an interdisciplinary team including Hannah Blunt who works at Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust, Dr. Bibha Simkhada who is Senior Lecturer in Nursing at the University of Huddersfield and Dr. Mariam Vahdaninia who works in the Peninsula Medical School at the University of Plymouth.  Both Mariam and Bibha worked with me at Bournemouth University at the time of the study.

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

CMMPH (Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health)

Research impact at BU: protecting sex workers in Brazil; defining standards for crowdsourced systems

A series of posts featuring BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021. (These are edited versions of the final submissions – the full impact case studies will be published online in 2022.)

Improving the lives of sex workers in Brazil

Research area/s: Physical culture, mediated spectacles

Staff conducting research: Professor Michael Silk, Dr Amanda De Lisio

Background: Media speculation often points to heightened demand for sexual services around sporting mega events (SMEs), such as the Olympics. These reports tend to be used to justify policing and rationalise displacing sex work from the public spaces. Professor Silk had argued that SMEs are highly mediated commodity spectacles, during which governments seek to erase and/or hide from view those who are antithetical to market ‘logics’. However, there was a dearth of relevant data on the sexual landscapes associated with the Olympics or on the impact of large-scale sporting events on vulnerable populations of sex workers.

With funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Professor Silk and academic collaborators from Rio de Janeiro, Toronto and Kings College London undertook the first ever funded academic study that looked at the impact of the Olympics on sex workers. The project was centred on Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Olympics and carried out with two Rio-based partners: the Observatorio Da Prostituicao (ODP), who had been collecting data on sex work in Rio for more than 10 years, and Davida, an NGO that supports sex workers in Brazil. Ethnographic data was collected from more than 100 sex workers, while interviews took place with key stakeholders such as clients, sex workers, venue managers, security personnel, police and local support groups. Observational data was collected from sex-related businesses and – in conjunction with the sex workers – field diaries and audio-visual data were recorded during and after the 2016 Olympics.

The project found that, within the Brazilian context:

  • Public discourse was once again focused on anti-trafficking strategies, which conflated forced migration and sexual exploitation with adult, consensual sex work.
  • Sex workers were forcibly evicted and displaced, with women unable to access justice without first asserting themselves as victims of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking – although they refused to lie about their consensual involvement in adult sex work.
  • Labour rights were denied, due to the conflation of sex work with sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.
  • The expected boom in ‘sex tourism’ did not materialise.
  • There was a heightened security presence in the street.

The final report made several key recommendations, including:

  • Stopping the conflation of prostitution with trafficking and sexual exploitation in law, public policies and popular discourse.
  • Creating opportunities for sex workers to add to the SME narrative.
  • Developing strategies to recognise and act against state-sanctioned violence faced by sexual minorities, and to guarantee social and spatial justice for those marginalised in the development process.

The impact:

Displacing sex workers during SMEs can have wide-reaching consequences for their safety, particularly in Brazil, where sex work is a legal profession.  By providing an evidence base on the spatial regulation of informal sex economies during SMEs, this project elevated the voice of sex workers in Brazil and shaped policy.

Changing policy

The research informed a submission by Davida to the United Nations Human Rights Council in October 2016, which documented human rights violations against sex workers in Brazil during the staging of SMEs. The report highlighted the eviction of approximately 200 women from a sex venue in 2014, with one evicted woman providing data on the eviction, denial of access to justice and the need for empirical evidence in the creation and execution of policies and strategies surrounding sex work. As a result of the report, she was invited to attend the EU Human Rights Defenders First Annual Meeting in November 2016. Subsequently, the UN referenced the Davida report in its Universal Periodic Review (Brazil) of February 2017 and adopted the following recommendations for the Brazilian government:

  • Improving the under-reporting of sexual violence/harrassment and developing policies to punish and prevent such actions.
  • Protecting human rights defenders and their families by implementing a national programme, policy and/or plan.
  • Combating police violence against women through training.

In September 2017, the Brazilian government enacted these recommendations into federal law, committing themselves to including human rights education in schools, creating domestic violence centres across the country, running an awareness campaign and setting up a hotline to report cases of violence against women.

Improving the lives and working conditions of sex workers

The project enabled Davida to reach a generation of women involved in sex work and the organisation has used the data to influence discourse around child labour exploitation, enhance ties with the Brazilian government’s anti-trafficking committee and ensure less conflation of sex work with sexual exploitation/trafficking at government level.

The ESRC team collaborated with local partners to develop a sex worker-author exhibition, documenting everyday work and life during the Olympics.  Participants curated their own pages for the online exhibition: “It was such an innovative, motivating process… I feel full of hopes and expectations… I feel like I achieved something”. As a result of the project, two of the trans sex worker photographers have developed careers in the arts.

Altering perceptions of sex work in the context of SMEs

The ‘What You Don’t See’ virtual exhibition was curated into a physical exhibition, shown in London, New York and Bournemouth.  The exhibition was converted into a film narrated by sex workers (and project participants), which offered accounts of the banality of everyday life, oppression and prejudice, bringing to life the project findings and challenging sensationalist media accounts of sex work during SMEs.  The film debuted at the MoMA PS1 Sex Workers’ Festival of Resistance in New York City, attended by 1,000 people, all of whom received a newsletter summarising the ESRC project. Davida stated that the project “broadened cultural and political sensibilities, which might have never expected to see the work of Brazilian women involved in sexual commerce celebrated in art galleries”. Davida is currently incorporating the data into a project that is digitising sex work histories in Brazil for the State Archives of Rio de Janeiro.

Creating internationally recognised standards for crowdsourced systems

Research areas: Computing & Informatics, Software Engineering, Cyber Psychology

Staff conducting research: Dr Marios Angelopoulos, Professor Raian Ali, Professor Keith Phalp, Dr Jacqui Taylor

Background: Crowdsourcing can be defined as the practice of soliciting input from the general public. Crowdsourced systems incorporate devices provided by the public to opportunistically supplement their infrastructure. In crowdsourced systems, members of the general public permit the system to access and use the resources of their devices in return for an incentive; this can either be intrinsic (e.g. for social good) or extrinsic (e.g. receiving a service, a micropayment, etc).

However, the highly personal nature of devices like smartphones poses significant trust and privacy issues. Since crowdsourced systems are characterised by the network effect (their efficacy increases as the number of their users increases), such issues can hinder their adoption and development. In addition, the community has lacked a common understanding of which systems can be classified as crowdsourced systems and how such systems can be built following a trustworthy and transparent method.

BU researchers conducted a systematic survey of crowdsourcing research to extract and describe the taxonomy of features which characterise crowdsourcing. They analysed 652 papers, identifying 113 papers (72 academic and 41 from industry) as providing definitions on crowdsourcing. The paper detailed the methodology that was assumed in order to elicit the key features of the concept of crowdsourcing and the corresponding definition, which was adopted in the International Telecommunications Union (ITU-T) standard. The model identified the four fundamental constituents of crowdsourcing: the crowd, the crowdsourcer, the crowdsourced task, and the crowdsourcing platform, and formed the basis for the reference architecture for crowdsourced systems specified in the ITU-T standard.

BU and European collaborators also assessed how crowdsourcing methods and tools can be used in designing systems (particularly in requirements engineering) and how these can be applied in industrial contexts. Dr Angelopoulos’ research underpinned the discussions within the ITU-T study group about implementation aspects of crowdsourced systems and corresponding use cases, and eventually helped shape the final text of the standard. These included architectural approaches for crowdsourced systems in a variety of applications, such as localised distributed computer infrastructure, crowd-enabled IoT systems and crowdsourced systems as enablers for citizen science.

The impact:

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is the United Nations’ special agency for information and communication technologies, with global membership including 193 member states, as well as some 900 companies, universities, international and regional organisations, and 20,000 industry professionals. Its recommendations act as an international standard and common point of reference globally to enable members to develop policies at a local or national level.

The ITU accepted the definitions and reference architecture developed through BU research as the formal definitions for crowdsourced systems. Angelopoulos led the BU delegation for the recommendation throughout its lifetime, as part of ITU-T Study Group 20 (SG20), which develops recommendations in the field of Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities and communities. The terms defined were accepted by the Standardisation Committee for the Vocabulary and form part of official ITU terminology, which acts as a reference point for the international community. The recommendation was formally ratified by the ITU in February 2019 during the SG20 meeting held in China

Defining processes and attributes, and producing a standardised framework for the ways in which such systems are developed, helps to increase their transparency and provides a guarantee with regards to privacy and cybersecurity issues. This, in turn, helps increase public trust towards crowdsourced systems and, consequently, promotes their use. By helping to provide this formal, standardised framework – accepted by the global community through the ITU – BU has delivered a foundation of common understanding that will facilitate the growth and further adoption of crowdsourced systems and reference architecture, as well as identifying and addressing relevant security, privacy and trust issues.

 

TomorrowPorts conference for smart port innovators

SPEED, a European Interreg project, with Bournemouth University as one of its partners, is holding a conference in September aimed at those interested in new technologies (such as smart port applications), business models and ecosystems that can lead to smarter ports.

The TomorrowPorts conference takes place in Antwerp, Belgium from 23-24 September. During the event participants will learn from use cases from smart port pioneers, get inspired by state-of-the-art smart port technologies, find tech talent to fuel the digital transformation, and get in touch with the latest thinking and frameworks. More information and tickets for TomorrowPorts are available here.

SPEED – the Smart Ports Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Development – aims to build an ecosystem for smart port app development in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and the UK, bridging the gap between the worlds of European ports and the nascent data science – IoT market.

The conference also provides the opportunity to nominate port solutions for an award to show that collaboration within port ecosystems is key to creating the Smart Ports of Tomorrow. The winner and two runners up are entitled to a money prize, exposure, networking opportunities, free co-working space, and access to the virtual development lab and specific toolkits. The award ceremony will be held at the TomorrowPorts Conference in Antwerp, on Friday September 24. Find out more about the award and on how to register your case here.

 

 

 

 

Research impact at BU: creating a novel medical device; assessing Brexit’s effect on UK food prices

A series of posts featuring BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021. (These are edited versions of the final submissions – the full impact case studies will be published online in 2022.)

Creating a global market for a novel medical device: how BU
research helped make it happen

Research areas: Orthopaedics, Exercise Physiology

Staff conducting research: Professor Robert Middleton, Associate Professor Tom Wainwright, Louise Burgess, Shayan Bahadori, Dr James Gavin, Tikki Immins

The geko™ neuromuscular electrical stimulator

Background: The geko™ and the technology behind it is the only product of Firstkind Ltd: a battery-powered, disposable, neuromuscular electro-stimulation device designed to increase blood flow in the veins of the legs. Firstkind Ltd approached Professors Middleton and Wainwright to design and conduct the first ever study of the device in patients following hip replacement surgery. The randomised control trial (RCT) compared the geko™ with compression stockings in order to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and oedema post-surgery. Results showed that not only was the device safe, tolerable for patients, and effective in preventing DVT, but that it significantly reduced oedema.

Before the trial, the device settings had been informed by research on healthy subjects in a seated position; Middleton and Wainwright’s research discovered that the device settings did not always work optimally for patients with oedema or neuropathy, or for patients in bed whose knee was extended. Further research confirmed this and highlighted the opportunity to optimise the device further.

BU’s research built on data from a study carried out by Firstkind, which looked at patients who had not responded well to the geko™ T1 device. BU’s TEDs2 study replicated the methodology from the earlier study, with additional blood flow measurements, and used the next generation of geko™ devices. This showed that the updated devices increased blood flow, were effective in preventing DVT, and significantly reduced oedema.

Middleton and Wainwright also conducted a pilot RCT on patients with ankle sprains, which showed that the device reduced swelling. It was the first clinical trial undertaken at home, with patients applying it themselves and wearing it for at least eight hours a day for seven days, and patients showed no adverse effects.

The impact:

Benefits for patients

Before BU’s involvement, the device was designed for use in athletes and healthy individuals to aid their recovery from sport, or to prevent DVTs while flying. Wainwright and Middleton’s research led to the device being used to help patients in a wide variety of clinical settings: e.g 28 NHS Trusts are working to adopt the device for acute stroke patients at high risk of blood clots, and more than 4,700 devices have been ordered by the NHS to prevent DVTs as a potential side effect of Covid-19.

In addition, a study of post-stroke patients showed that 2.4% of those treated with Intermittent Pneumatic Compression (IPC) alone suffered from DVT within 90 days, compared with 0% of those prescribed the geko™. Patients had no adverse events and reported a greater tolerance of the geko™ than IPC.

In Canada, the device has been rolled out for chronic wound patients, leading to some experiencing complete healing, where other treatments were unsuccessful.

Approvals in the UK and USA

  • BU’s research demonstrating the effectiveness of the geko™ device led to Firstkind Ltd receiving approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to use it for venous thrombosis and oedema.
  • The device has also been approved for use by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). In its guidance, NICE estimated the cost-saving per patient using the device to be £197 (compared with those receiving no treatment) representing a significant saving to the NHS.

Firstkind Ltd acknowledged that BU’s research was pivotal in achieving both FDA and NICE approvals.

Benefits for Firstkind Ltd

The NHS and FDA approvals have expanded potential markets for the device on every continent. Firstkind Ltd. references BU’s research extensively in its brochures, demonstrating its importance in its day-to-day marketing, driving sales and commercial expansion into new markets. More than 700,000 individual units have been sold to date in at least 14 countries, and, in 2020, Firstkind Ltd. won the International Life Sciences award for the Most Innovative MedTech Company.

Delivering analytical capacity and advice to inform government of the effects of Brexit and future trade arrangements on UK food prices

Research area: Economics

Staff conducting research: Professor Tim Lloyd

Background: In 2017, Professor Lloyd was commissioned, with Exeter University colleagues, to undertake a confidential UK food pricing project for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to assess the impact of Brexit on food prices in Britain. The econometric models at the core of the project drew on expertise developed by Professor Lloyd over two decades of collaboration with Exeter’s Professor Steve McCorriston. They found that domestic food price inflation is significantly affected by world food commodity prices, the exchange rate and oil prices, rather than domestic demand pressures and food chain costs, and that food inflation in the EU may be influenced by differences in the food sector across the Union, particularly barriers to competition. The quality and impact of the research led to Professor Lloyd being called as an expert witness as part of a House of Lords EU Committee enquiry into food price spikes.

Underlying the econometric modelling of food inflation is price transmission – the mechanism describing how price changes move through a supply chain.  Much of Professor Lloyd’s research career has been devoted to understanding the theory, methods and data that economists rely on to analyse the price transmission mechanism. In his 2016 Presidential Address to the Agricultural Economics Society, he set out this literature and his contribution to it, including the econometric methodology he helped pioneer to quantify the speed, magnitude and asymmetry of price transmission in agricultural and food markets, much of which emphasised the importance of imperfect competition (e.g. dominant retailers) in modern food chains. Professor Lloyd’s food industry expertise led to his appointment to Defra’s panel of expert advisors in 2012 and reappointment in 2018 as Brexit withdrawal negotiations intensified.

Food prices and Brexit

After the 2016 referendum, Defra commissioned the confidential development of a new food inflation model to assess the dynamic impact of the potential trade scenarios arising from Brexit. This included the impact of food prices on consumers at different levels of income, i.e. disadvantaged groups, and a detailed examination of trade in processed food and agricultural commodities.

For the first time, the project provided data that was able to provide a more accurate representation of the types and sources of UK food imports. Using these new data, Professor Lloyd led the development of econometric models that quantified the impact of agricultural and food import prices on the price of food in the UK high street, as well as other factors such as domestic agricultural product prices, manufacturing costs and most importantly, exchange rates. The work demonstrated that the geography and type of food imported into Britain impacted retail food inflation markedly, implying that the changes in trade and trade policy arising from Brexit could impact food prices significantly

The impact:

Informing Brexit negotiations: a new scenario modelling tool

The researchers used results from their econometric modelling to develop the bespoke software interface STEFI (Scenario Tool Exeter Food Inflation). With a simple, user-friendly interface, STEFI enabled non-specialists in Defra to calculate the dynamic effects of various trade scenarios. The user manual featured a step-by-step guide to inputting alternative policy scenarios and interpreting the results, filling an important analytical gap in government at the time.

Four innovative features allowed Defra to assess the food price impacts of Brexit in ways that were previously impossible, by incorporating: (i) the origin of trade; (ii) trade in both raw agricultural materials and processed food products (iii) macroeconomic factors that determine retail food prices including effective exchange rates and unemployment and (iv) manufacturing costs in the food chain.

STEFI has been used since 2019 as part of the government’s assessment of Brexit – most notably in October 2019 when a ‘no deal’ exit became a realistic prospect, and again in January 2020, to simulate the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan. The potential impact of both these scenarios on food prices helped inform the government’s position in trade negotiations. The outputs from the Brexit pricing project continue to be used by Defra in trade negotiations and policy making.

Minimising the impact on low-income consumers

Defra asked for an econometric analysis to be undertaken to assess the effect of rising food prices on consumers across the income distribution. Numerical results quantified the effects, particularly for low-income consumers, who stand to lose the most from Brexit-related price shocks. These concerns were heightened by the potentially acute impact of Covid-19 on the availability and price of food. Amid concerns over panic buying in the early stages of the pandemic, Defra repurposed STEFI to provide objective evidence to support and inform the government’s response.

Enhancing Defra’s capacity: cutting-edge research

Defra acknowledged the impact of the research by Professors Lloyd and McCorriston, stating it was ‘impossible to overemphasise the enormous contribution’ their development of STEFI had made to its capacity, and that it was ‘unparalleled in understanding food prices’. The tool remains in regular use and Defra stated it will be used to analyse other domestic and global issues in the future, such as future bilateral trade negotiations and the coronavirus pandemic.

MCSA Postdoctoral Fellowship – Call Status and Workshop

This call is expected to be open shortly, and the deadline for submitting your Intention to Bid form to RDS is at close of Monday 16th August.

MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships enhance the creative and innovative potential of researchers holding a PhD and who wish to acquire new skills through advanced training, international, interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral mobility. MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships are open to excellent researchers of any nationality.

There are 2 types of Postdoctoral Fellowships:

  1. European Postdoctoral Fellowships. Open to researchers moving within Europe or coming to Europe from another part of the world to pursue their research career. These fellowships take place in an EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country and can last between 1 and 2 years. Researchers of any nationality can apply.
  2. Global Postdoctoral Fellowships. They fund the mobility of researchers outside Europe. The fellowship lasts between 2 to 3 years, of which the first 1 to 2 years will be spent in a non-associated Third Country, followed by a mandatory return phase of 1 year to an organisation based in an EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country. Only nationals or long-term residents of the EU Member States or Horizon Europe Associated Countries can apply.

This scheme also encourages researchers to work on research and innovation projects in the non-academic sector and is open to researchers wishing to reintegrate in Europe, to those who are displaced by conflict, as well as to researchers with high potential who are seeking to restart their careers in research.

MSCA WORKSHOP

22nd July 10:00  – 15:00

A workshop organised by RDS will be held for those interested in applying for an MSCA post Doctoral Fellowship. Please email OD@bournemouth.ac.uk if you’d like to attend.

Follow this link to learn more details about MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships

 

New Look Research Application Development Timeline

New Look Timeline!

The Research Development & Support RKE Application timeline is your ultimate guide to applying for external research and knowledge-exchange funding, and it’s been given a brand new look.

The timeline guides you through all the necessary steps, procedures and processes involved, including navigating through all the requirements of the internal quality approvals, costing preparations, legal and finances approvals, faculty approvals, etc.

The timeline also provides helpful guidance in the time needed in preparing and finalising external funding applications, taking you through initial planning, the submission preparation processes, legal and finance approval processes and to the submission to funder process.

You can also find useful links and information, as well as your Funding Development Team contacts on this timeline document.

Please click on this link to access this useful guidance document in its jazzy new format.

If you have any queries, please contact RDS.

Research impact at BU: computer modelling to predict effects of human activity on birds; smart digital marketing for tourism and hospitality

A series of posts featuring BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021. (These are edited versions of the final submissions – the full impact case studies will be published online in 2022.)

Using a computer model (MORPH) for environmental decision-making to balance the needs of birds and society

Research area: Conservation Ecology

Staff conducting research: Professor Richard Stillman

Background: The development of BU’s unique computer modelling software, known as MORPH, addressed the need for a robust method of predicting the effects of a diverse range of activities (e.g. housing and port development, shellfishing, recreational pastimes) on legally protected bird species. MORPH creates virtual versions of real ecosystems, including realistic ways in which animals respond to changes in their environment.

BU’s research on diverse bird species globally, conducted with former colleagues at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (Furzebrook/Winfrith), provided the basis for MORPH’s detailed understanding of the behaviour and ecology of coastal and wetland birds. Although it is a single piece of software, MORPH can simulate multiple systems, and, in effect, learns how to mimic different environmental conditions, species behaviour and physiology. This flexibility is key, as it means MORPH can be applied rapidly to a diverse range of systems without any time-consuming changes to its underlying computer code.

It is initially set up for present-day conditions for which the behaviour of birds in the real system is known. Its predictions are then compared to observations to determine whether it represents the system with sufficient accuracy to reliably inform decision-making. The environment within MORPH is then changed to predict how changes in the real world may impact the birds, with the results used to inform decision making. MORPH is a rare example of a model that is able to make such predictions accurately, relying on the fundamental evolutionary principle that both model and real birds will always behave in ways that maximise their chances of surviving and reproducing.

Since 2007, MORPH has been used to model 25 bird species in 22 sites in Australia, USA, Europe and the UK – BU’s Individual Ecology website details all applications of MORPH, funders, publications, species modelled, issues addressed and conservation recommendations. The model is increasingly being used by industry, conservation NGOs and government organisations to improve the cost effectiveness of their work, set sustainable fishing quotas, and understand the impacts of new developments and human activity on the birds.

The impact:

Improving regulation of infrastructure development and plans

  • Independent coastal partnership Solent Forum commissioned BU to measure the potential effects of housing development on the local wintering bird population. MORPH predicted that the construction of 60,000 houses over the next 13 years could potentially increase the mortality of wading birds; as a result, the developers had to offset any negative effects by making contributions to fund conservation per house built, based on a sliding scale according to the number of bedrooms. Between 2014 and 2020, this totalled £3.4 million, which went towards creating Bird Aware Solent, a partnership that aims to raise awareness of protected birds.
  • BU worked with Natural England (NE) to asses the effects of habitat loss and disturbance on wildfowl populations due to new developments. This enabled NE for the first time to predict whether such losses might result in a decline in protected bird populations.
  • US-based conservation organisation Ducks Unlimited commissioned BU to look at the effects of habitat loss and disturbance on black brant geese in California and used the findings as a key piece of evidence for an impact assessment of the environmental effects of the expansion of aquaculture activity in the area.

Enhancing sustainable shellfishery management to allow economic growth while better conserving protected bird species

  • MORPH was used in the Wadden Sea, Netherlands – the world’s largest unbroken system of intertidal sand and mud flats – to help determine whether cockle harvesting could continue in 2020/2021. The decision depended on evidence that the management of the cockle fishery in previous years had been enough to sustain the oystercatcher population – which MORPH was able to confirm.
  • The Marine Stewardship Council has used BU’s research in the management of Welsh cockle fisheries and the Exe Estuary mussel fishery to identify the amount of shellfish needed to sustain birds such as the oystercatcher over winter. This then informs the quota for fishing.

Improving evidence-informed efficiency, resource management and cost-effectiveness of conservation organisations

  • BU has equipped Natural England with models and knowledge to predict in-house the effect of land use change on bird populations, enabling them to conduct a more cost-effective assessment of impacts.
  • UK conservation charity Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust used MORPH to diagnose the environmental causes of the population decline of the Bewick’s Swan, currently listed as ‘Endangered’ in Europe.
  • The British Trust for Ornithology now routinely includes MORPH (or related approaches) as one of its methods in conservation projects.

Digitisation of tourism and hospitality marketing: towards smart ecosytems

Research area: Tourism & Hospitality

Staff conducting research: Professor Dimitrios Buhalis

Background: Professor Buhalis has spent the past 20 years researching how Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) can revolutionise marketing in tourism and hospitality. Since his arrival at BU in 2007 his key focus has been how to use digital technology to engage with the consumer; and how tourism organisations and destinations can develop their competitiveness and improve their profitability by developing smart networks. His research during this period has focused on:

  • The use of the internet (Web 1.0) to enable organisations to communicate their offerings and facilitate eCommerce transactions.
  • The application of social media and Web 2.0 to interact with consumers and engage with stakeholders through two-way dynamic communications. This enables the ‘co-creation’ of experiences with customers, allowing personalisation and contextualisation, and generating additional value and loyalty.
  • The development of Smart Tourism ecosystems, using technology to develop agility, facilitate value co-creation and deliver services in real time. For tourism destinations and governments, this means that they can integrate their production and supply systems, enhancing their competitiveness.
  • For tourism businesses, such as hotels, travel agencies and tour operators, adopting a smart ecosystem can help develop their competitiveness and profitability through interconnectivity and interoperability.

The impact:

Tourism businesses

Individual tourism practitioners and organisations have applied insights from Professor Buhalis’ research to enhance profitability and competitiveness.  His work on co-creation has informed social media strategies for hotels across the world, enhancing their online brand reputation, improving customer engagement and increasing repeat business. These brands include:

  • the world’s largest franchisor of hotels, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts – which collaborated with BU on a number of initiatives;
  • Aliathon Resort, Cyprus – which estimates that Professor Buhalis’ insights have extended the tourist season, increased guest loyalty and enhanced revenue by approximately €4 million per year, 2013-19;
  • Aquis Hotel & Resorts – which attributes an occupancy rate 10% above, and average room rate 8% above the competition to insights gleaned from BU’s research;
  • Omnibees Booking Engine – which has based its development on Professor Buhalis’ research into smart ecosystems, enabling it to achieve the best conversion rate among booking engines.

National governments

Professor Buhalis has worked with more than 100 national governments and tourism bodies to develop e-tourism strategies, strengthen the competitiveness of destinations, and increase tourism revenue. This includes: Visit Britain, the British Hospitality Association, Tourism Australia, the Ministry of Tourism in Jamaica, the African Tourism Leadership Forum, the Ministry of Tourism in Oman and the Agency for Development of Human Resources in Cyprus, a country where he has trained more than 1,000 hotel owners and managers in the creative use of social media.

International organisations

Professor Buhalis has acted as an adviser to the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) since 2006, which has helped him to put technology and digital at the top of the tourism agenda globally.  In 2018 the UNWTO’s World Tourism Day was themed around digital technologies, with the UNWTO stating that Buhalis’ research was “a major feature” in the debate around big data, artificial intelligence and digital platforms, which all form a “central part of the solution to the challenge of marrying continued growth with a more sustainable and responsible tourism sector”.

Covid-19

During the pandemic Professor Buhalis has collaborated with the UNWTO, TravelDailyNews, hotel associations and other media organisations channels to facilitate more than 150 online live sessions and discussion forums, training industry and governments around the world on how to use smart technologies to restart tourism, adopt hygiene protocols and communicate dynamically with stakeholders.

 

Health Research Authority UPDATE: undergraduate and master’s research projects

New eligibility criteria from 1 September 2021

The HRA and the devolved administrations, supported by the Wessex Institute at the University of Southampton, have reviewed their approach to study approval for student research.

The review aimed to ensure students have the best learning experience of health and social care research, and to reduce the time that the HRA, DAs and NHS Research Ethics Committees (RECs) spend advising on and reviewing student applications.

In March 2020 the HRA paused student research approvals to create capacity for urgent COVID-19 research. Now, from 1 September 2021, they are introducing new eligibility criteria for standalone student research.

The new criteria mean that some master’s level students will be able to apply for ethics review and HRA/HCRW Approval or devolved administration equivalent. Standalone research at undergraduate level that requires ethics review and/or HRA/HCRW Approval (or devolved administration equivalent) cannot take place. Arrangements for doctoral research remain unchanged. Full details are in table one – permitted student research table. They have also made it clear when students are able to take the role of Chief Investigator, see table two – which type of students may act as Chief Investigator.

It is possible for students to learn about health and social care research without completing standalone projects. Looking at other ways to build skills and experience better reflects modern research and emphasises team science. View the video of the HRA event ‘Exploring good practice in Student Research’ to hear from course leaders about how successful these alternative approaches have been (registration is required to view) or read the HRA website for further information and ideas https://www.hra.nhs.uk/student-research/.

The HRA are giving notice now so that course leaders and students have time to prepare for the new arrangements, including ensuring that any changes to institutional policies and procedures are made.

If you have any queries about the eligibility criteria, please contact queries@hra.nhs.uk or swignall@bournemouth.ac.uk