Tagged / celebrate

Celebrating research impact at Bournemouth University

Join us on Friday 27 May at 14.30 for a series of lightening talks from BU academics, to find out how their research is making a difference.

The short talks will highlight some key impact case studies that were submitted to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014 and others that are currently in development. This is an excellent opportunity to hear about a wide range of inspiring research from across BU, presenting key insights into all stages of the impact pathway.

Book your place via Eventbrite

Speakers will include;

  • Peter Thomas (Health and Social Sciences)
  • Dinusha Mendis (Management)
  • Mark Hadfield (Science & Technology)
  • Ian Stephenson (Media & Communication)
  • Chindu Sreedharan (Media & Communication)
  • Raian Ali and Keith Phalp (Science & Technology)
  • Heather Hartwell (Management)
  • Richard Stillman (Science & Technology)
  • Einar Thorsen (Media & Communication)
  • Sarah Bate (Science & Technology)

The session will take place in Kimmeridge House (KG03) Talbot campus from 14.30 – 15.30, with networking and refreshments until 16.00. 

impact wordle 3

 

This session forms part of a series of research impact seminars and workshops, organised by RKEO to explore the various pathways to achieving societal and economic impact.  Within the series, attendees will explore methods for effectively engaging a variety of research users throughout the research process, and develop new ways to plan, deliver and evidence impact.

View the other events in the series or email Genna West for further information.

Happy new year! BU’s research highlights of 2015

20152015 was another great year for research at BU.  Here are the fabulous highlights for your perusal, in no particular order:

1. University rankings – During 2015 BU entered the ranking of the world’s top 500 universities for the first time (one of only two UK post-1992s in the top 500), as well as rising in all three major university league tables, published by The Guardian, The Sunday Times and The Complete University Guide. For most of these league tables BU’s research strength and performance significantly contributed to the increase in position.

award2. External recognition for BU research – 2015 was a great year for research awards at BU. The SHIVA Project won the Outstanding Digital Innovation in Teaching or Research Award at the THE Awards (full story) in November 2015, the smartphone device for monitoring sensation loss in patients with diabetes designed by Dr Venky Dubey and Dr Neil Vaughan was awarded ‘highly commended’ in three categories at the Institution of Engineering and Technology awards (full story), Dr Kip Jones’ AHRC-funded film Rufus Stone was shortlisted in the AHRC research in film awards (full story), BU’s Emeritus Professor Paul Lewis was awarded an OBE for services to midwifery (full story), and PGR student Rosa Spencer-Tansley was awarded ‘Student Star of the Future’ in the Rock Awards (full story). BU’s Dr Sam Goodman became one of BBC Radio 3 and the AHRC’s New Generational Thinkers, making several appearances on BBC Radio 3 and Prof Ann Brooks was conferred as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS) in recognition of her world-leading social science research.  The BU research website won the Best Research Website award in the international eduStyle awards (full story) and was shortlisted at the Heist Awards in the best website category (full story). Research into facial recognition by Dr Sarah Bate and PGR student Anna Bobak was featured in the New Scientist in November (full story). BU was also awarded the Athena SWAN bronze award in 2015 in recognition of our commitment to tackling gender inequality in HE (full story).

Research-income-graph-2014-153. Growth in RKE activity – Our annual RKE income at BU has continued to grow. In 2014-15 our RKE income was c. £7m, up 16% on the previous year (this figure increases further when the NHS CPD income is added in). What’s particularly interesting is the change in where this income comes from: we are now significantly less reliant on UK Government funding (NHS, English Heritage, etc) and are successfully obtaining more prestigious research funding, such as UK Research Councils, British Academy, EC, etc.  BU’s Research Council income has increased by 148% since 2008-09 and has been our largest research funding stream for the past three years.  EU income has increased from c. £200k in 2008-09 to c. £760k in 2014-15 (an increase of c. 263%). Although still small, research income received from international sources outside of the EU is also steadily increasing. Our research council success rates for 2014-15 were respectable – BU’s overall success rate was 17% (12 bids submitted of which 2 were awarded) against a sector average of 28%. This is one of the highest annual success rates we have achieved as an institution. The two grants won were awarded by NERC. The sector average success rate with NERC was 26%, compared to BU’s impressive 67%.

4. Significant grants/contracts awarded – Over the past year, BU has been awarded hundreds of research grants and contracts ensuring the continued success of our diverse and wide-ranging research programmes. Highlights include:

  • A number of UK Research Council grants including funding from the ESRC to enable our researchers to work on the issue of dementia-friendly architecture and the need to create care homes that are easily navigable by people with dementia (£200k, PI – Jan Wiener), funding from NERC to develop an integrated software system for the 3-d capture and analysis of footwear evidence (£90k, PI – Matthew Bennett) and funding from the AHRC to explore regulating the e-platform in China (£80k, PI – Lingling Wei)
  • A grant from the prestigious European Research Council (£315k) to explore the little-known Hyksos period of Egyptian history. BU researchers are working as co-investigators with partners all across Europe to find out about the origins, impact and legacy of this enigmatic era of Egyptian history (PI – Holger Schutkowski)
  • A number of grants from the European Commission including £310k for the PROTEUS project (PI – Abdelhamid Bouchachia), £170k for the SMART ETHIC project (PI – Barry Richards), £150k for the NuFEAST project (PI – Jane Murphy), £150k for a project looking into strategies for the mass customisation of jewellery (PI – Alexander Pasko) and £130k for a project looking into innovative remote sesnsing techniques in ecosystem modelling (PI – Ross Hill)
  • A number of grants from the National Institute for Health Research, including grants to develop a sustainable research programme to prevent falls and promote physical activity among older people with dementia (£515k, PI – Samuel Nyman) and to investigate whether early mobilisation after ankle fracture enhances recovery (£85k, PI – Zoe Sheppard)
  • The Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) who provided £700k of seed funding for BU’s new Orthopaedic Research Institute to purchase state-of-the-art gait analysis equipment and eventually establish new research laboratories (PI – Tom Wainwright)
  • Support from English Heritage to carry out further post-excavation assessment of the Swash Channel Wreck (PI – Dave Parham)

5. RKEO structure – Back in September 2014 we launched the new RKEO structure, one of the aims of which was to improve the service offered to academic colleagues. During 2015 we undertook a number of feedback exercises to ascertain whether the new structure was having the desired impact in the Faculties. Our major service excellence project ran in two inquiry cycles in 2015, with improvements made in response to each round. The last lot of feedback indicates significant improvements in all areas. We also ran our pre- and post-award surveys in 2015, the feedback to which was largely positive. Anecdotal feedback from Faculties indicates that the relationship between academics and RKEO has improved over the past 12 months which is great news. We will continue to strive to embed the new structure and strengthen relationships and processes throughout 2016.

ORI launch6. New RKE institutes launched – During 2015 two new research institutes were launched – ORI and ISLHE. In October 2015 BU launched the new Orthopaedic Research Institute (ORI) with the intention of working across the University and with local hospitals and industry partners to carry out research that will improve patient care and develop clinician practice in the UK. ORI is being led by Professor Rob Middleton and Associate Professor Tom Wainwright, both of whom have national and international reputations for their research work. The Institute for Studies in Landscape and Human Evolution (ISLHE) was launched in February 2015 and is establishing an interdisciplinary research programme focused on the interaction of human (hominin) ancestors with the landscape. ISLHE is led by Professor Matthew Bennett and Dr Sally Reynolds. Also in 2015 BU launched new policies and procedures for the establishment and review of RKE Institutes and Centres. We are still in the process of implementing these and aim to have a full list of verified RKE entities in early 2016.

FoL 20157. Festival of Learning 2015 – The third Festival of Learning took place in July 2015 and was a resounding success, attracting over 5,000 visits to more than 200 free activities/events and receiving excellent feedback across the board from attendees. The Festival is the largest and most successful public engagement event that BU has ever run and is now established as a major event in the RKEO and BU calendar. The next Festival will take place in June 2016; preparations are already taking place. Read more about the Festival of Learning 2016 here: submitting a proposal to the next FoL.

IRW8. Launch of sparkly new initiatives – BU launched a number of amazing new research initiatives this year, including: the inaugural public lecture series, the annual Interdisciplinary Research Week, the termly Lightning Talks series, 14:Live – the lunchtime research chat, a research spotlight series, RKE academic induction events, Research Photo Competition and the BU Bridging Fund scheme. We also published a new Bournemouth Research Chronicle and are now preparing the next edition. We welcomed our first intake of undergraduate research assistants in semester 2 and second intake in summer 2015. The BU Research Staff Association, led by Michelle Heward and Marcellus Mbah, went from strength to strength in 2015. We launched the new BU Research Twitter account @BU_Research.

9. RKEO’s external engagement – RKEO have continued to engage externally to raise the profile of RKEO and BU, to further professionalise research management and to gain credibility and kudos within the sector. RKEO staff have presented at a number of key conferences this year: Julie Northam and Jo Garrad presented at both the AUA and ARMA Conferences in 2015, ran a webinar for the Canadian Association of Research Administrators (CARA) and had an article published in the Protagonist.  Jenny Roddis and Julie Northam continue to undertake additional external roles, Jenny as a Qualification Assessor for ARMA’s Certificate in Research Administration and Julie for ARMA’s Certificate in Research Management and also as an external peer reviewer for Vitae. Jayne Codling and Rachel Clarke continue to be active externally, particularly with regional businesses and organisations.

Roll on 2016!

Seatbelts, sleepless nights, REF babies and a big yellow button: my reflections on REF 2014

Last week we pushed the Big Red Button (actually many big, yellow buttons) after many years of hard work preparing and finessing every last bit of the University’s submission to REF 2014.  I first got involved with REF in late 2008 which seems like a distant memory now.  HEFCE were consulting with the sector on bibliometrics and the role that citations should play in the REF which at that point still didn’t have a submission date.  BU was lucky enough to be one of 22 institutions taking part in the bibliometrics pilot to test the reliability and validity of citations and ways of identifying authors and papers in the large publication databases, Scopus and Web of Science.  There were a lot of meetings in London and so one of my first introductions to REF was standing on a cold, dark train platform at 6am with Anita Somner, waiting to get the train to one of the REF events!  In December 2008 the RAE 2008 results came out and that prompted a series of RAE/REF roadshows – in essence Prof Nick Petford, the then PVC, and I visiting all Schools to talk about the RAE results and introducing people to REF and how it was likely to be different.

Then a lot of the central REF drive died down which on reflection was a shame but also inevitable.  In 2009 all we knew about the next REF was that it would comprise outputs, environment and impact, but the key information about the assessment was still unknown.  For example, we didn’t yet know what the role of citations would be and in which UOAs this would apply, we didn’t know how the impact element would be assessed, the weightings weren’t agreed, we didn’t know what the environment template would look like or what information would be required.  With so much unknown it was very difficult to prepare anything other than for the outputs element and so the message given out was to concentrate on publications, getting them in the strongest outlet possible (we didn’t even know at this stage whether the number of outputs required per individual would be 3, 4 or 5!), and much of this work was driven from within the Schools.

Fast forward to 2010.  We had a change of senior leadership at BU with Prof John Vinney becoming VC and Prof Matthew Bennett taking the strategic lead for RKE (officially becoming PVC in January 2011).  There was still a lot undecided about REF; HEFCE had finished the bibliometrics pilot and were currently undertaking an impact pilot to test how best to assess this part of the REF.  At BU the new leadership provided by John Vinney and Matthew Bennett kickstarted our central REF preparations.  John established the REF Academic Steering Group in summer 2010 with a remit to take the strategic lead of BU’s preparations for REF.  UOA Leaders were identified in the then 12 subject areas in which we were considering submissions and they formed the REF Academic Leadership Team.  In the absence of templates or guidance from HEFCE we started work on the first drafts of the environment narratives and did the first trawl of outputs, inviting staff to submit up to four outputs for a light-touch review exercise that winter (282 individuals submitted a total of c. 1,128 outputs).  In autumn 2010 HEFCE published the results from the impact pilot, including some good practice examples of what we then knew to be one of the submission templates – the impact case studies.  Armed with this new information we undertook impact training with all of the Schools, using the infamous seatbelt example of how research can be undertaken and disseminated to achieve interim and then final impact and being informed by HSC that a reduction of the number of people killed in car crashes was actually a negative impact as there were less organs available for donation!  I have provided this lovely linear example of impact for posterity.  Around this time we also started to write up the first impact case studies, some of which evolved into the ones submitted last week.  In 2010 HEFCE confirmed what the UOAs would be and released the first list of who would be on the sub-panels.

2011 was a good REF year!  HEFCE confirmed in March how impact would be assessed in the REF and the official guidance document was finally released in June, providing us with something concrete on which to base our REF preparations.  It was the year we employed Sally Gates as the Research Communications Manager, focusing specifically on REF with the remit of working with colleagues to write the impact case studies in earnest.  We held the first of our HEFCE-supported REF events at BU attracting over 150 delegates from 39 institutions and speakers including the Deputy REF Manager Chris Taylor (HEFCE) and key academics involved in the impact pilot, including Prof James Goodwin (Age UK), Prof Peter Taylor-Gooby (University of Kent) and Prof Jim Griffiths (University of Plymouth).  This not only gave us an insight as to what was required for this still-very-unknown impact element, but also raised the profile of BU as a research university.  We held another mock exercise in winter 2011-12 to ask a selection of external reviewers to assess the draft environment narratives and impact statements.

I think it is fair to say that 2012 was a somewhat bizarre and full-on year, primarily due to the significant changeover in staffing but also because we were only a year from submission.  The year started with HEFCE releasing the Panel Working Methods and Criteria – key documentation detailing what the panels expected to see in the submissions.  This, along with the Guidance on Submissions published the previous year, became a lot of people’s bedtime reading for the next 23 months.  Despite swearing not to do so again (!) in February we held another HEFCE-supported REF event, this time focusing on how each of the Main Panels will assess research, and attracted over 150 delegates from 32 institutions, again putting BU on the research map.  We submitted the BU REF Code of Practice to HEFCE to the first of two possible opportunties and were pleased when it was approved first time (this wasn;t the case for a lot of other institutions).  Becca Edwards joined us in April as Public Engagement Officer and was immediately keen to be involved in the impact element of the REF, showing how public engagement could be a route to impact.  In the summer we held another mock exercise – this one focusing solely on outputs (265 individuals and c. 1,325 outputs).  Then bizarrely the three key REF staff in the R&KEO had babies between September and December 2012, resulting in a changeover of staff supporting the preparations – Pengpeng Hatch replacing Anita Somner, Becca Edwards replacing Sally Gates and Rita Dugan replacing me.  In December we responded to HEFCE’s Survey of Submission Intentions, a rough approximation of which UOAs we might submit to, how many staff, and the areas of the impact case studies.  This information was used to determine whether additional expertise was required on the Sub-Panels.

And then we came to 2013 – the year of submission.  Did we feel prepared?  Kind of, although there was still an awful lot to do; in fact I would go as far to say that REF probably dominated most waking minutes of those closely involved on an increasing basis as the year progressed.  The final mock exercise was held in spring 2013 (322 individuals and c. 1,610 outputs) and was a full exercise including assessment of outputs, environment narratives, impact statements and impact case studies.  This was a huge amount of data to pull together and it was essential that it was undertaken well as the results, along with those from the exercise the previous year, would be used to determine staff selection decisions.  I came back from maternity in the midst of the review meetings that followed the mock exercise, very much a baptism of fire back into the REF.  Wherever possible we tried to emulate how the panels might assess the work in the real thing, for example, with a panel of research users assessing the impact case studies.  After these meetings RASG met with UOA Leaders in a series of gruelling meetings in a very stuffy room in Christchurch House to go through each individual member of staff and their output scores, determining who’s outputs would be included in the final submission.  These decisions were ratified by the VC in July, decisions were then relayed to staff and an appeals period ran during the summer.  During this period we continued to get new outputs externally reviewed and considered, and had c. 100 new outputs assessed during this time.  The summer saw the return of Sally Gates from maternity leave and she took on the responsibility for rewriting and finalising the impact case studies, by all accounts doing a fantastic job.  In the autumn a huge amount of work went into finalising and finessing the environment narratives and impact statements, primarily involving the UOA Leaders, Profs Matthew Bennett and John Fletcher, Becca Edwards and myself.  I know from personal experience that a lot of sleep was lost during this time and there were many iterations of the narratives written.

Tuesday 26th November, 9:30am – button pushing time.  After checking, rechecking and checking the data again it was time to submit.  The #ref2014 hashtag on Twitter had gone crazy with institutions posting that they had made their submissions and now it was BU’s turn.  There were lots of submit buttons and they were all yellow – submit, validate, submit, declare and submit, submit, are you sure you want to submit?!  We pressed them all and that was it – BU’s REF 2014 submission was sent to HEFCE only to be acknolwedged with a rather bland, system generated email confirming receipt of our submission.  Sadly there were no fireworks or party poppers or massive thanks from HEFCE for all the hard work that went into preparing every last part of the submission.  REF has involved hundreds of people from across BU – from the UOA Leaders to those academics who have produced outputs, won grant funding or supervised doctoral students, from the REF Circs Board to the REF Appeals Panel, from the RKE Ops and Graduate School staff who support research activity and checked the REF data, to the members of RASG – the REF submission is the culmination of everyone’s hard work over the past few years and for that reason I am immensely proud to have been involved.  Roll on the results in December 2014!

And you may be surprise, amazed or even horrified to know that we have already started planning for REF2020…!