Tagged / early career researchers

HE policy update for the w/e 10th May 2019

Research

The Universities Minister, has delivered the first in a series of four planned speeches on how the UK can best achieve its ambition to invest 2.4% of GDP in R&D by 2027.  It was a surprising speech in some ways, short on announcements, although there were some, and long on wishful thinking.  We’ve pulled out some bits below.  For a healthy dose of cynicism/realism we recommend the annotated version by HE for Research Professional.

Investment – To achieve our target of 2.4%, total UK R&D investment would need to rise to around £60bn in today’s money. More than double our current investment levels. This would require us to have invested an additional sum of over £80bn cumulatively each year from 2017 across the public and private sectors.

People – It doesn’t matter how much money we pump into R&D over the years ahead, it won’t make the intended difference if we don’t have the right people in place. Ensuring a strong pipeline of talent will be essential for bolstering the UK’s research prowess. We are also going to have to substantially increase the numbers of people we have working in R&D in the same period – perhaps by as much as 50%. To put that in figures, that means we need to find at least another 260,000 researchers to work in R&D across universities, across business and across industry.

International staff and students – We are making it easier for international graduates to move into skilled work. International students studying for undergraduate level and above will be able to apply for a visa three months before their course finishes – enabling them to take up skilled work after their degree. They will also be able to apply for a skilled work visa out-of-country under the same preferential conditions as they would experience if they were to apply for a visa in-country. In addition, a reformed sponsorship system will provide a simplified and more streamlined system. This will be less burdensome for employers and will enable businesses to harness the talent they need more easily. We set out a clear ambition in our International Education Strategy earlier this spring: to grow the numbers of international students studying in UK universities to 600,000 by the end of the next decade.

Supporting Researchers

Our current research culture relies on dominant power structures, where doctoral candidates and post-docs are largely dependent on supervisors or PIs for references and progression. This puts the power firmly in other people’s hands. Is it any wonder, then, that less than half of doctoral researchers report they would be likely to disclose any mental health and wellbeing issues to their supervisors? This closed culture urgently needs to change. So, I hope future joint work by the Office for Students (OfS) and Research England into the mental health and wellbeing of doctoral researchers can identify good practice to take forward in this area.

….the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers, first launched in 2008. …I am pleased that an independent review of the Concordat has just taken place to ensure it is up-to-date to meet the needs of today’s researchers. And I look forward to seeing the revised version of the Concordat when it is published later this summer. As Universities and Science Minister, I am serious about taking the Concordat forward. And I am pleased to be hosting a high-level meeting with the Chair of the Concordat Strategy Group, Professor Julia Buckingham. Alongside Sir Patrick Vallance and other key sector leaders, to discuss how we can further improve research careers in the UK.

I also encourage the OfS, Research England, and UKRI as a whole to look more widely at how the implementation of current policies affect researchers on the ground. The three higher education excellence frameworks – namely the REF, TEF and the KEF – are all integral to the way we govern and fund higher education, science, research and innovation. But we need to make sure they are not disproportionately affecting early career researchers and putting extra strains on their work. The recent headlines about universities spending around £87m on non-disclosure agreements since 2017 doesn’t help us to project an image of a sector that cares for its employees.

Academia in industry

For too long, there has been a stigma in this country around pursuing non-academic research careers. So, we should never look down on early career researchers if they opt for a career outside academia. Rather, we should actively encourage our PhDs and post-docs to see the merits of pursuing an R&D career in other sectors and industries. For one, we need to stop talking about jobs outside academia as being ‘second choice careers’ or ‘Plan B options’. For our 2.4% target to work, we need people to be actively considering research careers across the entire science and innovation system.  

So, isn’t it high time we start to better connect graduates with the evident skills gaps we are experiencing right across our labour market?  Yet, this isn’t going to be easy when many of their main role models inside universities know very little about careers in industry. And are themselves either unaware or unconvinced of the strength of research positions outside academia.  There are schemes that aim to address this issue – such as the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Visiting Professors scheme. This funds senior industry practitioners to participate in course development, face-to-face teaching and the mentoring of Engineering undergraduates at a host university. It is a great programme, but it is not widespread practice. The difficulties aren’t just on the side of universities. Some employers are unused to recruiting PhDs and don’t fully understand the benefits that those with higher academic qualifications can bring to their workforce. I think of this as the ‘graduate paradox’ – the higher the academic qualifications you have, the less professionally qualified you may seem. This, I feel, is a particular UK problem we need to address.

Gaps – We still have some way to go to eradicate gender pay gaps in the sector and increase the proportion of women in academic and research leadership. Not to mention the number of Black and Ethnic Minority role models that will inspire others and show them a research career can really be for people like them.

Additional points:

  • The 41 winners of the first ever Future Leaders Fellowships have been announced. The fellowships aim to develop early career researchers who will become world-leaders in their fields, intending for their research to maintain the UK’s reputation for being at the forefront of science and innovation. The winners share £40 million, with the scheme costing £900 million over 3 years. The projects funded include using cloud computing to monitor changes of all glaciers in the Arctic and Antarctic and how children’s adventurous play can lower levels of anxiety in young people.
  • First call for the new Stephen Hawking Fellowships issued. Working with the Hawking family, UKRI will support up to 50 postdoctoral scientists in theoretical physics over the next five years.

 Italian Partnership – Research England have announced their partnership with the Italian National Agency for the Evaluation of the University and Research Systems, ANVUR, which will support research assessment and the evaluation of knowledge exchange in English and Italian universities. David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England commented: “ANVUR is at the leading edge in the international landscape of knowledge transfer assessment and it was very helpful to discuss Italy’s research evaluation.”

Master’s Loans

The DfE have published the Postgraduate Master’s Loan evaluation. The Master’s Degree Loan Scheme was launched by the Government in June 2016, and was the first time that Government provided finance to contribute to costs for postgraduate master’s study. The aims of the loan were to:

  • Increase take up of master’s courses
  • Enable progression onto master’s courses for those who could not afford to self-finance or would have to delay starting to save up for a master’s course
  • Improve the supply of highly skilled individuals to the UK economy

The evaluation follows up the first cohort of master’s students who started in 2016/17 with the new loan and found positive outcomes.

  • Data from the HESA Student Record shows that there was a substantial increase in the overall number of Master’s students enrolling at English HEIs. This growth was driven by a 36% increase in enrolments from England-domiciled loan eligible students. (However, these figures may be overinflated as 2015/16 master’s students may have deferred starting their study a year to benefit from the loan in the following year. The report notes BAME students were particularly likely to do this with 61% reporting they deferred entry specifically for this reason.)
  • Most HEIs interviewed (75%) said the number of enrolments from students onto courses eligible for postgraduate loans increased in 2016/17. Among those which reported an increase in numbers, the majority (84%) attributed this at least in part to the introduction of the Master’s Loan.
  • Students themselves confirmed the importance of the Loan in enabling them to study. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of students starting their course in 2016/17 felt that they would have been unable to undertake their specific Master’s course without the Master’s Loan, while around a third (36%) agreed that they would “never even thought about studying a Master’s” if the Master’s loan had not been available.
  • While there were no substantial changes to the age or gender profile of students, the proportion of Black students increased substantially between 2015/16 and 2016/17 (but see above).
  • Quicker – Analysis of the HESA student record indicates a trend towards a greater proportion of full-time study. While the proportion of loan-eligible England-domiciled students studying full-time remained relatively constant in the period prior to the introduction of the loan (at 54-56%), this proportion increased to 62% in 2016/17.
  • Sooner – 90% of master’s loan recipients “agreed that the Master’s Loan had enabled 14 them to begin postgraduate study sooner”. Students in receipt of the Loan were more likely to have progressed from undergraduate to postgraduate study within a year (48%) than those not in receipt of the Loan (23%). The main reason for this given by students in the qualitative interviews was that without the Master’s Loan, they would have had to spend several years building their savings in order to afford it
  • Students in receipt of the Loan were more likely to say that their main reason for studying was to improve their employment prospects (20% compared with 12% of those not in receipt of the Loan). Prior to loan introduction (2013/14 cohort) more stated their main motivation was interest in the subject.
  • Almost all students (94%) expected to receive at least one benefit as a result of their programme, five years after completing their study. 74% believed they would be earning more money, and a similar proportion (73%) expected to have more job choices. Being in a more senior role and being in a more specialist role were each mentioned by 70% of students, and 68% anticipated they would be in a higher pay band.
  • There was no change in the proportion receiving either funding from their HEI or funding from their employer to pay for tuition fees. Hence, so far, there is no indication of the Master’s Loan ‘crowding out’ other sources of funding.
  • 70% of Master’s starters in 2016/17 also worked (35% FT, 35% PT) – it was only 58% that worked in 2013/14. The evaluation notes a higher proportion of starters in 2016/17 funded all or part of their tuition fees through employment than the comparator group of 2013/14. 52% of students stated that without the loan for their living expenses or fees they may not have been able to undertake the course. However, 46% would have self-funded or found other methods to fund their course leading to questions on whether the loan is providing funding for those who could have afforded the course anyway.
  • Interestingly (messages for UG differential fees perhaps?) were that 41% of loan students would have changed their study to afford a masters (a) 25% choosing a cheaper course, (b) 19% choosing a different course, (c) 22% choose same course but at a different institution. BAME students were most likely (33%) to change their plans.
  • The master’s loan contributes up to £10,000 towards the fees/living expenses of master’s study. However, most respondents stated it was not enough and the difficulties of working coupled with the intensity of master’s study meant they had to rely on parents to top them up financially. There are potentially messages in here about inclusivity, hidden barriers to disadvantaged students, and potentially an influence on dropout rates.
  • The evaluation suggested there is evidence that the Loan will help the sustainability of the HE sector. Most HEIs benefited from increased student volumes in 2016/17 and half reported that they believe the Loan will lead to increased revenue for them. There is evidence to suggest that it has benefitted medium-tariff institutions in particular.
  • There is some evidence that the Loan has had an effect of increasing fees for Master’s courses (HEIs more likely to report increases on these courses (57%) than on courses not eligible for fees (41%)). DfE note this may warrant further investigation.

TEF update

Do you know your pilot from your parliamentary review?  What are the metrics used in the latest version of TEF and did you know that the criteria have changed?  We’ve been updating staff at BU on the latest on the TEF, and on the staff intranet policy pages you can find links to our latest slides and a more detailed briefing note, as well as a link to BU’s submission to the Parliamentary review call for views.

Election fever

Everyone has a view on what happened in the local elections and what it means for national politics – it means get on with Brexit, it means abandon Brexit, it means everyone is just fed up and protest voting for smaller parties and independents….  Your policy team are a bit idealistic sometimes (despite watching a lot of politics), and we are subscribers to the “people are probably generally voting on local issues locally” theory.  We hope so – because these local politicians will be responsible for things that will happen locally for the next 4 years.  So feelings about the council mergers and hospital changes, for example, will have had an effect in Dorset and BCP.

Of course national politics will have had an impact.  There may be a general dissatisfaction with the Conservatives and some of that may be Brexit-related, but it could also be driven by concerns about social care and local authority funding more generally.  It doesn’t seem to make sense that across the country many people abandoned the Tories for the Lib Dems if they genuinely want a no-deal Brexit. They may have been formerly disaffected Lib Dem voters going home – but in that case they almost certainly don’t want a no deal Brexit.  The focus on climate change recently will of course have helped the Greens – people voting for green candidates who will drive local changes.

If you want to look at trends, the Commons Library has a lovely map.  Otherwise we suggest there is a huge risk in leaping to too many conclusions and we recommend everyone turns their mind to who they will vote for in the EU elections.  There is still a chance that MEPs will take their seats and keep them for some time so they could have a voice in the EU Parliament.  And here in the South-West we have some sparkling candidates.  You can’t vote for them, though – because of the list system (see this Research Professional illustration if you missed it before).  Tactical voting will be a thing in these elections.

Brexit is still missing

The impasse continues.  It seems unlikely that there will be a breakthrough in the short term.  It could be a long summer of speculation and not much happening until another frenzy of last-minute-itus breaks out in September ahead of the Halloween deadline.

Last weekend Theresa May came under further pressure to resign, or to state a specific date for her departure.  TM at least thinks that the local election results were a verdict on how she (and Parliament) has handled Brexit. She apologised for poor Conservative local election results (the Conservatives lost 1,300+ seats) stating: It is clear that the voters delivered their judgment in large part based on what is happening – or not happening – at Westminster. And, as Prime Minister, I fully accept my share of the responsibility for that. Meanwhile Jeremy Hunt and Dominic Raab appeared in high-profile newspaper profile pieces over the bank holiday weekend with their families – not too subtle positioning for an upcoming leadership contest. The PM continues to refuse to set out a timetable for her departure and is unlikely to step down until the Withdrawal Agreement is passed. Her spokesperson said she is here to deliver Brexit in phase one and then she will make way for phase two.

It has been confirmed that the UK will participate in the EU elections. However apparently Theresa May intends to make a fourth attempt to pass her Brexit deal through Parliament ratifying the deal by end of June so that UK MEPs do not take their seats in July.  Maybe.

Theresa May is expected to offer a customs union offer to Labour (for a temporary period); however, the Labour/Conservative front bench talks have extended beyond the original timescale and the issue of a second referendum continues to be a sticking point. There has been no breakthrough with the Government insisting the negotiations have been constructive and detailed, however,  Rebecca Long Bailey (Labour) was critical stating the Government had made no movement on their red lines. Talks continue…

In the meantime:

  • The UK Government has signed a deal with Ireland to guarantee reciprocal Irish and British citizens rights are retained in each country in the event of no-deal.
  • EU Settlement Scheme: The EU settlement scheme is now fully open and live. The Home Office communications state that during the testing phase 95% of EU citizens were able to use the mobile app to prove their identity remotely within 10 minutes. The application link is here.

Mental Health & Well-being

HEPI have issued a policy note Measuring well-being in HE covering HE staff and students. They argue for a differentiation between mental health and well-being so that the sector can better consider and understand the broader overall health of staff and students. They recommend more data is collected and published, ideally the markers being consistent across the UK and multi-year for applicants and graduates (as well as students and staff):

“Consistency across the UK allows for comparison in well-being between the different regulatory and funding systems across the four countries. International measurements would similarly allow for comparison between different models of higher education. Data collectors should work together to enable tracking of cohorts, allowing us to track the same cohort of students and staff over time.”

Rachel Hewitt, HEPI, author of the Policy Note said: ‘If we are to get a grip on the mental health crisis in young people that is heavily impacting on universities, we need to be collecting the right information to understand it. At the moment statistics on well-being and mental health are often combined, despite these being two separate issues with different ways they can be tackled. For universities to take the necessary action to address this issue, they need to better understand what they’re dealing with. 

It is shocking that we have no public information on the well-being of staff that work in our universities. If universities are collecting this information, they are not being open about what the results are showing. This is at a time when staff in universities continue to be under pressure, with increasing workloads and insecure contracts rife. We need a consistent, public dataset on the well-being of university staff.’

In the meantime,  the role of sport at university has been highlighted: Wonkhe has two articles on sport via its new Student Union service.  Ben Vulliarmy, CEO of the SU at the University of York, writes about their Varsity programme with Lancaster (by the way, congratulations to BU for this week’s resounding win against Solent in our own Varsity event – well played all).  And Richard Medcalf of the University of Wolverhampton writes about the need for evidence if sport is to be taken seriously as a contributor to student (and staff) outcomes:

At Wolverhampton we’re trying a few small steps to make this happen. We’ve developed a university sports board to connect this agenda into the decision making bodies of the university. We’ve combined the academic provision of sport with the participatory and performance arms of our offer to students and staff, to align the intentions of both under one organisational framework. And, importantly, we’re attaching student sport engagement to our student records system so we can see if there’s any relationship between students who participate and the wider university KPIs.

Care Experienced Students

The Centre for Social Justice have released 12 By 24 revealing that despite 10 years of intervention still only 6% of care leavers are attending University. It states: Looked After Children aren’t less clever than other children they are just less lucky and a care leaver is more likely to end up in a prison cell than a lecture theatre. The publication aims to increase care leavers at universities to 12 by 24.

This report shows that too many young people growing up in care feel university isn’t for them. They told us it is simply not what happens when you leave the care system…Improving attainment at school will always be the best thing we can do to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds get on. This report sets out the extent to which care experienced children still fall behind their peers. The message from a roundtable of experts conducted during this report was clear: If we want to see more children from disadvantaged backgrounds accessing university and higher education, we need to engage our young people in care much earlier to ensure that where they have fallen behind, they are given the help they need to catch up. The evidence contained in this report shows that if we act early enough, we will see more young people leaving the care system and entering higher education. Among all the facts and figures, this report presents a simple challenge to government and the higher education sector to do more to help young people who have had the worst start in life to have the best future. Many universities are working hard to improve these figures, but this report shows that barely a third of universities have set out detailed plans to take action to change the number of care leavers on their courses.

The report goes on to state there is too much variability in the focus and efficacy of Universities care leaver support schemes. Pages 15 and 38 are key reading, chapter 6 sets out what support mechanisms universities are currently offering and chapter 7 describes the ‘gold standard’ the Centre propose and call on the DfE to endorse. Read more here.

There’s a HEPI blog by Steven Spier, Vice-Chancellor of Kingston University about their approach to care leavers (and estranged students).

Still no news from the Augar team

A Parliamentary question this week confirms (again) that it will be released “shortly”.  We predict (based on our own speculation rather than inside knowledge) that it won’t be until after the EU elections.  It could come quickly as a major distraction from the mess after that.  Or not.

Q – Gordon Marsden: whether postgraduate (a) loans and (b) other financial assistance will be included in his Department’s response to the review of post-18 education.

A – Chris Skidmore: The government’s review of post-18 education and funding is looking at how we can ensure there is choice and competition across a joined-up post-18 education and training sector. The review’s focus includes how we can encourage learning that is more flexible (for example, part-time, distance learning and commuter study options) and complements ongoing government work to support people at different times in their lives. The independent panel will report shortly, and the government will then conclude the overall review later this year. We will not speculate about potential recommendations, as we do not wish to pre-judge the outcome of the review.

Welsh PG student finance: Wonkhe report that postgraduate students domiciled in Wales will benefit from the most generous postgraduate student finance package in the UK, according to a Welsh Government announcement this morning. The variable mixture of loans and grants available has risen from £13,000 last year to £17,000 from August this year. All eligible students will receive a non-repayable universal grant of £1,000, plus a means-tested grant of up to £5,885 for students with a household income of up to £18,370. A loan will also be available, taking the total support up to £17,000, and funds will be available pro-rata for part time students.

Consultations and inquiries

Click here to view the updated consultation and inquiries tracker. Email us on policy@bournemouth.ac.uk if you’d like to contribute to any of the current consultations or inquiries.

New consultations and inquiries this week:  UUK and Guild HE consultation on the draft Knowledge Exchange Concordat, linked to the KEF. RDS will be leading on preparation of a BU response.

Other news

Financial Deficit: BBC report that the number of English universities in financial deficit increases.

Unconditional Offers: The Times reports that some universities have taken legal advice following Damien Hinds’ calls to stop “conditional unconditional” offers and reduce the number of unconditional offers made overall. HE policy legal commentator Smita Jamdar confirms that Ministers can guide but not instruct the OfS in this area and that guidance must not relate to the criteria for student admissions – something Sarah has heard the Universities Minister confirm in person. Some Universities are calling on UUK to seek a judicial review. The Guardian story is here and includes a defence of the practice as well as attacking Damien Hinds for his intervention.

Industry input: The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority has announced that employers are being surveyed on what sorts of courses and skills they wish to see as part of ongoing plans to develop the University of Peterborough.  The vision for the University is to be a trailblazer for other higher education institutions by embedding advanced technical learning within the curriculum. The aim is for the University to provide both the skills that local businesses urgently need, while also giving young people better access to well-paid, secure jobs and improved career prospects.

Mayor James Palmer said: “For the University of Peterborough to deliver on its ambition to be aligned with the needs of the local economy, we need to ensure we are reaching out to the business community to see what their demands and skills challenges are. The Combined Authority and its partners want the University to be turning out the kinds of skills that will allow our young people to hit the ground running in the 21st Century workplace. We know our economy has significant skills shortages, and a productivity gap, and so the input of local employers will be crucial in shaping the future of the University”.

Economic Justice: The Institute for Public Policy Research has published their economic justice report Prosperity and Justice – A Plan for the New Economy. It sets out a 10 point plan for economic reform and argues that economic policy should aim for both prosperity and justice. You can read a short summary of the report here.  There are four recommendations relevant to the HE sector:

  • The government should introduce a ‘Technology Displacement Fund’ to support workers displaced by technology to be retrained and supported back into the labour market. diffusion of digital technologies across the economy.
  • Apprenticeships are important, but firms need to be able to deploy funds for a broader range of approaches to develop the skills of their workforces. They therefore propose that the current apprenticeship levy is abolished, and replaced by a ‘productivity and skills levy’
  • At the same time, there is an important opportunity to give workers a better means of increasing take-up of skills training by giving them more autonomy. They therefore recommend the introduction of Personal Training Credits, to provide low-paid workers and unemployed adults with up to £700 a year to invest in their own skills.
  • The adoption of a new immigration framework aimed at supporting the UK’s economic strategy as well as the vitality and cohesion of our communities and the dignity of migrants

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Are you a BU Early Career Researcher? Read on….

Launched in September 2018, the Early Career Researcher Network welcomes Early Career Researchers, including those on fixed and PTHP contracts!

Indicative content for our forthcoming monthly meetings:

  • Locating research funding
  • Research methods – where to get help
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in research
  • A full day writing retreat with support
  • The opportunity to share your research within an informal setting with your ECR peers

To be added to the Brightspace community and to find out more, please contact Research Development & Support via  RKEDF@bournemouth.ac.uk and we will add you to the group.

 

Early Career Researcher Network Launch on 12th September – Book Now!

On Wednesday 12th September, BU will be launching its new network specifically for our Early Career Researchers (ECRs).

This initiative underlines the support that is being made available to ECRs as part of the Vitae Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.

During the day, attendees will have the opportunity to shape the future of the network and contribute to the activities that will take place during the year. Specifically, in the morning, the network’s academic leads (Ann Hemingway and Sam Goodman) will facilitate participative and exploratory sessions to make sure that the ECR Network works for you, the BU ECRs.

After a networking lunch, ECRs in receipt of Acorn Fund awards will present an overview of their research. This will be followed by a ‘showcase’ opportunity for other ECRs to promote and discuss their research with attendees.

By the end of the day, it is excepted that you will:

  • have been able to meet with ECRs from all faculties at BU
  • had the opportunity to share your research interests with others
  • been able to voice your opinions on the development of the ERC Network at BU

The morning sessions are open to ECRs and the lunch and afternoon open to all BU academic staff but especially ECRs.

To book your place, please email RKEDevFramework@bournemouth.ac.uk, stating if you wish to attend the morning, the afternoon or both, along with any dietary requirements.

 

Free MOOC – Career Management for Early Career Academic Researchers

There is still time to sign up for the second run of  the online course for research students and research staff – Career Management for Early Career Academic Researchers. It aims to support researchers to explore their career options and make career plans.  According to the organisers, more than 1000 research students and research staff from across the UK and beyond engaged with the first course in March, with a few comments from participants given below.

This course has been fantastic, particularly as I am at a stage where I am finishing my PhD and was worrying about what comes next. I didn’t realise a lot of the things about academic and non-academic career paths, and have found the self reflection tasks invaluable.

 The course is impeccably designed, perfectly structured and neatly organised.

 My motivation to take control of finding my future career has increased exponentially from the day I started this course.

Through a series of articles, videos, discussions, and reflective exercises, researchers will be encouraged to consider what they want out of a career; to explore the academic career path and many other career options; and to increase their confidence in job search and applications.

The MOOC is a collaboration between the University of Glasgow, University of Edinburgh, and University of Sheffield, and has been developed by careers professionals who are experienced in working with research students and research staff.

It’s a free online course and open to research students and early career research staff at any institution in the UK and beyond.  It may be particularly useful for researchers who are unable to access any on campus support due to other commitments, or for researchers in institutions that are unable to offer any dedicated careers support to these groups.

The course  started on 4th June but for more information and sign up details go to: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/career-management

#Vitaechat 19 October, 12-1pm – ‘What every researcher needs to know’

Focus-on: Getting started – ‘What every researcher needs to know’

Join the #vitaechat on Thursday 19 October from 12 until 1pm and find out more about:

  • what first steps should be taken when undertaking your PhD or starting a new postdoc role
  • managing supervisor/PI relationships
  • planning your research project
  • identifying your typical milestones
  • prioritising your development opportunities
  • when best to start thinking about your post-PhD career

This is a good opportunity to gain essential tips and understand what to expect next from experts who have been on a similar journey.  What’s even better is that you don’t even have to leave your desk!

Register here.

Free Peer Review Workshop for Early Career Researchers

Find out about peer review.

Debate challenges to the system.

Discuss the role of peer review for scientists and the public.

 

Friday 12th May, 2pm– 6pm

Workshop to be held at Informa’s Offices, 5 Howick Place, London

 

Peer Review: The nuts and bolts is a free half-day workshop for early career researchers and will explore how peer review works, how to get involved, the challenges to the system, and the role of peer review in helping the public to evaluate research claims.

 

Should peer review detect plagiarism, bias or fraud? What does peer review do for science and what does the scientific community want it to do for them? Should reviewers remain anonymous? Does it illuminate good ideas or shut them down?

 

To apply to attend this workshop, please fill out the application form by 9am on Tuesday 25 April: http://bit.ly/2mCFsyr

 

For more details, get in touch with Joanne Thomas jthomas@senseaboutscience.org.

More information: http://senseaboutscience.org/activities/peer-review-workshop/

Biotechnology YES 2016 is open for applications

Environment

Biotechnology YES is an innovative competition giving early career researchers from diverse backgrounds a practical insight into how to commercialise research and recognise the benefits of industrial collaboration, providing a springboard for their own career development into a multitude of sectors. The competition is delivered in partnership, funded by sponsorship,  draws on expertise from industry and the research community and aims to encourage an entrepreneurial culture in the UK postgraduate and postdoctoral base for the benefit of the UK economy.

The challenge for participants is to prepare an oral business plan presentation, in a team of four or five, for a hypothetical bioscience start-up company seeking equity investment. The plan is based on a plausible idea based on real markets and developed over the course of a three day residential workshop. The workshop encompasses presentations and mentoring sessions from leading figures in industry who give their time and advice for free. It culminates in the presentation of business plans to a panel of ‘equity investors’. These individuals come from industry and academia and have decades of experience and proven track records of professional success. Winners from the regional workshops progress to the final held in December.

Workshop dates will be posted on the Biotechnology YES and BBSRC websites once finalised and and include Syngenta, GSK and Unilever .

The competition is open to all bioscience researchers registered at a UK university not just those funded by BBSRC. However, if any of the workshops oversubscribed, Research Council funded researchers will be given priority.

Find out more and APPLY by visiting www.biotechnologyyes.co.uk or www.environmentyes.org

Biotechnology YES 2016 is open for applications until 27th May 2016.

BRAD: Robust adaptive predictive modelling and data deluge workshop

Data-science-history

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.

BRAD: Career Trajectory 20th Novemeber 2015

Prof Matt Bentley, SciTech Deputy Dean – Research and Professional Practice, will give an insight into the management of the career trajectory of an academic. Far from being down to chance, Matt will explore the activities, which can career trajectorybe undertaken to direct your academic career and how to make the most of opportunities and challenges along the journey. This session is open to academics at all stages of their career. Perhaps you are just starting out and need advice on how to move to the next stage or, perhaps, you have reached a plateau and wish to reflect upon the need to change direction to achieve your career aspirations.

This session will include career management advice, responsiveness to opportunities, reputation, and esteem. It will finish with a Q & A session and a networking lunch.

You may also be interested in the following online resources:

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

BRAD – Upcoming Opportunities

impact

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

Impact – 18th November 2015, 09:00-12:00
This session will explore what we mean by impact and why it is an increasingly important part of your research career. Through this exploration, the session will highlight examples of impact and the perspective of research funders with regards to impact. There will also be dedicated time for you to explore the types of impact your research could lead to and suitable pathways to do so.
Working with Business – Business Engagement and Networking – 19th November 2015, 14:00-16:00
For both early career researchers and experienced academics alike this session will include tips and information on how to develop and make the most of building relationships and networks with businesses. Led by Jayne Codling and Rachel Clarke – Knowledge Exchange Advisers within RKEO, there will be a chance to hear from different speakers on their own experiences of C4NPMKbusiness and university collaboration. This session will also involve discussion on networking and hints and tips, useful information sources on business funding, communicating your research to a business audience and an opportunity to provide ideas as to what as academics you would like help or more information on to assist you with developing business relationships.

 

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

BRAD: Upcoming Opportunities – 17th November 2015

European IPR webinarsIntroductory EU Participant Portal session – 17th November 2015, 13:30-14:30

  • Very short introduction to Horizon 2020 and EU funding
  • Registering on the Participant Portal
  • How to find a call
  • Looking at the call documents
  • Reference documents – work programmes
  • Getting help – using the manual, European Horizon 2020 helpdesk and National Contact Points

 

Introductory Research Professional session- 17th November 2015, 14:45-16:00

  • Registering for an account
  • How to search for funding calls
  • How to search for articles
  • How to set up searches and personal alerts
  • Using the Expression of Interest feature
  • Using the pre-set BU workgroups

 

Bid Writing with Martin Pickard – 17th November 2015, 9:30-16:00

writing and editing

This workshop includes writing grant proposals, and writing effective applications. Bring along a copy of bid writing for constructive group feedback.
*Please bring a laptop with you to this session


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

 

NVivo Introduction

Nvivological_model_diagramNVivo Indtroduction offers focuses on the requisite management decisions one should make at the beginning of one’s project such as what is my data?

Should I code audio or transcripts and what are the advantages and limitations of either approach? How does the software work?

Why should I integrate my background information or demographics and what is auto-coding and how might it help to better understand my data and prepare it for the cycles of manual interpretive coding to follow?

How do I integrate my chosen methodological approach in using NVivo and reconcile it with the philosophical underpinnings to apply such methods as Grounded Theory, Discourse Analysis, Content Analysis, Thematic Analysis or Narrative Interpretive Methods as just some examples.

Day 1 has an emphasis on the conceptual although the afternoon session is more rooted in the practical. By the end of day 1, participants should be able to set-up an NVivo database, back it up, import their data, setup a coding structure and code their data to it and set up and integrate their demographics.

We have hired the services of an external facilitator to offer support in this for academic staff as part of the BRAD programme. Ben Meehan worked in industry for twenty six years. For the past thirteen years he has worked as an independent consultant in support of computer aided qualitative data analysis projects (CAQDAS). He is a QSR approved trainer and consultant. He has worked in all of the major universities and Institutes of Technology in Ireland and Northern Ireland. His work outside of the educational sector includes major global companies such as Intel where he consults in support of their on-going ethnographic research and the Centre for Global Health where he has recently worked in Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique (2009) and in Ghana, Burkina Faso and Tanzania with the University of Heidelberg (2010) and Ethiopia for the Ethiopian Public Health Association (2011) and the Population Council, Zambia (2012). Apart from Africa, Ben regularly conducts workshops in Germany, France, UK, Northern Ireland, the US (Maryland, 2011, Yale, 2012) and Australia.

The session is on Wed 18th Novemeber 2015 09:00 – 16:00 on Talbot campus. There are limited spaces so please do ensure you get one by booking on the Organisational and Staff Development webpages.

BRAD Upcoming Opportunities – 16th November 2015

BRAD

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

BRAD – Upcoming Opportunities

Financial Management Workshop Monday 13th April 2014, 13:30-14:30

This workshop will cover several topics ranging from; financial management, income and funding budgeting, financial resourcing and strategic financial planning.
This workshop will be facilitated by Gary Cowen, Research and Knowledge Exchange.

There are limited spaces so please do ensure you get one by booking on the Organisational Development webpages.

Ethics and Research Governance Monday 13th April 2014, 11:00-12:30

A 20 minute presentation on ethical considerations, policy, and principles. Followed by a Q & A session on your ethical issues or questions related to your research. This workshop will be facilitated by Eva Papadopoulou, Research and Knowledge Exchange

There are limited spaces so please do ensure you get one by booking on the Organisational Development webpages.

 

Research Methods Workshops – April 2015

Ethnography
An introduction to the qualitative research approach of ethnography.

The session is on Wednesday 15th April 2015, 10:00-11:00 Talbot Campus and will be facilitated by Dr Lorraine Brown. There are limited spaces so please do ensure you get one by booking on the Organisational Development webpages.

 

 Qualitative Research
This session is an introductory overview of qualitative research, including its background and development, as well as the below:

– The nature and key features of this approach.
– The main differences to quantitative research, the types of research question which could be answered through it, and its main differences   from quantitative enquiry.
– Describe the sources of data, and how they are collected and analysed.

– Qualitative interviewing and participant observation will be included.

The session will involve presentation, discussion and opportunities for participants to share methodological problems.

The session is on Tuesday 14th April 2015, 13:00-16:00 Talbot Campus and will be facilitated by Prof. Immy Holloway. There are limited spaces so please do ensure you get one by booking on the Organisational Development webpages.

 

Mixed Methods
For this particular workshop, although a general introduction to Mixed Methods will be given, to gain maximum benefit, you need to be already thinking around the possibility / suitability of mixed methods for your research or be willing to explore that during the workshop

The session is on Tuesday 14th April 2015, 14:00-15:30 Talbot Campus and will be facilitated by Dr Carol Bond. There are limited spaces so please do ensure you get one by booking on the Organisational Development webpages.

 

The Principles of Grounded Theory.
This session will introduce the research approach of Grounded Theory. The development of grounded theory as a method and its key features will be explored within the session. The content will be particularly relevant to those who are new to the approach and it will be illustrated with experiences from research practice.

The session is on Friday 17th April 2015, 12:00-13:00 Talbot Campus and will be facilitated by Dr Liz Norton. There are limited spaces so please do ensure you get one by booking on the Organisational Development webpages.

Developing an Effective Search Strategy and Using Researcher Tools Workshop – 13th April 2015

This course is intended to provide an overview of information resources.  The Library offers a range of products and services to support researchers that can save time and help to make information retrieval effective.

  • Use and access BU library resources
  • Begin to develop a systematic search strategy
  • Know about visiting other libraries
  • Know how to make Inter Library Requests
  • Be able to set up citation alerts
  • Use citations smartly
  • Use analytical tools to aid publication and research

The session is on Tues 13th April 2015 14:30 – 16:30 on Talbot campus and will be facilitated by Emma Crowley. There are limited spaces so please do ensure you get one by booking on the Organisational and Staff Development webpages.