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ACORN Fund 2019 – update

In response to queries, the ACORN Fund application form and policy have both been updated to provide greater clarity, especially regarding eligibility. See the launch blog post for details. Please replace any previous downloads with the revised versions (Research>Pre-award)

Thank you to those who raised these queries for your help in making the scheme clearer for all.

The ACORN Fund is now open for applications!

The ACORN Fund (Acceleration OResearch & Networking) for Early Career Researchers is now open for applications.

This year’s closing date is Thursday, 18th April 2019 and all applications must be submitted to the email account:

This scheme will provide c. five awards, of up to £5,000 each, to support BU’s ECRs, with the most promising talent, to gain experience of managing and leading their own pilot research projects. These award support BU’s commitment to the Concordat to Support to Career Development of Researchers and is made possible by BU’s QR (Quality Research) allocation.

There is a strong link to BU’s ECR Network and the forthcoming 2019 ECR Showcase event. In this way, those who do not benefit directly from the ACORN Fund scheme by receiving funding, will benefit indirectly though interaction with those ECRs who receive support via the scheme.

For eligibility, an ECR in this case is defined as someone who started their research career on or after 1 August 2014. This is the point at which they held a contract of employment of 0.2 FTE or greater, which included a primary employment function of undertaking ‘research’ or ‘teaching and research’, with any HE or other organisation, whether in the UK or overseas. 

Within the Research > Pre-award area on the staff intranet, you can find out more by reading the ACORN Fund Policy (2019) and apply using the Application Form for this round (2019). In addition, to assist with the budget section, please refer to the RKE Sample Costs . As this does not require Full Economic Costing, you should not contact your faculty’s Funding Development Officer to complete the costing for you. Please address any queries as below.

The closing date for applications is 18th April 2018. As these require faculty support, please start your application and obtain faculty approval as soon as possible. Applicants are responsible for obtaining faculty sign-off and for submitting the application to the email below.

Please address any queries to Emily Cieciura, Research Development & Support lead for this scheme, via

Putting the ACORN Fund into strategic context, under BU2025, the following funding panels operate to prioritise applications for funding and make recommendations to the Research Performance and Management Committee (RPMC).

There are eight funding panels:

  1. HEIF Funding Panel
  2. GCRF Funding Panel
  3. Research Impact Funding Panel
  4. Doctoral Studentship Funding Panel
  5. ACORN Funding Panel
  6. Research Fellowships Funding Panel
  7. Charity Support Funding Panel
  8. SIA Funding panel

Please see further announcements regarding each initiative over the coming weeks.

These panels align with the BU2025 focus on research, including BU’s Research Principles. Specifically, but not exclusively, regarding the ACORN Fund, please refer to:

  • Principle 5 – which sets of the context for such funding panels
  • Principle 6 and Outcome 9 – which recognises the need for interdisciplinarity and the importance of social science and humanities (SSH)
  • Outcomes 4 and 5 – where ECRs are provided with the mechanisms for support such as mentors and, through schemes including the ACORN fund, gain budgetary responsibility experience

Calling all ECRs!

Do you want to meet with fellow BU ECRs in an informal setting to discuss  the highs and lows of being a Early Career Researcher?

Then … come and join the BU Early Career Researcher Network!

We meet monthly and have a programme of topics for the year. The next meeting is on Wednesday, 13th March, where we will be discussing how to find research funding

The network is open to those BU academics who define themselves as ECRs and includes PTHP. The Brightspace group is also open to others across BU who wish to support our ECRs.

If you would like to come to this event, or find out about future events by signing up to the ECRN community on Brightspace, just let us know.


BA Small Research Grants opens 5th Oct 2018

The call for the next round of BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants will open 5th October 2018 and close 5pm on Wednesday 7th November 2018 and is aimed at Early Career Researcher and/or pump priming purposes.

It is strongly advised that you attend the British Academy small guidance session on 9th October 2018, where the Funding Development team will go through:

  • The British Academy scheme notes for applicants
  • The British Academy  FAQs
  • The British Academy  Assessment Criteria
  • As well as a chance to ask questions from recent British Academy award winners

After the session you will have the chance to sit with a Research Facilitator and Funding Development Officer, to go through costs and your draft proposal.  As well as the opportunity to have your proposal reviewed by an external application reviewer.

If you can’t attend this session, then we ask you to submit your intention to bid form to your Funding Development Officer by 9th October 2018, after this date applications will be moved to the summer round.

The British Academy have provided updated guidance on the small grants – BA scheme notes for applicants and BA FAQs . They have asked that all applicants read the documentation carefully before starting their application.


The call closes at 5pm on Wednesday 7th November 2018.

Date Action
5 October 2018 Scheme Opens
9th October RKEO British Academy Guidance session and/or

Intention to bid forms to be submitted to your faculty funding development officer

4th November midnight Nominated referee supporting statement to be completed via FlexiGrant
4th November midnight Your final application must be submitted on FlexiGrant  by this date at the latest
5th – 7th November 2018 Institutional checks to take place by RKEO
7th November 2018 Submission

Any queries please contact Alexandra Pekalski 

Early Career Researcher Network Launch

networkingThe Early Career Researcher Network at BU was launched at a full day event on 12th September.

The event was attended by many of BU’s Early Career Researchers, from across all four faculties, and other academics with a passion for supporting the career development of our ECRs.

The day opened with a rousing welcome to all attendees by Prof Jens Hölscher, Head of Department in Accounting, Finance & Economics (Faculty of Management) and elected Academic Staff Member on the Bournemouth University Board. The joint academic leads, Prof Ann Hemingway and Dr Sam Goodman (himself an ECR), then led the audience through the rest of the day hosting sessions where ECRs discussed what they would like to see in their Network and how they, themselves, can contribute to the delivery of sessions.

In the afternoon, all six of the BU ECR Acorn Award recipients for 17/18, presented to the audience, all keen to ask questions and engage with developing their research further:

Other ECRs, including recipients of the smaller Acorn Awards also showcased their research, as the attendees took the opportunity to network and discuss their research experiences informally:

A final panel comprising Prof Ann Hemingway, Dr Sam Goodman, Prof Jonathan Parker, Prof Iain MacRury and Elaine Sheridan (BU’s HR Reward Manager) gave their personal reflections on the importance of networking for all academics, but especially ECRs.

Going forwards, the schedule for the monthly 18/19 events will be announced shortly, based on the feedback received from participants at the launch event.

The event also saw the launch of the ERCN area on Brightspace. All those attending are being added to this network – please check that your access has been given.

If you do not yet have access and would like to join this network, please request this via It was agreed at the launch that this network would be open to all those at BU who identify themselves as ECRs (including Part-Time Hourly Paid staff) and other staff with a desire to support ECRs in their career development.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to making this day a great success!

Writing About Methods- 3rd October 2018

Join Dr Patrick Brindle from INTO Content  on the 3rd October 2018 9:30-16:30 for Writing about Methods course. To book click here

The session will talk about a range of practical approaches they can adopt when writing about methodology in the social sciences. The course focuses on 20 or so writing strategies and thought experiments designed to provide more clarity and power to the often-difficult challenge of writing about methods. The course also looks at common mistakes and how to avoid them when writing about methods. The focus throughout is on building confidence and increasing our repertoire of writing strategies and skills.

The course covers:

  • A range of practical writing strategies for handling methodology
  • The challenges of writing a PhD methodology chapter or a methods section in a research paper
  • Writing for qualitative and quantitative research approaches
  • Understanding different audiences and the needs of different academic markets

By the end of the course participants will:

  • Better understand who and what ‘methodology writing’ is for
  • Know the differences and similarities between PhD methods chapters, research paper methods sections and methods books
  • Understand and reflect on 21 principles (or starting points) of best practice in methodology writing
  • Focus writing on audience needs and expectations
  • Be aware of common mistakes and misunderstandings and so avoid them
  • Reflect on the relationship between methodology writing and other parts of your manuscript
  • To develop learning and best practice through exercises and examples

This course would be suitable for PhD students, post-docs and junior researchers in the social sciences. To book click here

Resilience of the UK food system in a global context – third call

The  Resilience of the UK food system in a global context we are inviting expressions of interest from early career researchers at lecturer level or equivalent to take part in a Sandpit (2.5 days on 4-6 July 2018 followed by 2 days on 19-20 July 2018).

The Sandpit will seek to address the following question:

How can we transform our food system so it is based on healthy and sustainable diets and how would this impact on sustainable and resilient food production and supply?

We welcome applications from early career researchers at lecturer level or equivalent with expertise in any research area covered by BBSRC, NERC or ESRC. The Sandpit will develop outline proposals, a number of which will be invited back to be developed into full proposals that are two years in duration. Successful proposals developed through the Sandpit process will be jointly funded by BBSRC, ESRC, NERC and the Scottish Government, and up to £1.8 million (80% FEC) is available to support the proposals selected.

The research supported will identify interventions that might lead to improved outcomes for health, sustainability and resilience across the supply chain and help us to understand the dynamics, trade-offs and tensions between production, supply and demand that are crucial for the resilience of the UK food system.

The Sandpit will aim to develop proposals that answer:

  • How can we transform our food system so it is based on healthy and sustainable diets and how would this impact on sustainable and resilient food production and supply?
  • What should we be eating, and producing sustainably, and where in the world would those crops be grown, those livestock reared, or those fish be caught to ensure UK food system resilience? What impact would this have on livelihoods?
  • What level of demand change would be required to have a major impact on resilience and sustainability, and what would be the potential benefits/dis-benefits to nutrition and/or the environment of different scenarios?

How to apply

This Sandpit is for early-career researchers working at lecturer level or equivalent.

Further details, including how to apply, can be found on the Global Food Security (GFS) website.

Congratulations to Dr James Gavin on his position at the British Council Researcher Links Workshop

Congratulations to Dr James Gavin, BU Lecturer in Exercise Physiology, on recently being awarded a funded position at the British Council Researcher Links Workshop, which will be taking place from 11 – 15 June 2018 in Botucatu, Brazil.

The Researcher Links programme provides opportunities for early career researchers from the UK and internationally to interact, learn from each other and explore opportunities for building long-lasting research collaborations. The 5 day workshop will provide a unique opportunity for sharing research expertise and networking.

“I’m immensely excited (the closest I’ve come to South America was working in a Brazilian restaurant as an undergraduate) to be able to spend dedicated time working with, and learning from, international ECRs across the health sciences,” says Dr Gavin.

During the workshops ECRs will have the opportunity to present their research in the form of a poster with short oral presentation and discuss this with established researchers and mentors from the UK and partner countries.

“I will present work on my current projects, including: i) Community-based exercise programmes for recovery self-management after orthopaedic surgery: a development study and, ii) the feasibility of inspiratory muscle training (IMT) in reducing falls risk in older adults”, says Dr Gavin.

There will be a focus on building links for future collaborations and participants selected on the basis of their research potential and ability to build longer term links.

“Aside from the prestige of the University of Sao Paulo (THE World University Rankings top 150), I hope to learn cross-cultural skills, particularly in developing and sustaining international research partnerships”, he says. “On return, I look forward to sharing my experiences with my colleagues in Sport, Physical Activity Research Centre (SPARC) and the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, and seek opportunities for supporting a partner ‘international ECR’ to visit BU.”


For more information, contact Dr James Gavin (

BU’s ECR Network – Come to the pre-launch event on 25th April

teamworkBU will be launching a new network for Early Career Researchers later in 2018

If you are an ECR* or interested in the development of ECRs at BU, please sign up to attend this pre-launch meeting to discuss your ideas and expectation of this new network. Priority will be given to ECRs in the first instance, but whatever your role at BU, please sign up as your input will be most welcome.

This session will take place at Talbot Campus on Wednesday, 25th April, from 13:00 – 15:00, with refreshments, but not lunch. provided.

BU Staff – Reserve your place now!

*an ECR, in this case, is defined as someone who started their research career on or after 1 August 2013. This is the point at which they held a contract of employment of 0.2 FTE or greater, which included a primary employment function of undertaking ‘research’ or ‘teaching and research’, with any HE or other organisation, whether in the UK or overseas.




ECRs can apply to participate in an international research workshop

The British Council have a number of research workshops available to ECRs to attend under Researcher Links and the Newton Fund.  The workshops give researchers the opportunity to form new international connections.

If you are an early-career researcher based in the UK or the partner country you can apply for a grant to participate.

Current opportunities are:

Is Poverty a By-Product or a Building Block of Prosperity? Trends in Economic Development from Brazil and the United Kingdom

  • Date of workshop: 21-24 August 2017
  • Location: Belo Horizonte, Brazil
  • Application deadline: 1 May 2017, 12 noon UK time.
  • Programme: Newton Fund Researcher Links
  • For further information, elegibility criteria and application form please contact the workshop organiser.

Information and Communications Technologies in Homes and Cities for the Health and Well-Being of Older People (ICT4HOP’17) 

  • Date of workshop: 14-16 August 2017
  • Location: Bradford, UK
  • Application deadline: 20 May 2017
  • Programme: Newton Fund Researcher Links
  • Eligibility and further information can be found here.

Geological Disaster Monitoring Based on Sensor Networks

  • Date of workshop: 14-17 July 2017
  • Location: Harbin, China
  • Application deadline: 14 April 2017
  • Programme: Newton Fund Researcher Links
  • Eligibility and further information can be found here .

Socially Inclusive WM&RE in Supply Chains Workshop

  • Date of workshop: 23-25 May 2017
  • Location: Florianópolis, Brazil
  •  Application deadline: 23 February 2017
  • Programme: Newton Fund Researcher Links
  • Eligibility and further information can be found here .

Re-naturing Cities: Theories, Strategies and Methodologies

  • Date of workshop: 10-13 July 2017
  • Location: Goiânia, Brazil
  •  Application deadline: 23 April 2017
  • Programme: Newton Fund Researcher Links
  • Eligibility and further information can be found here.

You wouldn’t go skydiving without a parachute!

So, why wouldn’t you asses your training needs before going on training?

Take charge of your career development and increase your employability, by focusing your training efforts where it’s needed. All you need to do is undertake the ’My Academic Development Needs: Self-Assessment’ (MADNSA), it will allow you to see your strengths an any gaps in your skills which you need to address in order to get where you want to be in your career (you can also use Vitae’s version which is more detailed). 

You can read case studies of real academics to see how using the planner based on this assessment has helped transform their careers.

Take some time for yourself and complete the MADNSA and sign up for some facilitated sessions, through the Staff Development webpages and log into myBU  BRAD community to view the online sessions?

Fantastic British Council funding for international research collaboration – but with a fast approaching deadline!

I was really excited to see this week the British Council have launched a new five-year programme to encourage international research collaboration between ambitious young researchers from the UK and eighteen countries around the world. Initially the countries involved are Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Morocco, Egypt, Qatar, South Africa, Nigeria, Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Vietnam and Bangladesh.

The call is aimed at ‘leading researchers’ who can propose themes for bilateral workshops to be held in one of these countries which will bring together early career researchers to discuss research and start to build international relationships. The call guidelines and application form can be found here and the deadline is 14 July.

At an early stage in your research career? Then come to one of our ECR Forums!

Over the past few months we have run a series of forums for academic colleagues who are at an early stage in their research career.  You can find out more about the September session here

The forums will be open, informal sessions where you can meet with a group of experienced academics and members of R&KEO to discuss anything you like to do with research. From publications to projects to funding to research strategy we will be on hand to help and advise. Lunch / refreshments will be provided so booking is essential

The next forum will be held on 11 December 12:30 – 15:00 Casterbridge, Talbot Campus and you will need to book to confirm your attendance.

September Early Career Forum – How to get that first grant or paper…..

In September we held the second of our open forum meetings for Early Career Researchers (ECRs).  These meetings provide  an opportunity to ask for advice and guidance from a team of experienced academics and research managers in an informal setting. Questions can be about anything related to research – from publications to projects to funding to research strategy! The Forums also provide an opportunity for ECRs to network with colleagues from across the University.

The September meeting was well attended by ECRs from Schools across the University, and they met with Prof Bogdan Gabrys, Assoc Prof Richard Berger,  plus Jennifer Roddis and myself from the Research and Knowledge Exchange Office.

The discussions related getting started – how to get that first grant, or first paper when you don’t have a track-record (apart from your Phd research). One of the key messages here was to work on your profile, and there are various ways you can approach profile-raising.  Here are some of the key messages that emerged from this theme:

Publishing: Remember, your Phd is a valid piece of research!  You might want to talk to your supervisor about targeting likely publications and jointly publishing on your Phd topic or theme.  Regularly publish if you can.  Get your name out. 

Don’t be afraid to take a tangent:  A useful message from this meeting was don’t be precious about your research area.  You may miss opportunities if you are not prepared to follow a research path on a tangent.  After completing your Phd it can be challenging to find topics to research or publish on.  Take a look at your literature review and early drafts of your Phd.  Examine the abandoned strands of argument and research questions you decided not to pursue.  These could present themselves as great opportunities for research and publication, as they are related to your Phd topic, but not restricted by it.   This is one way that you might expand your research out of your Phd subject.

For example, Richard Berger won a BBC grant that was not strictly in his subject area.  He felt out of his comfort zone for the 8 weeks of the project.  However, he learned enormous amounts about new methodolgieis, delivering research, and presenting his work, which has stood him in good stead for his further research work.

Networking: Getting involved in networks is an effective part of raising your profile.  Attending conferences is a good start. You might start by choosing conferences with the best repuation, or by going to small conferences, where you may find other academics like you!  Over time, you will naturally get to know the other conference attendees (peopl you sit next to etc).    If you find someone you like, you might want to start presenting together. 

This was the experience of one of the senior academics – they started presenting together, then started to write together, then started their own journal on the subjects that they are interested in.   Starting your own journal is not as hard as it sounds.  You could publish online, and academics from around the world like being invited to be on editorial boards.  Its worth a thought. You can try submitting papers to conferences – but bear in mind that there is a lot of competition, with probably a 20% chance of your paper being accepted, but if you don’t try, you won’t know!

Networking funds?  Ask in your School if there are funds available for attending conferences.  Each School has a different way of doing things, so it is worth asking around. Investigate the research councils and other funders, which offer networking grants.   You could organise your own conference – this would be a great opportunity to generate some funds, plus a fantastic way to create your own network.  Host it at the EBC, write about it on the reserach blog, write about it on other blogs, advertise it through online networks.    

Cold calling:  When you are cold-calling, make sure you have something to offer – be honest and be upfront.  The worst that can happen is that you receive a polite no, or are ignored!   Maybe don’t always email potential collaborators. If they are within BU knock on their door and be pursuasive!  Research groups at other institutions may well be looking for speakers on certain topics.  Do some research, find out, offer yourself as a speaker.

Online communities: there are networks of excellence that operate online.  Join in and find like-minded people.   A good opportunity to make connections and raise your profile.

Research Grants:  Take advantage of schemes such as the Grants Academy and Research Proposal Review Service.   Subscribe to the research blog for news on internal funding opportunities.  Bid for Phd studentships. Talk to colleagues – maybe you could collaborate?  Use Research Professional and look for open calls.  Don’t focus only on the big research council grants – these are highly competitive, and generally are looking for a research grant track record.  Look for smaller funding opportunities – charities, foundations and even regional funding agencies are often good places to start.  A good piece of advice:  stay away from scary deadlines until you are ready!   

Prepare to fail! You will get rejections – because everyone gets rejections for papers submitted to journals, and for research grant applications.   When you suffer a rejection your first reaction will be emotional.  Take time to reflect.  Then go back to your proposal and take a constructive look.  The work won’t be wasted, as you will be able to re-work it for another journal or another funder.

BRIAN: make sure your profile is up to date.

Make the most of internal support available:

One of the ECRs who attended has helpfully set up a Facebook page called ECR BU – here is the link:

What next?

If you’re interested in coming to one of the next ECR Forums you will need to book to confirm your attendance (this is so we can order enough food and refreshments in advance). The next Forums are scheduled as follows (rooms to be confirmed):

19 November 12:30 – 15:00 on the Lansdowne Campus

11 December 12:30 – 15:00 on the Talbot Campus

At an early stage in your research career? Then come to one of our ECR Forums!

Over the next six months we are running a series of forums for academic colleagues who are at an early stage in their research career. The forums will be open, informal sessions where you can meet with a group of experienced academics and Julie Northam and Julia Taylor from the R&KEO to discuss anything you like to do with research. From publications to projects to funding to research strategy we will be on hand to help and advise. Lunch / refreshments will be provided.

The forums will be held at the following times and you will need to book to confirm your attendance (this is so we can order enough food and refreshments in advance)

25 July 13:30 – 15:00 on the Talbot Campus (Room to be confirmed)

17 September 12:30 – 15:00 on the Talbot Campus (Room to be confirmed)

19 November 12:30 – 15:00 on the Lansdowne Campus (Room to be confirmed)

11 December 12:30 – 15:00 on the Talbot Campus (Room to be confirmed)