Tagged / impact

ESRC Knowledge Exchange Opportunities

ESRC logoThe ESRC has announced two new calls as part of its Knowledge Exchange Opportunities scheme

The scheme exists to enable researchers to work with individuals and organisations in the private, public and civil society sectors. Knowledge exchange can involve a range of methods but is ultimately about sharing and applying good ideas, research results, experiences and engagement skills. The ESRC fund and manage a range of schemes to support collaborative projects and create a dialogue between researchers and individuals/organisations that have the potential to benefit from social science research.

The two calls that have been announced are:

 – the Follow on Fund scheme

 – the Knowledge Exchange Opportunities scheme

The Knowledge Exchange call is open from 1 September until 27 October 2011 and is aimed at social science researchers at all stages of their career and at organisations in the business, public and civil society sectors, with the intention of encouraging dialogue and collaboration between these groups.

Future calls are scheduled as follows:

  • 12 December 2011 – 6 February 2012
  • 9 April 2012 – 4 June 2012
  • 20 August 2012 – 1 October 2012

Further information is available from the ESRC website: http://www.esrc.ac.uk/funding-and-guidance/collaboration/knowledge-exchange/opportunities/index.aspx

If you are interested in applying to one of these schemes, please contact CRE Operations who will happy to support your application.

Excellent PI development resource available from Vitae

Earlier this year Vitae launched an excellent development resource for principal investigators (PIs). The Leadership Development for Principal Investigators training is available online, free of charge from here: http://www.vitae.ac.uk/policy-practice/263521/Leadership-Development-for-Principal-Investigators.html

The website provides information in the following sections:

  • What is expected of a principal investigator
  • Research environment
  • Impact
  • Managing people
  • Project management
  • Networks

Information is provided for both pre-award and post-award stages of the research lifecycle.

This is a fantastic resource suitable for PIs at all stages of the research career.

If you have used the resource to access information then let us know what you think by commenting on this blog post and share your tips with your colleagues!

REF Guidance on Submissions document released

The REF2014 Guidance on Submissions document was released on Thursday and can be accessed on the HEFCE website here: REF Guidance on Submissions

We have prepared a summary document of the key points that can be accessed on the I drive: I:\CRKT\Public\RDU\REF

At the end of July the REF team will publish the draft panel working methods and criteria documents which will be open to consultation until the autumn. The Research Development Unit will be coordinating the BU response to the consultation – further details will be available once the documentation is released.

Investigating academic impact at the London School of Economics: Blogs, Twitter and bumblebees!


The 'Current Thinking in Assessing Impact’ panel discussion during the LSE impact event on 12 June.

As someone who is still getting to grips with exactly how impact might be defined and operationalised for the REF, I went along to the Investigating Academic Impact Conference at LSE on the 12th June looking forward to learning more about precisely how we could create more effective impact case studies for the REF.  The day was opened by Patrick Dunleavy from the Impact of Social Sciences Project at LSE with the challenging statement that we needed to think about impact as a long-term, integral part of our research work and that simply trying to maximise impact for the REF was a short-term strategy.

What followed were sessions on how to use blogging, Wikipedia and Twitter to help enhance your electronic footprint and to engage with the public in new ways.  Following their own advice, all the presentations are now available, along with blogs and tweets, at http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/presentations/.  On the site there is a comprehensive (200-page) handbook detailing exactly how to increase your citations and how to achieve external impacts and, for those with a shorter attention span, there are some short how-to guides.  These include standard information about citation tools (such as ISI Web of Science and Scopus) as well as more esoteric measures of citation impact (such as the G-index and H scores).

There are also simple tips on how to get more widely read:

  • make sure your titles are informative
  • work on cross-disciplinary projects
  • build dissemination plans
  • have a distinctive name (many thanks to my parents on this one!).

The Impact of Social Sciences project at LSE has created a great resource which means that if you didn’t attend the day it doesn’t matter – the information is there for you to browse and look at anyway.

In the unexpected way that often happens at conferences, there are single pieces of information that are particularly memorable.  For this one it was the importance of the bumblebees!  At both the recent BU Research Impact Event and the LSE conference, one particular case study from the REF impact pilot exercise was singled out for particular praise. This was an elegant case study submitted by the University of Stirling on the conservation of bumblebees which was able to show tangible and far-reaching impact (for further details see http://www.hefce.ac.uk/research/ref/impact/ under Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences).  This is a great concrete example of how good impact case studies might be formulated and from which those still struggling with impact might be able to gain insights.

Perhaps one final message from the day was that, of course, if you wished to have academic impact then the best starting point of all is to have good research to talk about!

Siné McDougall

 

The Public Value of the Humanities

Demonstrating the public value of research will be a significant part of the forthcoming REF exercise. Most major funding bodies now require an impact statement as part of the application process. Universities are being required to demonstrate that their research offers value for money and tangible benefits outside of the academic sphere. This is easier in some disciplines than others, with many people believing the arts, humanities and social sciences (AHSS) will struggle to demonstrate impact.

The Public Value of the Humanities, recently published by Bloombury Academic and edited by Prof Jonathan Bate (University of Warwick), demonstrates how the AHSS discplines can demonstrate that their research has public impact, benefit and value.

For a full review of the book see the review on the THE website.

You can buy this book on Amazon.

Universities Week – Big Ideas for Society

This week is Universities Week 2011, a national campaign demonstrating the benefits of universities within UK society! Today focuses on universities’ historical contribution to the big society, long before this phrase became commonly used. Thriving university towns and cities will be highlighted by demonstrating how universities give back to the local and national community.

A new report out today shows the social impact of universities is worth over £1.31 billion in the form of health and wellbeing, citizenship and political engagement, and that universities benefit everyone not just those who go to university to study. The report, published by leading independent thinktank nef and Universities UK (Degrees of Value: How universities benefit society) attempts for the first time to put a monetary value on some of the ways that universities contribute to society at a local and a national level, using Social Return on Investment (SROI) methodology. These values are above and beyond the economic contribution that universities make.

BU makes a significant contribution to society through many initiatives, such as:

  • sponsoring St Aldhelms Academy in Poole
  • providing volunteering opportunities for staff and students via The Hub
  • exercise classes, sports facilities, tournaments, children’s summer camps, etc, offered by SportBU
  • citizenship days for local school children are run by the Centre for Global Perspectives
  • the Atrium Art Gallery showcases work by local and national artists, offers free entry and is open to the public

You can read the full report here.

Engaging Academic Social Scientists in Government Policy-Making and Delivery

Prof Martin Kretschmer, Professor of Information Jurisprudence and Research Centre Director for CIPPM in the Business School, recently attended a meeting organised by the British Academy and the ESRC on Engaging Academic Social Scientists in Government Policy-Making and Delivery. Here he provides an overview of the issues discussed at the event…

Making research relevant to policy is on the agenda of all Research Councils, as reflected in the Impact measure of REF 2014. The event was co-sponsored by the Government Heads of the Analytical Professions: Government Economic Service, Government Operational Research Service, Government Science & Engineering, Social Science in Government, and the Government Statistical Service. The programme and list of attendees is available here: British Academy event programme and delegate list

Some of the issues raised, and questions asked of the attendees included:

Q1: What do you think government should be doing more of to increase the influence of your research and expertise on government policy making and delivery?

Q2: What do you think the academic social science community should be doing more of to have a direct influence on government policy making and delivery?

Q3: What might encourage you to consider an advisory role to government, for example, as a social scientist on one of the government’s Scientific Advisory Committees?

I assume I was invited because I am just coming to the end of an ESRC Public Sector Fellowship in the UK Intellectual Property Office (within BIS). I also sit on the government’s Copyright Advisory Expert Group, and speak frequently on policy issues, for example last week (1 June) at a Hearing in the European Parliament on The Future of Copyright in the Digital Era

Below, I summarise a few points from the meeting that may be useful for the wider BU research community.

Prof Nick Pidgeon (Professor of Environmental Psychology, University of Cardiff, and Director of the Understanding Risk Research Group) offered 4 routes to influencing government:

  • Government contract research, including small review contracts.
  • RCUK (or similar) funding in policy relevant area.
  • Advisory Committees.
  • Indirectly, via dissemination through Royal Society, RSA, or similar.

Paul Johnson (Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies): “Don’t expect to change government policy if your evidence points in a different direction.” There are two choices: EITHER Focus on points of detail within the policy direction given by government, OR Set agenda for 5 years hence.

Sir John Beddington (Government Chief Scientific Advisor) stressed the tightrope walk between advice that is a “challenge” and being labelled “unhelpful” (in Sir Humphries language). Academics should risk “challenge” even if it turns out to be “unhelpful”.

Prof Philip Lowe (Professor of Rural Economy, University of Newcastle, and Director of the Rural Economy and Land Use Programme): There is a paradox – How can a government department become a sophisticated consumer of research? Commissioning good research requires being able to know what you don’t know. Hard for civil servants and politicians. Important to build and sustains links over many years.

Prof Helen Roberts (Professor, General Adolescent and Paediatrics Unit, University College London, and non-executive director of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence NICE): Public sector placements are very useful, both for academic and government, but governance of these grants can be cumbersome. [I can confirm that from my own secondment experience. At some point, there were suggestions that detailed delivery contracts would have to be drawn up between ESRC and BU, ESRC and BIS/IPO, BIS/IPO and BU. In the end, I was simply shown the Official Secrets Act, and the Code of Conduct for Civil Servants, and that was it.]

Importance of human dimension: “Most implementation comes though good relationships, not good research.”

Sharon Witherspoon (Deputy Director of the Nuffield Foundation, and in charge of research in social science and social policy): Most policy advisors double in “empirically informed counterfactuals”, and are normally grateful if offered help with: “What would happen if…” But academics can often make the most telling contribution by more radical reflection: “I wouldn’t start from here”. Governments are less likely to be open to that kind of challenge. Select Committees are becoming more independent of government (now have elected chairs). They can be a route to influence.

Paul Doyle (CEO, ESRC): The ESRC is building a database of government policy leads/contacts. Often it is impossible from government websites to identify the civil servants and special advisors dealing with specific policy issues. Government scientists should be encouraged to become members of Learned Societies.

 Key points from the open discussion:

  • Importance to keep independence by constructing portfolio of funders.
  • Economists are a separate breed in government. They have little concept of wider social research.
  • Responding to consultations is often a good first step to engagement.
  • Academics should use less jargon, shorter sentences.
  • Visual representation of research findings matters greatly.
  • Often it is useful to invite policy makers to academic events. They enjoy coming out of the office, and are less partisan/circumspect in a neutral environment.
  • There is an important corrective function for social scientists in assessing the presentation of data.
  • Difficulty in presenting the audit trail required for REF Impact. Government does have no interest in revealing the sources of its ideas, or it may be politically inconvenient to do so.

Universities Week – What’s the Big Idea?

Universities Week What's the Big Idea? 13-19 June 2011

This week is Universities Week 2011, a national campaign demonstrating the benefits of universities within UK society.  The campaign highlights the impact universities in the UK have on the individual, the local community, its businesses, and the future of the UK, just to name a few.  Each day of ‘Universities Week’ has a theme which highlights a unique aspect of the country’s universities and their influence on the economy, culture, society, and the future.

A number of events will be taking place throughout the week around the country and case studies of research projects with the potential to have a huge impact will be highlighted on the website.

Sharing Big Ideas

Monday’s theme highlights the extensive knowledge that universities hold and how it influences UK society. 

Universities have been asked to submit a selection of ‘facts’ they teach in their courses from history to zoology and the most engaging have been compiled into an online application called ‘FactShare’.  Generate your own factoid from the website.

REF Impact Observations

Shortly we will learn the REF panel criteria and guidance submissions due to be published in July.  At BU we have engaged with some excellent initiatives such as the recent REF event to help focus our approach to the impact case studies. The measurement of benefit that UK research has on society is an opportunity to understand the value of our work. Already it is well documented that the concept of research impact has for the moment protected some sources of external funding at least for the next few years. As academics concerned with the REF we now need to consider delivering the evidence of our research impact from 2008 resulting from good BU research. This research could have happened almost as far back as 1993.

Impact is a difficult concept and not easy to measure in terms of the REF. From an engineering viewpoint impact is difficult to quantify as like the REF it involves knowledge of time in addition to the force. Engineering impact force increases as time decreases. This view of time relates to the general research impact debate. We now have the opportunity to look back and review BU research almost over the lifetime of the University.

Opportunity for Placement Fellowships with the AHRC and ESRC

ESRC logo

As part of their Placement Fellowship Scheme the AHRC and ESRC welcomes applications from academics interested in working in a research capacity with the British Council. The scheme encourages arts and humanities researchers to spend time within a partner organisation to undertake policy relevant research and to develop the research skills of partner employees.

Placement fellowships are available with 1) British Council, 2) Museums Association and 3) Welsh Government. Donwload the call information and guidelines here:

BRITISH COUNCIL

MUSEUMS ASSOCIATION

Welsh Government 1

Welsh Government 2

Welsh Government 3

Welsh Government 4

The deadline is 28 June 2011.

If you are interested in submitting a bid then please contact the CRE Operations team who will guide you through the submission process.

Investigating Academic Impact event at LSE on 13 June

The LSE Public Policy Group is running a free one day event on evidencing the impact of research.

Date: Monday 13 June 2011 
Time: 10-5pm 
Venue:  New Academic Building, LSE, London

Academics are increasingly being pressed to provide evidence of impact from their research on the world outside academia. And universities will have to provide evidence of impact as part of the new Research Excellence Framework. But there is confusion about the different definitions of impact that exist amongst funding bodies and research councils, and also about methods of measuring impact.

This one day conference will look at a range of issues surrounding the impact of academic work on government, business, communities and public debate. We will discuss what impact is, how impacts happen and innovative ways that academics can communicate their work. Practical sessions will look at how academic work has impact among policymaking and business communities. Also how academic communication can be improved and how individual academics can easily start to asses their own impact.

PANELS:
Research Impact and the REF
Professor Rick Rylance (Chief Executive, Arts and Humanities Research Council)
David Sweeney (Director of Research, Innovation and Skills, HEFCE)
Professor Paul Wiles (Panel Chair, social work and social policy panel, REF impact pilot)

Current Thinking in Assessing Impact
Professor Patrick Dunleavy (Impact of Social Sciences project, London School of Economics)
Professor Alan Hughes (Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge)
Tomas Ulrichsen (Public and Corporate Economic Associates)

Innovative Methods for Impact and Engagement
Professor Stephen Curry (blogger, Imperial College London)
Martyn Lawrence (Senior Publisher, Emerald Insight)
Paul Manners (Director, National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement, UWE)
Mike Peel (Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics / Wikimedia UK)

BREAKOUT SESSIONS:
Academic impact on policy-making
Maria O’Beirne (Analysis and Innovation Directorate, Department for Communities and Local Government)
Jill Rutter (Better Policy Making Programme Director, Institute for Government)

Knowledge transfer and the role of research mediators
Nick Pearce (Director, IPPR)
Professor Judy Sebba (University of Sussex)

Academic impacts on industry and business
James John (Director of Strategy, director of strategy, civil government, HP)

A ‘how to’ guide to measuring your own academic impact
Jane Tinkler (Impact of Social Sciences project, London School of Economics)

Improving academic communication
Professor Patrick Dunleavy (Impact of Social Sciences project, London School of Economics)
Chris Gilson (Managing Editor, British Politics and Policy blog, London School of Economics)

This event is free and open to all but pre-registration is required. For more information phone and email the PPG team on 020 7955 6064 or 020 7955 6731 or by email on impactofsocialsciences@lse.ac.uk|. You can find more information on the Investigating Academic Impact website.

BU Research Impact event is a success!

Last Friday BU held an internal Research Impact event to share the success of the excellent research that has been undertaken by BU academics. The focus of the event was on how this research has had an impact outside of academia, for example an impact on society, the economy, quality of life, culture, policy, etc.

REF logoFor the forthcoming REF2014 BU will be required to include a number of research impact case studies as part of the submission. This is a new element to the REF (previously the RAE) and the HE sector has been grappling with the concept of impact for a number of years now.

The event, attended by over 75 BU staff, opened with a presentation from Prof Matthew Bennett (Pro Vice Chancellor – Research, Enterprise and Internationalisation) on BU’s future research strategy, planning for the REF, and how to develop and evidence research impact.

Part of the presentation focused on the BU Research Themes which are currently being identified and defined through academic consultation via the Research Blog. This is still in the early stages but Matthew presented the ten draft themes that are emerging. You can comment on the emerging themes here.

There were 35 impact case studies presented in total with most units of assessment (UOAs) presenting three case studies. At the end of each presentation members of the audience critiqued the case study and offered advice as to how the strengthen and maximise the impact claim.

Attendees were encouraged to go to impact case study presentations from different UOAs/Schools to find out about research that is undertaken in different areas of the University. Stronger impact case studies can also be developed with input from different disciplines.

The event was also attended by key staff from Marketing & Communications who will be working with UOA Leaders to develop and enhance impact case studies between now and the REF submission in autumn 2013.

There has been much positive feedback received from attendees and we are considering whether this should now be an annual event, celebrating the success of BU research and its benefit to society.

Many thanks to all the presenters and attendees, and everyone who supported the event and made it such a success! 😀

We are now seeking feedback on the impact case studies presented. These are all available on the I-drive (I:\CRKT\Public\RDU\REF\REF event May 2011\impact case study presentations). Please could you email your feedback to Anita Somner in the Research Development Unit by Friday 3 June. Anita will then anonymise and collate the feedback and share it with the UOA Leaders.

For further information on impact see the impact pages on the HEFCE website or our previous BU Research Blog posts on impact.

HEFCE and RCUK work together on open access publishing

open access logo, Public Library of ScienceHEFCE and Research Council UK (RCUK) have today committed to work together to make open access to published research a reality.

Open access publishing turns the traditional publishing route (readers paying subscriptions to publishers) on its head as researchers pay a fee to the publisher to publish their research and in turn the publisher makes the article available free of charge to readers immediately on publication. This enables research findings to be shared with a wider public audience thus increasing the visibility and potential impact/influence of the research findings.

Read the full story here – http://www.hefce.ac.uk/news/hefce/2011/rcuk.htm

BU has recently launched the BU Open Access Publication Fund. For further information read our previous post on the new fund.

Earlier this week SAS launched a short survey on attitudes towards open access publishing. Read more and take part in the survey here.

The excellent HEFCE REF event at BU!

Developing and Assessing Impact for the REF

Last week BU hosted a HEFCE-supported event for universities in the south of England outlining recent changes in how the quality of research in higher education is assessed.

The event, attended by over 150 delegates from 39 institutions, outlined the new Research Excellence Framework (REF) which includes a new assessment element focusing on research impact.

As Chris Taylor, Deputy REF Manager for HEFCE, explained: “REF will provide accountability for public investment in research and demonstrate its benefits.” He continued:

“Impact is defined as any contribution the research makes outside of academia. It is the higher education sector’s opportunity to shout about what it contributes to society.”

Professor Peter Taylor-Gooby (University of Kent), Professor Roy Harrison (University of Birmingham), Professor James Goodwin (Age UK), Dr Kathryn Monk (Environment Agency Wales) and Dr Mari Williams (RCUK) presented their experiences of assessing impact case studies in the REF pilot exercise. Professor Jim Griffiths (University of Plymouth) presented his experience of identifying and submitting impact case studies to the pilot exercise in the hope that others would learn from his experience.

Prevalent themes emerging from the pilot included the importance of a demonstrable chain of evidence from impact claim through to outcome, high quality research underpinning the impact claim and fostering the crucial relationship between academic and user.

Professor James Goodwin explained how research can change society for people’s benefit, stessing the importance of “converting research into a message that will influence people’s thinking”. He gave the recent removal of the default retirement age as an example of how this can influence policy.

The event closed with a Q&A session with all speakers, giving delegates the chance to obtain further clarity on the REF that will undoubtedly change the future of higher education research.

Matthew Bennett (BU’s PVC for Research, Enterprise and Internationalisation) said: “There has been sector-wide concern about how impact will be defined, collated and assessed in the REF, and this event provided excellent advice and guidance for academic staff likely to be submitting to the REF and those leading the submissions.”

The deadline for submitting submissions is November 2013 and the assesment will be made in 2014.

We will be adding further posts to the Research Blog focusing on the good practice shared at the event (such as defining impact, what makes a strong impact case study, etc) over the next few weeks.

Unlocking Attitudes to Open Access

open access logo, Public Library of Science Emma Crowley and David Ball, Student and Academic Services, discuss open access publishing, and the role of the institutional repository BURO, and launch a short staff survey on open access publishing…

 

  • What do you understand by Open Access? 
  • Do you deposit your research outputs in BURO, BU’s online repository? 
  • Who owns the copyright to your research papers?
  • Would you consider publishing in an Open Access Journal? 

At BU these are exciting times for research and one of the key ways of ensuring that your work has impact is to make it available Open Access.  Most of you will be familiar with BURO, our online research repository, and are hopefully contributing your research outputs on a regular basis as per BU’s Academic Publications Policy.  As a strategic part of your personal research processes it is essential that you retain your own pre-print (pre peer review) and post-print (post peer review) copies of your journal articles as most publishers will allow you to make either of these formats available open access, but not the branded publisher PDF.  You can check copyright permissions in BURO using the Sherpa Romeo tool.    

So, how do we know how impactful our research really is?  The answer to this challenging question, discussed at length at this week’s Developing and Assessing Impact for the REF Conference, is not necessarily here, but clearly research that is being viewed and downloaded by large numbers of global web users has a greater chance of influencing policy and attracting more citations.  Below are the 3 most downloaded full text journal articles in BURO during the last quarter.  You can even see which search terms people are using to find your work. 

Buhalis, D. and Law, R., 2008. Progress in information technology and tourism management: 20 years on and 10 years after the Internet – The state of eTourism research. Tourism Management, 29 (4), pp. 609-623. 517 Downloads

Edwards, J. and Hartwell, H., 2006. Hospital food service: a comparative analysis of systems and introducing the ‘Steamplicity’ concept. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 19 (6), pp. 421-430. 506 Downloads

van Teijlingen, E. and Hundley, V., 2001. The Importance of Pilot Studies. Social Research Update (35), pp. 1-4. 405 Downloads

In addition to BURO BU recently launched its own Open Access Publication Fund that will support BU academics in publishing their research in Open Access journals, where a fee is required to publish, but everyone can view your article.

We would be very grateful if you could participate in a short survey, the results of which will help inform BU strategy on Open Access and wider developments for Open Access in UK HE.  There is only one page of questions which will take you less than 10 minutes to complete.  The survey will remain open until Monday 30th June.

Please note: if you experience any technical difficulties using the survey please contact Learning Technology