Congratulations on the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences team which had its paper ‘Vital signs and other observations used to detect deterioration in pregnant women: an analysis of vital sign charts in consultant-led UK maternity units’ accepted by the International Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia (published by Elsevier).
The paper compares: (i) vital sign values used to define physiological normality; (ii) symptoms and signs used to escalate care; (iii) 24 type of chart used; and (iv) presence of explicit instructions for escalating care. The authors conclude that the wide range of ‘normal’ vital sign values in different systems used in the UK and the Channel Islands suggests a lack of equity in the processes for detecting deterioration and escalating care in hospitalised pregnant and postnatal women. Agreement regarding ‘normal’ vital sign ranges is urgently required and would assist the development of a standardised obstetric early warning system and chart. The lead author of this new paper is FHSS Visiting Professor Gary Smith, his co-authors include FHSS staff Vanora Hundley, Lisa Gale_Andrews and Edwin van Teijlingen as well as three BU Visiting Faculty: Debra Bick (King’s College London), Mike Wee (Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust) and Richard Isaacs (University Hospital Southampton).
Congratulations to Dr. Mastoureh (Masi) Fathi, FHSS Lecturer in Sociology, who has been appointed to the editorial board of Sociological Research Online. Sociological Research Online is a peer-reviewed online sociology journal looking at current social issues, and it is in its twenty-second year.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
Last week was a good week for FHSS from a publishing perspective. On the last day of February Sociological Research Online published a book review with Dr. Pramod Regmi as first author, which we highlighted in an earlier BU Research Blog (see more here!) . On the same the same day we received news from the Journal of Travel Medicine (published by Oxford University press) that our latest article on research in Nepal was accepted for publication. Our paper ‘Identifying the gaps in Nepalese migrant workers’ health and well-being: A review of the literature’ addresses the health and well-being of migrant health workers and ‘brings’ this to travel medicine specialists .
On Thursday our article ‘Vital signs and other observations used to detect deterioration in pregnant women: an analysis of vital sign charts in consultant-led maternity units’ was accepted by the International Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia published by Elsevier . On Friday The Lancet published correspondence from FHSS Post-Doc. Researcher Dr. Pramod Regmi and FHSS Ph.D. student Folashade Alloh, and BU Visiting Faculty Prof. Padam Simkhada under the title: ‘Mental health in BME groups with diabetes: an overlooked issue?’ . To round off the week on Friday afternoon the editorial office of Kontakt (published by Elsevier) emailed that the editorial ‘The medical and social model of childbirth’ had been accepted for publication .
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
- Regmi, P., van Teijlingen, E. ‘Balanced Ethics Review: A Guide for Institutional Review Board Members’ by Whitney, Simon N., Springer, (2015) ISBN: 9783319207056 (pb) (book review), Sociological Research Online 2017; 22(1) http://www.socresonline.org.uk/22/1/reviews/3.html
- Simkhada, P.P., Regmi, P.R., van Teijlingen, E., Aryal, N. Identifying the gaps in Nepalese migrant workers’ health and well-being: A review of the literature, Journal of Travel Medicine (Accepted).
- Smith, G.B., Isaacs, R., Andrews, L., Wee, M.Y.K., van Teijlingen, E., Bick, D.E., Hundley, V. Vital signs and other observations used to detect deterioration in pregnant women: an analysis of vital sign charts in consultant-led maternity units, International Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia (Accepted).
- Regmi, P., Alloh, F., Pant, P.R., Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E. (2017) Mental health in BME groups with diabetes: an overlooked issue? The Lancet, 389: 904-905.
- van Teijlingen, E. The medical and social model of childbirth, Kontakt (Accepted.
This week saw the publication of the latest issue of the internet-based journal Sociological Research Online. In this issue Dr. Pramod Regmi and Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen published a book review of Balanced Ethics Review: A Guide for Institutional Review Board Members written by the American academic Simon Whitney.  In doing so they continue the tradition of FHSS scholars contributing to the research ethics debate. For example, Regmi and colleagues recently had a paper accepted on their insights into research in low-income countries in the journal Developing World Bioethics. Whilst a 2012 FHSS-led paper stressed that researchers conducting research in low-income countries need to apply for research ethics approval to the relevant local authority, if national legislation requires one to do so.
Looking better a little further back, Professor Emerita Immy Holloway wrote about the researcher who may have (potentially) conflicting roles namely those of researcher and health care professional. Whilst a combination of midwifery researchers in the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH) highlighted the problems faced by practitioners doing research in their field of practice with perhaps the risk of blurring professional and research ethics, as balancing competing ethical concerns between protecting research participants and over-managing the ethical process can be problematic.[5-6] The latter issue of management and regulation of research ethics has recognised as getting more and more cumbersome and bureaucratic.[7-8]
Two further publications by Prof. Ashencaen Crabtree have added to the pool of FHSS publication on research ethics.[9-10] The first one, a book, addressed the problematic issue of gate-keepers in research together with the ethics of critical observation of abuse (potential or actual), as well as the ethics of advocating on behalf of research participants. The second paper covered issues around working with research participants who are regarded as ‘vulnerable’ in a study into the context of care and patient/service user experiences.
Whilst Prof. Parker has highlighted the benefits and dangers of using email and the Internet for social and health research. An even newer research approach is the use of discussion boards as sources of data, which brings its own ethical dilemmas.
In 2010-11 Prof. Parker and colleagues explored in two separate papers the contested meanings and difficulties associated with informed consent, highlighting challenges raised by an almost unquestioned acceptance of biomedical research ethics in social research and questioning whether potential ‘harm’ is different in this context.[13-14]
Prof. Hundley and colleagues discussed the ethical challenges involved in conducting a cluster randomised controlled trial, where getting informed consent can be complication. Whilst it is worth reminding researchers that in issues of informed consent during pregnancy and childbirth one has to consider the potential for harm to two participants.
- Regmi, P., van Teijlingen, E. (2017) ‘Balanced Ethics Review: A Guide for Institutional Review Board Members’ by Whitney, Simon N., Springer, (2015) ISBN: 9783319207056 (pb) (book review), Sociological Research Online 22(1) http://www.socresonline.org.uk/22/1/reviews/3.html
- Regmi, PR., Aryal, N., Kurmi, O., Pant, PR., van Teijlingen, E., Wasti, P.P. (forthcoming Informed consent in health research: challenges and barriers in low-and middle-income countries with specific reference to Nepal, Developing World Bioethics.
- van Teijlingen E.R., Simkhada, P.P. (2012) Ethical approval in developing countries is not optional, Journal of Medical Ethics 38:428-430.
- Holloway, I., Wheeler, S. (1995) Ethical Issues in Qualitative Nursing Research, Nursing Ethics 2: 223-232. http://nej.sagepub.com/content/2/3/223.full.pdf+html
- Ryan, K., Brown, B., Wilkins, C., Taylor, A., Arnold, R., Angell, C., van Teijlingen, E. (2011) Which hat am I wearing today? Practicing midwives doing research, Evidence-Based Midwifery 9(1): 4-8.
- van Teijlingen, E.R., Cheyne, H.L. (2004) Ethics in midwifery research, RCM Midwives Journal 7 (5): 208-10.
- van Teijlingen, E. (2006) Reply to Robert Dingwall’s Plenary ‘Confronting the Anti-Democrats: The unethical Nature of Ethical Regulation in Social Science, MSo (Medical Sociology online) 1: 59-60 www.medicalsociologyonline.org/archives/issue1/pdf/reply_rob.pdf
- van Teijlingen, E., Douglas, F., Torrance, N. (2008) Clinical governance and research ethics as barriers to UK low-risk population-based health research? BMC Public Health 8(396) www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471-2458-8-396.pdf
- Ashencaen Crabtree, S. (2012) Rainforest Asylum: The enduring legacy of colonial psychiatric care in Malaysia, London: Whiting & Birch.
- Ashencaen Crabtree, S. (2013) Research ethics approval processes and the moral enterprise of ethnography. Ethics & Social Welfare. Advance Access: DOI:10.1080/17496535.2012.703683
- Bond, C.S, Ahmed, O.H., Hind, M., Thomas, B., Hewitt-Taylor, J. (2013) The Conceptual and Practical Ethical Dilemmas of Using Health Discussion Board Posts as Research Data, Journal of Medical Internet Research 15(6):e112) Web address: http://www.jmir.org/2013/6/e112/
- Parker, J. (2008) Email, ethics and data collection in social work research: some reflections from a research project, Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate & Practice, 4(1): 75-83.
- Hundley, V., Cheyne, H.C., Bland, J.M., Styles, M., Barnett, C.A. (2010) So you want to conduct a cluster randomised controlled trial? Lessons from a national cluster trial of early labour, Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 16: 632-638
- Helmreich, R.J., Hundley, V., Norman, A., Ighedosa, J., Chow, E. (2007) Research in pregnant women: the challenges of informed consent, Nursing for Women’s Health 11(6): 576-585.
- Parker, J., Penhale, B., Stanley, D., (2010). Problem or safeguard? Research ethics review in social care research and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Social Care & Neurodisability, 1(2): 22-32.
- Parker, J., Penhale, B., Stanley, D. (2011) Research ethics review: social care and social science research and the Mental Capacity Act 2005, Ethics & Social Welfare, 5(4): 380-400.
The research*eu results magazine published by the Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) is looking for European projects to feature in its publications. Research*eu results is published 10 times a year, featuring results from the most successful EU-funded research and development projects. The magazine covers projects in Biology and Medicine, Social Sciences and Humanities, Energy and transport, Environment and society, IT and telecommunications, Industrial technologies, and Space.
If you have a completed EU-funded project and would like to get your results published please contact the CORDIS editorial team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Priority is given to those projects which have resulted in the development of a new technology with potential for commercialisation over the next few years, or in potentially game-changing research for a specific field of science.
Focus groups in open air in rural Nepal, (c) Sheetal Sharma
Congratulations to Sheetal Sharma, postgraduate student in the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH) whose latest paper on the process of the research in her PhD fieldwork was accepted today by the Journal of Asian Midwives . Sheetal used an innovative mixed-methods evaluation which was applied to a long-running maternity intervention in rural Nepal. The intervention has been supported for nearly seven years by Green Tara Trust, a Buddhist charity based in London. Sheetal’s supervisors are supervisors are Prof. Vanora Hundley, Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen, Dr. Catherine Angell (all in CMMPH) and Prof. Padam Simkhada, who is Visiting Faculty in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences and based at Liverpool John Moores University.
This paper is part of a larger body of health research work conducted by CMMPH in Nepal.
Sharma, S., Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E., Stephens J, Hundley, V., Angell, C. (2017) Evaluation of Maternity Care Intervention in Rural Nepal: Lessons learnt, Journal of Asian Midwives (accepted Jan. 2017).
Bournemouth University has been working on a small research project with Pourakhi, a voluntary organisation which helps female migrant workers returning to Nepal, for over a year. Pourakhi advocates for the rights of women migrant workers. Last week they invited me to present a workshop session on Academic Writing & Publishing, this morning I run such workshop. The content of the workshop is based on years of experience of running similar workshops at Bournemouth University, many Higher Education colleges across Nepal and a COST-funded workshop in Malta a few years ago. The eight people (staff and volunteers) who attended the workshop were generally inquisitive and keen to get their work into print. Most of the paper we have written about aspects of academic writing and the publishing process have been published in Open Access journals. [1-8] Therefore, we can easily give workshop attendees copies and/or give them the links to the online version on the web.
Prof Edwin van Teijlingen
- Hundley V, van Teijlingen E, Simkhada P (2013) Academic authorship: who, why and in what order? Health Renaissance 11 (2):98-101 www.healthrenaissance.org.np/uploads/Download/vol-11-2/Page_99_101_Editorial.pdf
- Pitchforth E, Porter M, Teijlingen van E, et al. (2005) Writing up & presenting qualitative research in family planning & reproductive health care, J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care 31(2): 132-135.
- Simkhada P, van Teijlingen E, Hundley V. (2013) Writing an academic paper for publication, Health Renaissance 11 (1):1-5. www.healthrenaissance.org.np/uploads/Pp_1_5_Guest_Editorial.pdf
- van Teijlingen, E., Ireland, J., Hundley, V., Simkhada, P., Sathian, B. (2014) Finding the right title for your article: Advice for academic authors, Nepal J Epidemiol 4(1): 344-347.
- van Teijlingen, E., Hundley, V., Bick, D. (2014) Who should be an author on your academic paper? Midwifery 30: 385-386.
- van Teijlingen, E, Simkhada PP, Rizyal A (2012) Submitting a paper to an academic peer-reviewed journal, where to start? (Guest Editorial) Health Renaissance 10 (1): 1-4.
- van Teijlingen, E, Simkhada. PP, Simkhada, B, Ireland J. (2012) The long & winding road to publication, Nepal J Epidemiol 2(4): 213-215 http://nepjol.info/index.php/NJE/article/view/7093/6388
- Hall, J., Hundley, V., van Teijlingen, E. (2015) The journal editor: friend or foe? Women & Birth 28(2): e26-e29.
Yesterday we meet in Kathmandu with colleagues working for Pourakhi. Pourakhi is a charity, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), that helps to advocate for the rights of women who returned to Nepal after migrating for employment. The name Pourakhi, which means self-reliant in Nepali, represents the idea that the organisation is largely run and supported by Nepali women who had migrated abroad for employment.
Globalization and trade liberation have opened up opportunities in the international labour market for women in Nepal. Lack of job opportunity in Nepal and poverty have put a growing demand on women to economically support their family. This means many Nepali women are leaving the country to work abroad. In doing so they contribute to the economic prosperity of their families and also in the poverty alleviation of their country through remittances. However, working abroad comes at a cost, as it is not always easy, especially for women.
The Faculty of Health & Social Sciences at Bournemouth University (Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen) and Liverpool John Moores University (Prof. Padam Simkhada, who is also Visiting Faculty at FHSS) have been working with Pourakhi over the past years and half. The main aim of this collaboration is to set up a proper database of women who return to Nepal, based on paper records collected by Pourakhi and use this data to publish academic papers and reports on the issue. The first academic paper based on data collected up to 2014 has already been submitted.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
Today saw the publication of a new methods paper by Dr. Sarah Collard, post-doctoral researcher in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences (FHSS) and Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen in the academic journal Health Prospect. This new paper addressed some of the key methodological issues associated with Internet-based Focus Groups (FGs) or the so-called Online Focus Group Discussions . Traditional face-to-face FG discussions are a popular qualitative research method used a wide-range of areas, such as political sciences, marketing, health service research and sociology to name but a few disciplines. More recently, internet-based FGs have grown in popularity due to the growth of: (a) the internet, both in terms of technical capacity and number of users; and (b) the improved quality of communication software (e.g. Skype). This paper highlights some of the strengths and weaknesses of conducting FGs online. Building on our experience of conducting traditional and internet-based FGs.
Dr. Sarah Collard is affiliated with BU’s Centre for Qualitative Research (CQR). Health Prospect is an Open Access journal therefore this article is freely available to any reader across the globe.
- Collard, S., van Teijlingen, E. (2016) Online focus group: New approaches to an ‘old’ research method, Health Prospect 15(3):4-7.
At the very end of December, one more academic paper on maternity care in Nepal from the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal and Neonatal Health (CMMPH). Our latest paper ‘The uptake of skilled birth attendants’ services in rural Nepal: A qualitative study’ was published today in the Journal of Asian Midwives . The paper is co-authored with colleagues from London Metropolitan University, and is the third in a series based on the PhD project of the first author Dr. Yuba Raj Baral [1-3]. The Journal of Asian Midwives is an Open Access journal hence the paper is freely available across the globe.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
- Baral, YR., Lyons, K., van Teijlingen, ER., Skinner, J., (2016) The uptake of skilled birth attendants’ services in rural Nepal: A qualitative study, Journal of Asian Midwives 3(2): 7-25.
- Baral, YR, Lyons, K., Skinner, J, van Teijlingen, ER (2012) Maternal health services utilisation in Nepal: Progress in the new millennium? Health Science Journal 6(4): 618-633. www.hsj.gr/volume6/issue4/644.pdf
- Baral, Y.R, Lyons, K., Skinner, J, van Teijlingen, E. (2010) Determinants of skilled birth attendants for delivery in Nepal Kathmandu University Medical Journal 8(3): 325-332. http://www.kumj.com.np/issue/31/325-332.pdf
Many prestigious newspapers across the globe re-published a very interesting Associate Press article called ‘At soaring rate, Nepalis seeking jobs abroad come home dead’ on the plight of Nepali migrant workers in countries such as Malaysia, Korea, India and the Middle East. This article cited our co-author Nirmal Aryal who is a Nepali researcher based in New Zealand. This newspaper piece also quoted our recent paper ‘Injury and Mortality in Young Nepalese Migrant Workers: A Call for Public Health Action’, which was published earlier this year in the Asian-Pacific Journal of Public Health . This scientific journal has an Impact Factor of 1.72
We have received email message and tweets from colleagues and friends who spotted this article in newspapers in the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand (NZ), Taiwan, Nepal, India and many more countries as well as on several news websites. The article was sighted in North American papers such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Billings Gazette, Dothan Eagle, The Daily Times, The Roanoke Times, Union Times, The Daily Courier, The Journal Times, Medicine Hat News. and many more. Whilst in Britain the article can be found on the webpages of the Mail Online. In the Philippines the piece is on Inquirer.net
Elsewhere we were alerted to The Hindustan Times in India, which is incidently one of the few papers that changed the original title of the Associated Press piece to ‘Mysterious deaths: Nepalis working abroad come back home in caskets’. Furthermore, as our colleague Nirmal Aryal is based in NZ it is not surprising that several newspaper there reported on the issue: The New Zealand Herald, The Dominion Post (NZ), and as expected several English-language daily newspaper in Nepal picked up the story, including The Himalayan Times, and The Kathmandu Post.
It’s a pity that the original Associated Press article only refers to the BU collaborators as ‘colleagues in the United Kingdom’. We have a long-standing interest in the health and well-being of Nepali migrant workers in various host countries. Dr. Pramod Regmi is post-doctoral research fellow in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences (FHSS). He is part of the BU India-HUB, which involves the study of Nepali migrant workers in India. Prof. Padam Simkhada from Liverpool John Moores University is also BU Visiting Faculty in FHSS. Dr. Pratik Adhikary is a recent BU PhD graduate who has published several articles on Nepalis migrant workers [2-3]. Finally, our work on Nepali migrants has also been submitted as a contribution to the BU’s Global Festival of Learning.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen & Dr. Pramod Regmi
Faculty of Health & Social Sciences
- Aryal, N., Regmi, P.R., van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada, P., Adhikary, P., Bhatta, Y.K.D., Mann, S. (2016) Injury and Mortality in Young Nepalese Migrant Workers: A Call for Public Health Action. Asian-Pacific Journal of Public Health 28(8): 703-705. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1010539516668628
- Adhikary, P., Simkhada, P.P., van Teijlingen E., Raja, AE. (2008) Health & Lifestyle of Nepalese Migrants in the UK BMC International Health & Human Rights 8(6). Web address: biomedcentral.com/1472-698X/8/6.
- Adhikary P., Keen S., van Teijlingen, E (2011) Health Issues among Nepalese migrant workers in Middle East. Health Science Journal 5: 169-175. hsj.gr/volume5/issue3/532.pdf
Some months ago Andy Nobes asked my colleague Prof. Padam Simkhada and I if we could write a blog about why we had so many papers in freely available online journals in Nepal. Andy is the Programme Officer, Research Development & Support at INASP, which is an international development charity based in Oxford working with a global network of partners in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
We had a whole range of immediate answers to Andy’s question, including ones like: we both love Nepal; we are on the editorial board of a few journals that are part of the NepJOL group; and editors invite us to submit articles and/or editorials. Moreover, we feel reasons for Open Access publishing are very similar to our key reasons for working in a low-income country like Nepal. These principles are (a) conducting applied academic research in low-income countries for the greater good; (b) helping to build research-capacity; and (c) telling the world about our research through quality academic publications. This week saw the publication of our blog ‘Publishing in journals of the NepJOL family’ on the AuthorAid website, click here to read the post.
Edwin van Teijlingen, Professor of Reproductive Health Research at Bournemouth University and Padam Simkhada, Professor of International Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University and BU Visiting Faculty.
It is always nice to receive some good news just before Christmas. The journal BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth informed us that our paper ‘“Is it realistic?” the portrayal of pregnancy and childbirth in the media’ was in the top three most popular papers . This interdisciplinary paper crosses the boundaries between the study of maternity care & midwifery, sociology of health & illness, and that of the media. With BU’s Dr. Ann Luce as first author, it is one of the top three accessed articles of nearly 400 articles published in 2016 (as of Dec 16th).
- Luce, A., Cash, M., Hundley, V., Cheyne, H., van Teijlingen, E., Angell, C., (2016) “Is it realistic?” the portrayal of pregnancy and childbirth in the media BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth 16: 40 http://bmcpregnancychildbirth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12884-016-0827-x
Congratulations to Dr. Pramod Regmi in FHSS on the publication of the editorial ‘Need and Scope of Global Partnership on Public Health Research’ published this week.  As a global partnership, it is our intention to make a tangible impact upon major public health challenges, whilst strengthening the participating institutions in a sustainable manner. Our collaboration came to a consensus on a number of priority research areas, based on our strengths and collective experience and on our knowledge of the key global issues for the next decades (Table 1). The paper is led by BU Visiting Faculty Prof. Padam Simkhada and co-authored by another BU Visiting Faculty Dr. Bibha Simkhada. The editorial is in an Open Access journal hence freely available to any researcher or practitioner (or policy maker) with internet-access in our collaborating countries.
Table 1 : Key areas of research focus of the consortium
- Reproductive, maternal and child health
- Rural and urban comparisons (Equity and health)
- Environment and health
- Health systems and health workforce
- Health, lifestyle and substance use
- Non-Communicable Diseases
- Preventable road traffic injuries and safety
- Simkhada, P., Poudel, A.N., Simkhada, B., Sumnall, H., Jones, L., Bista, S., McVeigh, J., Gaidhane, A., Zahiruddin, Q.S., Chowdhury, M.E., Bhuiyan, M.B.A.S., Iliyasu, Z., Pant, P.R., Kurmi, O., Hill, R., van Teijlingen, E., Regmi, P. (2016) Need and Scope of Global Partnership on Public Health Research, The Journal of Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Sciences University 11(3): 260-262.
Congratulations to Dr. Carol Bond and Dr. Osman Ahmed in FHSS on the publication of their latest academic paper ‘Can I help you? Information sharing in online discussion forums by people living with a long-term condition’ . Further congratulations are due to Osman who recently had three other papers accepted for publication [2-4].
Prof Edwin van Teijlingen
- Bond, C., Ahmed, O., 2016. Can I help you? Information sharing in online discussion forums by people living with a long-term condition. Journal of Innovation in Health Informatics, 23 (3).
- West L.R., Griffin , S., Weiler, R., Ahmed,O. 2016 Management of concussion in disability sport: a different ball game? British Journal of Sports Medicine doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-096767
- “Educating the masses: Suggestions for improving online concussion information via the mainstream media” in Concussion (not available online yet)
- “Do Neurocognitive SCAT3 Baseline Test Scores Differ Between Footballers (Soccer) Living With and Without Disability? A Cross-Sectional Study” in Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine (not yet available online)
Prof. Mark Reed
A fortnight ago Prof Mark Reed, Professor of Socio-Technical Innovation at Newcastle University and the man behind Fast Track Impact, tweeted some thoughts on how to write a 4* paper for the REF. He went on to explain his thinking in more detail in a guest post on the Research Fundementals blog, the post is published here with the authors permission.
How do you write a 4* paper for the Research Excellence Framework (REF)? It is a question I’ve asked myself with some urgency since the Stern Review shredded my REF submission by not allowing me to bring my papers with me this year to my new position at Newcastle University.
Obviously the answer is going to differ depending on your discipline, but I think there are a few simple things that everyone can do to maximize their chances of getting a top graded research output.
I’m going to start with the assumption that you’ve actually done original, significant and rigorous work – if you haven’t then there is no point in reading any further. However, as I am increasingly asked to pre-review papers for colleagues across a range of disciplines, I am seeing examples of people who write up work as a 2* or 3* paper that has the potential to get a better score. I should point out that I believe that there is an important role for 1* and 2* papers, and that I regularly write these on purpose to address a problem of national significance and frame it for the specific, narrow audience that is likely to be able to benefit most from my work. However, whether I like it or not, as a Professor in a research-intensive University, there is an expectation that I will be submitted as a 4* researcher, which means I need a few 4* papers as well.
You can see some more detailed thoughts on what I think makes 4* for different types of paper in this Tweet:
As you’ll see from the discussion under that tweet though, my more detailed thoughts probably only apply to Units of Assessment across panels A-C, and probably isn’t relevant to the arts and humanities.
Having said this, I think there are a number of things we can all do to maximize the chances of our work being viewed favourably by REF panelists.
- Write to the criteria: when I was learning to drive, my instructor told me that in the test I should make sure I moved my head when I was looking in the rear view mirror, to make sure the examiner noticed I was using my mirrors. We’re all used to writing to the criteria of funding calls, and in fact we are all perfectly used to writing papers to the criteria of our target journals. In the last REF, research outputs were judged against three criteria: originality, significance and rigour. Whatever the interpretation of these criteria in your discipline, have you made it explicit to REF panelists reading your work exactly what is original, and why it is so original? Have you explained and effectively justified the significance of your work? And have you included evidence that your methods, analysis and interpretation is rigorous, even if you have to use supplementary material to include extra detail about your methods and data to get around journal word limits?
- Get REF feedback before you submit your work for publication: find out who is going to be reviewing research outputs for REF internally within your Unit of Assessment at your institution and ask them to review your work before you submit it. They may be able to make recommendations about how you might improve the paper in light of the REF criteria. Sometimes a little bit of extra work on the framing of your research in relation to wider contexts and issues can help articulate the significance of your work, and with additional reading and thinking, you may be able to position your work more effectively in relation to previous work to demonstrate its originality more clearly. Adding a few extra details to your methods and results may re-assure readers and reviewers that your approach is indeed rigorous. This is not just about doing world-leading research; it is about demonstrating to the world that your work is indeed world-leading. For me, these criteria are nothing new and are worth paying attention to, whether or not we are interested in REF. Meeting these three criteria will increase the chances that you get through peer-review and will increase the likelihood that your work gets cited.
- Analyse and discuss good practice in your own area: the only way to really “get your eye in” for REF is to actually look at examples of good and poor practice in your own area. Below, I’ve described how you can design an exercise to do this with your colleagues. You can do it yourself and learn a lot, but from my own experience, you learn a lot more by doing this as a discussion exercise with colleagues who work in your area. If you can, take notes from your discussion and try and distill some of the key lessons, so you can learn collectively as a group and more effectively review and support each others’ work.
How to organize a discussion to work out what makes a 4* paper in your area:
- Identify top scoring institutions for your Unit of Assessment (UOA): download the REF2014 results, filter for your UOA (columns E or F), then filter so it only shows you the outputs (column J), and then filter for 4* (column L), showing only the institutions from your UOA that had the highest percentage of 4* outputs. Now for those institutions, look across the table (columns L-P) to see which has the highest proportion of outputs at either 3* or 4*. For example, an institution may have 80% of its outputs graded at 4* and 15% graded at 3*, meaning that 95% of its outputs were graded at 3-4*
- Download a selection of papers from the top scoring institutions: go to your UOA on the REF website, find and click on the institutions you’ve identified in step 1, under “view submission data”, click on “research outputs”, copy and paste output titles into Google Scholar (or your search engine of choice) and download the articles. You may want to select outputs randomly, or you may want to go through more selectively, identifying outputs that are close to the areas your group specialize in
- Repeat for low scoring institutions so you can compare and contrast high and low scoring outputs
- Discuss examples: print copies of the high and low scoring outputs, labeled clearly, and in your next UOA meeting, let everyone choose a high and a low-scoring example. Given them 10-15 minutes to quickly read the outputs (focusing on title, abstract, introduction, figures and conclusions so you’re not there all day) and then ask the group (or small groups if there are many of you) to discuss the key factors that they think distinguish between high and low scoring outputs. Get your group(s) to distill the key principles that they think are most useful and disseminate these more widely to the group, so that anyone who wasn’t present can benefit.
It would be great if I could tell you that these are my “three easy ways to get a 4* paper” but doing work that is genuinely original, significant and rigorous is far from easy. If you have done work that is of the highest quality though, I hope that the ideas I’ve suggested here will help you get the credit you deserve for the great research you’ve done.
Congratulations to BU Professor Emerita Immy Holloway and FHSS (Faculty of Health & Social Sciences) Visiting Faculty Professor Kathleen Galvin on the publication of the latest edition of Qualitative Research in Nursing and Healthcare . This new edition offers insights into both the abstract ideas in qualitative research and its practical procedures. Structured into four sections, the new edition looks at the initial stages, methods of data collection, qualitative approaches and analysis of collected data. Professor Galvin is Professor of Nursing Practice in the College of Life, Health & Physical Sciences, at the University of Brighton. Both Immy Holloway and Kate Galvin are affiliated with BU’s Centre for Qualitative Research (CQR), the longest running research centre in FHSS.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
- Holloway I & Galvin K. (2017) Qualitative Research in Nursing and Healthcare. Wiley-Blackwell 4th ed.
Congratulations to James Gavin, Tikki Immins and Thomas Wainwright on the publication of their systematic review: ‘Stair negotiation as a rehabilitation intervention for enhancing recovery following total hip and knee replacement surgery‘.
Gavin, J., Immins, T., Wainwright, T. (2016). Stair negotiation as a rehabilitation intervention for enhancing recovery following total hip and knee replacement surgery. Int J Orthop Trauma Nurs. Available online October 2016