Tagged / ref

How to Write a 4* Article

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.

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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.

  1. 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?
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

Stern review of the REF – what next?

ref-logoThe Stern review of the REF was published in July 2016. The government have accepted the main recommendations, and we are expecting in November a HEFCE technical consultation on implementation – to affect the next REF exercise (probably in 2021). It is expected that the new arrangements will be settled by the summer of 2017.

So what did Stern recommend – and what is likely to be in the consultation?

  1. The main thing that Stern might have done, but did not do – following widespread concern in the sector – was move to a metrics-based approach for the REF. Peer review and case studies will remain and there will be an opportunity to celebrate success wherever it is found in the REF – not a metrics based ranking. There may be new metrics, and a new Forum for Responsible Research Metrics has been launched, but the key is that these metrics should be used responsibly and carefully.
  2. All research active staff should be returned in the REF (and allocated to a unit of assessment).
  3. Outputs should be submitted at Unit of Assessment level with a set average number per FTE, but with flexibility for some faculty members to submit more and others less than the average. A total cap should be set based upon two outputs on average per FTE with an individual cap (e.g. six) and a minimum per FTE (potentially 0).
    There has been some concern expressed about these changes – Maddalaine Ansell (University Alliance) via Wonkhe and James Wilsdon in The Guardian, 29th July 2016. At BU, our strategy is that all academic staff should be active in research as part of Fusion, so we will not be moving towards teaching only contracts. We hope the sector will not do so either – we will consider pressing for all staff to be included and remove any risks around the definition of “research active” to avoid this
  1. The total number of outputs per UoA should be adjusted so that it does not significantly exceed the 190,000 reviewed in REF2014. This may require the average number of outputs submitted per faculty member to be below two.
  2. Outputs should not be portable. The review proposes that outputs should be submitted by the HEI where the output was demonstrably generated and that work should be allocated to the HEI where they were based when work accepted for publication. There may be some flexibility around maximum numbers when staff have moved- e.g. maximum three outputs from those who have left.
    Concern has been expressed that this will restrict employment options for early career researchers, e.g. Paul Kirby. James Wilsdon again “the broader move to reduce output numbers and decouple them from individuals should reduce pressure on those at the start of their career, or who take time out of research because of childcare, illness or caring responsibilities” Other views: – it might be fairer to early career researchers who will be recruited on potential not previous publications
  1. Institutions should be given more flexibility to showcase their interdisciplinary and collaborative impacts by submitting institutional level impact case studies
  2. Impact should be based on research of demonstrable quality. However, case studies could be linked to a research activity and a body of work as well as to a broad range of research outputs
  3. Guidance on the REF should make it clear that impact case studies should not be narrowly interpreted, need not solely focus on socioeconomic impacts but should also include impact on government policy, public engagement and understanding, cultural life, academic impacts outside the field and impacts on teaching – the report recommends that research leading to impact on curricula and/ or pedagogy should be included. BU welcomes these changes and we look forward to seeing more details of these plans.

So watch this space – once the consultation is launched the Research and Knowledge Exchange team will be working with the policy team to prepare a BU response. You can read more about BU’s policy and public affairs work on our intranet pages.

What makes good evidence of research impact?

Bokani Tshidzu

Bokani Tshidzu

Join us on Friday 27 May at 12.00 to find out how to evidence impact from research in a session by Bokani Tshidzu, Chief Operating Officer of impact consultancy Vertigo Ventures.

The session will outline the types of impact evidence that researchers can collect and online tools that can be used to gather this data. Attendees have an opportunity to consider the stakeholders involved in their research and find out how best to collect evidence of impact from different groups. There will also be a chance to find out more about the types of high-scoring evidence that was used in each panel during the last REF.

Book your place via Eventbrite

The session will take place in Kimmeridge House (KG03) Talbot campus from 12.00 – 14.00.  Light refreshments will be provided but please feel free to bring your lunch along.

impact wordle 3
This session forms part of a series of research impact seminars and workshops, organised by RKEO to explore the various pathways to achieving societal and economic impact.  Within the series, attendees will explore methods for effectively engaging a variety of research users throughout the research process, and develop new ways to plan, deliver and evidence impact.

 

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

How did research fare in the BIS funding letter to HEFCE?

The HEFCE grant letter (sent from BIS to HEFCE) for funding in 2016-17 was published on 4th March and contains some information on RKE funding that you may find of interest.

ref-logoREF

  • HEFCE is asked to take account of the Stern Review outcomes in developing proposals for the next REF, which should be completed by the end of 2021. This suggests submission will be in autumn 2020.
  • Open access and open data continue to be priorities.

 

moneyResearch funding

  • The letter reaffirms the Government’s commitment to the dual support system.
  • It confirms that the science and research budget will be ring-fenced.
  • Mainstream QR will continue to be allocated based on selective funding of world-leading and internationally excellent research with impact wherever it is found.
  • Funding will continue to be available for PGRs and leverging external funding from the charitable and business sectors (current RDP Supervision, QR Charity Support Element, and QR Business Support Element funding).
  • An additional £400m will be allocated via the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund through to 2021.

 

Research Councils

  • The letter states the Government is taking forward the recommendation from the Nurse Review that the seven councils are brought together under Research UK.

 

HEIF

  • The Government recognises the important role of HEIF and expects HEFCE to introduce a long-term methodology for allocating HEIF funding in future.
  • In the meantime, HEFCE will maintain HEIF allocations at current levels with a continued focus on outcomes-based funding approaches.

 

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You can access the full letter here: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/news/newsarchive/2016/Name,107598,en.html

 

Stern review of the REF – contributions welcome

ref-logoBIS have initiated a review of the Research Excellence Framework (REF), chaired by the President of the British Academy, Lord Nicholas Stern.

The review aims to ensure that future university research funding:

  • is allocated more efficiently;
  • offers greater rewards for excellent research; and,
  • reduces the administrative burden on institutions.

The call for evidence was published on 28 January and BU will be submitting an institutional response to the review. You are invited to contribute to this response.

The call for evidence, question set and timeline are available on the I-drive: I:\R&KEO\Public\Stern Review of the REF

If you wish to contribute, use the ‘questions’ document to frame your responses. The internal deadline for sending your feedback to Julie Northam is Wednesday 17 February. The draft response will be discussed by the REF Committee on 29 February, and the final draft shared with UET on 10 March.

When considering your responses please bear in mind Bournemouth University’s response to the green paper on HE which contained similar questions on the future shape of the REF. You may find it helpful to consider other responses to the green paper to understand the range in perspectives provided by institutions and groups. You can search for responses online. Suggested responses you may wish to read include:

I look forward to receiving your feedback and suggestions. Any queries, please let me know.

Julie

Nominations invited from ECRs to join the REF Circumstances Board

ECRsThe BU REF Circumstances Board has been established to oversee the individual staff circumstances process for the post-2014 REF exercise. This includes:

  • determining whether individual staff circumstances submitted by BU academics meet the REF eligibility requirements;
  • verifying the evidence provided;
  • calculating the reduction in outputs using the methodology set out in the REF guidance documentation and the ECU case studies;
  • contributing to BU’s culture of equality and diversity.

ref-logoThe Board is chaired by a Senior HR Manager with support from the Equality and Diversity Adviser and a member of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Office. These post-holders will be selected based on their prior knowledge and expertise in individual staff circumstances and equality and diversity issues. Membership will also include three academics and an early career researcher (ECR).

We are now seeking expressions of interest from ECRs who are interested in joining the Circs Board. Successful applicants will be required to attend meetings of the BU REF Circumstances Board (schedule tbc, but likely to be one or two meetings per year), be aware of the REF guidance and regulations, undertake equality and diversity training, and promote a positive culture of equality and diversity at BU. We therefore ask for your commitment, active contribution and, most importantly, confidentiality due to the sensitive work of the Board. In return you will be involved in an important cross-University committee, gain an insight into the REF and equality a diversity (both highly topical issues in the sector), and be engaged in academic citizenship.

Nomination procedure:

The vacant roles on the BU REF Circumstances Board are:

  • 1 x early career researcher (ECR) representative

Anyone interested should submit an expression of interest stating your interest in equality and diversity, why you think equality and diversity is important for the REF and why your involvement would strengthen the BU REF Circumstances Board (max 300 words). Your nomination should state your name, job title and Faculty.

The deadline for expressions of interest is Friday 29th January 2016. Nominations should be emailed to Julie Northam, Head of Research and Knowledge Exchange (jnortham@bournemouth.ac.uk).

Eligibility:

Applications are invited from any BU staff member on an academic contract, however, you must be independent from REF preparations (for example, applicants cannot be UOA Leaders, impact champions or output champions).

ECRs in this context are defined as members of staff who started their careers as independent researchers on or after 1 August 2015. In line with the REF guidance, an individual is deemed to have started their career as an independent researcher from the point at which:

  1. They held a contract of employment which included a primary employment function of undertaking ‘research’ or ‘teaching and research’, and
  2. They undertook independent research, for example, leading or acting as principal investigator or equivalent on a research grant or significant piece of research work.

If you have any queries, please speak with Julie Northam in the first instance.

REF review to be led by Lord Stern of Brentford

Lord SternSummary from press release:

The HE green paper (Fulfilling our potential: teaching excellence, social mobility and student choice) and the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review, both released in November 2015, mentioned that there would be a review UK research funding and the REF as a mechanism for allocating funding. Further information about this review was released on 16 December 2015 in a press release from Jo Johnson, Universities and Science Minister (Government launches review to improve university research funding). The aim of the review is to reduce the burden and cost to universities and government that has become associated with preparing for, and submitting to, the REF, therefore ensuring the government gets the most return for its investment.

The review will be chaired by the President of the British Academy and former World Bank Chief Economist Lord Nicholas Stern. He will be assisted by a high-level steering group of academic experts, including the Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, Professor Julia King, and the Past President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, Professor Sir John Tooke.

Lord Stern commented: “Research assessment should not unwittingly introduce incentives for perverse behaviour, nor should it be overly burdensome. Excellence, properly defined, must remain the central basis for allocating support and funding for research. We will explore ways in which a simpler, lighter-touch, system for the REF might be developed.”

ref-logoThe review aims to:

1. Investigate different approaches to the evaluation of UK higher education research performance which can encourage and strengthen the emphasis on delivering excellent research and impact, while simplifying and reducing the administrative burden on the HE sector.

2. Draw on the evidence from the evaluation of REF2014 and consider other models of research performance assessment, which could provide robust means of informing future research funding allocations.
3. Provide options for future iterations of the REF focusing on a simpler, lighter-touch method of research assessment, that more effectively uses data and metrics while retaining the benefits of peer review. The review should ensure that a future process identifies and supports excellent research across the UK, including dynamic changes in research quality and emerging areas of research excellence, retains the frequency of approach of the current REF arrangements (at 5-6 year cycle) and secures the confidence of the HE/academic sector.

The full terms of reference for the review, including membership of the steering group, are available here: REF review terms of reference.

The outcome is due to be delivered in summer 2016.

 

Comments from the sector:

russell group logoUnsurprisingly many of the criticisms of the review have focused on the membership of the nine-member steering committee which includes seven academics and vice-chancellors from UK universities, all but one from members of the Russell Group. There are also no representatives from Wales, Northern Ireland or the funding councils and only one university in Scotland. Lord Stern defended the committee membership, saying he had looked for panel members from a “range of subjects” and for “people who are outstanding”. “Outstanding people are necessary to recognise excellence,” he said. “They are of the highest intellectual quality” and had experience in “running things”. The panel was not meant to be “a parliament of universities”, he said, but added that “we want to hear from everybody” about the future of the REF.

There have also been murmurings that the REF already offers a good return on investment, with costs estimated to only be 2.4% of the total funds its results will inform. If this is the case then is it even posible or desirable to reduce costs further?

The THE labelled Lord Stern as a ‘REF sceptic’, quoting a joint letter he wrote with Sir Paul Nurse in which he asked: “Have criteria of quality become too narrow and formulaic in some subjects? Are researchers feeling pressured to adopt short-term horizons and a narrow focus, and chasing publication rather than following their own judgements on which are the most fruitful avenues for research and most likely to yield major outcomes?” He also questioned whether the impact element of the REF was “insufficiently deep and broad”. The letter added: “is the REF incentivisation of universities to hire stars in the closing months, like an imminent transfer deadline in the Premier League, really a way to build a long-term scholarly department?”.

The suggestion of a more metrics-based approach is concerning, especially taking into account the recommendations in the Metric Tide report (July 2015) that concluded that metrics are not yet sufficiently robust to replace peer review or to be relied upon any more than they were in REF 2014.

Lord Stern defended the review, saying there was no “foregone conclusion” about the results, despite the HE green paper and CSR presuming it would lead to changes to the REF system. Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group said that the Russell Group was supportive of the review but would be concerned if it resulted in any dilution of the REF’s rigour and international reputation.

 

Further reading:

THE – Lord Stern review: no ‘foregone conclusions’ about future of REF, 22 December 2015

THE – REF sceptic to lead review into research assessment, 16 December 2015

Russell Group – Stern review of research funding, 16 December 2015

Times – Prove research is useful or lose funds, universities are told, 16 December 2015

University Alliance – University Alliance responds to the announcement of Stern Review of university research funding, 16 December 2015

Nominations invited from academics to join the BU REF Circumstances Board

ref logoThe BU REF Circumstances Board has been established to oversee the individual staff circumstances process for the post-2014 REF exercise. This includes:

  • determining whether individual staff circumstances submitted by BU academics meet the REF eligibility requirements;
  • verifying the evidence provided;
  • calculating the reduction in outputs using the methodology set out in the REF guidance documentation and the ECU case studies;
  • contributing to BU’s culture of equality and diversity.

The Board is chaired by a HR Manager with support from the Equality and Diversity Adviser and a member of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Office. These post-holders will be selected based on their prior knowledge and expertise in individual staff circumstances and equality and diversity issues. Membership will also include two academics and an early career researcher (ECR).

We are now seeking expressions of interest from academics who are interested in joining the Circs Board. Successful applicants will be required to attend meetings of the BU REF Circumstances Board (schedule tbc, but likely to be one or two meetings per year), ensure they are aware of the REF guidance and regulations, undertake equality and diversity training, and promote a positive culture of equality and diversity at BU. We therefore ask for your commitment, active contribution and, most importantly, confidentiality due to the sensitive work of the Board. In return you will be involved in an important cross-University committee, gain an insight into the REF and equality a diversity (both highly topical issues in the sector), and be engaged in academic citizenship.

Nomination procedure:

The vacant roles on the BU REF Circumstances Board are:

  • 2 x academic representatives
  • 1 x early career researcher (ECR) representative

Anyone interested should submit an expression of interest stating your interest in equality and diversity, why you think equality and diversity is important for the REF and why your involvement would strengthen the BU REF Circumstances Board (max 300 words). You must also state whether you are applying to be an academic member or an ECR. Your nomination should state your name, job title and Faculty.

The deadline for expressions of interest is Friday 11th December 2015. Nominations should be emailed to Julie Northam, Head of Research and Knowledge Exchange (jnortham@bournemouth.ac.uk).

Expressions of interest will be reviewed by a panel of reviewers who are responsible for agreeing on which applicants to invite to serve on the BU REF Circumstances Board.

Eligibility:

Applications are invited from any BU staff member on an academic contract, however, you must be independent from REF preparations (for example, applicants cannot be UOA Leaders, impact champions or output champions).

ECRs in this context are defined as members of staff who started their careers as independent researchers on or after 1 August 2015. In line with the REF guidance, an individual is deemed to have started their career as an independent researcher from the point at which:

  1. They held a contract of employment which included a primary employment function of undertaking ‘research’ or ‘teaching and research’, and
  2. They undertook independent research, for example, leading or acting as principal investigator or equivalent on a research grant or significant piece of research work.

 

If you have any queries, please speak with Julie Northam in the first instance.

CSR – highlights for research and KE

george osborneOn Wednesday the government outlined their plans for spending over the next five years in the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) and Autumn Statement. The main points in relation to research and KE are:

Research councils:

  • The Nurse Review recommendations will be implemented (see an overview of the recommendations here).
  • Subject to legislation, the government will introduce a new body – Research UK – which will work across the seven Research Councils.
  • Innovate UK with remain and will be integrated into Research UK.

 

Budget:

  • The BIS budget will be cut by 17% (£2.2bn).
  • The science budget will be protected in real terms.
  • This includes a new £1.5 billion Global Challenges fund to ensure UK science takes the lead in addressing the problems faced by developing countries whilst developing our ability to deliver cutting-edge research

 

Research Excellence Framework:

  • The government will take forward a review of the Research Excellence Framework in order to examine how to simplify and strengthen funding on the basis of excellence, and will set out further details shortly.

 

Funding, priorities and investments:

Health and social care:

  • £5bn more to be invested in Health Research, key priorities being the genomes project, anti-microbial resistance and tackling malaria.
  • £600m additional funding will be available for mental health.
  • £150m will be invested in launching a competition for a Dementia Institute with the remit of tackling the progression of the disease.
  • Women’s Health charities/sector will be invested in, as will military charities.

Science and technology:

  • £1bn will be invested in energy research, with a key priority being the reduction in costs of low carbon energy.
  • Defence budget will be increased from £34bn to £40bn – emphasis will be on new equipment, capabilities and fighting cybercrime.
  • Investment in a new Cyber Innovation Centre in Cheltenham to supporting cyber excellence across south west.

Arts, sports and culture:

  • Arts and culture budget will be protected and £1bn will be invested.
  • The Arts Council will be invested in.
  • Funding in UK Sport will be increased in run up to the Olympic Games in Rio.

Knowledge exchange / enterprise:

  • £12bn invested in local growth fund.
  • 26 Enterprise Zones to be created including 15 in towns and rural areas. Two new zones are planned for the south west region.
  • Innovate UK will remain but based on a grant system with £165m in loans will be on offer. It will be integrated into Research UK (overarching body of the Research Councils).
  • Funding to Catapult Centres will increase.

Nominations invited from academics to join the BU REF Circumstances Board

ref logoThe BU REF Circumstances Board has been established to oversee the individual staff circumstances process for the post-2014 REF exercise. This includes:

  • determining whether individual staff circumstances submitted by BU academics meet the REF eligibility requirements;
  • verifying the evidence provided;
  • calculating the reduction in outputs using the methodology set out in the REF guidance documentation and the ECU case studies;
  • contributing to BU’s culture of equality and diversity.

The Board is chaired by a HR Manager with support from the Equality and Diversity Adviser and a member of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Office. These post-holders will be selected based on their prior knowledge and expertise in individual staff circumstances and equality and diversity issues. Membership will also include two academics and an early career researcher (ECR).

We are now seeking expressions of interest from academics who are interested in joining the Circs Board. Successful applicants will be required to attend meetings of the BU REF Circumstances Board (schedule tbc, but likely to be one or two meetings per year), ensure they are aware of the REF guidance and regulations, undertake equality and diversity training, and promote a positive culture of equality and diversity at BU. We therefore ask for your commitment, active contribution and, most importantly, confidentiality due to the sensitive work of the Board. In return you will be involved in an important cross-University committee, gain an insight into the REF and equality a diversity (both highly topical issues in the sector), and be engaged in academic citizenship.

Nomination procedure:

The vacant roles on the BU REF Circumstances Board are:

  • 2 x academic representatives
  • 1 x early career researcher (ECR) representative

Anyone interested should submit an expression of interest stating your interest in equality and diversity, why you think equality and diversity is important for the REF and why your involvement would strengthen the BU REF Circumstances Board (max 300 words). You must also state whether you are applying to be an academic member or an ECR. Your nomination should state your name, job title and Faculty.

The deadline for expressions of interest is Friday 11th December 2015. Nominations should be emailed to Julie Northam, Head of Research and Knowledge Exchange (jnortham@bournemouth.ac.uk).

Expressions of interest will be reviewed by a panel of reviewers who are responsible for agreeing on which applicants to invite to serve on the BU REF Circumstances Board.

Eligibility:

Applications are invited from any BU staff member on an academic contract, however, you must be independent from REF preparations (for example, applicants cannot be UOA Leaders, impact champions or output champions).

ECRs in this context are defined as members of staff who started their careers as independent researchers on or after 1 August 2015. In line with the REF guidance, an individual is deemed to have started their career as an independent researcher from the point at which:

  1. They held a contract of employment which included a primary employment function of undertaking ‘research’ or ‘teaching and research’, and
  2. They undertook independent research, for example, leading or acting as principal investigator or equivalent on a research grant or significant piece of research work.

 

If you have any queries, please speak with Julie Northam in the first instance.

EPSRC report on REF case studies

EPSRC logoThe EPSRC have issued a report ‘Investing in excellence, delivering impact for the UK‘, which analysed 1,226 case studies submitted to the REF, which covered a timespan of two decades.  This enabled the EPSRC to explore and understand how their investments have delivered benefits across many areas of the UK economy and society.

They found that over 85% of the impact case studies in engineering and physical sciences involved research and/or researchers who were funded by EPSRC, demonstrating the critical role of the council in supporting excellent research that delivers impact. The impact case studies cite over £1 billion of EPSRC funding coupled with a similar level of funding from other sources including government, EU and industry and provide strong evidence of the high levels of additional investment that EPSRC support can attract.

Please click on the link above to read the full report.

 

 

The HE Green Paper and research – what does it tell us?

green paperNot much. The primary focus is on teaching excellence and social mobility, however, it does reiterate and propose the following about research:

  • Government is committed to the Haldane Principle, and therefore peer review and decisions on funding made by researchers.

 

Dual support system:

  • Government is committed to the retention of the dual support system (allocation of research funding via block grants (currently via the REF) and competitive calls (currently via Research Councils)
  • It is proposed to abolish HEFCE. HEFCE’s current remit in terms of research includes policy development and management of the REF and the allocation of research block grant funding.
  • The Paper provides some options for replacing HEFCE and delivering the dual support system in future:
    • Via separate bodies (as per now, i.e. a replacement for HEFCE’s research function and the Research Councils)
    • Via one overarching body (i.e. one super research body that controls both parts of the dual support system)
  • Neither of these are perfect. With option 1, one could argue that this would cause significant disruption in the sector and achieve no benefits to the current arrangement. With option 2, having one super research body calls into question how the integrity, transparency and fairness of dual support could be maintained?

 

Research Councils:

  • Sir Paul Nurse led a review of the Research Councils in 2015 and this is due to report soon. The Green Paper states that this will be critical in informing the final decisions made about research funding in future.
  • The Triennial Review of the Research Councils 2014 noted a number of efficiencies that could be made to the work process of the councils and the Green Paper proposes that these are addressed.
  • Government wants to ensure that discipline specific leaders remain a key part of the landscape.

 

Research Excellence Framework (REF):

  • The next REF will be held by 2021.
  • The review process itself will be reviewed with the aim of retaining the strengths of the current system (such as peer review), build on the successes (such as impact), and challenge the cost and bureaucracy associated with running such an exercise.
  • There is likely to be a greater emphasis on metrics.
  • There is the suggestion of running two types of REF exercise – a full peer review exercise periodically (e.g. every 6-8 years) with a mini REF held between full exercises (every 3-4 years) for which the focus would very much be on metrics.

 

You can read the full document here: Fulfilling our potential: teaching excellence, social mobility and student choice

The Green paper is open for consultation with the sector until 15 January 2016.

Latest Major Funding Opportunities

The following funding opportunities have been announced. Please follow the links for more information.

Arts and Humanities Research Council, GB

The Arts and Humanities Research Council invites applications for its short-term fellowships at the Harry Ransom Center under the international placement scheme, Fellowships allow the recipient to undertake research at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas. The centre specialises in literature, photography, film, art and the performing arts, and is dedicated to advancing the study of the arts and humanities by acquiring, preserving and making accessible original cultural materials. Applicants must be resident in the UK and be one of the following: doctoral students who are enrolled at an approved UK research organisation and receive AHRC fees or full funding for their PhD; doctoral-level research assistants who have a PhD or equivalent research experience; early-career researchers, who must have a contract of employment with an approved UK research organisation and who may either be within eight years of the award of their PhD or equivalent professional training, or within six years of their first academic appointment. Placements last two to three months and may be taken between 1 September 2016 and 31 May 2017. Fellowships are worth up to £750 towards travel, coverage of visa costs and include a monthly allowance of £1,200. Fellows also receive a shared office space as well as access to the collections, resources, facilities, curators and other scholars at the centre and at the university. Networking and collaborating opportunities are also available.

Maximum award: Not specified. Closing date: 4pm, 21/01/16.

AXA

The AXA Research Fund invites applications for its chairs programme. The scheme aims to create an academic full time position in the host institution and at encourage a step change in the career of the appointed AXA professor, whilst promoting scientific excellence, innovative and groundbreaking research relevant beyond the borders of the institutions geographic location. The focus areas are: environmental risks including climate change, natural hazards and human-driven environmental changes; life risks including ageing, biomedical risks and addictions and risky behaviours; socio-economic risks including geopolitical risks, macro-economic and systematic financial risks, individual and collective behaviours when facing uncertainties and large corporate risks. There are two types of chairs; the AXA chair position, held on a long term basis by an individual chair holder, and the AXA successional chair programme, where the endowment will serve to support a series of temporary short term appointments. The proposed chair holder must have at least 10 years of experience since receiving his or her PhD. The schemes is tenable from five to 30 years and long term partnerships are favoured by the AXA scientific board. The grant for the AXA chair position is €90,000 to €120,000 a year and the successional chair grant is €80,000 to €90,000 a year. Funding is expected to cover salary for the chair holder, but can also be used on PhD and postdoc expenses, equipment and costs incurred while attending academic and public engagement activities.

Maximum award: Not specified. Closing date: 12pm (Paris time), 04/12/15.

Bank of England, GB

The Bank of England invites applications for the Houblon-Norman and George fellowships, which  promote research into, and disseminate knowledge and understanding of, the working, interaction and function of financial business institutions in Great Britain and elsewhere, and the economic conditions affecting them. These are full-time Fellowships (between one month and one year) and will be on an economic or financial topic studied with particular advantage to the Bank of England. The trustees will pay particular regard to the relevance of the research to current problems in economics and finance. Senior fellowships will be awarded to distinguished research workers who have established a reputation in their field.  Fellowships are also available to younger postdoctoral or equivalent researchers. The total amount distributed in any one year will not normally exceed £120,000. A further allowance may be made to cover travel expenses or other costs incurred.

Maximum award: Not specified. Closing date: 01/11/15.

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, GB

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council invites applications for its stand-alone LINK programme. This supports pre-competitive research projects that address any topic within the council’s remit, and where industry contributes funding. Applications should be made to the following committees according to the research topic: research committee A – animal disease, health and welfare; research committee B – plants, microbes, food and sustainability; research committee C – genes, development, science, technology, engineering and mathematical approaches to biology; research committee D – molecules, cells and industrial biotechnology. Teams must include at least one company, (preference will be given to small and medium-sized enterprises), and one science-based partner. Principal applicants must be resident in the UK and hold an academic staff appointment, at the lecturer level or equivalent, at a higher education institution, research council institute or a BBSRC approved research organisation. Company partners should be registered in the UK or have a UK research and development or manufacturing site. Where a suitable company cannot be found in the UK, an overseas company may be used. Industry partners must contribute in cash at least 50%of the fEC of projects.

Maximum award: Not specified. Closing date: 13/01/16.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council invites applications for its new investigator scheme, which helps early-career researchers to secure their first major element of research funding. Applications should be made to the following committees according to the research topic: research committee A- animal disease, health and welfare; research committee B evaluates – plants, microbes, food and sustainability; research committee C – genes, development, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics approaches to biology; research committee D – molecules, cells and industrial biotechnology. Applicants should be newly employed university lecturers, fellows at the lecturer level whose awards were secured in open competition, or researchers in research council institutes at the unified research council band E or its equivalent. Applicants must not have more than three years of full-time employment at lecturer or equivalent level. They must not have received competitive research funding as a principal investigator from any source that included postdoctoral research assistant staff support costs.

Maximum award:  Not specified. Closing date: 4pm, 13/01/16.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council invites proposals for its tools and resources development fund programme call one. The aim of this call is to pump prime the next generation of tools, technologies and resources required by bioscience researchers within BBSRC’s remit. The fund will support small or short-duration pump priming projects, enabling excellent bioscience; encourage development of novel tools, technologies and methods within BBSRC’s remit; underpin research in BBSRC’s strategic priorities and the wider biosciences. Proposals should demonstrate collaborative connections with interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches and must be relevant to the output of new biological knowledge. Types of proposals eligible are: early concept, exploratory investigations of new tools, technologies and resources. The key feature of a successful ‘early concept, exploratory’ research project application is a technology or methods oriented approach that is enabling and adventurous, and encapsulates the concept of ‘high-risk/high reward’. Funded projects are expected to test the ‘high-risk, high reward’ concept and, where successful, demonstrate proof-of-principle’; rapid access to, and novel deployment of, the very latest cutting edge technology. It is anticipated that these proposals would include collaboration with the technology provider; radical, novel modifications to existing tools, technologies and resources to facilitate new biological understanding and an expansion in use.

Maximum award: £150k. Closing date: 4pm, 04/11/15.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the State of São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) invite applications for their joint research funding. This supports applications that cut across national boundaries and involve international collaborative teams. Proposals may be submitted in any area of science within the remit of both supporting organisations.

Maximum award: Not specified. Closing date: 4pm, 13/01/16.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council invites applications for its industrial partnership awards. These support science-led research projects that address any topic within the council’s remit, and where industrial partners contribute in cash funding. Applications should be made to the following committees according to the research topic: research committee A – animal disease, health and welfare; research committee B – plants, microbes, food and sustainability; research committee C – genes, development, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics approaches to biology; research committee D – molecules, cells and industrial biotechnology. Principal applicants must be resident in the UK and hold an academic staff appointment, at the lecturer level or equivalent, at a higher education institution, research council institute or a BBSRC approved research organisation. Company partners should be registered in the UK or have a UK research and development or manufacturing site. Where a suitable company cannot be found in the UK, an overseas company may be used. Industrial partners must contribute in cash at least 10 per cent of the full economic cost of projects.

Maximum award: Not specified. Closing date: 4pm, 13/01/16.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland invite applications for their joint research funding. This supports applications that cut across national boundaries and involve international collaborative teams led by researchers from the UK and the Republic of Ireland. The scope of pertnerships is restricted to research projects, including technology development projects but excluding embryonic stem cell research. Principal applicants must be resident in the UK and hold an academic staff appointment, at the lecturer level or equivalent, at a higher education institution, research council institute or a BBSRC-approved research organisation. Irish co-investigators must be based at a research body which is eligible for SFI support, they must be members of the academic staff of an eligible research body, and must have the capability and authority to mentor and supervise postgraduate students and team members.

Maximum award: Not specified. Closing date: 4pm, 13/01/16.

British Council, GB

The British Council, invites expressions of interest for its UK-Iran researcher links workshop on water management. This workshop wll bring together early career scholars and experienced researchers from the UK and Iran to discuss water management with subthemes of hydrology, extreme events, agriculture and food security, climate change, and water management/policy. participants will share their knowledge and build links for future collaboration. There will also be sessions on finding and applying for funding opportunities. Applicant must hold an academic position in the UK or Iran; have been awarded their PhD no earlier than January 2005; be able to evidence that their publications and awarded degree are relevant to the workshop themes; be proficient in English to level 6 IELTS (Iranian applicants). Visa, travel, subsistence and accommodation costs will be covered.

Maximum award: Not specified. Closing date: 15/10/15.

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, GB

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council invites outline proposals for its future manufacturing research hubs. The hubs will address major, long-term challenges facing manufacturing industries and capture opportunities from emerging research areas. Each hub can receive up to £10 million over seven years, to support a programme of innovative research in the engineering and physical sciences, related to the challenges in commercialising early stage research. The Hubs will feature high quality, multidisciplinary research, strong engagement with relevant manufacturing industries, and will take a leadership role in their national network. Each programme must: draw on advances in underlying science and technology; focus on the design and development of new and existing manufacturing processes, systems and networks; explicitly consider the pathway to manufacture. Funding can be used as platform research funding, grand challenge research funding, operational funding, or pathways to impact and commercialisation activities. Funding may also cover equipment costs.

Maximum award: £10m. Closing date: Outline proposals by 4pm, 19/11/15. Invited full proposals late March.

Research Councils UK and Innovate UK invite expressions of interest for their call on urban living partnership – pilot phase. This call will promote integrated research and innovation to address challenges in urban areas of the UK and help them realise their visions for future urban living. Partnerships will bring together the capabilities needed to address a wide range of challenges in areas such as infrastructure and environment; crime and social inclusion; health and wellbeing; heritage and culture; economy and employment; smart cities and big urban data. Consortia can include cross-disciplinary research expertise, city leaders, businesses, civic organisations and community groups, public, third sector and other urban innovators. Each of the consortia will be expected to conduct an initial pilot diagnostic phase focused on building integrated understanding of the challenges, opportunities and future visions of a specific UK city / urban area and developing agendas for future research and innovation.

Maximum award: £400k. Closing date: EOI 26/11/15. Full applications by 4pm, 21/01/16.

European Railway Agency, EU

The European Railway Agency  invites tenders to conduct a study on implementation of fees and charges in the framework of the fourth railway package. The tenderer will: collect and analyse data with a view to establishing a framework for fees and charges; propose models for financial apportioning between the ERA and the national authorities; establish a list of criteria for differentiating fee structure, with special attention given to small and medium-sized enterprises. Legal and natural persons based in EU member states are eligible and must apply as a joint venture or consortium with a nominated leader.

Maximum award: €120,000 and €150,000 over six months. Closing date: 31/10/15.

Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, US

The Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy invites applications for its research grants. Grants are awarded for work in major areas of the social sciences, including anthropology, area studies, economics, political science, psychology, sociology and urban studies, as well as newer areas such as evaluation research. Preference will be given to projects that deal with contemporary issues in the social sciences and issues of policy relevance. Phd candidates whose projects have received approval from their appropriate department head or university are eligible to apply.

Maximum awarrd: US$7,500. Closing date: 31/01/16.

Innovate UK, GB

Innovate UK and the Department for Culture, Innovation and Media invite applications for the nuisance calls competition. The competition aims to address and find solutions for the problem of nuisance calls, especially to vulnerable members of society who are at higher risk of financial harm and personal distress. Solutions can use any technology including, but not limited to, any of the following areas: Home- installed equipment that filters and blocks calls, based on Calling Line Identification (CLI) or other techniques; As before but with a “community” or central database to block calls from known “problem sources”; A network level solution that will filter and block calls before they are offered to the end user. Key challenges that bids will need to address are: Blocking/filtering calls as an option where the number is ‘withheld’ or ‘unavailable’, including where these are international in origin; How legitimate callers using networks that present with no CLI are processed, for example gathering a list of legitimate callers (sometimes referred to as ‘whitelists’); How the system can block calls that offer malformed CLI; Whether the system is capable of detecting spoofed but valid CLI; How calls from mobile and non-geographic numbers are handled – i.e. can they be configured as blocked/filtered; How a network level solution can be implemented on existing communication networks.

Maximum award: £50k. Closing date: Registration by 12pm, 04/11/15. Full applications by 12pm, 11/11/15.

Middle East Economic Research Centre, TR

The Middle East Economic Research Centre invites applications and nominations for the Ibn Khaldun prize, whic recognises outstanding individual and co-authored papers by young scientists on Middle East economics. Candidates must be no more than six years post-PhD .Winners of the award receive a certificate, a cash award of $250 and exemption from dues and submission fees for two consecutive calendar years.

Maximum award: $250. Closing date: 10/12/15.

Natural environment Research Council, GB

The Natural Environment Research Council, in collaboration with the Medical Research Council in the UK, and the Earth System Science Organisation, Ministry of Earth Sciences, and the Department of Biotechnology in India, invites initial proposals for the atmospheric pollution and human health in an Indian megacity programme. This aims to provide new knowledge on air pollution issues and impacts on health in a rapidly urbanising society and the evidence to support cost effective measures for health improvements related to atmospheric pollutants in Delhi, India. The programme is split into four themes; emission validation and sources; processes: physical and chemical; exposure validation and health outcomes; mitigations and interventions. Applications must be collaborative between UK and Indian researchers.

Maximum award: Not specified. Closing date: initial proposals 4pm, 10/12/15. Full proposals due early July 16.

Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, SE

The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research invites proposals for its industrial research centres, which aim to improve long-term problem- and application driven research centres comprising collaborative research ecosystems between industry, research institutes and academia. Centres should be strategically defined around formulated industrial needs with formidable research challenges. Research problems should be defined and pursued by both the industrial and academic partners. Research centres must be concentrated on disruptive innovation, including new enabling technologies or emerging technology shifts in a long-term perspective.Each centre will have two to five industrial partners, with one to five academic or research institute partners. At least one of the partners must be a department at a Swedish university, which will administer the grant. The main applicant must be a researcher based at a Swedish university or research institute. Partners can be researchers from industry, public authorities, research institutes and university departments. Companies should normally be registered in Sweden or close to Sweden so that the exchange can work practically and be justified strategically for Sweden. Industrial partners may be hospitals if the centre involves clinical research. International partners may participate on their own budget. Industry partners must fund their participation with a combination of in-kind and cash by at least 20 per cent of the total budget of the centre.

Maximum award: SEK100m. Closing date: 2pm CET, 04/05/16.

Wellcome Trust, GB

The Wellcome Trust and the Academy of Medical Sciences invite applications for their springboard awards, which enable UK biomedical scientists to develop their independent research careers. Applicants must be within three years of being appointed their first independent post, hold a current post with salary, not be receiving significant research funding, be supported by the host organisation.

Maximum award: £100k. Closing date: 07/12/15.

The Wellcome Trust invites applications for its collaborative awards in science, supporting teams of independent researchers pursuing problems across the areas of science, humanities and social science and innovation. Interdisciplinary research collaborations between basic scientists or medical and veterinary clinicians, and non-biologists, such as mathematicians, physicists, chemists, engineers and social scientists, are encouraged. Funding may be used for research expenses, travel and subsistence, overseas allowances, research management and support costs. A provision for public engagement costs may also be awarded.

Maximum award: £4m. Closing date: preliminary applications due 05/01/16. Full applications by 13/04/16.

The Wellcome Trust invites applications for its our planet, our health awards. These support high-quality, transdisciplinary programmes of research that investigate novel aspects of, and build evidence for, how complex changes in our environment affect our health. Supported proposals will consider the interplay between different environments, drive collaborative research and  lead to outputs with a significant impact on our health. Programmes should use a range of relevant disciplines and research methodologies and may consist of predictive modelling, developing innovative products or processes, policy development or evaluating specific interventions. Proposals from a broad range of disciplines  involving cross-sector collaborations are encouraged. Eligible costs include salary costs for research staff, consumables and small equipment costs, travel costs for conferences and research meetings, office support and communication cost.

Maximum award: £10m. Closing date: 29/01/16.

The Wellcome Trust invites applications for its society awards. These support projects that encourage the public to explore biomedical science, its impact on society and culture, its historical roots and the ethical questions that it raises Projects should stimulate interest, excitement and debate about biomedical science and/or the history of medicine; support formal and informal learning; reach audiences of all ages and from all walks of life and inform, inspire and involve them; encourage high-quality interdisciplinary practice and collaborations; investigate and test new methods of engagement, participation and education. Applicants and activities must be based in the UK or the Republic of Ireland and applicants may be mediators, facilitators and practitioners of science communication; science centre or museum staff; artists; educators; film-makers; theatre producers; games developers; public participation practitioners; health professionals; and academics in bioscience, social science, bioethics, and medical history and the humanities.

Maximum award: Not specified. Closing date: 5pm, 11/03/16.

Please note that some funding bodies specify a time for submission as well as a date. Please confirm this with your RKEO Funding Development Officer

You can set up your own personalised alerts on Research Professional. If you need help setting these up, just ask your School’s/Faculty’s Funding Development Officer in RKEO or view the recent blog post here.

If thinking of applying, why not add notification of your interest on Research Professional’s record of the bid so that BU colleagues can see your intention to bid and contact you to collaborate.

First Mock REF exercise to begin soon!

ref-logo

The first mock exercise in preparation for the next Research Exercise Framework is due to take place soon. This mock REF exercise is open to ALL academic staff and staff will be invited to submit up to FOUR outputs published since 1 January 2014. This first exercise will be a ‘light touch’ review to gauge all eligible outputs and their likely contribution to the unit of assessment(s).

More information and guidance regarding this mock exercise will be provided shortly. Meanwhile, early preparations can be made by ensuring that all outputs and their full texts are deposited into BURO via BRIAN where possible. You can refer to this blog post for a quick guide to uploading your full text.

Also, please see below for your reference, the list of all Unit of Assessment Leader(s).

  • Edwin van Teijlingen : UOA 3 – Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy
  • Ben Parris : UOA 4 – Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
  • Raian Ali; Keith Phalp : UOA 11 – Computer Science and Informatics
  • Zulfiqar Khan : UOA 12 – Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Tim Darvill; Ross Hill : UOA 17 – Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology
  • Dean Patton : UOA 19 – Business and Management Studies
  • Sascha-Dominik Bachmann : UOA 20 – Law
  • Jonathan Parker : UOA 22/23 – Social Work and Social Policy/ Sociology
  • Holger Schutkowski : UOA 24 – Anthropology and Development Studies
  • Julian McDougall : UOA 25 – Education
  • Stephen Page : UOA 26 – Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism
  • Bronwen Thomas : UOA 29 – English Language and Literature
  • Neal White : UOA 34 – Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory
  • Iain MacRury : UOA 36 – Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management

As mentioned above, more information and guidance will be released shortly so do watch out for it.

My experiences of the undergraduate research assistantship

I’m an Occupational Therapy student at BU, just going into my third year.  This summer I have been working with HSS Impact Champion, Zoe Sheppard, on the endeavour to monitor and measure the impact of research.  This has involved exploring methods of dissemination, investigating the demonstration of impact, and working on two research impact case studies.  As a result I have come to understand the value of reciprocal public engagement, and learnt that some of the best impact examples don’t happen by chance, but are within reach and in our control. I have collated my findings into a toolkit which will hopefully support you to plan and pursue your own research impacts.

I have really enjoyed the opportunity to explore the difference research can make, and this has inspired me to think about my own post-graduate research options. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Zoe in particular, and everyone else who have been so supportive of me over the last few weeks.

Jo George

Introducing Jo George, Undergraduate Research Assistant

Hello, I will be working within the Health and Social Sciences Faculty with Impact Champion, Zoe Sheppard, over the next six weeks on the endeavour to monitor and measure the impact of research.

My work will involve:

  • Exploring methods of dissemination
  • Conducting literature searches to investigate the demonstration of impact
  • Working on two research case studies from the Health and Social Social Sciences Faculty

I can be found in R613 and contacted at jgeorge@bournemouth.ac.uk if you have any ideas or challenges you’d like to discuss. I will be sharing my findings towards the end of my six weeks here.

I look forward to meeting you,

Jo

‘Meet the Editors’ at BU Midwifery Education Conference

Slide1Dr. Jenny Hall and Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen are holding a lunchtime at today’s (Friday 3rd July 2015) BU Midwifery Education Conference (#MidEd15) in Business School.  The one-hour session is advertised under the title ‘Believe you can write!’  Both BU academics are editors and on editorial boards of several prestigious health journals across the globe.       Slide2

Over the past few years CMMPH staff have written and published several articles on academic writing and publishing.  Some of these papers have been co-authored by BU Visiting Faculty, Dr. Bri jesh Sathian (Nepal), Dr. Emma Pitchforth (RAND, Cambridge), Ms. Jillian Ireland (NHS Poole) and/or Prof. Padam Simkhada (Liverpool John Moores University).

 

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen & Dr. Jenny Hall

CMMPH

Twitter accounts:  @HallMum5   /   @EvanTeijlingen

The Future of Research Practice

NealWhite

 

 

 

Blog post by Professor Neal White, Faculty of Media and Communication

 

The Future of Research Practice

At a HEFCE sponsored conference run at Goldsmiths in London last week, a very large body of academics invested in the Future of Practice Research in the Arts and Humanities, gathered to hear HEFCE’s position on the area.

Following a stimulating keynote on the history and value of Undergraduates in this area by the artist Anne Tallentire, Professor Emeritus Central Saint Martens University of the Arts London, the audience was given an update on the state of play from HEFCE’s perspective.

In doing so Ben Johnson, Research Policy Adviser and then Steven Hill, Head of Research Policy at HEFCE, underlined the critical importance of practice research and the wide range of outputs considered in the recent REF. Central to their statements was an analysis of the amount and the impact of practice research submitted to the Panels. Writ large was the fact that one third of the overall REF submission was practice research and here was the first surprise, from HEFCE and REF position, this was a disappointing figure.

The reason for this, as Professor Bruce Brown (Pro VC Research at of Brighton University, lead of Arts and Humanities Panel D) expressed, was the overall balance of text and non-text outputs; simply put, there were not enough non text outputs at 36% of the submission. The apprehension had been that in UoAs 34-35 at least, these figures should have been reversed, with 64% practice research expected.

With many institutions hesitant about how to capture and articulate not only practice research, but specifically Impact, we were reassured that we had nonetheless delivered exceedingly high levels of world leading and international research in the REF – around 80% in total (BU return to Impact in UoA34 was 60/40 – 4*/3*), underlining our role in articulating and facing head on societal challenges to the human condition and ways of life. And so we were reminded of our contribution to not only the search for new knowledge, but our contributions to ‘enhanced understanding’ (a key definition outlined by HEFCE) in terms of the recovery of lost knowledge, and the testing of existing knowledge.

So what do we need to do in order to increase the amount and quality of practice research as will be expected, to deal with a problem that has for many been attributed to the confidence of our institutions, and those who lead the returns, for we were told, it does not reflect what is going on in UK Higher Education, as designers, performers, artists and other creative intellectuals continue to undertake and are leading the world in practice research.

In later presentations, and woven throughout the day were themes and concerns about practice research and its status in the Academy, running from staff requiring PhD’s, to the poor auditing tools available to them and the lack of understanding in the sciences, who largely run the exercises. Many points were highly valid, and some very familiar, but at the end of the day, HEFCE, who was in listening mode noted down and responded to the key suggestions and proposed actions.

More practice research figures it was agreed should and will be appointed to bodies like the British Academy. There would be less emphasis on the PhD from HEFCE in this area. A separate research practice policy lobbying body such as exist in Science would be supported. Overall, it was clear the value that practice brings, with HEFCE underlining the contributions to economic, social and cultural values in particular.

HEFCE and the REF need and expect much more non-text outputs – the role of practice in particular in the communication and engagement with research across the board should not and cannot be underestimated, they declared. They want and expect more scholarly forms of practice research, an area in which we now lead the World. But together, the next job is also to ensure that the government does not dismantle one of the liveliest and most engaged research bases in the World, aided and abetted by disciplinary divisions; the power bases of science and the arts respectively. Least we forget, the contribution to GDP from the fast growing sector of our economy, the creative industries was recorded in 2014 at £71.4 Billion (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/creative-industries-worth-8million-an-hour-to-uk-economy).

In briefly summarising all of the fascinating discussions and agreements, for there was much consensus, was a single line, delivered by Bruce Brown at the end of his own presentation in the morning that made an awful lot of sense to those of us trying to persuade our colleagues of our own value. The argument for practice research is won he declared on behalf of HEFCE and REF, the future of research practice is clear. We simply need to ensure that we can now; ‘Get over it and get on with it’.

Neal White is Professor of Media Art. He contributed to BU’s leading return in the RAE in 2008 and REF 2014, with one of two Impact Case Studies. He currently is REF leader for UoA34 and heads Experimental Media Research in the Faculty of Media and Communication.