Tagged / ref

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.


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!


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,


‘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


Twitter accounts:  @HallMum5   /   @EvanTeijlingen

The Future of Research Practice





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.

Is interdisciplinarity the future?

There is a lot of talk in the sector at present about the benefits of interdisciplinary research. But what exactly does this mean? The best definition I have found is from a report by The National Academies (2004) – “Interdisciplinary research is a mode of research by teams or individuals that integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines or bodies of specialized knowledge to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of research practice.” (download the full report for free here).

At the HEFCE REFlections event last month there was a lot of talk about interdisciplinary research. Apparently most of the high-scoring impact case studies and outputs submitted to REF 2014 featured interdisciplinary research, and HEFCE are considering making interdisciplinary research a feature of the next REF assessment in which it could carry additional marks. They have commissioned Elsevier to conduct a review of interdisciplinary research with a view to the data feeding into the review of the REF and informing future exercises (read the sides here).

This seems a surprising turn of events, considering REF 2014 took so much flack in the months and years leading up to submission from academics who feared it would disadvantage interdisciplinary research. Ismael Rafols (University of Sussex), for example, claimed there is a systematic bias against interdisciplinarity in journal rankings, with the top-ranking journals covering a few specialist disciplines (read the full article here). In the run up to the REF submission there was concern that it wasn’t REF that was disadvantaging interdisciplinary research but institutions that were choosing not to submit it due to it being ‘too risky’ (see this article in The Guardian). But later articles started to look at how the REF actually benefited interdisciplinary researchers (for example, see this article in The Guardian).

The word from the HEFCE camp is that interdisciplinary research contributes to more world-leading research, as evidenced by it featuring in the highest scoring case studies and outputs, and that further interdisciplinarity is therefore beneficial and to be encouraged. Interdisciplinary research is one of the government’s research priorities and was listed, for example, as one of the UK research landscape’s strengths in the BIS science and innovation strategy.

Major funding initiatives are now more frequently interdisciplinary in nature, guided by the strategic priorities of major research funders, for example the Research Councils UK cross-council themes and the Horizon 2020 societal challenges.

There are inherent advantages to interdisciplinary research that are well known. Findings indicate that it is often in the spaces between disciplines from where innovative perspectives, collaborations and solutions emerge. Interdisciplinary researchers frequently speak of being more interested, engaged and stimulated by their work.

In support of interdisciplinarity, BU’s inaugural Interdisciplinary Research Week is taking place from 11-15 May. It includes a programme of lectures, demonstrations, discussions, and a film, all aimed at showcasing examples of the fantastic interdisciplinary research being undertaken at the University. It is open to staff, students and members of the public so please do come along.

REF update: HEFCE’s REFlections event, 25 March 2015

I went to HEFCE’s (rather cleverly named) REFlections event on Wednesday to hear about the review of REF 2014 and plans for the future of research assessment.

The key points were:

  • Collaboration and multi-/interdisciplinary research are likely to be important for the next REF
  • HEFCE have commissioned Elsevier to undertake a project on measuring multidisciplinary research to inform the next REF
  • The REF impact case studies database went live yesterday and is an excellent resource
  • Dual support system is likely to stay
  • Impact case studies are likely to stay, however, the impact template may change/become obsolete
  • Peer review will stay, informed by metrics in some disciplines (akin to REF 2014)
  • Metrics are not yet robust enough to have a metrics-driven REF. In particular, this is not yet possible for the assessment of outputs or impact. It is possible, however, to rely more heavily on metrics for the environment assessment and there could be changes to this part for the next REF.


HEFCE plan to consult with the sector on future plans for the REF this coming autumn.


Further information:

The editor is a *!@#*!

Editors of academic journals are regularly cursed by academics worldwide.  At universities across the globe we can regularly hear expression such as “Who does the editor think he is rejecting my paper?” or “Why does it have to take six months (or more) to find out my paper is rejected?” or “Why does the editor not understand how good/novel/innovative/… our paper is?  These kinds of expression of dismay may or may not be accompanied by an expletive.  Being both busy editors and well published authors we thought timely to put pen to paper and explain the work (role and limitations) of the typical editor of an international academic journal.

First, being an editor is not all bad, and is actually a privilege. It is an opportunity to nurture new authors, be at the forefront of your discipline and it is part of being a ‘serious’ scholar. However, we have been at the receiving end of the wrath of authors dissatisfied with something we did or didn’t do as an editor AND we have been disappointed as authors with what we perceived to be, poor editorial decisions!

We wrote a short outline of the proposed paper and send it to the editor of Women and Birth.  The idea was readily accepted and resulted in a paper published this week in the scientific journal.

The paper includes little snippets of insight and advice to authors.  For example, a reminder that the average editor of an academic journalist an unpaid volunteer, usually a full-time lecturer and/or researcher with a busy day job, who does most of her editorial work on Sunday morning when the kids are still in bed or Tuesday night after the second-year marking has been completed. We hope that knowledge of the editors’ role will help authors (a) understand the submission process better; and (b) be a little bit more patience with the editors.  And, last but not least, we hope our article helps the development of editors of the future.


Jenny Hall, Vanora Hundley & Edwin van Teijlingen



Hall, J., Hundley, V., van Teijlingen, E. (2015) The Journal editor: friend or foe? Women & Birth (accepted). http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1871519215000104

Most cited article in MIDWIFERY

The scientific paper ‘Risk, Theory, Social & Medical Models: a critical analysis of the concept of risk in maternity care’ written by Dr. Helen MacKenzie Bryers (NHS Highland) and BU Professor of Reproductive Health Research is now listed on the website of the international journal Midwifery  as its top most cited paper since 2010 (1).   Midwifery, published by Elsevier, is one of the leading global journals in the field of midwifery and maternity care.

The paper provides a critical analysis of the risk concept, its development in modern society in general and UK maternity services in particular. Through the associated theory, the authors explore the origins of the current preoccupation with risk.  Using Pickstone’s historical phases of modern health care, the paper explores the way maternity services changed from a social to a medical model over the twentieth century and suggests that the risk agenda was part of this process.

‘Risk, Theory, Social & Medical Models’ has been cited 40 times in SCOPUS, measured today Jan. 25th 2015.   In Google Scholar the citation rate is even higher  and stands at 69.


Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

Centre for Midwifery, Maternal and Perinatal Health

Faculty of Health & Social Sciences


  1. MacKenzie Bryers, H., van Teijlingen, E. (2010) Risk, Theory, Social & Medical Models: a critical analysis of the concept of risk in maternity care, Midwifery 26(5): 488-496.

New Year’s Research Resolution #1 – Love your drafts, don’t delete them!

Happy New Year to you all and welcome back!

Each day this week we’ll be posting a New Year’s Research Resolution to help you get back into the swing of things, starting with today’s – Love your drafts, don’t delete them, add them to BRIAN!

open access logo, Public Library of ScienceDon’t delete your drafts!  You will hear this A LOT over the next couple of years as the open access movement gathers even more momentum and the role of green open access and institutional repositories is moved to the fore of the next REF (likely to be REF 2020).  HEFCE policy states that all journal papers and conference proceedings must be made freely available in an institutional repository (like BURO) at the time of acceptance if they are to be eligible for submission to the next REF (likely to be 2020).

This policy is summarised as:

  • All journal papers and conference proceedings submitted to the next REF will have to be freely available in BURO from the point of acceptance.
  • A journal paper / conference proceeding that was not made freely available in BURO from the point of acceptance will not be eligible to be submitted, even if it is made available retrospectively.
  • The version made available in BURO should be the final accepted version but does not have to be the publisher’s PDF.
  • This is applicable for outputs accepted for publication from April 2016 onwards.

It is excellent to see the Funding Councils promoting the open access agenda and embedding it within the REF.  Making outputs freely available increases their visibility and is likely to increase their impact, not only within the academic community but in the public sphere too.  It ensures research is easily accessible to our students, politicians and policy-makers, charities and businesses and industry, as well as to potential collaborators in other countries which can help with building networks and the internationalisation of research.

Talking to academic colleagues around the University it is apparent that the normal practice is to delete previous drafts, including the final accepted version, as soon as a paper is accepted for publication.  This needs to change!  Many publisher’s will already allow you to add the final accepted version of your paper to BURO (just not the version with the publisher’s header, logo, etc) and this is set to increase in light of the HEFCE consultation.  Rather than deleting the final version, add it to BRIAN so it will be freely available to everyone in the institutional repository, BURO.

We need to get into the habit now of doing this now.  BRIAN is linked to the Sherpa-Romeo database of journals so you can easily check the archiving policy of the journal.  All you need to do is:

1. Log into your BRIAN account and find the paper.

2. One of the tabs is named ‘full text’.

3. If you click into this tab you will see a link near the Sherpa-Romeo logo to check your ‘publisher’s policy’.

4. Click on this and you will see the archiving policy for this particular journal, clearly stating which version of the paper can be uploaded. Ideally you are looking for your journal to be a green journal which allows the accepted version or (even better but quite rare, unless you have paid extra to make it freely available*) the publisher’s version/PDF. See the screen shot.

5. Click ‘back’ and then click on the ‘full text’ tab again and you will see a link (in a blue box) to ‘upload new file for this publication’.

6. Upload the file and follow the onscreen instructions.

7. Your full text will then automatically feed through to BURO and be available open access in the next few days.


*In point 4 I mentioned about paying extra to the publisher at the point of acceptance to make it freely available upon publication.  This is often referred to as the gold route to open access publishing and at BU we have a central dedicated budget for paying these fees.  You can find out about the GOLD route to open access publishing here: Gold route

So the overriding message for New Year’s Resolution #1 is:


The REF results are in! BU’s research recognised as world leading

REF logoAfter many years of preparation, numerous mock exercises and thirteen long months of waiting, the REF results are finally published today! And the news for BU is excellent!

62% of BU’s research has been recognised as internationally excellent, with 18% rated as world-leading. This is a significant uplift on our RAE 2008 scores and has been achieved whilst also submitting considerably more staff to REF 2014 (161.8 FTE, an increase of 45.5%). This highlights the growing research volume and quality at BU and is testament to the significant investment that has been put into research over the past decade. The assessment recognised BU as a leading university in both the UK and south west region.

Key achievements for BU overall include:

  • BU was in the top half of all institutions that submitted to the REF (69th out of 154) based on the proportion of research rated of international standard
  • BU was 11th out of the 69 post-1992 universities based on the proportion of world-leading research
  • BU was fourth in the south west based on the proportion of world-leading research, behind Bristol, Bath and Exeter
  • 30% of BU’s research impact was rated world-leading
  • 58% of BU’s research outputs were rated internationally excellent or world-leading
  • 63% of BU’s research environment was rated internationally excellent or world-leading
  • The THE has ranked BU 69th overall, an increase from 75th in 2008, and 69th for impact – http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/ref-2014-results-table-of-excellence/2017590.article

Key achievements for our research areas include:

  • Tourism (UOA 26) was rated as joint-first in the UK (out of 51 institutions) based on its internationally-recognised research
  • Art and design (UOA 34) is in the top quartile in the UK for its world-leading research, and is ranked first in the south west (out of 7 institutions)
  • Communication, Cultural and Media Studies (UOA 36) is in the top third of institutions in the UK (17th out of 67) for its world-leading research, and 7th in the UK for its world-leading impact
  • Psychology’s (UOA 4) outputs scored particularly well with 73% rated as internationally excellent or world-leading, placing BU 27th out of 82 institutions in the UK
  • Research impact was rated highly in General Engineering (UOA 15) which scored 73% internationally excellent, placing it fourth out of 29 post-1992 institutions.
  • BU submitted considerably more staff to Allied Health Professional, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy (UOA 3) than in the last assessment exercise (9.2fte in 2008 and 21.4fte in 2014) and achieved a significant uplift in the proportion of its research that was rated internationally excellent and world-leading (40% to 54%).
  • Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology (UOA 17) is in the top quartile in the UK (joint-17th out of 74 institutions) based on the proportion of research rated of international standing, making it also 1st out of 20 post-1992 universities
  • Business and Management Studies (UOA 19) scored particularly well in terms of impact, resulting in it ranking 9th in the UK (out of 101 institutions) for its world-leading impact

HEFCE, on behalf of the four funding councils, publish the results of the REF today. You can browse the results here: www.ref.ac.uk.

Congratulations to all – this is a milestone achievement 🙂

HEFCE are looking for views on a potential international REF in future…

HEFCE has published a survey inviting views on an internationalised system of research assessment.

This survey forms part of a project exploring the benefits and challenges of expanding the UK’s research assessment system, the Research Excellence Framework (REF), on an international basis. At the broadest level, this means an extension of the assessment to incorporate submissions from universities overseas.

This follows an invitation earlier this year from the then Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts, for HEFCE to provide an opinion on the feasibility of an international REF. The project belongs in a wider context of international interest in the exercise, on which HEFCE frequently provides information and advice to higher education policymakers and university senior management from overseas.

The THE ran a story about this in April 2014: HEFCE looks at overseas links for research excellence 

Responses are invited from any organisation or individual with an interest in higher education research or its assessment. The survey will be open until Wednesday 12 November 2014.

The survey only has four questions –

1. What do you think the key benefits would be of expanding the REF internationally?

2. What do you think the key challenges would be in expanding the REF internationally?

3. In view of the potential benefits and challenges overall, how supportive would you be of further work to explore the issues in more depth?

4. Have you got any further comments relating to internationalisation of REF?

To complete the survey visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/refinternationalisation