Tagged / research funding

COST Actions – supporting high-risk, innovative and emerging research themes

COST Actions are a flexible, fast, effective and efficient networking instrument for researchers, engineers and scholars to cooperate and coordinate nationally funded research activities. COST Actions allow European researchers to jointly develop their own ideas in any science and technology field. COST Actions are bottom-up  science and technology networks, open to researchers and stakeholders  with a duration of four years. They are active through a range of  networking tools , such as workshops, conferences, training schools, short-term scientific missions (STSMs), and dissemination activities.  COST does not fund research itself.

COST prides in its support for high-risk, innovative and emerging research themes. Importantly, COST does not set any research priorities. cost

Currently on the COST website is a report on Collecting research data to counter femicide worldwide

Femicide across Europe is the first pan-European research network investigating the causes and risk factors of a phenomenon killing thousands of women every year, worldwide.

Femicide refers to the killing of women and girls because of their gender. European researchers studying the  cultural, societal and psychological   causes  and  risks factors  behind femicide set up the network to fight the phenomenon through advocacy and research. One idea is to create a  European Femicide Observatory  gathering and comparing data from each of the 30 countries involved, of which half are Inclusiveness Target Countries . The goal is to come up with  new guidelines  and shape new EU public policies countering killings.

Specialists have been studying quantitative and qualitative data and ways to reduce discrepancies in country records. Such discrepancies are often due to the different definitions of femicide, which is sometimes seen as gender-based violence.

When our COST Action was first proposed, the term femicide was not widely used. Everyone knew of homicide, but few had given thought to the fact that some women, particularly those involved in intimate relationships, were murdered simply because they were women. Today, two years within the COST Action, ‘femicide’ has become a buzzword, Action Chair Dr Shalva Weil explains.

Network members have also been advocating for a more straightforward approach to lowering femicide rates in Europe. They have already addressed the Portuguese Parliament and the Parliament of Aragon in Spain. The network also took part in two United Nations sessions in Bangkok (November 2014) and New York (October 2015).

By participating in the network’s training schools and scientific exchanges, young researchers are also given the chance to better understand the phenomenon EU-wide. One outstanding result of the Action’s work is a  comparison of national statistics from 10 European countries .

The Action’s next annual meeting will take place in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in May 2016.

Why not take a look at the COST Action database to see if there is a current Action relating to your research? You can then consider joining an existing Action or submitting your own proposal.

Click on the tag COST Action (below) to see other BU posts on this topic, including  Edwin van Teijlingen’s report on his recent publication and his experience of attending a COST Action Training School.

If you are interested in applying for COST, please contact Emily Cieciura, Research Facilitator: EU & International of you Faculty’s Funding Development Officer.

Research Funders’ Guide is even better!

Imap of science previously posted about the new Research Funders’ Guide available on the Research Blog under the Research Toolkit.  This introduced the major funder pages, which include a wealth of information about their research strategies, what they fund, impact reports, funder guides and success rates.

These pages have now been expanded to include:

Don’t forget, we also have the Research Lifecycle on the blog where you can see how RKEO can support you with your research plans.


Research Funders’ Guide

The Research Funders’ Guide was launched last week on the Research Blogs ‘Research Toolkit’ (hover over the link to see what is available to assist you with your external application for funding).map of science

This has since been updated to include success rate data and past awards for the Research Councils.  These are a good indication of what the Research Councils are interested in and what they’re prepared to invest in.  If you’re interested in applying to a Research Council then do have a look around.

In addition, we’ve tidied up the charities so that the major funders are now shown at the top and also contain links to past awards and some have the quick guides that RKEO have produced to help internal applications understand the process at BU.

Do also have a look at the Research Lifecycle on the blog to see how RKEO can support you with your research plans.

Latest Major Funding Opportunities

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

JPI Demographic, NL

Proposal are invited for the More Years Better Lives call. This aims to support innovative and interdisciplinary research into the drivers to, and constraints on, extending working life. Research is expected to cross the traditional boundaries of government departments and occupational sectors and to examine the implications of extending working life for older workers, new labour markets, health, well-being and intergenerational equity. Proposals are invited for research into one or more of four broad topics: modern work factors, longer working life and inequality, health challenges, and caring responsibilities. Maximum award: not specified. Closing date: 02/06/15.

Royal Society, GB

This Research Grant scheme is for scientists in the UK who are at an early stage in their career and provides ‘seed corn’ funding for new projects of timeliness and promise. The objective is to increase availability of specialised equipment and essential consumable materials, and to support essential field research. The scheme also provides support for research in the history of science or to assist with publication of scholarly works in the history of science. The scheme covers all areas of the life and physical sciences, including engineering, but not clinical medicine. Maximum award: £15000. Closing date: 26/05/15.

The SABMiller Royal Society Exchange Programme supports collaborative projects between researchers in the UK and in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in Ghana and Tanzania in the following areas: water and sanitation, including water engineering and irrigation, waste water management and other related projects; agriculture and crop science, excluding animal or veterinary science but including land, soil management and crop production; renewable energy including solar, wind or hydro-energies, energy capture and storage, and other related projects. Maximum award: £21000 over three years. Closing date: 28/05/15.

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.

Introducing Alexandra Pękalski – Research Facilitator


I am Alexandra Pękalski (nee Peirce) and I am the Research Facilitator for the Media school, School of Tourism and The Business School. I am part of the Funding Development Team, which offers support and advice with all pre-award activities, such as horizon scanning, identifying funding opportunities and developing and submitting proposals.

So, the question you undoubtedly have is what is a Research Facilitator and what can they do for me? If you haven’t already glazed over like my friends and family. I am here to support researchers to gain funding for their research ideas/solution to societal problems!

But if you’re still with me, this really is a new and exciting role for the university and along with my three other colleagues we are here to help with the following:

  • To develop and critique your proposal
  • Help bring together research team
  • Write, review and critique text
  • Ensure your proposal meets the funder’s strategic aims
  • Suggest ideas to strengthen the content of your proposal
  • Help you form inter/multidisciplinary research collaborations
  • Facilitate internal peer review

Within my role as Senior RKE Support officer, I have worked across all 6 Schools/Faculties and have knowledge and understanding of a broad range of sponsors including European Commission, AHRC, EPSRC and Leverhulme (to name but a few!). Before the world of Research Administration I held various roles at the University such as, Programme Administrator, Planning & Resources Officer and Project & Finance Manager. I have also worked in the private sector as a Marketing Executive.

I am particularly keen to work on developing and supporting multi/interdisciplinary collaborations within the university and externally, developing a new researchers development framework and working closely with early careers researchers.

Outside of work!

I enjoy eating, not just outside of work, but all the time. Every 10 minutes.  I love food! Due to this love of food I am currently reading a booked called “French Women Don’t Get Fat”.

I am also learning Polish (if only to ensure my daughter doesn’t sail me down the river with my in-laws), am attempting to master rollerblading with the hope Bournemouth will finally get an ice rink, I can join an ice hockey team and somehow get to the winter Olympics (recently inspired by Cool Runnings).

If you’re thinking about developing a bid, and would like some guidance, advice or support, please feel free to get in touch with me or the Funding Development Team.

Call for research proposals – Defence Medical Sciences

New SBRI call – Up to £500k of funding is available for this Phase 1 competition.

MOD’s Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) are launching a call for research proposals to identify new and innovative science and technology to enhance the level of military medical care and support to service personnel.

This CDE competition aims to promote military resilience and preparedness through:

Challenge 1. Technologies for health surveillance

Predicting injury, infection or disease in a military population on operations helps maintain fighting ability. This challenge seeks to identify areas of physiology and biochemical pathways that, with new surveillance and analysis technology, can provide novel ways of assessing health and wellbeing.

Challenge 2.  Advanced medical systems for field care

Post-Afghanistan, operational medicine will evolve. Future medical capability will rely on smart, innovative, less logistically intense ways of diagnosing and treating medical emergencies. This challenge seeks innovative technologies that can be used routinely by non-specialists in an operational setting to diagnose the cause and severity of injury or illness and assist in providing care.

A free briefing event will take place at the CDE Tuesday 30 September 2014 in Scotland.

Further details can be accessed via the website.




Research Data Management (RDM)

With increased interest from funders and government policy about open access data the recent DCC seminar sponsored by R&KEO about Research Data Management helped explain the data cycle leading to open access.

So what is data? Several definitions exist but in essence anything collected, created, observed and used for your research, e.g. sketches, recordings, social media.

RDM is the process covering the creation and stewardship of materials for use “as long as they retain value”. Well managed and shared data raises research profile and impact, potentially adding to reputation. Clearly we need to maintain careful consideration of sensitive or personal data.

RCUK and many other research funders have an expectation that Data Management Planning (DMP) will be integral to project development and increasingly funders are asking to see your DMP with applications.

The DMP process looks at what data will be created, how it should be managed and includes sharing and presentation considerations. RCUK expect existing data sets to be checked to avoid duplication and Horizon 2020 covers exploitation, access and preservation, see the Research Blog for further information, also DCC offer a multitude of resources including DMP Online which will guide you through creating a DMP step-by-step.

So why share my data? Well the funders’ are asking for this as they see data as a public good and having paid for it they want to maximise their investment (mindful of privacy, security and commerciality interests). Also your data will be safely stored and available when you next require access. Others researchers can scrutinise and enhance the data resource leading to scholarly communication, with suitable citations to you.

Project feedback suggests that collecting data as you progress makes life easier towards the conclusion of the project. Additionally it is worthwhile considering your file naming conventions early on, e.g. name, structure, version. Storage and back up of data is important during the research process and afterwards, you may need the data again and others may have access also. With the latter point to mind some consideration to maintaining data in a repository is sensible, mindful of the economic versus value added conundrum. For example, keeping data available in newer formats to increase data mining in the years ahead. Further advice from DCC can be found here.

Latest major funding opportunities

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

EPSRC are acting as administrator for small awards through the Holmes Hines Memorial fund, to undertake activities related to science and engineering for which public funds are not available. There is no deadline and no standard application form; applications should be sent to the fund administrator.

NERC invite outline applications to a new four year programme on Environmental Microbiology and Human Health. The two topics for this first call are aquatic microbiology and bioaerosols. An outline proforma provided by NERC must be submitted by 24 March 2014. Also available from NERC is funding to undertaken knowledge exchange activities, through their Knowledge Exchange Fellowships. These allow the Fellow to undertake a programme of work of their own choosing, funding salary and the costs of the work programme. Deadline 6 May 2014.

Royal Society are offering a range of funding for those working in the natural sciences, including international exchange schemes with France, Taiwan, Ireland, Russia or China. Each of these offers £12000 for travel and subsistence for a British team to develop a new collaboration, with the same amount offered by the partner country. They also offer a standard international exchange programme, which offers up to £12000 for travel and subsistence for use in developing new collaborations with overseas colleagues. Various deadlines apply.

Royal Society are also offering funding for Industry Fellowships, which enable academics to work on a collaborative project with industry or vice versa, for up to two years. Deadline 27 March 2014.

Funding is available from the Wellcome Trust to undertake projects that enable the public to explore biomedical science and its impact on society and culture, through their People Awards. Up to £30000 is available, deadline 25 April 2014.

Arts and humanities researchers may be interested in the early career and standard fellowships offered by AHRC. No deadline applies, and the maximum funding available is £250000.

Please note that some funders specify a time for submission as well as a date. Please confirm this with your RKE Support Officer.

You can set up your own personalised alerts on ResearchProfessional. If you need help setting these up, just ask your School’s RKE Officer in RKE Operations or see the recent post on this topic, which includes forthcoming training dates.

British Academy session – slides now available

The British Academy visit, led by Ken Emond (Head of Research Awards) and Kate Kenyon (International Officer) gave a comprehensive overview of the work of the British Academy, the funding schemes they offer.

The slides are available here:

British Academy – November 2012 visit – slides

As part of the presentation, Ken Emond gave some insights into what applicants need to think about when they are writing a proposal.  Please bear his advice in mind when writing your proposal!

  • Is the project feasible? (both in terms of methodology and time-frame)
  • Is the project defined, specific, focused and clearly expressed?  (applications will be assessed by non-experts in the field, so keep jargon and unexplained terms to an absolute minimum)
  • Is there a defined outcome? (ie:  what will you be producing at the end of your research:  publication, database etc).


Interested in applying for British Academy funding?

If you are interested in applying to the British Academy (or to any other research funder), please contact me, and I will put you in touch with the range of support that is available to you.  You will also need to contact the RKEO operations team, as they will be working with you on costing your project.




RCUK impact case studies now online

RCUK logoResearch Councils UK (RCUK) have recently launched a number of best practice case studies online to help inspire you when filling out the Pathways to Impact section of your funding applications.

The Pathways to Impact are designed to encourage you to consider the sorts of activities that may help your research to have an impact. A wide variety of activities have been funded from the Pathways to Impact section, including public engagement, direct collaborations with beneficiaries, events and policy briefings.

The case studies provide personal accounts from RCUK-funded researchers about their approaches and experiences of Pathways to Impact. The case studies also provide guidance and top tips on how you can maximise impact from your research. Tips include avoiding potential pitfalls, such as focusing only on past activities rather than looking ahead to explore the potential impact of the project, and ensuring milestones are included where appropriate along with an explanation of the rationale behind activities.

Further case studies will be added over the coming weeks to build a knowledge bank of experience and best practice that you can draw on.

BSG Calls in Geomorphology

The British Society for Geomorphology has issued three calls in Geomorphological research. 

The first is Innovative and Emerging Techniques in Geomorphology.

Up to £10,000 (ideally £5,000) is available to support the development of new technology and/or analytical techniques in geomorphology as stated in the BSG Mission, Sections 1.5 and 1.6. It is envisaged that the pump-priming of new techniques in geomorphology will support applications to the RCUK. Applications must have a geomorphological focus.

Deadline: 30 September 2012

The second is Early Career Researcher.

Up to £10,000 (ideally £5,000) is available to pump-prime geomorphological research undertaken by an Early-Career Researcher (ECR). We define an ECR as a member of staff who holds an employment contract of 0.2FTE or greater and who started their academic career within four years of the closing date of applications. Note that to be eligible for this scheme, the primary employment function of applicants must be in ‘research’ or ‘teaching and research’, within any HEI or other organisation, whether in the UK or overseas.

PLEASE NOTE: Applicants should state the start date of their career on the application form.

There is no restriction on the type of support eligible for funding (e.g. conference, workshop, field visit, data purchase, lab costs), although consistent with other BSG grant schemes, they will not support salaries. Applications will be evaluated both for the quality of the research, and for its potential to pump-prime subsequent work.

Applicants to the ECR scheme cannot be a Principal Investigator on any other grant bids to the BSG in the same funding round.

Deadline(s): 30 September and 1 February

The third is in Research Networks in SE Asia and China.

Up to £10,000 (ideally £5,000) is available to support development of research networks in SE Asia and China. The purpose of this grant is to bring together global partners with a research interest in the SE Asia or China region. It is envisaged the £10,000 may support one or more workshops or conferences hosted within the region by SE Asia or China colleagues. The region supported by these awards includes India but excludes Japan.

Deadline: 30 September 2012

All applications should be applied for Online through the BSG’s site.

The RKE Operations team can help you with your application.

ISBE and ESRC announce call for Research and Knowledge Exchange Fund

Exploring knowledge exchange and transfer processes and possibilities for SME internationalisation

The Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) Research and Knowledge Exchange (RAKE) fund is an initiative supported by Barclays Bank and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) administered through ISBE.  This initiative aims to encourage and support research activities from academics, third sector organisations, consultants and practitioners with the ambition of drawing together and generating an entrepreneurial community of practice to facilitate knowledge exchange and transfer.

Applications are invited from individuals or teams. Collaborative bids which draw together any combination of third sector organisations, academic researchers, consultants and practitioners are welcome. The Principal Investigator must be employed within a UK institution but may be partnered with an international team. Research teams which demonstrate capacity building through collaborations between experienced and early career academics would be favourably considered; applications which demonstrate ‘in-kind’ contributions from partner organisations are welcomed as are those jointly funded from other sources.  Applications presented as pilot studies, with the aim of generating future funding from other sources, are encouraged. As such, we wish to promote engagement with all who have an interest or stake in generating further insight and understanding into contemporary entrepreneurial activities, behaviours and practices.  For the 2012 call for applications, a number of critical themes have been identified which are of contemporary interest and offer potential to develop knowledge exchange and transfer links.

Exploring processes and possibilities of SME internationalisation

There is a growing focus and interest upon the process of small firm internationalisation which includes ‘born globals’ and those firms tentatively seeking export opportunities.  Axiomatically, smaller firms face a range of challenges related to resource accrual and management when entering international markets. However, a recent survey by UKTI found that the proportion of small UK firms exporting has increased by 10 percent since 2004. In addition, UKTI are actively supporting SME internationalisation on the basis that exporting firms are more productive and innovative, have greater resilient during economic down turns and exhibit lower failure rates than those firms focussed upon local markets.  It would appear that internationalisation is an attractive option for SMEs in terms of potential returns but developing appropriate contacts, networks, resources, managerial capabilities and strategic partnerships is challenging.  Accordingly, we invite proposals which investigate and analyse any aspect of the SME internationalisation process and specifically, any knowledge exchange and transfer issues.  A potential but not exhaustive list of suggestions would include:

• Strategies to overcome barriers to the internationalization process for UK SMEs
• Developing capacity and dynamic capabilities through national and international partnerships between SMEs but also between SMEs and corporate firms
• Evaluations of policy support structures to encourage internationalization – exploring the opportunities of working with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPS), Chambers of Commerce and specific industry support groups
• Regional SME support for developing internalization strategies focused on specific sectors and value added industries
• Enhancing networks and information exchange possibilities between potential export firms and international partners
• Gaining knowledge of and tapping into potential new markets in developing economies
• Using networks and contacts to facilitate the export process

Attention is drawn to the current Business Engagement Strategy of the ESRC which embraces three broad priorities any of which can be mapped onto and integrated with the themes outlined above:

•    Economic Performance and Sustainable Growth
•    Influencing Behaviour and Informing Interventions
•    A Vibrant and Fair Society

Clearly, the contribution of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial activity can be mapped onto these priorities.  Thus, applications which indicate their relevance to these issues would be welcomed.  Despite any distinctive focus, it is emphasised that all proposals must clearly demonstrate and describe relevance to the notion of knowledge transfer and exchange related to the context of the bid.

For this round of funding, they envisage awarding a number of separate grants of around £10,000 – £12,000 each.  These will not support full economic costing given ISBE’s position as a registered charity. Applications for smaller, seed corn funds would not be discounted however, bids of over £12,000 will not be considered.

Successful grant holders will be required to fulfil the following conditions:
• To be in membership of ISBE for the duration of the award
• To present their work at the annual ISBE conference
• To make findings available to the ESRC’s business channel on ESRC Society Today (EST)
• To produce a satisfactory end of award report within three months of the completion of the research
• To recognise the ISBE RAKE fund in any presentations or publications arising from an award
• To report to the RAKE fund management board to discuss research progress

Further details on the aims and constitution of the ISBE RAKE fund can be found at: www.isbe.org.uk/rakefund

The closing date for applications is 5 p.m. Friday 15th June 2012 with notifications of awards given by mid September. It is suggested that the earliest starting date for research projects should be 1st October 2012.

Completed applications may be returned electronically to Chris Rolles at chris@isbe.org.uk To download an electronic application form please click here Please submit applications in MSWord format – not as a PDF file. This enables anonymisation of proposals.

Applicants may contact the following ISBE board members and staff for informal discussions regarding their bids and/or the aims of RAKE:

Professor Susan Marlow s.marlow@bham.ac.uk VP: Research ISBE: RAKE Fund Manager.
Professor Lynn Marting l.martin@mmu.ac.uk ISBE President
Dr Maura McAdam m.mcadam@qub.ac.uk Board Member
Professor Gerard McElwee gerard.mcelwee@ntu.ac.uk Board Member
Professor Dean Patton dpatton@bournemouth.ac.uk Treasurer: ISBE
Lorraine Reese lorraine@isbe .org.uk Business and Events Manager: ISBE

 The RKE Operations team can help you with your application.

Research Development Fund – Small Grants Scheme Closes 31 May

The next round of the internal small grants scheme closes this month on 31st May.  The scheme provides up to £2000 per application for direct costs.

Examples of research activities covered by the RDF include:

  • Pilot projects
  • Pump-priming
  • Interview transcription
  • Fieldwork
  • Visiting major libraries, museums, other research institutions, etc.
  • Organisation of an academic conference at BU with external participants
  • Attendance at external networking events leading to collaborative research proposals
  • Meetings with external organisations to establish collaborations
  • Preparation of specialist material or data
  • Short-term Research Assistant support or replacement teaching
  • Research consumables and equipment (providing it is clear these would not normally be purchased by the School)

This list is not exhaustive; applications can be for other expenses providing it is clear how the funding will benefit research at BU.  This Scheme is only open to BU Academic Staff members (normally restricted to academics based in Schools).

If you would like to apply the application form and full details can be found here.  The applications must be emailed to the Research Development Unit (RDU@bournemouth.ac.uk) by 31st May 2012

Leverhulme Trust – Research Leadership Awards

The Leverhulme Trust has announced that the Research Leadership Awards are now open to applications.  Each university is only allowed to put forward one candidate for this scheme.

The aim of these awards is to support those who have succeeded in beginning a university career but who are then confronted with the task of building a research team able to tackle an identified but distinctive research problem. The awards provide support for research assistants and research students led by the award holder. Applicants will have held a university post for at least two years.


The awards:

• are each for a sum of between £800,000 and £1 million;

• are for the provision of research assistants and research students to build a research group under the direction of the grant holder. A fraction of the award (up to a maximum of 25%) can be used for associated costs;

• are for research activity over a five year period;

• are offered in any subject area within the Trust’s normal remit;

• will be allocated with attention to three selection criteria; namely, first the record and promise of the group leader, secondly the fit of the group’s research involvement and resources, and thirdly the extent to which the work of the group can be seen to bring about a fruitful reshaping of the disciplinary landscape.

More information is available on the Leverhulme website.  If you are considering applying please register your interest with Susan Dowdle asap.

Research Funding, Society & Research @ BU

Over the last decade, but particularly in the last five years, BU has matured into a university with a strong research track record with some of the most talented researchers anywhere in the world.  It is a fantastic success story and one to be justifiably proud.  Take a look at the graph which shows the growth in our published output as depicted by Scopus data; it truly something!  Our output has grown at a rate of over 13% compared to 3.7% for the UK as a whole.

RAE2008 was a milestone in this journey – the fourth most improved University was the well-deserved headline!   There is much to shout about but we also have to think carefully about how we can continue this trajectory building on this foundation.

To do this we will need to find more income.  Our research income per academic FTE remains modest at around £6.5k compared to a sector average of £50k per FTE.  To grow our research base further we need to up our game.  You may ask why?  Well to make another step change and ensure that we are not just left in the stocks as a teaching-only university as the sector shifts in the coming years we need to grow our learning community of research students, research assistants and post-doctoral fellows which are the lifeblood of a successful research active university.   To do this we will need to attract much more external research income.  It is not, however, just a question of bidding more, but critically of increasing the quality of our bids and thereby our success rates.

There are many reasons why a shift to a research culture driven by societal need is important, not least of which is to give something back as a public institution to society, but it is also important to ensure our ability to bid more successfully for funds in the future.  Let me use my own career as an illustration.  My first passion is glacial geology and I spent much of the 1990s studying the esoteric discipline of sediment transport in Arctic glaciers.  It was a fantastic period in my life in which I was perpetually scraping together funds for my next field trip and never more at home than on some frozen glacier.  Money was not easy to come by because in truth there was little funding available for such work, to be blunt it has little or no societal relevance.  It was not until I joined BU in 2002 that I started to reinvent my research direction working for the first time in the field of contaminated land as an environmental geologist and starting to work first in Central America and then in Africa on aspects of human evolution.  During this second part of my career my success rate with Research Councils increased three-fold, as did the total amount of research income I generated.  In essence I shifted from a field with little societal relevance to one with huge value. My passion for research remains but is just directed slightly differently!  At the heart of this story is the fact that I was able to transfer my skills as sedimentologist – someone who studies dirt – from one discipline to another.

Within BU we have a lot of active and talented researchers some of whom are working in fields of societal importance but some whom are not, preferring to pursue their own, often narrow, research agenda.  By shifting to a more societal focus for the majority of our research our ability to generate income and achieve societal impact is likely to be much greater and this is a shift that we need to make together over the next year or so.  A shift which is something that is essential if we are to make BU2018 a reality.

During the last year BU has been through a process of defining societal research themes and it is worth refreshing ourselves about this journey.  The initial candidate set of themes was generated from a trawl of all the priority funding areas for all major research funding bodies (Research Councils, European Commission, major charities, etc).  This list was debated and refined by the BU Professoriate and subject to an all staff survey, in which candidate themes where put to the public vote.  The remaining ten themes were scoped out and defined and then whittled to eight earlier this year via debate on this blog.  These are the research themes on which BU has chosen to focus its societal research effort.  But crucially they are still up for debate, evolution and further discussion.  To this end I recently invited all staff to an event on the 14 December 2011 at which the research themes will be scoped further and networks of researchers created.  If you have not signed up yet I would encourage you to do so!

To register your place at the Fusion Event on 14 December complete this form:

    Your Name (required)

    Your Email (required)

    Your School / Professional Service (required)

    Staff or PGR student? (required)


    Please select the themes that you are interested in (required)

    EPSRC applications now need to include ‘national importance’

    The EPSRC has announced that from the 15th November 2011 their peer reviewers will be asked to assess the national importance of research proposals.  The Council have tried to reassure people that research quality will remain the key criteria by which research proposals are assessed.

    The EPSRC added the following definition of National Importance to their website:

    What is National Importance?

    National importance looks over a 10 to 50 year time frame. It takes into account the national importance of the research in relation to other research in the area, how it aligns to national UK priorities, user/stakeholder pull or if it underpins priority areas for other research councils.

    When considering National Importance for research and training we take into account;

    • the potential impact of a research area on the current or future success of the UK economy,
    • whether it has been identified as an area that will enable the future development of key emerging industry(s),
    • if the area makes a clear contribution to meeting key societal challenges facing the UK,
    • If the area is key to the health of other research disciplines.

    We are asking applicants to demonstrate the importance of their proposed research project to the UK in relation to other research in that area. We do not expect applicants to be able to predict the impact of their research, nor do we expect reviewers to make assumptions about the probability of the benefits being fully delivered. The purpose of national importance is to encourage applicants to articulate how their research aligns to national UK priorities, user/stakeholder pull or if it underpins other research areas. We encourage and recognise the research we invest in has a global impact.

    A full list of the FAQs can be found on their website here.

    Research Council Success Rates

    The Research Councils have created central web-hubs with all the key data on success rates in addition to other useful data on funded grants and overall budgets.

    The data for each council can be accessed from the following links:

    The ESRC seems to have one of the lowest success rates.  In the Nov/Dec 2010 round of their responsive mode grants there was only an 8% success rate.

    The success rates for NERC varied by the scheme, in the last round of the Consortium grants only 1 was funded.  If your research falls within the remit of NERC and you are within 3 years of your first academic post I would encourage you to consider putting together an application for the new investigator scheme as this had the highest success rate of 23% in the last round.  Unfortunately their small grants scheme is about to be withdrawn after the September 2011 deadline.

    For the AHRC the schemes with the highest success rates were the fellowship schemes and the research networking scheme.  The success rates were 40% and 50% for the fellowships and early career fellowships, and 48% for the research networking in 2010-11.

    If you would like guidance on which funder and scheme to apply to then our internal peer review service can provide this along with feedback on your application.