Researchers’ Weekly Bulletin: the Blog

News for researchers at the Manchester Metropolitan University

Eight things you think are true – but science scoffs at

July 6th, 2015

“The five-second rule won’t save you from germs and the blue whale isn’t actually the earth’s largest living organism.”

“From star signs to homeopathy, humans believe in strange things. Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, the incoming president of the Royal Society, recently described us as being ‘intrinsically prone to being irrational’. He pointed out that science has a role in countering this, which got me thinking about the common myths that persist, in spite of scientific evidence telling us otherwise. While not quite in the same league as astrology and homeopathy – two bugbears of Venki and scientists the world over – I hope this odd collection of not-so-conventional wisdom will at least right some small wrongs.”

To find out what they are go to:

[Source Guardian HE network as above]

Call for contributions: Wellcome Image Awards 2016

July 6th, 2015

“The call for contributions for the Wellcome Image Awards 2016 is now open. The deadline is 9 September 2015, and all submitted images will be considered for the Awards, to be held in March 2016.”

“First held in 1997, the Wellcome Image Awards are organised each year to celebrate the best science-imaging talent and techniques. The winning images will be exhibited in galleries and science centres throughout the UK and around the world.”

“Wellcome Images is always on the lookout for high-quality imagery that relates to biomedical science and contemporary healthcare. Its collections cover all artistic media and imaging techniques, from hand-drawn illustrations to super-resolution microscopy and functional MRI scans. Placing images in a picture library such as Wellcome Images is an excellent way for researchers and scientists to engage with the public and to increase understanding of their work. The Wellcome Image Awards are an opportunity to celebrate both the aesthetic beauty of scientific images, and the range of incredible techniques used to create them.”

The deadline for submissions to the 2016 Wellcome Image Awards is 09 September 2015.

[Source Wellcome Trust news: ]

Nature: The Specials Archive

July 6th, 2015

“The Specials Archive at Nature, the international weekly journal of science, contains wonders. Hundreds of supplements cover a staggering range of topics, from science in India to controversies in stem cell research, from the latest in microscopy, to the advances in microbial genetics. Readers may view all specials, or limit their search to one of five categories: Biological sciences specials, Chemical sciences specials, Earth & Environmental sciences specials, Physical sciences specials, and Community and Society specials. They may also browse the Subject Category and Article Category archives, or search by Author and Subject Index. One particular special of note, The University Experiment, may be of special interest to Scout Readers as it chronicles the pressure on universities to not only produce and convey knowledge, but to be ‘engines of economic growth, beacons of equal opportunity, laboratories for new modes of learning and more.’ [CNH]”

[Source Scout Report, 19 June 2015: ]

Major boost to UK robotics capability with launch of EPSRC UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network

July 6th, 2015

“The UK’s ability to develop and exploit the vast potential of Robotics and Autonomous Systems was given a major boost today with the formal launch of The EPSRC [Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council] UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network (UK-RAS Network).”

“The Network will bring together the UK’s core academic capabilities in robotics innovation under national coordination for the first time and encourage academic and industry collaborations that will accelerate the development and adoption of robotics and autonomous systems.”

“The new network has already received strong support by major industrial partners, the Science Museum and the UK’s major professional engineering bodies including Royal Academy of Engineering, IET, and The Institute of Mechanical Engineers. The Network will expand to include broader stakeholders including key national laboratories in the UK and leading international collaborators in both academia and industry. The global market for service and industrial robots is estimated to reach $59.5 billion by 2020.”

“The Network will organise a wide range of activities including network and strategic roadmap events such as the UK Robotics conference, symposia and focused workshops, public engagement and exhibitions. It will also have extensive online engagement activities using social media and web and user forums. The Network aims to strengthen the relationship with industry by supporting interdisciplinary mobility and industrial secondment and developing proof-of-concept (PoC) projects and running design challenges. There is also a strong emphasis on government policy and high-level engagement with international stakeholders.”

[Source EPSRC news: ]

The National Archives receives first born-digital records from government departments

July 6th, 2015

“As part of The National Archives’ pioneering digital transfer project, the first born-digital records have been transferred from a government department to The National Archives and are available on our online catalogue, Discovery.”

“This represents a key milestone for how we collect, preserve and present records in a digital format. These are records that have been created originally as digital records such as emails, documents, and spreadsheets.”

“The records [ ] were transferred from the Welsh Government and consist of both digital and paper components, known as hybrid records, from the Welsh Language Board relating to the development of the Welsh language policy since 2006 (see WA 11, WA 12 and WA 13). The National Archives also followed the born-digital transfer process and transferred some of our own records (RW 33) which relate to document conservation images and operational processes relating to digital preservation.”

“In the years ahead, the majority of transfers will be hybrid records. We are working to ensure that we can store and present all types of digital material efficiently, effectively and, importantly, at scale.”

“Next year will see the first large scale transfers of born-digital records from government departments to The National Archives.”

[Source National Archives news: ]

Bloodless malaria test passes first test in humans

July 6th, 2015

“A new laser test that can detect malaria in seconds with a simple skin scan is the first in-human device to diagnose the disease without drawing blood.”

“The device works by sending a safe laser pulse through the skin to a blood vessel. Here, if present, tiny parts of malaria parasites (called hemozoin) absorb the laser light. This causes them to instantly heat up and produce a microscopic vapour ‘nanobubble’. When this transient vapour bubble bursts, it produces an acoustic ‘pop’ which is detected through the skin by a sensor, indicating the presence of malaria.”

“The fast, non-invasive test can detect malaria in both humans and mosquitoes. It has advantages over current techniques because it does not depend on blood sampling, reagents, facilities or trained personnel. The simplicity – it can be operated by non-medical personnel – and sensitivity of the test mean it could be a low-cost, safe and universal tool for clinical and field diagnoses.”

“The study, published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, involved using the device on a patient with confirmed malaria and in non-infected people as controls to assess the technical and medical feasibility of using the technique for malaria diagnosis and screening.”

Here is the link to the article (Open Access):

[Source Medical Research council news: ]

Does your data work for you?

July 6th, 2015

Emma Quinn at Nesta writes:

“Data is the first of five themes we’re exploring as we share the learnings from Digital R&D Fund for the Arts. How can you make a bigger cultural impact by using your data wisely?”

“It’s all about data, Big Data, lots of the stuff.  That’s what we’re told, but what does it really mean for the cultural sector? It all seems a bit daunting, especially if you are new to this burgeoning field.”

“Through the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts, we’ve supported a number of projects that investigate how to use the kind of data that pretty much every cultural organisation in the country has generated itself or can access.”

“To share what we’ve learned we have a guide on how you can utilise your data and a video to share how some of the great R&D projects have made their data work for them. There is also a toolkit to help you explore this and other digital possibilities.”

To download the guide go to:

[Source Nesta blog: ]

Who are you? Recognising researchers with ORCID identifiers

July 6th, 2015

“Strategic insights can only be as strong as the evidence they’re built upon, and evidence about researchers and their activities can be surprisingly hard to come by. Jonathon Kram of the Evaluation Team at Wellcome explains the importance of infrastructure and the reasoning behind Wellcome’s new mandate for Open Researcher and Contributor iDs. This article was originally published on the ORCID blog.”

“We at Wellcome are happy to announce that we’re about to start mandating ORCID as part of our grant application process. Starting in August 2015, we will ask all applicants to provide an ORCID iD when they sign up with our grant application system – creating one takes just 30 seconds at and, if you haven’t seen an ORCID iD before, the best introduction is to check out an example.”

“The simplicity of a single profile, however, belies its true power: as plumbing. By allocating and centralising the identities of researchers, systems which previously could not exchange flows of data now can. By moving from full names to unique identifiers (referring to Dr Craig Roberts as 0000-0002-9641-6101, rather than “C. Roberts”) different interested parties can start reliably talking about the same people, which is a vital first step toward any deeper understanding of researchers, artists, and their activities.”

“Nearly 1.5 million researchers across the globe have in some way recognised this value and created ORCID iD and an increasing number of publishers, funders, HEIs and researcher information platforms are now requesting the inclusion of an ORCID iD in their workflows.”

To read more of the blog go to:

[Source Wellcome blog as above]

Metaphor Map to give bird’s eye view on metaphorical usage over the centuries

July 6th, 2015

“English language metaphors are “as old as the hills” – or 13 centuries old at the very least – researchers at the School of Critical Studies at the University of Glasgow have found.”

“They have just completed a three-year-long project which traces metaphor over the entire history of the English language, creating the first ever Metaphor Map resource which contains the thousands of metaphorical connections that the researchers have identified.”

“The Metaphor Map is based on the data contained in the Historical Thesaurus of English, which took from 1966-2009 to compile, and its own parent resource, the Oxford English Dictionary. The researchers, who have been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), have been able to identify well over 10,000 metaphorical connections between different categories and track how language use has changed over the centuries.”

“The Metaphor Map is still a work in progress, but once complete it will also include tens of thousands of examples of words with metaphorical senses; to date, around a quarter of these have been put online.”

To explore the Metaphor Map go to:

[Source AHRC news: ]

HSCIC launches consultation on smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England

July 6th, 2015

“The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has launched a consultation on the future format and content of the survey of Smoking Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England (SDD).”

“HSCIC would like to determine what information on smoking, drinking and drug use amongst young people is collected through this survey in the future and how it is reported. Please respond to the HSCIC questionnaire online: feedback is requested by 3 August 2015.”

“Prompted by the increasing difficulty in securing external funding for the survey in recent years, the HSCIC is presenting users with three options (see section 6 of the full SDD consultation) for content of the surveys that will definitely go ahead in 2016 and 2018. The HSCIC is requesting that users rank these options to indicate which would best suit their needs.”

“Under one of the options presented in the full SDD consultation, some of the more in-depth content of the questionnaire would have to be reduced – HSCIC is therefore also consulting users on what topic areas could be cut from the survey, if necessary, under this option.”

“HSCIC is also seeking users’ views on how useful the outputs from the survey are (e.g. the report, the tables and the dataset) and any ideas users may have to improve these.”

[Source UK Data Service: ]