Manchester Metropolitan University home page
Library home page

Researchers’ Weekly Bulletin: the Blog

News for researchers at the Manchester Metropolitan University

May Flowers

May 22nd, 2017

“Spring has officially sprung in the northeastern United States, and as any allergy sufferer can tell you, this has been a particularly brutal year in terms of irritating pollen. But with that irritation comes the riot of colors of spring blooms. Jamie Scott’s stunning time lapse video of flowers blooming took three years to create, filled 8 terabytes of disc space and required enormous logistical efforts to coordinate camera movements to compensate for the growth of the plants being photographed. The end results are spectacular.”

[Source Scholarly Kitchen: ]

Tricking the Impossible: word and type: Penny Rimbaud and Bracketpress

May 22nd, 2017

24 April – 25 August 2017

MMU Special Collections Gallery,

3rd Floor,

Sir Kenneth Green Library

“This exhibition examines the close, collaborative relationship between the author Penny Rimbaud (co-founder of the highly influential punk rock collective Crass) and typesetter and book designer Christian Brett. The exhibition draws on extensive archive material from the Bracketpress archive held at Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections. Brett’s collaborations with Rimbaud employ many expressive and conceptual typographic tricks, creating visually exciting designs for some very challenging texts. Along with published material (novels, essays, poetry and music) the exhibition also includes working designs for as yet unpublished works.”

“Bracketpress is an independent radical publisher of books, pamphlets and limited edition prints co-founded by Christian Brett & Alice Smith. The exhibition is part of RANDOM Archive, a collaborative project with Bury Art Museum & Sculpture Centre exploring text and type.”

[Source Manchester Met Library Special collections: ]

The Neglected Books Page

May 22nd, 2017

“In 2006, Jane Smiley published a book called 13 Ways of Looking at a Novel, in which the author recounted reading 100 novels. When Brad Bigelow read Smiley’s book, he recognized 99 of these titles. However, he had never heard of The Moonflower Vine, a 1966 book by Jetta Carleton. Bigelow managed to track down Carleton’s book – which had since gone out of print – and blogged about the novel. Remarkably, Bigelow attracted the attention of enough folks to get the book back in print. He also established a new blog, the Neglected Book Page, dedicated to books that have slipped into obscurity. (Readers can read an in-depth profile of Bigelow and this project in the March 8, 2016 New Yorker article, “The Custodian of Forgotten Books.”) Since then, Bigelow and others have written about dozens of books, authors, and poets. The team tracks down neglected books through a variety of sources, including archived book reviews from popular magazines and works of literary criticism. Each entry on the Neglected Books Page includes a description of the work or author along with available historical information. Visitors can search for past entries by the Source of each book’s “discovery” or by a number of Categories, such as Gems from the Internet Archive, Reader’s Recommendation, and “Justly Neglected?” [MMB]”

[Source Scout Report, 5 May, 2017: ]

It’s time to start taking the control of our personal data seriously

May 22nd, 2017

“Nesta’s new project DECODE aims to give people better control of their personal data.”

“How many people could tell you honestly that they know where all of the personal data they have created on the internet is, who has access to it and what it is used for? Our guess is it would not be many.”

“As a society, our actions suggest we are pretty relaxed about our personal data. While 67 per cent of people report, when surveyed, that they are concerned about what happens to their data, their behaviour does not seem to reflect this. There are nearly 2bn monthly active users of Facebook alone. Approximately 75 per cent of people agree to free social media website and app download terms and conditions without reading them. Perhaps that’s because getting something for free trumps what happens with your data when you use it. Or perhaps it’s because users simply don’t appreciate the bargain they’re making when they use such services.”

[Source Nesta blog: ]

What is research impact and why is it so important?

May 22nd, 2017

“Rachel Oldroyd, UK Data Service Data Impact Fellow and Quantitative Human Geographer at the University of Leeds, shares her perspective on research impact.”

“Impact – a word that is used so frequently in academic and non-academic circles alike, but what is it and why is it so important? With so many definitions, the meaning varies greatly across institutions and disciplines, but there seems to be a certain agreement around one broad definition. Impact is the effect that research has beyond academia. Whether that’s how the understanding of a complex social theory affects policy and improves community life, or how a newly developed vaccine reduces the spread of disease among a population. Impact is certainly not a new concept, however its incorporation into the 2020 Research Excellence Framework (REF) has initiated a shift away from pure research excellence towards a focus on research dissemination and the effect on wider society.”

To read the rest of the blog go to:

[Source UK Data Service blog]

To err is algorithm: Algorithmic fallibility and economic organisation

May 22nd, 2017

“Algorithmic fails”

“Dig below the surface of some of today’s biggest tech controversies and you are likely to find an algorithm misfiring:

  • YouTube advertising controversy: The algorithm placed adverts from some of the biggest global brands on videos with hate speech
  • Facebook video controversy: The algorithm posted violent videos in its users’ feeds.
  • Google auto-complete controversy: The algorithm directed people looking for information about the Holocaust to neo-Nazi websites”

“These errors are not primarily caused by problems in the data that can make algorithms discriminatory, or their inability to improvise creatively. No, they stem from something more fundamental: the fact that algorithms, even when they are generating routine predictions based on non-biased data, will make errors. To err is algorithm.”

“The costs and benefits of algorithmic decision-making”

“We should not stop using algorithms simply because they make errors.[2] Without them, many popular and useful services would be unviable.[3] However, we need to recognise that algorithms are fallible, and that their failures have costs. This points at an important trade-off between more (algorithm-enabled) beneficial decisions and more (algorithm-caused) costly errors. Where lies the balance?”

[Source Nesta blog: ]

Calling all MRC-funded PhD students!

May 22nd, 2017

“The MRC’s [Medical Research Council] 2017 Max Perutz Science Writing Award is now open.”

“The MRC Max Perutz Science Writing Award is one of the ways the MRC encourages MRC-funded PhD students to develop outstanding communication skills and engage with the wider public about their work.”

“Now in its 20th year, the award is named after the eminent scientist and Nobel Laureate Dr Max Perutz, an accomplished and natural communicator who died in 2002. Since the competition began in 1998, hundreds of MRC researchers have submitted entries and taken their first steps in communicating their research to the public.”

“The challenge is to write 800 words for a lay audience and explain ‘Why does my research matter?’. The winner gets £1,500 and their article published on the MRC Insight blog and the MRC website. There will also be a runner up prize (£500) and two highly commended (£250) prizes.”

For more information, and to enter the competition, go to:

[Source MRC news: ]

New digital continuity guidance

May 22nd, 2017

“The way we record and store information is constantly changing – from paper, to hybrid documents such as digitised surrogates, to born-digital records such as emails and digital photographs.”

“Digital storage is more delicate than paper, parchment or stone. A stone tablet locked behind museum glass has inherent value if you can read and understand the language; this is not the case with digital material, which relies on contingent hardware and software to remain accessible. Therefore, it is vital that digital information is managed in a systematic way.”

“Digital continuity is the ability to use information in the way you need, for as long as you need. Information is usable if you can find it, open it, work with it, understand it and trust it.”

“Imagine if you couldn’t find information requested by your minister for a public inquiry or parliamentary questions because it was saved in an unsupported format. Imagine if you couldn’t claim pension benefits because your records were mismanaged and became corrupted. Imagine if the servers that held the only copies of your company’s records were destroyed by a natural disaster or sabotage.”

“The National Archives has developed step-by step guidance to help you plan for, define, manage and maintain digital continuity.”

[Source National Archives blog: ]

Mental Health Awareness Week

May 15th, 2017

“Mental Health Awareness Week is a national campaign launched by the Mental Health Foundation and is taking place from 8 to 14 May 2017.”

“This year’s campaign ‘Surviving or Thriving? The state of the UK’s mental health’, considers how we can actively develop and support good mental health.”

“‘Good mental health is not just the absence of a mental health problem, but having the ability to think, feel and act in a way that allows us to enjoy life and deal with the challenges it presents. Yet it can be easy to assume that ongoing stress is the price we have to pay to keep our lives on track.’ (Mental Health Foundation)”

“In March 2017, the Mental Health Foundation commissioned NatCen to carry out a survey amongst its panel members in England, Scotland and Wales. The survey aimed to understand the prevalence of self-reported mental health problems, levels of positive and negative mental health in the population, and the actions people take to deal with the stress in their lives. 2,290 interviews were completed, with 82% online and 18% by phone.”

“The findings show that current levels of good mental healthare very low, with only a small minority of people (13%) reporting to live with high levels of good mental health. The figures also suggest that the experience of poor mental health, while touching every age and demographic, is not evenly distributed. According to the findings, being female, a young adult, on low income, living alone or in a large household, increases the risk of facing mental ill health.”

Find out more about the survey and its findings here:

“The UK Data Service holds several datasets related to mental health, which are available to download and use. Some of the most important studies containing data on mental health are:

  • Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey
  • Community Mental Health Service User Survey
  • English Longitudinal Study of Ageing
  • Health Survey for England
  • National Child Development Study
  • Scottish Health Survey
  • Understanding Society
  • Welsh Health Survey
  • 1970 British Cohort Study”

[Source UK Data Service news: ]

Global Gender Gap Report 2016

May 15th, 2017

“This resource created by the New York City-based data visualization agency TWO-N, provides a number of visualizations based on the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) November 2016 Global Gender Gap Report. This report, released annually since 2006, measures a variety of statistics related to gender parity in 144 countries. From these statistics, the WEF assigns each country with a percentage score that reflects the extent of gender equity in that nation. The WEF also evaluates geopolitical regions and sorts statistics into four categories: Economic, Political, Health, and Education. For this visualization project, 2-N has organized country rankings into a number of interactive graphs. Visitors may select different measurements and compare these countries to one another. There is also a timeline feature, where visitors may compare data across years as they slide the timeline marker between 2006 and 2016. Links for downloading the full 2016 report (391 pages in total) and the raw data are available at the bottom of this page. [MMB]”

[Source Scout Report, 5 May, 2017: ]