Researchers’ Weekly Bulletin: the Blog

News for researchers at the Manchester Metropolitan University


May 24th, 2016

“FutureFest is a weekend festival of ideas, talks, and interactive performances to inspire people to change the future. We use FutureFest to gather some of the planet’s most radical thinkers, makers and performers together to create an immersive experience of what the world might be like in decades to come.”

“Our weekend festival is held every 18 months and the next FutureFest will take place 17-18 September 2016 at Tobacco Dock, London.”

[Source Nesta website: ]

Universities and councils join forces to help communities

May 24th, 2016

“Leaders from universities and councils will be working together on a pilot project designed to help areas drive growth, re-design public services and strengthen the relationship between communities and academic institutions.”

“Pilots for the Leading Places Project will be rolled out in Gloucestershire, Manchester, Newcastle and Gateshead, Brighton and Sussex, Bristol, and Coventry/Warwickshire this month.”

“The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents over 370 councils in England and Wales, Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), which funds and regulates the higher education sector, and Universities UK (UUK), will work with the pilots and evaluate performance.”

“Pilots will involve university Vice-Chancellors and council Chief Executives and Leaders meeting to agree a local priority under the guidance of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. This could boost jobs as a result of university researchers identifying skill gaps and training being organised for new workers to fill them.”

[Source Local Government website: ]

Innovations are needed if Big Data is to boost jobs, says new research

May 24th, 2016

“Phenomenal quantities of valuable data are now being collected and created by UK businesses but much of its commercial potential remains untapped.”

“Fears of data leaks and of losing control are the key reasons why companies are hoarding data rather than sharing or trading it openly and transparently or turning it into profitable information-based products and services.”

“These are the key findings from an investigation carried out by Imperial College Business School with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The team has worked closely with organisations such as the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Ofcom, IBM and the BBC.”

“On average, data-based capital contributed just 0.015 per cent to UK GDP each year over the period studied by the team, even though investment in data-based assets in the UK reached US$7 billion in 2013 – which equates to around 40 per cent of the amount invested in R&D.”

“Turning data into a widely traded, growth-boosting commodity similar to oil, for example, would require (i) a clearer regulatory framework and (ii) low-cost trading mechanisms enabling data to be exchanged in vibrant digital market-places without sensitive information about its originators being revealed.”

[Source EPSRC news: ]

United Nations Environment Programme: Resources and Data

May 24th, 2016

“The United Nations Environment Programme works with partners worldwide to encourage sustainable development through sound environmental practices. Over the years, the UNEP has amassed an impressive array of resources and data about a range of ecologically-related topics. Readers may search for specific resources or datasets, or scout the site based on five different Types of Content: Spatial Data/Maps, Books, Reports, Journal Papers, and Online Tools. However readers choose to sort the categories, the contents of the site are informative, featuring articles on the world’s drylands, the system of environmental-economic accounting, and many other erudite topics. Readers may also opt to Search the Biodiversity Heritage Library for a collection of historical publications from the UNEP and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC). [CNH]”

[Source Scout Report, 25 March, 2016: ]

Proquest databases change of name

May 24th, 2016

As of 1st June 2016, Proquest are changing the names of many of its databases. The databases we have that are affected are:

Old Database name:                                                                         New Database name:
BHI: British Humanities Index Humanities Index
Intl Index Performing Arts Full Text Package Performing Arts Database
ProQuest Criminal Justice Criminal Justice Database


Digital Library Services will update the information in the database A-Z list on the library website to reflect these changes.

[Source email from Catherine Broadley, Digital Library Services]

Lithium may be better than newer drugs at reducing self-harm in bipolar disorder

May 24th, 2016

“A large Medical Research Council (MRC)-funded study of 6,671 patients with bipolar disorder has found that using lithium reduces levels self-harm and unintended injury when compared to three other common and newer medications prescribed for the condition. It is thought this is because lithium reduces aggressiveness and impulsive behaviour.”

“Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that mostly affects mood. People with the condition experience severe mood swings from extreme highs to lows with episodes lasting up to weeks. People can experience several highs before a low and vice versa. It can affect up to one in 100 people during their lifetime.”

“Self-harm is one of the symptoms of bipolar disorder, and those who self-harm have a substantial increased risk of suicide. People with bipolar disorder are 15 times more likely to die by suicide than the general population and six times more likely to die because of accidental injury, for example falls, or to be involved in a car accident. The effects of medication on these outcomes has been hard to measure as people with a history of self-harm are often excluded from clinical trials.”

[Source MRC news: ]


Evidence Centre for Housing

May 24th, 2016

“The AHRC [Arts and Humanities Research Council] is collaborating with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) to commission an independent, multidisciplinary evidence centre for UK housing.”

“The AHRC is looking to encourage Art and Humanities researchers to consider involvement in bids for the call for collaborative applications and where interested to sign up for the associated Consortium Building Event on 2 June 2016.”

“The funders are looking for the Centre to focus on connectivity, accessibility and integration of evidence, and joining up different stakeholders and sectors to provide recommendations for housing policy and practice. It will be tasked with synthesising existing research, bringing together survey data, and developing a pipeline of evidence on housing, conducting and facilitating new research in areas where knowledge gaps are identified. Further details of the call are available on the ESRC Website:

[Source AHRC website: ]

STEM and computer sciences reviews show that improving employment outcomes is a shared responsibility

May 24th, 2016

“Two reviews published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, looking at employment outcomes among science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates, find that responsibility for improving these outcomes needs to be shared between higher education providers, employers and students.”

“The Government’s 2014 Science and Innovation Strategy commissioned two independent reviews to look into the employment outcomes of graduates from STEM and, specifically, computer sciences. This followed concerns about the number of STEM graduates who appeared to be unemployed six months after graduation, the employment figures for computer sciences being the lowest of all STEM subjects. The reviews also considered systems of degree accreditation and looked at what employers say they want from graduates.”

[Source HEFCE news:,107977,en.html ]

New tool to Visualise EPSRC Knowledge

May 24th, 2016

“The Knowledge Map visualisation tool allows users to explore amalgamated views of the individual research area classifications by EPSRC [Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council] Theme, Industrial Strategy and those of the Eight Great Technologies which are most relevant to EPSRC.”

“The EPSRC knowledge map refresh project provides a richer picture of the UK research landscape through our strategic relationships with Universities, particularly activity within EPSRC’s remit which is funded through other sources. A key objective was to begin to communicate the wider landscape across engineering and the physical sciences to a range of stakeholders including government and business.”

“The purpose of gathering this data was not to influence funding decisions, but was to:

  • Enable teams within EPSRC to form a more detailed picture of the engineering and physical sciences landscape within their areas.
  • Provide a tool to support universities in their understanding of their own institutions within the EPSRC portfolio and wider EPS landscape and inform future strategy.
  • Share high level information on UK capability with Research Councils and our Partner Organisations (across both the university and user base) to inform both existing and future collaborations and strategy development.
  • Support communication of the extent and value of the engineering and physical sciences landscape to broader stakeholders.”

[Source EPSRC website: ]

Climate change data creates a storm

May 16th, 2016

“A powerful visualisation of rising global temperatures has captured the collective imagination.”

“Dr Ed Hawkins’ spiral graph has gone viral on social media and attracted international media coverage praising its elegant visualisation of the well-documented rise in global temperatures from 1850 to the present.”

“A climate scientist from the University of Reading, Dr Hawkins is a NERC [Natural environment Research Council] advanced fellow and was principal investigator on the NERC-funded APPOSITE (Arctic Predictability & Prediction On Seasonal to Inter-annual Timescales) research programme.”

“He created the graphic by plotting historic monthly temperature data in a spiral. For each year, there are twelve data points – one for each month – which are plotted around a circle – with warmer temperatures farther out and colder temperatures closer in. Viewers watch the graph spiral outwards, starting out blue and turning yellow as the Earth gets warmer.” “The line gradually gets closer to the critical global temperature thresholds of 1·5° and 2°, represented by red circles.”

[Source NERC press release: ]