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Researchers’ Weekly Bulletin: the Blog

News for researchers at the Manchester Metropolitan University

National consortium for ORCID set to improve UK research visibility and collaboration

June 29th, 2015

“ORCID – a researcher identifier solution which enables a wide range of improvements to the scholarly communications ecosystem – will now be offered to UK higher education institutions through a national consortium arrangement operated by Jisc.”

“The agreement, negotiated by Jisc Collections, will enable universities to benefit from reduced ORCID membership costs and enhanced technical support. This should accelerate adoption and provide a smoother path to ORCID integration for UK universities.”

“It will ultimately help to transform the management, re-use, and efficiency of the UK research output by improving the integration of research systems and processes, and enhancing data quality.”

“More than 50 UK universities [including MMU] have expressed an interest in joining an ORCID consortium in 2015, with a further 22 saying they intend to join at a later stage.”

[Source Jisc news: ]

Research Matters by PLOS

June 29th, 2015

Research Matters is a new article series in which active scientists speak directly about why basic research in their field matters. It bridges the gap between academic research and the public by explaining how diverse fundamental research assures real and compelling impact on public health, human knowledge and life.”

“The editorial and first articles in this series are from PLOS [The Public Library of Science]  Pathogens Editors-in-Chief Kasturi Haldar and Grant McFadden, scientists whose basic research led them in unexpected directions. They provide vignettes of their respective careers, which they hope will encourage their colleagues to speak out in similar ways.”

[Source PLOS blog: ]

Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE)

June 29th, 2015

“The Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE) is freely accessible and accesses over 70 million documents to help find readers what they’re looking for on the web. Simple yet powerful, BASE offers a few possibilities in its Basic Search, Advanced Search, and Browsing options. For instance, typing “Tibetan Buddhism” into Basic Search returns hundreds of documents, digital library exhibits, and websites in English and other languages. For readers who are looking for more specific sources, the Advanced Search option can be customized to search by title, author, subject headings, URL, as well as by over a dozen document types (books, articles, maps, software, etc.). BASE is an excellent resource for scholars scouring the web for new and better source documents. [CNH]”

[Source Scout Report, 17 April, 2015: ]

The longstanding culture in the social sciences of making data accessible is one to value

June 29th, 2015

“Evidence-based social policy depends on access to rich supplies of high-quality data. But how can we create, curate, enrich and reuse data already collected by government departments and researchers? James Nazroo and Matthew Woollard of the UK Data Service explore the network of trust and expertise that ensures a cost-effective pipeline of productive, policy-relevant data.”

“James Nazroo, a Deputy Director of the UK Data Service writes from a researcher’s point of view:

The launch of the UK Data Service signals a step-change in the way we use and reuse the products of our research. It is about making high-quality data (of all types) easy to get hold of, as easy as possible to use, and providing support for the use of such data. And, by providing an exemplar, it is also about encouraging and supporting others to set up ‘data stores’ that provide easy access to data either directly or through the UK Data Service. Doing this is not straightforward, taking the efforts of a large number of people and involving significant funds. So it is worth thinking about why it is important.”

To continue reading go to:

[UK Data Service blog as above]

New adventures in high street milk

June 29th, 2015

“At first glance, making milk with a lower fat content wouldn’t be considered front-page headline material. We’ve already got low fat milk, and lactose free. What’s the big deal?”

“It’s because when low fat milk is made, the ‘skimmed’ fat ends up sneaking its way back into the food chain – stealthily secreted back into cakes, biscuits and creams. You might abstain from baked highs, but that doesn’t stop that fat being consumed on a nation-wide level. And with milk making up around 17% (£4.6Bn) of the UK’s agricultural economic output each year – that’s a huge amount of fat.”

“And at the country scale, we still exceed the recommended intake of saturated fats and dairy products are a major source (PDF) of them. The UK has the worst rate of adult obesity at 24.9% and among the highest rates of cardiovascular disease in the EU. Yet milk is an excellent source of high quality protein and other nutrients such as calcium and vitamin B12.”

“The challenge is to make milk a healthier product, and one that doesn’t just shift the bad stuff to the wider (ahem) population. It’s been taken up by Professor Ian Givens, a food-chain nutritionist based at the University of Reading, who, working with colleagues from the university as well as a consortium of major industrial suppliers and high-street retailers under BBSRC [Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council]’s DRINC club (see DRINCing to partnerships), has developed a milk lower in saturated fats that can benefit the UK’s entire food chain, not just the informed consumer.”

“Furthermore, the new milk has a lower carbon footprint than regular milk because the process results in lower methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas. The project was so successful that supermarket darling of the UK high street Marks & Spencer have adopted it – not as a niche product – but as the ‘new normal’ in milk sales and a face of the company’s sustainable food plan.”

[Source BBSRC news: ]

Winning Together – a guide to successful corporate-startup collaboration

June 29th, 2015

“How can we keep at the forefront of innovation and new market trends in the digital age? Can we solve key business problems in a quicker and cheaper way? How do we foster a more entrepreneurial mindset among employees?  These are questions most corporate executives and innovation directors have to solve.”

“Corporate innovation strategies are changing considerably. Corporates are waking up to the fact that startups are disrupting whole industries by introducing new technologies, innovative services and disruptive business models. Uber, Airbnb, Spotify are just a few examples. The most important thing to remember is that young digital companies are not necessarily a threat – the right collaboration can present enormous opportunities where both win.”

“To help corporates reap the benefits of collaboration with startups, we’ve produced a guide together with Founders Intelligence and the Startup Europe Partnership. As we show, companies of various sizes and sectors may benefit from collaboration with young, innovative firms.”

[Source Nesta blog: ]

Food and software: telling stories and creativity

June 29th, 2015

“The web and social media have pervaded almost every area of our lives. But few subjects (cats excepted) have created as much online activity as food. In our thousands and millions, we order takeaway from our phones, Instagram pictures of meals, blog about recipes, write restaurant reviews and count our calories.”

“But we seem to divide into two tribes when it comes to food. The Hedonists love a beautiful food photo, a delicious recipe, a Pinterest board, a ‘dirty burger’ pop-up. They are telling stories about themselves through the food that they make and eat. They are seeking new ideas, ‘trending’ ingredients and creative recipes. They may also be looking for guidance – videos are a brilliant tool for instructional content, and learning to cook is a great example. Jamie Oliver’s FoodTube is just one of many YouTube channels showing people how to make dishes, or perhaps just showing one technique in detail.”

“In the other camp are the Functionalists. These hardy souls use the power of data capture and tracking to optimise their diet, make their food shopping more efficient, reduce calories, boost health. The extreme end of this camp are those who make up Soylent shakes – functionally complete mixtures of protein powder, oats and oil that sustain but bring little pleasure. Others may join this camp through necessity, seeking the information they need to construct a diet that will not make them sick, navigating hidden ingredients and allergens.”

“Software has a chequered history in the kitchen. Some of the earliest home computers boasted the ability to store and retrieve recipes or shopping lists.”

To read more go to:

[Source Nesta blog as above]

Study in twins finds blood protein that may indicate risk of Alzheimer’s disease

June 29th, 2015

“Scientists have identified a single blood protein that may indicate the development of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) years before symptoms appear, a disorder that has been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.”

“The research, published [ ] in Translational Psychiatry, used data from over 100 sets of twins from TwinsUK, the biggest adult twin cohort in the UK. The use of 55 identical twin-pairs in the study allowed researchers to show that the association between the blood protein and a ten year decline in cognitive ability was independent of age and genetics, both of which are already known to affect the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.”

“The study, the largest of its kind to date, measured over 1,000 proteins in the blood of over 200 healthy individuals using a laboratory test called SOMAscan*, a protein biomarker discovery tool that simultaneously measures a wide range of different proteins. Using a computerised test, the researchers then assessed each individual’s cognitive ability, and compared the results with the measured levels of each different protein in the blood.”

“For the first time, they found that the blood level of a protein called MAPKAPK5 was, on average, lower in individuals whose cognitive ability declined over a ten year period.!

The paper, entitled ‘Plasma protein biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease endophenotypes in asymptomatic older twins: early cognitive decline and regional bran volumes’, by Kiddle et al, doi:10.1038/tp.2015.78, will be published (Open Access) in Translational Psychiatry.

[Source Medical Research Council news: ]


Do you think like a typical Brit? Test how you compare with other nationalities

June 29th, 2015

“Have you ever wondered whether all people think the same way, or whether cultural differences across the world mean people’s minds work differently? A new app, ‘Global Village: Discover Your Thinking Style’, lets you compare your own thinking style with the rest of the world. Devised by researchers at Durham University and Queen Mary University of London, and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council [ESRC], the free app lets users discover which nationality they most think like.”

“Previous research has shown that people from Western societies like the US and UK often think differently to ‘non-Westerners’ from countries like Japan and China. For example, they tend to group objects according to formal categories, while non-Westerners instead group according to the relationships between objects. When asked whether a cow should be paired with grass or a chicken, people from the US tend to choose the chicken because cows and chickens are both farmyard animals. People from China tend to choose the grass, because cows eat grass.”

“In social relationships, Westerners tend to be more individualistic, which means that they see themselves as separate from others and are motivated more by personal goals and achievements. Non-Westerners, on the other hand, are more collectivistic; they see themselves as part of larger social groups and are motivated more by the success of their family or social group.”

“The Global Village app works out thinking styles through a mixture of games and quizzes. After completing the tasks the app gives users a score and allows them to compare this to the average score recorded in different countries, to reveal which nationality they most think like.”

[Source ESRC news: ]

Doodling with a desperate sub-text

June 29th, 2015

“Europeana isn’t all ancient art and trench warfare. There’s modern stuff in the collections too. But because it’s recent, a lot of it is still in copyright, which means it can’t be easily shared in places like this blog. But here’s one gem of a collection that has been made available.”

“Artist Bobby Baker compiled a collection of drawings over an eleven-year period from 1997-2008 while she was a patient in a day centre, following a diagnosis of so-called ‘borderline personality disorder’. Originally private, the drawings gradually became a way for her to communicate complex thoughts and emotions that are difficult to articulate, to her family, friends and professionals.”

“The drawings chart Bobby’s treatment in day hospitals and acute psychiatric wards, psychological therapies, mediation and the UK’s NHS mental health ‘system’, as well as her family life, friends and work, and the joy of slowly getting better.”

[Source Europeana blog: ]

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