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Researchers’ Weekly Bulletin: the Blog

News for researchers at the Manchester Metropolitan University

Damaged salad leaves can ‘massively stimulate’ Salmonella presence in bagged salads

Monday, November 28th, 2016

“Investigations by University of Leicester microbiologists, supported by BBSRC, have revealed that just a small amount of damage to salad leaves could massively stimulate the presence of the food poisoning bug Salmonella in ready-prepared salad leaves.”

“The scientists have discovered that juices released from damaged leaves also had the effect of enhancing the virulence of the pathogen, potentially increasing its ability to cause infection in the consumer.”

“The research is led by Dr Primrose Freestone of the University’s Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation and PhD student Giannis Koukkidis, who has been funded by a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) i-case Studentship.”

“Their research investigates novel methods of preventing food poisoning pathogens from attaching to the surface of salad leaves to help producers improve food safety for consumers. This latest study, published today (18 November) in Applied and Environmental Microbiology found that juices from damaged leaves in bagged spinach and mixed salad increased Salmonella pathogen growth 2400-fold over a control group and also enhanced their adherence to surfaces and overall virulence, or capacity to cause disease.”

To read the article (Open Access) go to:

[Source BBSRC news: ]

See the data behind the Joseph Rowntree Foundation strategy on UK poverty

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

“The independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has today launched a five-point plan to solve poverty in the UK by 2030. It is the most comprehensive strategy of its kind and looks at poverty across all groups in the UK.”

“The JRF calculate that poverty costs the UK £78 billion a year, £1,200 for every person and equivalent to 4 per cent of the UK’s GDP. £69 billion of this figure is spent on the public services needed to deal with poverty – £1 in every £5 spent on public services. A further £9 billion is lost tax revenue and additional benefits spending due to the knock-on effects of poverty in later life.”

“In drawing together this strategy the JRF has worked with experts in research and practice and commissioned and analysed a large body of evidence. Data from the UK Data Service collection was heavily used in preparing the report, with the JRF drawing on research which use, among others, the Family Resources Survey, Understanding Society, the Labour Force Survey, Living Costs and Food Survey and Households Below Average Income. Population data was drawn from the Census and British Election Study.”

“JRF’s plan focuses on 5 key areas of action:

  • boost incomes and reduce costs
  • deliver an effective benefits system
  • improve education standards and raise skills
  • strengthen families and communities
  • promote long-term economic growth benefiting everyone.”

You can access the full report via the Joseph Rowntree Foundation:

[Source UK Data Service news: ]

Towards Open Research – a new report from the UK Data Service

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

“Data experts from the UK Data Service and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have been working together on a project to investigate researcher’s attitudes and behaviours towards open research.”

“Commissioned by the Wellcome Trust, the project considered the sharing and reuse of research data, code, and open access publications in order to identify practical actions the Wellcome Trust can implement to remove barriers and maximise the opportunities for practicing open science.”

“The project gathered evidence from 842 researchers via a survey and focus group discussions, with the findings showing open research practices are increasing and the benefits outweigh the barriers for most researchers. Researchers report new collaborations and increased citation rates as benefits from data sharing. Whilst fear of misuse and loss of publication opportunities remain as barriers, these are largely unfounded as very few researchers have actually had direct bad experiences from data sharing. However, researchers noted that preparing data for reuse could be time consuming and costly.”

“Code sharing is more in its infancy, being less practised, resulting in fewer benefits, but is also less problematic for researchers. No significant barriers to code sharing exist, other than the time, funding and skills needed to prepare code for sharing, especially due to rapid software changes that makes long-term validity challenging. Rewards and recognition for practising open research would motivate researchers to make research data and code more readily available.”

Read the full report, Towards Open Research: practices, experiences, barriers and opportunities on figshare:

[Source UK Data Service news: ]

Nature: The Polling Crisis: How to Tell What People Really Think

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

“Until recently, pollsters telephoned residential phone numbers in order to predict the outcomes of presidential elections. Today, many people use mobile phones instead of landlines; in fact, the number of households with landlines has dropped from 8 in 10 in 2008 to just 5 in 10 in 2015. In addition, cell phone owners are substantially less likely to pick up their phones when they see an unknown number. With this in mind, how can the public be accurately polled for the 2016 election? Are individuals who pick up their phones – whether landline or cell phone – really representative of voters as a whole? This recent article in Nature explores these questions. The author also highlights possible new polling techniques, including the incorporation of “big data” to create more accurate poll predictions. The article includes an accompanying podcast episode that highlights polling information from the United States and Great Britain. Research citations are provided for those interested in further reading. [MMB]”

To read the article go to:

[Source Scout Report, 28 October, 2016: ]

Warming temperatures can reduce marine diversity but increase freshwater species – showing climate change responses are likely habitat-dependent

Monday, November 7th, 2016

“In contrast to previous research, scientists have found that habitat warming can reduce the diversity of species in marine environments, but increase speciation in freshwater habitats.”

“Scientists from the University of Bath’s Milner Centre for Evolution working with colleagues at the University of York have shown that for an important group of aquatic crustaceans called the Anomura, which include hermit crabs, king crabs and squat lobsters, habitat warming decreases species diversity in marine environments. Intriguingly the researchers found that diversity of Anomura species in freshwater habitats increased with warmer temperatures.”

“The findings suggest there is no universal rule about how species diversity is affected by warming temperatures and responses to climate change could be habitat dependent.”

“Previous research involving land-based vertebrates found that diversity tends to increase with warming and it had been thought this was a general trend across habitats.”

The paper is published in Nature Communications:

[Source BBSRC news: ]

Parent-led early intervention reduces autism symptoms

Monday, November 7th, 2016

“An early intervention for autism aimed at helping parents communicate with their child has been shown to have an effect on reducing the severity of autism symptoms, and this reduction continued for six years after the end of treatment, according to a study published in The Lancet.”

“The Medical Research Council [MRC]-funded study, led by the University of Manchester, King’s College London and Newcastle University, is the first to identify a long-term effect of an early intervention for autism, and is consistent with UK guidance supporting the use of early intervention.”

“The researchers found that children who had received the intervention aged 2-4 had less severe overall symptoms six years later, with improved social communication and reduced repetitive behaviours, although no changes were seen in other areas such as language or anxiety. However, they say that difficulties remain and additional ongoing support will usually be needed as the children get older.”

To read the article go to:

[Source MRC news: ]

The State of Open Data: figshare report on global trends around open data

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

A survey of 2,000 researchers, conducted by Figshare in partnership with Digital Science and Springer Nature, has shed light on the extent to which researchers are engaging with the open data agenda.

The report, published this week, looked into various aspects of open data, including awareness, researcher perspectives, and incentives around its use.

The key findings of the report include:

  • Around 75% of respondents have already made their data open
  • Almost 70% of researchers value data citation as highly as an article citation; a further 10% value data citations more than an article citation
  • Of those researchers who have never made their data openly accessible, 44% will definitely consider doing so in the future and a further 46% might consider doing so
  • Principal Investigators and Professors consistently responded similarly to Early Career Researchers and PhD students.

However, there are some areas of concern for researchers:

  • 60% of respondents are unsure about how their open data has been licensed and the extent to which is can be reused
  • Under 50% of respondents are confident in citing secondary research data
  • More than half of respondents said that they would welcome more guidance on compliance with funder requirements.

To read the report go to:

[Source Figshare blog: ]


United Nations Report Calls for Open Access to Research to Improve Global Health

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

“Last month the United Nations released a report with recommendations on how to improve innovation and access to health technologies. The panel’s charge called for it to ‘recommend solutions for remedying the policy incoherence between the justifiable rights of inventors, international human rights law, trade rules and public health in the context of health technologies.’”

“Of particular interest are the panel’s suggestions for managing intellectual property generated from publicly-funded research. From the report:

  • Limiting access to academic discoveries can obstruct follow-on innovation and force taxpayers to pay twice for the benefits of publicly-funded research. Strong, enforceable policies on data sharing and data access should be a condition of public grants.
  • Public funders of research must require that knowledge generated from such research be made freely and widely available through publication in peer-reviewed literature and seek broad, online public access to such research.
  • Universities and research institutions that receive public funding should adopt policies and approaches that catalyse innovation and create flexible models of collaboration that advance biomedical research and generate knowledge for the benefit of the public.”

“The recommendations clearly urge funders and universities to implement policies that ensure broad access to research publications and data produced through public grant monies. The policies should include provisions that clearly communicate liberal re-use rights to publications and data (for example by requiring CC BY for published articles and CC0 for datasets). It’s also crucial for the policies to address deposit and hosting options, training for grantees and program officers, and compliance requirements.”

To read the full report go to:

[Source Creative Commons blog: ]

Open Access Articles Grow at Twice the Rate of All Published Research

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

“The number of open access (OA) research articles published annually is growing at double the rate of the complete spectrum of research articles — this according to the most recent report from media and publishing intelligence firm Simba Information.”

“The report, Open Access Journal Publishing 2016-2020, found that open access already represents about a third of all research articles published when articles completing their embargo periods are included.”

“’The open access evolution is in full swing,’ said Dan Strempel, senior analyst business and professional group at Simba Information. ‘This rate of growth will put a lot of pressure on the prevailing subscription model in the coming years. Publishers who are confident of their OA pricing and costs may increasingly choose to convert established subscription journals to an open access model.’”

Open Access Journal Publishing 2016-2020 provides detailed market information for this segment of scholarly journal publishing. It analyzes trends affecting the industry and forecasts market growth to 2020. The report includes an in-depth review of 10 leading OA publishers, including Springer Nature (including Biomed Central), PLOS, Hindawi, John Wiley & Sons, Elsevier, Frontiers, Wolters Kluwer Medknow and others.”

For more information on the report (unfortunately not Open Access!) go to:

[Source STM Publishing News website: ]

New research provides the key to the pot of gold in your old phone

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

“New research funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has demonstrated how large amounts of gold can be extracted from mobile phones.”

“The study by scientists at the University of Edinburgh shows how the method can be used to salvage the precious metal from old mobile devices, with as much as seven per cent of the world’s gold believed to be contained in electrical waste.”

“They have developed a new extraction method that reduces the use of toxic chemicals and is far more efficient than current procedures.”

“Gold is used in printed circuit boards inside such devices, with an estimated 300 tonnes used in electronics every year.”

“In their study, published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, the team discovered a new compound that can be used to extract it when the boards are placed in an acid to dissolve their metal components.”

“The new compound, when used in an oily liquid which is added to the acid, led to gold being extracted from the mixture of the other metals.”

To access the journal article go to:

[Source EPSRC news: ]