Researchers’ Weekly Bulletin: the Blog

News for researchers at the Manchester Metropolitan University

Remember the World as well as the War (WW1)

Monday, April 27th, 2015

“The year 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, setting in motion some research about the level of historical knowledge about the war and perceptions of its contemporary relevance.”

“The results of this survey, conducted by the British Council, are now available to download from the UK Data Service: ‘Knowledge and Perceptions of the First World War, 2013: a Seven-Country Survey’.”

“The survey spanned seven countries (Egypt, France, Germany, India, Russia, Turkey and the UK), sampling over 1,000 individuals from each country, and informed the British Council’s publication on the centenary of the beginning of the First World War, Remember the World as well as the War. The survey explored respondents’ knowledge of historical facts about the First World War as well as their perceptions of the conflict’s contemporary significance, capturing the implications of the conflict beyond Europe.”

To access the publication Remember the World as well as the War, go to:

To access the dataset Knowledge and Perceptions of the First World War, 2013: a Seven-Country Survey, go to:

[Source UK Data Service news: ]

A new vision for Food, Nutrition and Health research

Monday, April 27th, 2015

“BBSRC [Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council], MRC [Medical Research Council] and ESRC [Economic and Social Research Council] have published a vision for joint working in Food, Nutrition and Health research.”

“The document has been developed by a joint expert steering group. It recognises that where research problems are influenced by a variety of interacting biological, medical and social factors, approaches which consider these interdependencies will provide a more effective basis for new health policies, therapies, products and interventions.”

“The vision outlines the Councils’ intent to jointly foster multidisciplinary and integrative research and researchers in Food, Nutrition and Health across the biological (basic and medical) and social sciences. It aims to clearly articulate the added value of a joint strategic approach, running alongside Council-specific activities, and highlight emerging opportunities for integrative research across Council remits.”

“In the spirit of the joint Research Council Food, Nutrition and Health vision, BBSRC and MRC will partner to encourage co-ordinated effort in mechanistic nutritional research through Responsive Mode later in 2015.”

“To complement this vision, BBSRC has published a Strategic Framework for its investment in Food, Nutrition and Health research. The Framework aims to provide the academic and wider stakeholder communities with a clear roadmap for BBSRC’s strategic support for the area over the next five years.”

“Both documents, ‘A Cross-Council vision for Food, Nutrition and Health research’ and ‘BBSRC Research in Food, Nutrition and Health – Strategic Framework: 2015 – 2020′ are available in the downloads section at

[Source BBSRC news: ]

Young digital makers report

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

“This report surveys the opportunities and identifies gaps and next steps for young people to create with technology across the UK.”

“Key Findings

  • 82 per cent of young people say they are interested in digital making. However, half of young people make things with digital technology less than once a week or never.
  • Parents are overwhelmingly supportive of digital making. 89 per cent think it is a worthwhile activity for their children. 73 per cent encourage their children to make things with technology.
  • We identified 130,800 opportunities to experience digital making provided by the organisations surveyed. This is a long way from providing for the interest shown by 82 per cent of our survey, which represents a possible 8.2 million school age children and young people in the UK.
  • Digital making is powered not just by money, but also by volunteers. Two thirds of the organisations identified said they relied on volunteers to do their work.
  • Only half of teachers who teach ICT or computing report being confident in teaching the curriculum.”

“This report explores the emerging field of digital making for young people in the UK. It charts the organisations providing opportunities for young people to make things with technology; looks at how these opportunities relate to what young people learn in school; and explores the attitudes of young people, parents and teachers towards digital making.”

To read the report go to:

[Source Nesta website as above]

To read the Nesta blog ‘How are we supporting young digital makers?’ go to:

OUPblog: Oxford University Press’s Academic Insights for the World

Monday, March 16th, 2015

“True, Oxford University Press is a publisher and most of its content is available on a for-purchase basis. However, its Academic Insights blog has a lot on offer – free of charge. For example, see the Series and Columns section for short pieces like “The economics of Scottish Independence” by Richard S. Grossman. Grossman is one of Oxford’s authors who writes a series on economic policy. Other current pieces include “Reading on-screen versus on paper” by Naomi Baron, the author of Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World. While there are prominent links to buy the most recent books by these authors, some reading related pieces, such as “A lifetime in the library,” contains no links to books to buy. This particular piece was written by Rachel Brook, a Marketing Assistant at Oxford University Press, in celebration of UK National Libraries Day (February 7th). [DS]

[Source Scout Report, 6 Feb, 2015: ]

New research into how young people learn about sex and relationships

Monday, March 16th, 2015

“New research joint funded by the Medical Research Council has highlighted the differences in how young men and women learn about sex and relationships, and identified a demand from both sexes for greater involvement of parents and health professionals in supplying sexual information.”

“Although more young people than ever are getting most of their information about sexual matters from school, the majority still feel they are not getting all the information they need, and men in particular are missing out, according to the new research published today in BMJ Open.”

“The findings come from the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3), the largest scientific study of sexual health and lifestyles in Britain. The research was carried out by UCL (University College London), the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and NatCen Social Research. The research was funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Wellcome Trust, with additional funding from the Economic and Social Research Council the Department of Health and the National Institute for Health Research’s School for Public Health Research (NIHR SPHR).”

Here is a link to the article Patterns and trends in sources of information about sex among young people in Britain: evidence from three National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles in BMJOpen:

And a link to the Natsal survey:

[Source MRC news: ]


There is also a blog on the survey findings from the Wellcome Trust, Let’s talk about sex (education) which may also be of interest:

Step change for screening could boost biofuels

Monday, March 16th, 2015

“Researchers at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) strategically-funded Institute of Food Research have developed a new way of rapidly screening yeasts that could help produce more sustainable biofuels.”

“The new technique could also be a boon in the search for new ways of deriving valuable renewable chemicals from plant-based wastes, reducing our reliance on petrochemicals.”

“Yeasts are a key step in producing biofuels, fermenting sugars into ethanol. First generation biofuels used sugars, starch and oils derived from plants grown for that purpose. These, however, may compete with food crops for land and resources, so there has been a lot of interest in producing biofuels from non-food sources, such as agricultural wastes like straw. But a problem with these “second-generation” biofuels is that the sugars are less accessible to the yeasts.”

“To try and boost the efficiency of generating second generation biofuels, The Biorefinery Centre at IFR has joined forces with the National Collection of Yeast Cultures (NCYC), a BBSRC-supported national capability, also within IFR.”

“NCYC has over 4,000 different yeast strains in its collection. Screening this collection could find yeasts that are naturally better at producing biofuels, especially if they are able to cope better with the compounds that reduce fermentation efficiency of conventional yeast strains. Simultaneous Saccharification and Fermentation (SSF) is seen as a big step forward for biorefining, as it simplifies the overall process, reducing costs.”

The article (Open Access), Methodology for enabling high-throughput simultaneous saccharification and fermentation screening of yeast using solid biomass as a substrate, Adam Elliston et al, Biotechnology for Biofuels, can be found at:

[Source BBSRC news: ]

Average household income at pre-crisis levels

Monday, March 16th, 2015

“Average household income in 2014–15 is at around the same level as it was in 2007–08 – but still more than two per cent lower than in the peak years of 2009–10, according to new figures from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). The IFS report, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, suggests that the recovery in living standards has been much slower than after the three previous recessions.”

“Key findings from the report include:

  • The recovery in household income may finally be strengthening
  • The recovery in living standards has been slow
  • Incomes for those of working age remain below pre-crisis levels
  • Household consumption is still below pre-crisis levels
  • Falls in income have been larger for higher-income households – but low-income households have faced higher inflation”

To read the report go to:

[Source ESRC news: ]

UK engineering – a success story that needs sustaining

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

“An independent report on the economic impact of engineering in the UK [has been published] by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Royal Academy of Engineering.”

“The report, Assessing the economic returns of engineering research and postgraduate training in the UK, has been compiled by the Technopolis group. It highlights the remarkable contribution of engineering to the nation’s economy and the everyday lives of UK citizens.”

“The report estimates that engineering-related sectors contributed circa £280 billion in gross value added (GVA) in 2011, equivalent to 20% of the UK’s total GVA. Engineering-related sectors exported goods and services valued at around £239 billion in 2011, some 48% of the total value of exports for that year.”

“The report also flags up the importance of engineering research to key sectors including aerospace, pharmaceuticals, software and computing and highlights the fact that sectors with high concentrations of graduate engineers report high levels of innovation activity and productivity.”

“The report concludes that the quality of engineering research carried out in the UK and our world class engineering facilities and businesses attract substantial high-value, high-tech inward investment from around the world.”

You can read the report ‘Assessing the economic returns of engineering research and postgraduate training in the UK’ here:

Pollution and climate change put pressure on wildlife

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

“The impact of pollution on wildlife could be made dramatically worse by climate change according to a new study published in the journal PNAS.”

“Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)-funded researchers from the University of Exeter and Astra-Zeneca found that clotrimazole, a chemical that disrupts hormones and is commonly used in anti-fungal treatments, skewed sex-ratios in zebrafish in favour of males. These effects were amplified when the experiment was conducted in warmer water temperatures predicted for the year 2100 given current rates of climate change.”

“Inbred populations fared worse than those with higher genetic diversity highlighting the extinction risk that climate change and pollution presents to endangered species living in small, isolated populations.”

To read the article (Open Access) go to:

[Source BBSRC news: ]

Making learning visible: First ‘Technology in Education’ evaluation published

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Oliver Quinlan writes in a Nesta blog:

“As part of our technology in education programme we have been trialing different types of digital technology in schools and exploring its potential for learning. After many months working with teachers and schools across the UK our first independent evaluation report has now been published.”

“The Visible Classroom project explored the use of real time speech to text transcription for teacher professional development and student learning. This was a collaboration with Ai-Media UK and the University of Melbourne, funded by the Education Endowment Foundation as part of their work on evidence in education. The independent evaluation was carried out by NatCen.”

“The report has found that this approach has potential to benefit teaching and learning in schools, with teachers reporting they found the feedback a valuable part of professional development.”

“This was a pilot project, with the aim of developing the use of technology in this way in schools and respond to feedback from teachers. Therefore the evaluation looked at how it worked practically in schools and feedback from teachers on the effect it was having. At this early stage we did not formally measure the effect that it had on the learning of the children, although there was some promising feedback relating to this from teachers. The pilot gave us the chance to try different types of professional development in different stages.”

To find out more about the Visible Classroom project and download the report go to:

[Source Nesta blog: ]