skip to content | Accessibility Information

Researchers’ Weekly Bulletin: the Blog

News for researchers at the Manchester Metropolitan University

Archive for the ‘Full-text electronic documents’ Category

UK’s lead in physics healthy but insecure

Monday, May 12th, 2014

“The quantity and quality of scientific papers produced by UK physicists indicates that the UK remains in an elite group of nations contributing at the leading edge of physics research.”

“New research shows that, when the quality of the UK’s scientific output is compared with that of its leading international competitor nations, the UK’s lead in physics comes despite a lack of investment relative to other scientific disciplines, such as the life sciences.”

“While the UK’s physics base is still punching above its weight, The UK’s performance in physics research: National and international perspectives also records the forceful growth of physics in emerging scientific nations such as China and India.”

“The new report, published by the Institute of Physics (IOP) and the UK’s two leading funders of physics research, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), uses publication and citation statistics, as well as case studies of research clusters like astrophysics and space science, to evaluate the UK’s position in physics between 2002 and 2011.”

The report can be read in full at:

[Source EPSRC news: ]

Running geese give insight into low oxygen tolerance

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

“Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)-funded scientists have uncovered how the world’s highest flying bird is able to survive in low oxygen environments, offering insights into low oxygen medical conditions such as heart attacks and strokes.”

“Researchers tested how well bar-headed geese were at coping with exercise in reduced oxygen environments by locally simulating the conditions of Mount Everest and getting the birds to run as fast as possible on a treadmill.”

“Exercising at high altitude is a massive challenge since at the top of the highest mountains the air is only made up of 7% oxygen, compared with 21% at sea level. This is why human climbers often use supplemental oxygen when scaling the world’s tallest peaks.”

“They discovered that the geese had a remarkable tolerance of low oxygen conditions at rest and while they were exercising for 15 minutes at top speed – at oxygen levels that would render most humans completely immobile. The researchers also conducted the experiments with the barnacle goose, which migrates at sea-level, finding that they did not have the same ability in low oxygen conditions.”

“The study was led by Dr Lucy Hawkes at the University of Exeter, with colleagues Dr Charles Bishop at Bangor University and Professor Pat Butler at the University of Birmingham.”

The article, ‘Maximum running speed of captive bar-headed geese is unaffected by severe hypoxia’ by Lucy A Hawkes, Patrick J Butler, Peter B Frappell, Jessica U Meir, William K Milsom, Graham R Scott & Charles M Bishop was published on April 7 in the journal PLOS ONE and can be accessed at:

[Source BBSRC news: ]

Scientists find mechanism to reset body clock

Monday, April 14th, 2014

“Researchers from The University of Manchester have discovered a new mechanism that governs how body clocks react to changes in the environment.”

“And the discovery, which is being published in Current Biology, could provide a solution for alleviating the detrimental effects of chronic shift work and jet-lag.”

“The team’s findings reveal that the enzyme casein kinase 1epsilon (CK1epsilon) controls how easily the body’s clockwork can be adjusted or reset by environmental cues such as light and temperature.”

“Internal biological timers (circadian clocks) are found in almost every species on the planet. In mammals including humans, circadian clocks are found in most cells and tissues of the body, and orchestrate daily rhythms in our physiology, including our sleep/wake patterns and metabolism.”

The article ‘A novel mechanism controlling re-setting speed of the circadian clock to environmental stimuli’ by Violetta Pilorz, Peter Cunningham, Anthony Jackson, Alexander West, Travis T Walton, Andrew A.S.I. Loudon and David A Bechtold in Current Biology can be viewed at:

[Source Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) news: ]

Telling research participants about health related findings

Monday, April 14th, 2014

“The Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust have launched a framework to help researchers design and implement a policy on feeding back findings that arise during the course of a study which have a potential health implication for the individual participant.”

“In the course of a study involving human participants, it is possible that researchers may make a finding that has potential health or reproductive implications for an individual participant. For example, during a brain imaging study, researchers might identify a brain tumour, or a genome-wide association study looking for genetic risk factors for diabetes might show that a participant is at an elevated risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”

“Whether and how these ‘health-related findings’ (sometimes called ‘incidental findings’) should be fed back to the participant is currently subject to intense debate. Given the lack of evidence and consensus on how such findings should be handled, the MRC and the Wellcome Trust worked with the Health Research Authority to develop a framework to help researchers and research ethics committees identify and consider the relevant issues around feedback in a study. The framework is also supported by the Association of Medical Research Charities, the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, the Economic and Social Research Council, and the Health & Social Care R&D Division, Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland.”

Here is a link to the framework:

[Source MRC News: ]

More than one in 30 in the UK participate in cohort studies

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

“The Medical Research Council (MRC) [has published] the first review of the UK’s largest cohort studies. The Strategic Review of the Largest UK Population Cohort Studies, which looks at cohorts funded by the MRC and other funders, has found that more than 2.2 million people (3.5 per cent of the population or one in 30) are a participant in a cohort study.”

“A commentary in The Lancet highlights the MRC’s 50-year history of supporting population cohort studies including the world’s longest continuously running birth cohort (the 1946 Birth Cohort), UK Biobank’s tracking of half a million participants, and the largest longitudinal study of women’s health (the Million Women Study). Close to £30m per annum is spent on the 34 largest UK population cohort studies. More than half of these participants have been followed for more than 20 years. The vast majority are aged 45 years or over (92 per cent) and female (62 per cent after exclusion of the Million Women Study), with men aged 20-40 years less well represented.”

“Population cohort studies are a major long term commitment for participants, study teams and funders, but their strength is in their ability to identify multiple risk factors over time.”

To view the report Maximising the value of UK population cohorts go to:

[Source MRC News: ]

Second batch of First World War unit diaries goes online

Monday, March 31st, 2014

“The National Archives [has made] the second batch of 3,987 digitised First World War unit war diaries from France and Flanders available online via its First World War 100 portal.”

“It contains records relating to the last of the Cavalry and numbers 8-33 Infantry Divisions deployed to the Western Front in the First World War. They cover the entire period of the units’ involvement in France and Belgium, from their arrival on the front to their departure at the end of the war.”

“William Spencer, author and military records specialist at The National Archives said: ‘This second batch of unit war diaries provides detailed accounts of the actions of the next troops to arrive on the Western Front. They show the advances in technology that made it the world’s first industrialised war with many mounted troops going into battle at first with swords on horseback and ending the war with machine guns and tanks.’”

First World War 100 portal:

[Source National Archives news: ]

The Shelley-Godwin Archive

Monday, March 31st, 2014

“A group of renowned organizations (including the New York Public Library and The Huntington [and also the British Library and Oxford University Library]) have teamed up to create this remarkable archive of manuscripts from Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, and Percy Bysshe Shelley. What is most remarkable about this collection is that it brings together 90% of all known relevant manuscripts by this amazing family of authors. First-time visitors should look at the About area for a bit of background on the project or use the Archive guide to learn how the archive functions, such as the transcription features and much more. Notably, the Frankenstein section allows visitors to view all known manuscripts of this classic work. The site is rounded out by an excellent search engine. [KMG]”

To view the archive go to:

[Source Scout Report, March 7 2014: ]

New digital publication Mosaic explores the science of life

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Mosaic, a new digital publication dedicated to exploring the science of life, is set to launch on 4 March 2014. Mosaic will carry in-depth features, articles and films that tell the stories behind biomedical research and its impact on society. All articles will be free to read, and text features will be published under a Creative Commons licence so that they can be reproduced and distributed freely across other platforms.”

“Launched by global charitable foundation the Wellcome Trust, Mosaic will aim not only to explain scientific developments, but also to set them in context, to be read and understood by anyone who is curious about science, whether they have specialist knowledge or not.”

“At a time when many mainstream print publications lack space, Mosaic aims to provide a new outlet focusing on in-depth science writing, broadening the range of science media content available to the public. Mosaic will publish compelling, narrative-based articles each week, of up to several thousand words, exploring each subject from various angles and ensuring readers are better placed to ask questions about science. So far, Mosaic has commissioned several high-profile writers, including Carl Zimmer, Rose George, Virginia Hughes, Ed Yong and Jenny Diski, whose work will feature in the first few editions.”

“The Creative Commons (CC-BY) licence will allow content to be reproduced anywhere, including paid-for websites and magazines and publications that are funded by advertising, as well as independent blogs. This publishing model runs alongside the Wellcome Trust’s commitment to open access, enabling Mosaic articles and the issues they engage with to reach as wide an audience as possible.”

To read Mosaic go to:

[Source Wellcome news: ]

Multimedia publication demonstrates vital role humanities and social sciences play in tackling the challenges of our time

Monday, February 24th, 2014

“The British Academy has launched Prospering Wisely, a multimedia publication and series of events that aim to kick-start a national conversation about the place of humanities and social science research in our society.”

Prospering Wisely argues that we need to think about the nature of ‘prosperity’ in much broader terms than its usual purely financial definition. Drawing on expert views from influential academics such as Nicholas Stern, Mary Beard and Peter Hennessy, it explores the many ways in which ‘prosperity’ is dependent on the ways the humanities and social sciences enhance our lives, as individuals and as a society.”

“Illustrating the argument at the heart of Prospering Wisely are a series of video interviews with eleven leading academics whose research has been highly influential in a variety of fields. They are: Professors Jonathan Bate, Mary Beard, Vicki Bruce, Conor Gearty, Hazel Genn, Anthony Heath, Peter Hennessy, John Kay, Diarmaid MacCulloch, Adam Roberts and Nicholas Stern. Longer interviews with each have been simultaneously published in a special issue of the British Academy Review.”

Prospering Wisely is available at

[Source British Academy news: ]

Smithsonian Research Online

Monday, February 17th, 2014

“Every week, every month, and every year, the Smithsonian Institution and its various entities produce publications that appear online and in digital form. One could imagine that looking for each document separately would be quite time-consuming. Fortunately, the Smithsonian Research Online site allows visitors to look for such documents quickly and efficiently. On the left-hand side of the page, visitors can look over areas such as Reports, Export Data, Statistics, and an FAQ section. All of these areas contain helpful information, including links to other sites with related reports and documents. The homepage also has a basic search engine that allows users to limit their search to certain authors, titles, years, or even by museum or department. [KMG]”

To access Smithsonian Research Online go to:

[Source Scout Report, Jan 24, 2014: ]

Researchers’ Weekly Bulletin: the Blog is powered by WordPress