Researchers’ Weekly Bulletin: the Blog

News for researchers at the Manchester Metropolitan University

How and why you should manage your research data: a guide for researchers

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

An introduction, from Jisc, to engaging with research data management processes. The guide explains what is research data management and why you should manage your research data.

To access the guide go to https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/how-and-why-you-should-manage-your-research-data

[Source Jisc as above]

Adoption of digital slows among arts and cultural organisations

Monday, January 18th, 2016

“New research shows that arts and cultural organisations continue to benefit from digital technologies though the pace of adoption is slowing.”

Digital Culture 2015 is the third annual survey from the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts – a £7million fund from Arts Council England, Nesta and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to help arts and cultural organisations grow their audience reach or business models by using digital technologies. 984 organisations responded to the survey, with the findings benchmarked against previous years.”

“The findings show that organisations remain optimistic when it comes to digital technology. Nearly three quarters (72 per cent) said it was having a major positive impact overall and 78 per cent said they wanted to try a new digital activity next year. This year’s survey, however, reveals several areas where digital activity has fallen since the study commenced in 2013 and reported levels of impact have dropped in key areas such as distribution and creation.”

You can read Digital Culture 2015 here: http://artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/features/digital-culture-2015/

[Source AHRC news: http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/newsevents/news/digitalculture2015/ ]

Adoption of digital slows among arts and cultural organisations

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

“New research shows that arts and cultural organisations continue to benefit from digital technologies though the pace of adoption is slowing.”

Digital Culture 2015 is the third annual survey from the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts – a £7million fund from Arts Council England, Nesta and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to help arts and cultural organisations grow their audience reach or business models by using digital technologies. 984 organisations responded to the survey, with the findings benchmarked against previous years.”

“The findings show that organisations remain optimistic when it comes to digital technology. Nearly three quarters (72 per cent) said it was having a major positive impact overall and 78 per cent said they wanted to try a new digital activity next year. This year’s survey, however, reveals several areas where digital activity has fallen since the study commenced in 2013 and reported levels of impact have dropped in key areas such as distribution and creation.”

You can access the report Digital culture 2015 here: http://artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/features/digital-culture-2015/

[Source AHRC news:  http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/newsevents/news/digitalculture2015/ ]

Supporting human rights organisations to deliver insights from data

Monday, December 14th, 2015

“The UK Data Service held a workshop ‘Supporting human rights organisations to deliver insights from data’ on 29-30 October 2015 at the University of Essex, with support from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of its work to engage with civil society. We are delighted to present the Proceedings from the workshop.”

“Human Rights organisations attending the workshop included those involved in supporting victims of human trafficking, torture, unfair trials, conflict and war and other vulnerable situations. Data about the people represented by these charities offers particular challenges around privacy and data protection, and hence, wider sharing; challenges that the Service is uniquely positioned to address.”

“The workshop provided a forum for participants to engage with one another to discuss the strategies, tools and skills required for civil society organisations to help shape ways of managing and sharing data ethically, analysing the data, and gaining insight to develop impact from these rich data resources – improving the way civil society organisations can translate data into knowledge.”

Read the Proceedings from ‘Supporting Human Rights Organisations to deliver insight from data’ here: https://www.ukdataservice.ac.uk/media/604196/hrdw_transcripts_report_collated.pdf

[Source UK Data Service news:  https://www.ukdataservice.ac.uk/news-and-events/newsitem/?id=4402 ]

New insights into genetic cause of autoimmune diseases

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

“A collaboration between researchers at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) strategically funded Babraham Institute and The University of Manchester has mapped physical connections occurring in DNA to shed light on the parts involved in autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes.”

“Using a new technique called Capture Hi-C the team revealed novel insights into how changes in the genetic sequence can increase the risk of disease.”

“The human genome project provided the entire DNA code and large population studies have since identified which DNA sequence changes are associated with a range of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and immune system disease. But because many of these changes fall outside the parts of the genome containing protein-coding genes, understanding the biological relevance of a genetic change was akin to the party game ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ when it came to identifying the genes that these regions associated with. Understanding these associations represents the key to uncovering the causal genetic factors of disease.”

“The new technique developed by researchers at the Babraham Institute identified a way to ‘freeze-frame’ the genome and capture its three dimensional shape where the DNA folds to bring regions into close contact. This snapshot pinpoints where non-coding regulatory regions contact the genes that they control. This technique gives the highest resolution view of the genome’s interconnections available to date and allowed researchers to zoom in on and identify the genes affected by sequences changes in other parts of the genome.”

“Using this approach allowed disease geneticists from The University of Manchester to identify candidate genes relating to the risk of developing autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes.”

The article: Martin, McGovern, Orozco et al. (2015) Capture Hi-C reveals novel candidate genes and complex long-range interactions with related autoimmune risk loci Nature Communications can be accessed here: http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2015/151130/ncomms10069/full/ncomms10069.html

[Source BBSRC news:  http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/health/2015/151201-n-insights-into-genetic-cause-of-autoimmune-diseases/ ]

Biodiversity bounces back

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

“Air pollution is a human health issue that also impacts negatively on natural ecosystems. In excessive quantities, forms of nitrogen (N) released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels and from agriculture are a pollutant. Rothamsted Research scientists, who receive strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Lawes Agricultural Trust, in collaboration with other researchers in the UK and Germany, examined whether decreased N emissions to the atmosphere in recent years have affected plant biodiversity on the Park Grass Experiment at Rothamsted (UK). The researchers analysed a large number of samples and datasets collected from Park Grass, which started in 1856, and is the longest running ecological experiment in the world. They found that plant biodiversity in grassland communities recovered following a decrease in N emissions to the atmosphere and when fertilizer N was withheld. The findings of the study are published in the journal Nature.”

The article: Grassland biodiversity bounces back from long-term nitrogen addition is available from Nature DOI: 10.1038/nature16444

[Source BBSRC news:  http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/food-security/2015/151203-pr-biodiversity-bounces-back/ ]

Study shows majority of researchers are participating in public engagement

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

“Eight in 10 (82%) researchers carried out at least one form of public engagement in the past year, according to a new study launched at the Engage conference in Bristol. The study Factors affecting public engagement by researchers was commissioned by a consortium of 15 UK research funders including the British Academy and Universities UK, led by the Wellcome Trust.”

“The study found that participation in public engagement was higher among researchers in the arts, humanities and social sciences (AHSS) at 88%, than in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at 78%. AHSS researchers were also more likely to value it as a core component of their role (52% compared to 37% of STEM).”

“However since the last study in this area in 2006**, the number of STEM researchers who value public engagement as a core component of their role has risen from 28 to 37%. The proportion of STEM researchers who would like to engage more with the public has also increased from 45 per cent to 53 per cent and they also feel better equipped to engage with the public than they did in 2006 (up from 51% to 63%).”

“64% of researchers from all disciplines who have been in their careers for 10 years felt that encouragement from their institution had increased in the last decade.”

To read more about the survey and access the report go to: http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/About-us/Publications/Reports/Public-engagement/WTP060031.htm

[Source British Academy news:  http://www.britac.ac.uk/news/news.cfm/newsid/1354 ]

The Nurse Review – Ensuring a Successful Research Endeavour – Research Councils statement

Monday, November 30th, 2015

“An independent review of the UK Research Councils, led by Sir Paul Nurse, [has been] published. The report, ‘Ensuring a Successful Research Endeavour’, reviews why and how the UK should undertake research.”

“The report recognises the UK’s Research Councils as key to delivering one of the most effective research communities in the world. The evidence given as part of the review highlights the Research Councils’ reputation for effectively supporting and promoting research excellence for the benefit of society and the economy.”

“The report makes recommendations for the future of the Research Councils and their communities. The Research Councils have already recognised a need to strengthen collective operational working and have started initiating plans in this area. The report aligns with these aims and improvements in this area are expected in the future.”

“The Research Councils will be working with government, our staff and communities to explore and shape any changes that government may wish to make to the UK Research landscape following this review, the upcoming spending review and the recent higher education green paper. Our overriding priority is to ensure that the UK’s world-class research is supported through the most effective means possible.”

The report is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nurse-review-of-research-councils-recommendations

[Source Research Councils UK news: http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/media/news/151119/ ]

Investing in excellence, delivering impacts for the UK

Monday, November 30th, 2015

“The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) has revealed comprehensive evidence of the sustained economic and social impact of EPSRC [Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council]’s investments in engineering and physical sciences (EPS) research.”

“This report and companion leaflet presents the findings of an analysis of the REF EPS impact case studies, carried out by EPSRC” and can be accessed via the following links:

https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/newsevents/pubs/refreport2015/

https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/newsevents/pubs/investing-in-excellence-delivering-impacts-for-the-uk-summary-report/

[Source EPSRC news:  https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/newsevents/news/refreport1/ ]

Understanding high-performing university research units

Monday, November 30th, 2015

“HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) has published a report on the characteristics of high-performing research units, which provides key insights and a better understanding of strategic approaches to excellent research in UK university research units.”

“HEFCE commissioned the Policy Institute at King’s College London and RAND Europe to examine characteristics shared between high-performing research units, using results from the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 to identify high performance. A combination of data analysis, a review of the literature, interviews and a workshop with individuals from high-performing research units identified five key themes associated with high performance:

  • people
  • culture, values and leadership
  • strategy and funding
  • collaboration and networks
  • institutional and departmental practice.”

“The great value of investment in research is emphasised in the report, with a direct correlation between high research income per head and excellent research performance. The highest-performing research units reported strategies that emphasised the importance of maintaining financial stability and seeking diverse funding streams.”

To read the report go to:  http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2014/Content/Pubs/Independentresearch/2015/Characteristics,of,high-performing,research,units/2015_highperform.pdf

[Source HEFCE news:  http://www.hefce.ac.uk/news/newsarchive/2015/Name,107163,en.html ]

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