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Researchers’ Weekly Bulletin: the Blog

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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Being Human festival returns for second year

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Being Human, the UK’s only national festival of the humanities, is back for another year and is now inviting applications from across the country for public event funding. The festival will once again bring together leading academics, artists, writers, filmmakers and others for eleven days of events in November to celebrate the richness and diversity of the humanities and their place in the national culture of the UK.”

“The festival, now in its second year, offers a vibrant mix of discussions, performances, talks and exhibits to uncover the breadth of research in the humanities. It will run from 12–22 November 2015 and is led by the School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the British Academy (BA). In 2014, the festival involved over 50 universities and hosted more than 160 events across the country.”

“Academics stepped outside the classroom last year to share their work and engage with the public. From philosophers in pubs, historians in coffee houses, classicists on social media, linguists prowling town centres – Being Human demonstrated the wealth and variety of humanities research in some unusual locations. In 2015, the festival promises to take over even more venues across the UK.”

“Grants are now available to fund creative programming which engages the public with leading humanities research, including debates, performances, virtual activities and exhibitions. All UK universities and independent research organisations are invited to apply for these small grants to participate in the festival by holding their own public events and activities to showcase humanities research.”

[Source SAS news: ]

Unhealthy eating habits outpacing healthy eating patterns in most world regions

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

“Worldwide, consumption of healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables has improved during the past two decades, but has been outpaced by the increased intake of unhealthy foods including processed meat and sweetened drinks in most world regions, according to the first study to assess diet quality in 187 countries covering almost 4.5 billion adults, published in The Lancet Global Health journal, and funded by the Medical Research Council and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.”

“Improvements in diet quality between 1990 and 2010 have been greatest in high-income nations, with modest reductions in the consumption of unhealthy foods and increased intake of healthy products. However, people living in many of the wealthiest regions (eg, the USA and Canada, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand) still have among the poorest quality diets in the world, because they have some of the highest consumption of unhealthy food worldwide.”

“In contrast, some countries in sub-Saharan Africa and some countries in Asia (eg, China and India) have seen no improvement in their diet quality over the past 20 years.”

“The authors warn that the study presents a worrying picture of increases in unhealthy eating habits outpacing increases in healthy eating patterns across most world regions and say that concerted action is needed to reverse this trend.”

‘Dietary quality among men and women in 187 countries in 1990 and 2010: a systematic assessment’ by Imamura et al, is published in The Lancet Global Health and can be accessed (Open Access) at:

[Source Medical Research Council news: ]

New website first to streamline nutrition data use by researchers

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

“Researchers at the University of Leeds are leading the development of a new website for the research and healthcare community, the first of its kind in the UK to collect comprehensively and assess nutrition data online.”

“The interactive website ‘’ will host validated dietary assessment tools and use an e-algorithm to aid tool selection by researchers and healthcare practitioners. Food intake information captured online will then link with a central food database that will analyse nutrition content, and feed these complete data back to the researcher at the click of a button.”

“The aim of the website is to streamline and improve the way nutrition data are currently collected and used by researchers, and advises on the most suitable dietary assessment tool for each project, tailored to the particular research question or objective.”

“Estimating dietary intake accurately is a major challenge in research and currently there is no consistent guidance in terms of dietary assessment tool selection, which makes it difficult to compare studies accurately. In addition, the paper-based method currently used to record data requires considerable time and effort to convert to information about specific nutrients.”

“The team behind the development hope the website will revolutionise the way the research community collects and analyses nutritional data.”

“The website is expected to be launched in 2016, and will add to other digital initiatives from the DIET@NET partnership, which has already created the successful weight loss app ‘My Meal Mate’ and the food diary website ‘myfood24’.”

“If you are an expert in the field and would like to apply to join the Nutritools advisory group, or if you have created a dietary assessment tool you would like considered for inclusion on the website, please contact the team by emailing:

[Source Medical Research Council news: ]

New collaborations tackle bioscience big data challenges

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

“The UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council has invested £7.5M in new infrastructure to tackle bioscience big data challenges. The new funding will improve the storage and curation of enormous datasets that will unlock untold discoveries in important areas like health, agriculture and sustainable fuels.”

“Biological discovery is increasingly being driven by ground-breaking technologies, such as high-throughput genomic analysis and next generation biological imaging, which generate massive and complex datasets. In order to investigate complex biological phenomena, researchers need access to comprehensive, integrated data resources that are accessible for the whole community.”

“Access to primary research data is vital for the advancement of science; to validate existing observations and provides the raw materials for new discoveries. Sharing data in a standardised way can enable exciting breakthroughs as researchers interrogate big data sets to spot undiscovered patterns of biological importance.”

“However, many biologists, and in some areas the community as a whole, struggle to take full advantage of the data generated because of a lack of computing resource, appropriate support and technical skill.”

“To meet these challenges, BBSRC is strengthening investment in bioinformatics and biological resources, focusing on the needs of the research community, and facilitating the development of sustainable models of operation.”

[Source BBSRC news: ]

Finding technology innovators using big data from the web

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

“As previous Nesta-funded research has shown, innovative companies, industrial clusters, and high-growth companies are critical to the UK economy. Policymakers and investors aim to accelerate and encourage such companies, and to push forward greater innovation and growth.”

“There is particular interest at present in software and technology innovators and startups. However, it’s hard for organisations from outside the field to navigate this foreign world well; the official data is about companies, not people, and tends to be out of date since the most innovative firms are often small and fast-changing. For large organisations and investors to invest in or engage with new and innovative technologies, they need much better information about the networks of innovative people, what they work on, and which people and firms they work with.”

“The good news is that there is a large amount of raw material which can help close this information gap: implicit and informal information about high-technology firms, influencers, and topics is shared all the time, through both professional resources (e.g. Github and StackOverflow, which are heavily used by innovative software developers) and social networks (e.g. Twitter), as well as in company data.”

“This project collected and joined raw data from multiple sources about software developers and what they work on. We used the structures and relationships within these data to spot innovative people, innovative companies, and to understand the technology innovation landscape in more detail than we can with just official information.”

[Source Nesta blog: ]

Whitworth Gallery re-opening

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Don’t forget the Whitworth Gallery re-opens this weekend after its refurbishment.  There are events right across the weekend.  To find out what’s on go to:

Museums and Academics Research Network Meeting – MMU Special Collections

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Date: Thursday 19 February 2015, 14.00-17.00

Location: MMU Special Collections Gallery, 3rd Floor, Sir Kenneth Green Library

“Following on from the first successful meeting in October, at the People’s History Museum, the second meeting of the Museums and Academics Research Network will take place at MMU Special Collections. If you’ve never visited MMU Special Collections before, or if you’d like to know how our collections and archives can support your teaching, learning and research, then come along to find out more. Museum staff will be on hand throughout the afternoon to answer your questions and there’ll be plenty of opportunities to see material from our collections.”

The event is free but please book in advance at:

[Source MMU Library news: ]

3 ways to fix the drop-out problem in education

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

“The Local Government Association published research on achievement and retention in post-16 education []. It’s not good news, and reinforces the importance of the innovative work of our portfolio companies in the area of education and employability for young people.”

“The report, written by the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion, finds that 180,000 16- to 18-year-olds dropped out of AS-, A-Level or apprenticeship commitments in 2012/13. More specific to our current interest in apprenticeships, the research also found that a staggering 25 per cent of apprenticeships were not completed. Altogether, the CEEI estimate that more than £800m of Government money is wasted due to shortfalls in achievement and retention.”

“These numbers are worrying but avoidable. The investments we have made in this area highlight a number of improvements that would all have an impact on the achievement and retention of 16 to 18 year-olds in education.”

To read the rest of the blog go to:

To read the report  Achievement and retention in post 16 education go to:

[Source Nesta blog as above]

EPSRC welcomes Independent superbug report

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

“The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council [] welcomed a new report by an independent review which calls for global investment, better diagnostics, better surveillance and greater support for researchers in the international race to solve the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).”

“Antimicrobial resistance is a huge and complex problem for healthcare and agriculture. Antibiotics have been used to treat bacterial infections in humans and animals for 70 years, but these medicines are becoming less and less effective. No new classes of antibiotics have been discovered for 25 years and some strains of bacteria are now unharmed by the drugs designed to kill them.”

“In the UK alone £275 million has been spent on research in this area since 2007, yet, to date, no effective solutions have been found. It has been estimated that current antibiotics may become useless within the next two decades.”

“Economist Jim O’Neill was commissioned by the Prime Minister in July 2014 to review and make recommendations on a package of actions that should be agreed internationally to tackle antimicrobial resistance. In the new report [], he acknowledges the crucial role research has to play and calls for investment in a global innovation fund to support blue sky science.”

“The research councils have already committed £28.5 million to improve our understanding of resistance, and ultimately, our ability to develop new drugs and therapies. The seven UK research councils have joined in an historic ‘war cabinet’ to co-ordinate and stimulate research across all areas impacted by antimicrobial resistance – from labs to livestock, drawing together a range of scientific expertise from the UK and abroad.”

To read the report go to:

[Source EPSRC news: ]

How to survive a PhD viva: 17 top tips

Monday, February 9th, 2015

“Handing in your PhD thesis is a massive achievement – but it’s not the end of the journey for doctoral students. Once you’ve submitted, you’ll need to prepare for the next intellectually-gruelling hurdle: a viva.”

“This oral examination is a chance for students to discuss their work with experts. Its formal purpose is to ensure that there’s no plagiarism involved, and that the student understands and can explain their thesis. It involves lots of penetrating questions, conceptually complex debates and is infamously terrifying.”

“How can PhD students best prepare? We asked a number of academics and recent survivors for their tips.”

To find out more, read on:

[Source Guardian HE network as above]

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