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Researchers’ Weekly Bulletin: the Blog

News for researchers at the Manchester Metropolitan University

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

RCUK demonstrates positive impact achieved throughout 2014

Monday, January 26th, 2015

“Research Councils UK (RCUK) has) published the RCUK Impact Report 2014, demonstrating how the Research Councils have worked together to achieve greater impact for the research, training and innovation they support.”

“The report complements the impact reports prepared by the individual Research Councils and highlights the ways in which RCUK adds value to their activities. It also looks forward to activities [they] are undertaking now that will have impact in the future, with details of some exciting developments for 2015.”

The RCUK Impact Report 2014 is available at:

The individual Research Council impact reports can be accessed from this press release: ]

[Source RCUK press release as above]

Seeing the invisible – striking images of dust!

Monday, January 19th, 2015

“Scanning electron microscopy has revealed striking images of dust particles found in The National Archives’ repositories. A scanning electron microscope (SEM) is a high powered microscope that can image areas of objects as small as 20 nm wide at up 500,000 times magnification! When combined with an energy dispersive X-ray spectrometer (EDX) it can also tell us the elements that the surface is made from.”

“SEM-EDX was used during The National Archives’ Dust Project to identify the composition and sources of dust found in the repositories. This is because despite low levels of dust fall and regular cleaning in the repositories, dust can be a risk to the longevity of our collection. Dust can cement onto surfaces, cause discoloration to and chemically interact with collection material, and act as a source of food for pests and mould. The results from the SEM-EDX analysis will help us mitigate this risk.”

“Dust was collected on sticky carbon tabs from the tops of boxes, shelves, and window ledges in the repositories. These were analysed using the SEM-EDX at English Heritage’s Centre for Archaeology at Fort Cumberland.  The results verify that our dust comes from usual sources and not from any sources that could be more detrimental to the collection. Additionally, we produced numerous exciting images of dust particles that are otherwise invisible to our eye! Our favourite is the formation of salt that looks like a snowflake (the first image in this post) – which is yours?”

[Source National Archives blog: ]

Digimap Service Availability 26 – 28th Jan – new registration system release

Monday, January 19th, 2015

“We are introducing a new registration system in January (26th to the 28th) and would like to give advance warning of the service disruption this is will cause.

  • New users will not be able to register for Digimap from 4pm on 26th January
  • All Digimap services will be unavailable all day on 27th January
  • Normal service will resume by 9am on 28th January”

“New registrations for Digimap, using the current system, will be closed from 4pm Monday 26th January to ensure that no registrations are lost during the changeover. All Digimap services will then be unavailable all day on Tuesday 27th January, while we put the new system in place. Once all the work is complete the service will be available again by 9am on Wednesday 28th January.”

For more information go to:

[Source Digimap blog as above]

Digimap Data: New datasets coming in the New Year

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

“The new Ordnance Survey Licence includes some new and very interesting datasets for the Digimap service. We have already added OS Terrain 5, Ordnance Survey’s most detailed digital terrain model and contour data to the the Data Download facility. The other new datasets will require some additional effort to add into the service but we should have them available to download early in the new year. These new datasets are as follows:

OS MasterMap ITN Urban Paths

  • Routing information for walkers and cyclists in towns and cities.

OS MasterMap Sites Layer

  • Identifies areas as being in categories such as schools, hospitals, transport facilities etc. The data also highlights access points to the sites and routing destinations for more accurate travel distances.

Points of Interest

  • Over 4 million points of interest classified into 3 tiers; 9 groups, 52 categories and 616 classes. The points of interest include accommodation, eating and drinking, commercial services, attractions, sport and entertainment, education and health, public infrastructure, manufacturing and production,retail, and transport.”

To find out more go to the blog at:

[Source Digimap blog as above]

Trans-Atlantic Dialogues on Cultural Heritage: Heritage, Tourism and Traditions

Monday, December 15th, 2014

13-16 July 2015, Liverpool, UK

“This conference offers a venue for exploring three critical interactions in this trans-Atlantic dialogue: heritage, tourism and traditions. North America and Europe fashioned two dominant cultural tropes from their powerful and influential intellectual traditions, which have been enacted in Central/South America and Africa, everywhere implicating indigenous cultures.”

“These tropes are contested and linked through historical engagement and contemporary everyday connections. We ask:

  • How do heritages travel?
  • How is trans-Atlantic tourism shaped by heritage?
  • To what extent have traditions crossed and re-crossed the Atlantic?
  • How have heritage and tourism economies emerged based upon flows of peoples and popular imaginaries?”

To find out more go to:

[Source Heritage Portal as above]

World’s first artificial enzymes created using synthetic biology

Monday, December 15th, 2014

“Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funded scientists have created the world’s first enzymes made from artificial genetic material. Their synthetic enzymes, which are made from molecules that do not occur anywhere in nature, are capable of triggering chemical reactions in the lab.”

“The research, published in Nature, gives new insights into the origins of life and could provide a starting point for an entirely new generation of drugs and diagnostics.”

“The findings build on previous work by the team at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, which saw them create synthetic molecules called ‘XNAs’ that can store and pass on genetic information, in a similar way to DNA.”

“Using their lab-made XNAs as building blocks, the team has now created ‘XNAzymes’, which power simple reactions, such as cutting up or stitching together small chunks of RNA, just like naturally occurring enzymes.”

The paper, entitled ‘Catalysts from synthetic genetic polymers’, by Taylor et al, is published in Nature

[Source BBSRC news: ]

Beyond the X-ray – a new frontier in structural biology signals big gains for UK industry

Monday, December 8th, 2014

“A UK lab has successfully taken images of the atomic structure of materials – at a shutter speed close to one ten-thousandth of a billionth of a second. This new imaging capability is great news for UK industry, drug discovery companies and researchers, as it takes biological and materials research beyond the limits of what is currently possible in the UK. It is also a step towards the ‘holy grail’ of being able to make molecular movies.”

“Known as ‘ultra-fast electron diffraction’ the technique is a UK first, and a remarkable milestone for researchers at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire. This makes Daresbury Laboratory one of only a handful of sites globally that can perform ultra-fast electron diffraction, and STFC intends to ensure that UK industry and researchers can benefit from this exciting new research tool. STFC’s newest particle accelerator, VELA (Versatile Electron Linear Accelerator), has been purpose built to assist UK industry to bridge the gap between prototypes and market ready products by making this ultrafast imaging technique available at a fraction of the cost and physical size of facilities using other methods.”

[Source STFC news: ]

New Ordnance Survey Digimap Licence Agreement

Monday, December 8th, 2014

“We are pleased to announce that a new Ordnance Survey licence agreement for Digimap is now available.”

“The new End User Licence Agreement (EULA) can be viewed in the Digimap Help Pages. As part of the new licence arrangements, end users need to agree to the EULA to access the Ordnance Survey data through the Digimap Service. Initially this will need to be done every time you access the collection via a popup after you select an application, however we are working on a new registration system that will mean you only need to do this once.”

“There is also an updated list of FAQs for the licence.  However, if you have any questions relating to the licence please do not hesitate to contact the Digimap support team:


Phone: 0131 650 3302”

[Source Digimap blog: ]

Jisc launches collaborative initiative for UK research

Monday, December 1st, 2014

“Teams across universities and others that support research in the UK are being offered the opportunity to submit their ideas to a collaborative funding initiative [recently] launched by Jisc.”

“Called research data spring, the project aims to engage all individuals and groups with an interest in research data and get them to work together to create new solutions to common research problems. This includes finding and developing new technical tools, software or services to streamline researchers’ workflows, and to improve the use and management of data.”

“The initiative is being run via Ideascale, an online platform that allows people to submit their ideas, vote and comment on others, and join up with teams on a shared idea.”

“To have your idea considered, the solutions need to fit into one of five priority areas:

  1. Research data deposit and sharing tools; including the development of protocols that help support the streamlining of access, use and re-use of research data
  2. Data creation and re-use by discipline; including ideas for experiments and proto-types that address the researchers experience and the research data workflow to improve the creation, management, curation and re-use of data. This should support open research practice and methods where appropriate and be transferrable across disciplines
  3. Research data systems integration and interoperability; including developing solutions to improve interfaces and ease connections, and create seamless working between and across systems
  4. Research data analytics; including the development and testing of ways to use big data analytical methods for the benefits of research, or to better analyse research data activity and test associated metrics
  5. Shared services for research; this aspect should be considered in all of the priority areas, and includes international, national and local shared services, that could be delivered by Jisc or other partners.”

The deadline for submissions is: 12 January 2015

Here is a link to the research data spring project page:

[Source Jisc news: ]

A new wave of data

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Understanding Society, a unique longitudinal study tracking people from 40,000 households across the UK, has released its ‘Wave 4′ data – gathered from the fourth of its annual set of interviews. The dataset contains the results of interviews with nearly 70,000 adults and 9,000 children (age 10-15).”

“New input from Wave 4 include:

  • A one-off module on leisure participation focusing on the 2012 Olympics 2012. Did the influence of the Olympics really make us all more active?
  • A focus on mental health and wellbeing and gender role attitudes, included as a Wave 4 self-completion questionnaire for adults.
  • Data on net income, enabling research into people’s economic situation and answers to key questions such as ‘how many people are living in poverty?’
  • Comparison of gross and net incomes will allow researchers to see how effective current policies are in alleviating some of the effects of unequal access to income and capital through income transfers.”

“The data, which integrates 18 years of data from the British Household Panel Survey, provides the opportunity to analyse decades of evidence about the changing nature of our society.”

The Wave 4 data is available on the Understanding Society website:

[Source ESRC news: ]

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