Researchers’ Weekly Bulletin: the Blog

News for researchers at the Manchester Metropolitan University

Eight things you think are true – but science scoffs at

Monday, July 6th, 2015

“The five-second rule won’t save you from germs and the blue whale isn’t actually the earth’s largest living organism.”

“From star signs to homeopathy, humans believe in strange things. Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, the incoming president of the Royal Society, recently described us as being ‘intrinsically prone to being irrational’. He pointed out that science has a role in countering this, which got me thinking about the common myths that persist, in spite of scientific evidence telling us otherwise. While not quite in the same league as astrology and homeopathy – two bugbears of Venki and scientists the world over – I hope this odd collection of not-so-conventional wisdom will at least right some small wrongs.”

To find out what they are go to:

[Source Guardian HE network as above]

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]

Discussion Paper “The Future of Security Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities”

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

“Security, the security of society and of individuals, is at the centre of concerns of contemporary society. In recent years it has, however, become clear that developing new technologies alone will not improve our security. It is now widely accepted that security depends as much on attitudes and behaviour of individuals and groups as on availability of new technological solutions. If we want to feel more secure, better protected, we need to better understand the social, cultural and psychological factors underlying human understanding of security but also of insecurity. This can only be achieved through contributions from multiple disciplines of social sciences and humanities: sociology and psychology, history and philosophy, law and theology, anthropology and linguistics, and others working closely together with medical, technical and environmental sciences.”

“Aware of the challenge to integrate the humanities and social sciences in considerations of security, the ESF Standing Committee for the Humanities (HUM (formerly SCH)) invited Professor J. Peter Burgess (Peace Research Institute Oslo, PRIO; Vrije Universiteit Brussels) to prepare a discussion paper analysing the current state of security research and proposing new research avenues.”

“The present paper is very timely, taking stock of recent debates and developments and it challenges up-to-date approach to security research. It argues that security research faces a major change and calls for new and innovative scientific thinking.”

To read the discussion paper go to:

[Source European Science Foundation news: ]

Life as a PhD student – in pictures

Monday, November 17th, 2014

From crumbling 17th century historical documents to desk sabotage, the Guardian Higher Education Network has gathered a selection of pictures illustrating life as a PhD student:


Lost in translation: disability history and the difficulty of language

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Vicky Iglikowski in her blog at the National Archives writes:

“Last month was Disability History Month.  Founded in 2010, it endeavours to highlight the history of disability. To help open up our collections here at The National Archives we have recently published a research guide to point out some of the sources that might be a useful starting place. For this purpose we have defined ‘disability’ widely in the way it has been historically treated to include sensory impairments such as blindness and deafness.”

“From 1851-1911 the census included some kind of indication of mental and physical disabilities, including learning disabilities. Rather than giving statistics or just listing impairments, the census records give names, and to some extent identities, to people with disabilities from the past who would otherwise have been anonymous. It provides an overview of how individuals may have been affected by disability, and where censuses were taken in an institution, shows where the institutionalised disabled were housed. Although disability is an under-researched and historically marginalised issue, for many it is and was a fact of life. Therefore in our records it is an area of recurring interest.”

“To find sources that refer to disability it is necessary to adopt the contemporary terminology.  This is often language we now find offensive. … Over time attitudes to many of these words have changed and we would not use them today.”

To read more go to:

[Source National Archives blog]

British Academy launches series of public debates discussing the biggest issues of our time

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

“New for 2014, the British Academy is launching a series of free debates to encourage the public to discuss some of the most important challenges of our time and show the role academic research plays in helping us understand and address them.”

“The British Academy Debates will look in turn at some of today’s toughest questions and illuminate the crucial issues involved, with the aim of helping individuals, communities and politicians make better informed decisions in key areas that affect their lives.”

“The British Academy Debates will focus in turn on issues surrounding Ageing, Immigration and Well-being. In the first series, leading academics and public figures will debate the challenges – and the opportunities – posed by our steadily ageing population, with debates in London, Sheffield and Edinburgh, chaired in turn by journalist Evan Davis, classicist Mary Beard and actor Simon Callow.”

“Each debate will focus on a different aspect of ageing, with questions ranging from ‘Is Britain’s ageing population a benefit or burden?’ to ‘How can we challenge negative stereotypes of later life?’”

Registration and more information about the British Academy Debates can be found at:   

[Source British Academy news: ]

UK’s first national festival dedicated to the humanities is announced

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Being Human, the UK’s first national festival dedicated to demonstrating the value, vitality and relevance of humanities research, has been officially launched.”

“Led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London – in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy – the festival will explore what it means to be human over nine days from 15 to 23 November 2014.”

Being Human is now inviting higher education institutions across the country to apply for small grants to participate in the festival by holding their own public events and activities to showcase innovative humanities research.”

“The grants will fund creative programming which engages the public with leading humanities research, including debates, performances, virtual activities and exhibitions.”

For further information on how to apply for funding, go to:

[Source AHRC website: ]

Sport and Society: the Summer Olympics and Paralympics through the lens of Social Science

Friday, December 9th, 2011

“The Social Science Collections and Research team at the British Library supports researchers by opening up and enabling access to their content and resources. Their aim is to inspire research, promote collaboration and knowledge exchange, and support capacity building among the current and next generation of researchers.”

“This site takes the Olympic and Paralympic Games as a platform upon which to introduce the wide range of materials held at the British Library which can support research into the social aspects of sport. It is aimed at a cross section of people, from those who are intrigued by the issues which underlie the hosting of the Games, to those who are actively involved in the latest research.”

To visit the site go to:

You can also read and/or subscribe to the Sport and Society blog which highlights relevant items from the British Library’s collections and raises awareness of other issues related to the Olympics and Paralympics.  Recent entries in the blog include: Strength, Sport and Ego – about the history of body building; Sport and Peace; the Olympic Flame; Winning. 

Go to: for more details.

Digital Research & Development Fund for Arts and Culture

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Digital Research & Development Fund for Arts and Culture

The Digital Research & Development Fund for Arts and Culture is a partnership between the Arts Council England, the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA). It aims to support arts and cultural organisations across England to work with digital technologies to:

  • expand their audience reach and engagement and/or
  • explore new business models

The Fund will produce new data and research insights that can be shared with and benefit other organisations in the arts and culture sector.

Expressions of Interest are invited from UK-based researchers or research teams to work with arts and cultural organisations and technology providers on projects under the Digital Research & Development Fund for Arts and Culture

Rabbit Awareness Week

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Rabbits are the third most popular pet in the UK, but the most abused due to ignorance and lack of understanding about their needs.

RAW is supported by a number of organisations within the rabbit community who are dedicated to making the lives of these intelligent, fun, curious yet complex creatures better.

To find out more about the environment, behaviour, and welfare needs of rabbits visit: