Researchers’ Weekly Bulletin: the Blog

News for researchers at the Manchester Metropolitan University

Projecting British Design: the Design Council Slide Collection in focus

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

18 April – 28 May 2016

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

“This exhibition highlights a nationally important photographic archive recently transferred to MMU Special Collections, and provides a rare opportunity to experience its materiality first hand.”

“Comprising a wealth of imagery showing selected examples of British design and the campaigning activities of the Design Council, the slide collection is a unique prism through which to view the key debates around design and taste after the Second World War.”

“From post-war austerity to Thatcherism, Modernism to Pop, Projecting British Design offers historical insight and visual pleasure in equal measure.”

[Source MMU Special Collections website: ]

#ColorOurCollections: Europeana’s Colouring Book for Grown-ups

Monday, February 8th, 2016

“Nowadays, it’s not just children that enjoy the gentle art of colouring. Colouring books aimed at adults are bestsellers – advertised as a form of therapy designed to alleviate the stress of modern life.”

“You can colour in glorious gardens, enchanted forests, dream cities and now… Europeana’s collections! We’ve created a Colouring Book for Grown-ups so you can sample this trend for yourself. With a variety of hand-drawn images on all sorts of topics, and from countries across the continent, we hope you enjoy exploring European cultural heritage in this playful and relaxing way.”

“Download Europeana’s Colouring Book for Grown-ups for free and share your coloured pages on social media using the hashtag #ColorOurCollections. We’d love to see your work!”

[Source Europeana blog: ]

A gift from the dead of 1945

Monday, February 1st, 2016

“January brings to the UK not only storms and floods but also a benefit to users of historical collections: copyright expiry. At midnight on 31 December 2015, the copyrights of people who had died in 1945 expired, and it became legally possible for anyone in the UK to copy and republish their literary or artistic works without asking permission and without payment. Expect to see new editions of the diary of Anne Frank (1929-1945) — though her sole authorship of the diary, and therefore her sole copyright, have been disputed — and works by other best sellers such as the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), the humorist Robert Benchley (1889-1945) and the novelist Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945), among others.”

“Of course 1945 was no ordinary year. Frank and Bonhoeffer were victims of the Nazis, as were many others, directly or indirectly, while others lost their lives in the war in the Far East. This post looks at the works of five professional artists who died in 1945 and whose works are therefore now copyright-free in the UK.”

To find out who the artists are, read on:

[Source Wellcome Library blog as above]

Why aren’t there more university graduates on Coronation Street?

Monday, January 18th, 2016

“As a resident of Weatherfield, you are considerably more likely to die a grisly death than complete a degree. But why?”

“In 1997, the British Medical Journal published a study entitled Death Rates in Soap Operas on British Television. The researchers’ key findings were that soap characters’ lives are more dangerous than those of Formula One racing drivers or bomb disposal experts; people suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses have better five-year survival rates.”

“But that’s not the only way that soaps – or “continuing dramas”, as they are now known – deviate from UK statistical norms. As a member of the first generation of my family to go to university and a lifelong soap fan to boot, I have long been frustrated that so few characters in British soap operas make it to higher education, let alone complete degrees and go on to graduate-level jobs.”

“These series don’t reflect the dramatic rise in student numbers that has taken place in recent decades. In 1990, as Coronation Street was entering its 30s and EastEnders was turning 5, just over 77,000 students were graduating from UK universities with a first degree and around a further 31,000 with a postgraduate qualification (pdf).”

“Fast-forward to 2014 and those figures have risen to about 422,000 and 258,000 respectively, with almost 2.3 million home and overseas students registered for full-time and part-time undergraduate and postgraduate study in the UK.”

“Given that the higher education initial participation rate for 17- to 30-year-olds in England, Scotland and Wales rose to 47% in 2013-14, it could be expected that soaps, in depicting the everyday dramas of “ordinary” people, would have started to reflect these trends. But this hasn’t been the case.”

“On Coronation Street you’re more likely to suffer a violent death as a result of fire, explosion, a road traffic accident or homicide than to enrol at a university, much less graduate with a degree.”

[Source Guardian Higher Education network: ]

Christmas gift ideas for academics – in pictures

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

“Even boffins need pampering at this time of year. When it comes to hunting down the perfect present, what you’re looking for is something that teases their brain cells while it tickles their fancy.”

Have a look at the suggestions here:

[Source Guardian Higher Education network as above]

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]