Wednesday, 30 September 2009
While ethics committees are now a familiar feature of research institutions especially within the NHS, academic work on their role, remit and function is still in its infancy. The theme for the conference is how effective ethics committees are in reducing risks to subjects of research without over-burdening researchers with bureaucracy.
More details available here.
“I want to see an innovation nation. Science is one of the jewels in the crown of Labour’s years in office. And we want closer links between businesses and universities so that good ideas don’t stop at the research lab or the library door,” He said. “We’re one of the world’s biggest investors in research and development. But we still do the R better than the D and that must change.”
Elsewhere, the Chief Exec of EPSRC, David Delpy was interviewed by the Times, and stressed the importance of Impact, but also of the long term and speculative nature of research. “I’d think we were successful if 60 per cent of the research we fund fails,” he says. “If we are funding what we should, which is adventurous, speculative research, then there will be failures.”
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
The full article is available here. Sceptical comments follow.
Monday, 28 September 2009
More from David Mitchell in the Observer on the Ref here. Thanks to Gill for highlighting this.
Friday, 25 September 2009
The Times Higher recently analysed Research Council success rates, and the news was not good. For the first time success rates have fallen to 23%, with the AHRC and ESRC bottom of the pile at 19%.
It’s easy to be dispirited by this. However, success rates only tell a partial story. If your research is good, your case compelling, and your application well framed it is much more likely that you will be funded.
This is shown by some big wins from the very Councils holding up the bottom of the success rate league:
- Jeremy Carrette (Secl—Religious Studies) has just been awarded £450,000 (TBC) from the AHRC for a project on Religious Non-Governmental Organizations and the United Nations in New York and Geneva;
- Caroline Rooney (English) and Anne Hammerstad (PolIR) got 2 of only 14 fellowships made by the ESRC in their ’Global Uncertainties’ Programme. Caroline’s award was £274k, and Anna’s was £162k. Programmes are notoriously hard to succeed in, so this is a great achievement.
And it’s not just good news at RCUK. Jim Mansell (Tizard) and Ann Netten (PSSRU) are part of a successful consortium that established a £15m School for Social Care Research (SSCR). Jim and Ann are due to receive £1.1m each from the NHS for their part in the SSCR.
So be brave: Research Services are ready to help with your applications to ensure that they stand every chance of bucking the success rates.
However, this does not mean that you should change the research you do. Instead, you should think about how your research affects the wider world. So, when working on Research Council applications, bear in mind four points:
Think broadly about the potential effects of your research: ‘impact’ can include cultural, economic, health, social, environmental, and legal effects of your research.
Think about your research from a more general perspective: what the Councils are really looking for are potential ‘case studies’ or ‘stories’ that can be used by them to justify their funding to government and the public.
Think about the long term impact of your research: The Research Councils recognise that it sometimes takes a long time for a project to have impact (an MRC/Wellcome study suggested that the average time lag is 17 years).
Finally, what the Councils really want is reassurance that you have applied ‘due diligence’ to considering the ‘Impact’ of your research. Your Impact Plan should demonstrate this.
Thursday, 24 September 2009
Apparently BIS, Hefce and RCUK were caught off guard by Mandelson's remarks, and none have commented.
Would a review be a bad thing? Not necessarily, but it depends on what is provided as a replacement to Dual Support. The fear is that, in the current economic climate, government will be looking to fund less rather than more. We'll watch with interest...