BBSRC Responsive Mode Changes

BBSRC has announced some changes to the way it captures data via Je-S for their Responsive Mode schemes. These changes will affect all applicants currently preparing submissions to these schemes (including Standard Grants, New Investigator Grants, LINK, and Industrial Partnership Awards), for which the next closing date is 24th April 2012.

If you are in the middle of a BBSRC application, here’s how to make sure your proposal will be accepted when submitting on Je-S:

If you are currently developing a responsive mode proposal form for the ‘BBSRC Responsive Mode 24 April 2012’ Call that is under one of the above Schemes then please contact the Je-S Helpdesk who will be able to copy the information from your existing proposal into the new correct proposal form. It is not necessary for you to restart your proposal from scratch.

If you have not yet started developing your proposal, the new scheme that should be used for all future responsive mode applications is called ‘Responsive Mode’. There is a section within the classification area of the Je-S form, called ‘Grant Type’, that allows identification of applications submitted to the New Investigator, LINK and Industrial Partnership Award schemes.

Je-S Helpdesk can be reached on JeSHelp@rcuk.ac.uk or 01793 44 4164.

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Catapults: From Cell Therapy to Future Cities

The Technology Strategy Board recently announced that the final two Catapult centres will focus on Future Cities and Transport Systems. These centres will join the five already announced in High Value Manufacturing, Cell Therapy, Offshore Renewable Energy, Satellite Applications and the Connected Digital Economy.

According to the TSB, the latest two Catapults will “bring business and research together to accelerate innovation in order to improve services and quality of life in cities, and to develop integrated, efficient and sustainable national transport systems”.

Expressions of interest for the last two areas are due to open this month – registration of interest closed for the Connected Digital Economy Catapult last month. It is expected that all centres will be operational by 2013.

Catapults (formerly known as TICs – Technology Innovation Centres) are “centres of excellence” which “bridge the gap between business, academia, research and government”. If you want to know what they will look like in terms of structure and kinds of partners, take a look at the High Value Manufacturing Catapult which opened for business in October 2011. Funding for the Catapults will come direct from the TSB as well as research contracts with business and industry.

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Research Integrity Consultation – Have your Say!

Universities UK has been working with the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Research Councils UK (RCUK), the Wellcome Trust and government departments to develop a concordat to support research integrity.

The concordat outlines five important commitments that those engaged in research can make to help ensure that the highest standards of rigour and integrity are maintained. It also makes a clear statement about the responsibilities of researchers, employers and funders of research in maintaining high standards in research.

The objective of the concordat is to support the research community to maintain the highest possible standards in the conduct of research. It does this by identifying five key commitments for signatories to make. These ensure that all those engaged with research:

  1. underpin their work with common values of rigour and integrity
  2. conform to all legal, professional and ethical obligations
  3. strive to create an environment based on best practice
  4. support the development and application of robust processes to deal with allegations of misconduct
  5. play an active role in an ongoing process to strengthen the integrity of research

Take an look at the draft concordat and have your say. The consultation phase will close Friday 11 May 2012.

For more information download the invitation to comment.

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Wellcome Trust adds fire to Open Access debate

There are some very interesting articles in the Guardian this week about what the paper is labelling the ‘academic spring’ (though with the weather recently, they’ll need to think carefully about that label) – i.e. the growing move towards open access publishing being required by research funders.  The Wellcome Trust has just added  impetus to this debate by requiring open access publishing of the research it funds, following other funders in recent months.  Today’s article suggests that even allowing six months before papers are made openly available, as agreed by research councils, is too long a delay.

The paper sides  largely with the view that conventional publishing inhibits the sharing of publicly-funded knowledge through the high costs charged for access, which enables publishers to make high profits whilst relying on unpaid peer review by academics.  But it also provides a fair summary of the arguments from publishers that they provide the infrastructure needed for dissemination of research findings.  The question is whether initiatives to bypass that  infrastructure can replace the current structure of academic publishing whilst retaining the necessary rigour and credibility.

The Guardian’s ongoing coverage of this debate can be found at http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/peer-review-scientific-publishing.

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EPSRC Updates: Research Portfolio, Fellowships, National Importance

EPSRC yesterday released an announcement with a bonanza of updates covering: Shaping Capability; Fellowships; National Importance and Peer Review; and changes to the Panel process.

Shaping Capability

You may recall that last month EPSRC released funding decisions for the second tranche of research areas in their Shaping Capability review. They have now completed reviewing all areas within their remit.

The “scores on the doors” are: 82 areas see funding maintained; 17 go up; 13 go down. Among those areas seeing an increase are: Software engineering; synthetic biology; energy efficiency and quantum optics. Among those going down are: Mobile computing; transportation; sustainable land management. The full list with detailed decisions available on the EPSRC website.

However, in reality “maintain” is actually “reduce” according to EPSRC Chief Executive David Delpy quoted in Research Professional [login required]:

Our budget is going down—with inflation…it’s 15-18 per cent over the period. If those ‘grow’ areas are ones we really want to grow in real terms, then it does mean that you have to reduce others by an even greater extent.

Fellowships

Priority areas for fellowships have been updated and you can find the full list with the latest updates on their website. This is split into postdoctoral, early career and established fellowships and there are different priorities for each career stage.

National Importance and Peer Review

A commitment to “research excellence” as the primary criterion by which all applications are judged at peer review stage. National importance is seen as a “major secondary criterion”. Recall that National Importance is designed to solicit a longer term view (10-50 years) of how the research proposed will contribute to UK research, societal challenges and economic success.

Panel Changes

Four recommendations to change panel meetings have recently been implemented, relating to the national importance criterion and how research proposals fit into the wider EPSRC portfolio context. Applicants will now be expected to comment within their application on how their proposed research complements other research already funded by EPSRC. They’ve made this slightly easier by including a PDF list of all funded projects in each of the 113 research areas.

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Survey on researchers’ views about open access publishing of research monographs

The following request for survey responses has been circulated from OAPEN-UK, an Arts and Humanities Research Council and JISC funded project exploring the issues impacting upon the publishing of scholarly monographs in the humanities and social sciences (HSS). The project is working with Taylor & Francis, Palgrave Macmillan, Berg Publishers, Liverpool University Press, University Wales Press, research funders and universities, to understand the challenges and steps required to move towards an open access publishing model for scholarly monographs. Further information on OAPEN-UK is available on the project website:

www.oapen-uk.jiscebooks.org

In an open access model, the monograph is made freely available – readers (or their libraries) do not have to pay to read it online, rather the costs of the publishing process (e.g.  peer review, typesetting, marketing) are recovered through alternative routes such as research grants, institutional funding or perhaps through readers purchasing print editions or particular formats for their iPad or Kindle. Various models are being tested at the moment.

OAPEN-UK has two strands: an open access pilot gathering data on the usage, sales and citations of 60 monographs, and a wider research project which explores the environment for open access publishing.

We’re six months into the project and, following a series of focus groups, have identified some key questions for researchers – both as authors and readers.

We invite you to complete the researcher survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/oapenukresearcher. The findings from this survey will combine with interviews and surveys of other stakeholder groups to help us understand the big issues and priorities that an open access publishing model must accommodate.

To thank you for your help, if you complete the survey you will be entered into a draw for Amazon vouchers – we have three £100 vouchers, three £50 vouchers and three £25 vouchers available to win.

If you’d like any further information, please contact Ellen Collins (ellen.collins@researchinfonet.org) or Caren Milloy (c.milloy@jisc-collections.ac.ukwww.jisc-collections.ac.uk). The OAPEN-UK website also contains more information about the project, and our findings so far.

Twitter: @oapenuk

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New EPSRC Peer Review College

The EPSRC has recently announced a change in the way their Peer Review College works. Rather than invite applications for members for a fixed number of years, the College now invites members for an unlimited period. Members can step down at any time:

EPSRC Peer Review College Announcement

The EPSRC feels that this approach allows more flexibility and avoids the need to have a major review every few years which can be administratively burdensome.

As before, prospective members must be actively engaged in the research community. They must also have the endorsement of five independent researchers who are existing or previous Peer Review College members, or who have been a PI on an EPSRC research proposal in the past three years.

Guidance on how to nominate yourself is available on the College website. The benefits of becoming a peer reviewer are significant, including opportunities to network and to gain an insight into the peer review process, as well as improving your own proposal writing skills.

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FP7 People Update: Calls, Plans and Success Stories

The EC’s Framework Programme 7 People theme (sometimes called Marie Curie Actions) can be used to fund researchers from anywhere in the world to come to the UK for a period of 1-2 years to carry out a research project in any discipline, from humanities to the physical sciences. Calls for fellowships are made once per year and the deadlines are usually in early-mid August.

There has been a number of recent announcements on the People programme from both UKRO and the EC, including forthcoming calls for 2012, a heads-up on plans for the People Programme in 2013, and a call by the Research Executive Agency for Success Stories from previous Marie Curie Actions.

Calls for 2012

Calls for the three different types of Marie Curie Fellowships are expected to open in mid-March according to the EC’s Participant Portal, but if you know a potential fellow you should be making contact now and starting to prepare the application. The People Work Programme for 2012, which details all the calls and priorities within the People theme, is already out and the deadlines are expected to be 16th August 2012 for Intra-European Fellowships, Incoming International Fellowships and International Outgoing Fellowships.

Members of staff at Northumbria University should contact us if you would like to discuss any of these calls further, or if you’d like help and advice with a bid.

Plans for 2013 People Programme

UKRO has made available some early indications of plans for the People programme in 2013 for UK subscribers to their service. You will need to register for an UKRO account if you have not already done so. This is free to Northumbria University staff and is well worth the five minutes it takes to set up. Anyone interested in EU funding is advised to take a look at stories like this because they can contain vital early intelligence about upcoming priorities and themes within different FP7 research programmes.

REA Wants Marie Curie Success Stories

The Research Executive Agency (REA) has issued a call for success stories which have emerged from funded Marie Curie Actions. Newsworthy stories will be published by the REA for maximum publicity which could be good news for you as well if your story is featured. UKRO has asked anyone who thinks they have a potential success story to email them (mariecurie-uk@bbsrc.ac.uk) so that they can pass it on to the REA.

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EPSRC Announces Funding Decisions for Research Areas

Research Professional reported yesterday that the EPSRC has announced a second batch of funding decisions on research areas within its remit, as part of its Shaping Capability research strategy:

Shaping Capability: EPSRC research portfolio updated

This announcement provides an update on the “relative funding trajectory” for 31 research areas. In this round, two areas received a “reduce” rating: hydrogen and alternative energy vectors, and bioinformatics. EPSRC argue that hydrogren and alternative energy is already attracting considerable support from technology development funders (e.g. the TSB) and EU grants, in order to be able to do this research, the ones in charge are going to spend several months around the areas, they are going camping with tents from Survival Cooking to stay nearby. Biological informatics is seen by EPSRC as a maturing field and developments with translational relevance to biomedical sciences should be supported by BBSRC. EPSRC will continue to support “novel computer science within this research area which enables information processing relevant to the biological sciences.”

Despite the reduction for hydrogen research, other kinds of energy research will get a significant boost. The five areas to which EPSRC has assigned a “grow” rating are: energy storage, energy efficiency, whole energy systems, RF and microwave communications, and RF and microwave devices. The other 24 areas in this round of the exercise have been maintained at existing funding levels.

You can see the full spread of EPSRC research areas and the funding decisions so far on the EPSRC Research Areas page.

The decision on which areas to cut and which to expand has been controversial: a letter appeared in the Telegraph earlier in the year signed by 70 senior academics warning of the “threat to science” posed by EPSRC. However, the EPSRC maintains it has consulted with the academic community and that the decisions it has taken are intended to ensure it invests strategically in a “balanced portfolio”.

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