NERC introduces Demand Management for Responsive Mode Schemes

logo: NERCFollowing consultation with the NERC community, in July 2011 NERC Council approved the introduction of demand management measures for responsive mode proposals submitted from 1  April 2012. The measures will be applied to applications submitted to the following NERC responsive mode schemes: Urgency, Large and Standard grants (including those lead by new investigators).

The measures will NOT apply to the NERC Fellowship schemes or outline proposals.

The NERC Delivery Plan 2011-2015 includes the target to reduce demand and manage success rates for responsive mode research grants.Demand management aims to minimise the inefficiencies in the funding system for both resaerch organisations and NERC by reducing the number of proposals submitted and reviewed whist maintaining the quality of grants awarded.

Provisional timetable for introduction of demand management measures

1 April 2012
Monitoring of submissions and outcomes for demand management purposes commences

April 2012
Request for research organisations to nominate designated point(s) of contact for demand management interactions.

July 2012
Initial identification of research organisations with high number or proportion of uncompetitive submissions.

Summer 2012
Provision of past performance data.

Rolling schedule starting Autumn 2012
Scheduled visits and dialogue.

Annually from Autumn 2013
Provision of updated data and analyses.

For full details of this announcement see the NERC website.


Leverhulme Trust steps in to fund British Academy Small Grants

Good news for early career humanities and social science researchers! The British Academy Small Research Grants scheme has secured funding for at least the next three years following an intervention by the Leverhulme Trust.

British Academy and Leverhulme Trust announcement

Yesterday it was announced that the Trust has stumped up £1.5M to ensure the popular funding scheme’s continuation. This will provide welcome reassurance following a rather turbulent year for the Academy and small grants in particular.

You may remember the announcement by the British Academy in January 2011 that it planned to discontinue small grants. This was in the context of research councils such as the ESRC also terminating their own small grants scheme, and announcing a concentration of cash in longer, larger awards. Things looked bleak for the future of small grants in the humanities and social sciences, until British Academy reviewed their decision in July 2011. Now this latest announcement ensures more small grants will be available in these disciplines in the future.

Both the Academy and the Leverhulme Trust are keen to point out the benefits and impact of research funded by small grants, with the example given in the press release of Academy-funded work forming the basis of a recent BBC 2 series, Mixed Britannia. Leverhulme’s intervention will likely also take some pressure off their own funding schemes and those of the ESRC and AHRC by providing an alternative route for early career researchers and those who want to run a pilot research project.


On Language and Perception

Check out this video showcasing research carried out by Professor Kenny Coventry and colleagues at CoCoLab (Communication and Cognition Lab) at Northumbria University on the mapping between language and perception. It describes an ESRC-funded research project looking at cross-linguistic differences in spatial language and asks:  Does the language we speak affect the way we think?


Elsewhere…: Using Social Media In Research

The first post in what will become a semi-regular series rounding up the latest news and views from around the research blogosphere. This week we’re focusing on using social media in research.

Let’s kick things off with a post from Julie Northam at Bournemouth University Research Office about the benefits of academic blogging:

Academics who blog regularly report positive outcomes, such as networking and collaborating, using royalty free photos to illustrate on what they blog about, finding new audiences and opportunities, disseminating research more widely, and building reputation. Bloggers argue that far from diluting scholarly success (as has been suggested by some academics), online writing can be a serious tool for academic practice. Blogging should be seen as part of a programme of dissemination and collaboration, and is best used alongside traditional academic outlets (such as journals) as a means of amplifying the reach and potentially the significance and future direction of the research.

If you need more than anecdotal evidence on the benefits of blogging, try this post from last November at the LSE Impact blog which shows the massive increase in views for a database of 94 papers linked to from 6 different blogs:

These increases are massive compared to the typical abstract views and downloads these papers get- one blog post in Freakonomics is equivalent to 3 years of abstract views!

Staying with the LSE blog, last week they posted a piece by Don Taylor which provides an interesting counterbalance to this view:

We absolutely need the slow, peer review system as the foundation of thoughtful, careful scholarship. Twitter and other social media are important additions that can give scholarly content “reach” and “relevancy”. However, it’s a both/and, not an either/or proposition. Traditional peer review journals should remain the bedrock of the research evidence that can be brought to bear on health policy.

This reinforces Julie’s point that blogs and Twitter should be used as part of a dissemination and impact strategy for research – they’re not the whole picture.

And using Twitter as part of the research process is on Dr Jeremy Segrott’s mind too. Last week he posted this piece evaluating his experiences of using the microblogging service for the last three months:

Twitter has been immensely helpful in keeping me up to date with new reports that are published, interesting debates among academics and health professionals, and a way of developing links with fellow researchers.  A single tweet I sent last week also generated two requests to do interviews with the BBC on topics relating to parenting and alcohol.

Impressive! But if you’re new to all of this, how do you get started in using Twitter in research? You could do worse than check out this guide put together by the good folks at the LSE Research Impact blog. It starts from the basics and covers all of the terminology (follow, retweet, mentions, hashtags), a range of tweeting styles, and the difference between using Twitter in research or for teaching.


FP7 People: Fellowships Results Published!

UKRO reports that the preliminary results for the Framework Programme 7 People Programme Individual Fellowships have been published by the Commission. The full lists for all three types of fellowships (incoming, outgoing and intra-european) are available on the FP7 Participant Portal, under Additional documents for each call:

FP7 People: 2011 Individual Fellowships Preliminary Results

The preliminary results assign one of five categories to each submitted project. Category A proposals are on the main funding list and prospective fellows will already have been contacted by the Commission to begin negotiations. Category B proposals are on the reserve list and applicants need to wait until the first round of negotiations with category A projects has concluded to know whether there is sufficient budget for them to go ahead. This can happen for example when a category A applicant withdraws. Categories C, D and E have been rejected for various reasons, either because of funding constraints or where the proposal was below the quality threshold or not evaluated. You’ll need to know the proposal acronym or proposal number in order to check where your project appears on the list.

Individual fellowships from the People Programme – also called Marie Curie Actions – enable researchers based in Europe to spend 1 – 2 years carrying out a research project in another EU member state (intra-european fellowships), or outside of Europe (outgoing fellowships). The international incoming fellowships fund researchers based outside of Europe to come into a European research institution. The fellowships are attractive both because they offer a relatively high reimbursement for fellows and because they are “bottom up” in the sense that the applicant and host institution jointly decide the topic and plan the research programme.

Northumbria University staff should contact Teresa Kirby, European Strategy Manager to find out more about Individual Fellowships and for assistance with any proposals.