The ESRC (Economic and Social Science Research Council) is showcasing how its funded research engages with different aspects of contemporary life over seven days in a series of short videos. Monday’s video focused on research exploring image, identity and ageing among women. Next week’s will discuss charity and volunteering.
Using videos as public engagement tools is becoming increasingly popular with the research councils, with both the ESRC and EPSRC having a Youtube video feed. The Wellcome Trust also has a relatively active profile with some well produced videos, such as this one debunking five common myths about exercise. These videos seek to communicate science in simple terms as part of their public engagement and educational programmes.
The ESRC Knowledge Exchange Opportunities Call is now live. Anyone can apply to this scheme – they don’t have to be ESRC funded…
The scheme provides the opportunity to apply for funding for knowledge exchange and public engagement activities at any stage of the research lifecycle, and is aimed at maximising the impact of social science research outside academia.
There are a number of changes that have been made to the co-funding rules and the types of projects that are allowed, following comments from the community – these will hopefully support engagement with stakeholders as co-funding can now be any combination of cash or in-kind resources. The scheme also allows applications for new applied research, so long as this is user-led or in collaboration with a user partner.
Researchers keen to maximise the impact of their research, especially during the last 18 or so months of the REF period, may be interested in the following.
The ESRC-funded methods@manchester seminar series on the Impact Agenda is holding its sixth seminar, on Making an Impact, on Thursday May 24th at St Hugh’s College, University of Oxford.
The series adopts an interdisciplinary perspective to examine and clarify the concept of ‘impact’ in the context of academic research in the humanities and social science. The aim is to identify the processes that influence impact and explore mechanisms that maximise it.
Morning: Academics who have made an impact will describe this impact, explain how it came about, and draw out any general lessons about how to create impact.
Speakers include Andrew Dilnot, University of Oxford, Pete Alcock, Professor of Social Policy and Director of the ESRC-OST-Barrow Cadbury Trust Third Sector Research Centre, and Pete Edwards, Technical Director, RCUK dot.rural Digital Economy Hub and Director, PolicyGrid Digital Social Research Node, University of Aberdeen.
Afternoon: Pimp My Research – a workshop for junior researchers/PhD students
Learn how to produce an impact plan and see demonstrations of tools and techniques designed to improve your own personal research impact.
Lead: Peter Halfpenny, Sociology, Manchester and Celia Russell, Mimas, Manchester
The ESRC has recently announced a number of changes to their grant application process which will be of interest to all potential applicants. Most of these changes bring the ESRC more into line with its sister Research Councils. Full details are available on the ESRC website, but I’ve summarised the headlines below:
Classifications: From today you can now identify relevant public and third sector engagement activities in the classification section of proposals. This change reflects the increasing importance being placed on impact and engagement outside the academic sphere across the Research Councils.
Grant administration: The three changes under this heading reflect the ongoing cross-Council harmonisation process and move to a shared back-office via the SSC. Applicants will now have the opportunity to reply to reviewer comments on all Standard Grants, not just those over £500K as previously. In addition, the reviewer scoring has shifted to a numerical 1-6 scale, rather than A+, A, A-. Finally, Je-S has revised its user expertise classifications so all Je-S users will need to log in and amend their expertise to reflect the new categories.
Equipment: In line with EPSRC changes last year, ESRC has increased the threshold for equipment from £3,000 to £10,000. Anything up to £10K should now be classed as directly incurred. Items from £10K to £113K (the OJEU threshold) need additional justification and will typically be funded at around 50%.
If you’re a member of staff at Northumbria and thinking about bidding for a grant from the ESRC in the future, this is the workshop for you. Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon (Associate Dean for Research in Life Sciences) will explore the specific requirements of the ESRC and focus on how to make bids more likely to be successful.
The workshop will be held on Wednesday, 15 February (12.00-2.00pm).
Are you an AHRC-funded postgraduate or early-career researcher? Now you have an opportunity to apply for a short-term fellowship at one of four internationally-renowned research libraries and institutes.
This provides an excellent opportunity not only to take advantage of the world-class research facilities on offer, but also to expand your academic network overseas.
Here are more details on the awards and eligibility from the AHRC:
The scheme is open to UK postgraduate students and early career researchers funded by the AHRC and successful applicants receive an award from the AHRC to contribute towards their flight costs and a monthly allowance in additional to their normal stipend/salary paid as part of their AHRC funding.
Applicants can apply to spend from three to six months at the overseas institution with dedicated access to their world-class research facilities, expertise and networking opportunities.
For the purposes of this scheme, “early career” means you need to be within 8 years of the award of your PhD, or within 6 years of your first academic appointment. And note that ESRC award holders are also eligible to apply to the Library of Congress placement scheme, but not to the other destinations. Further information is available in the detailed call guidance notes available at the links above.
As we reported last month, this is part of the AHRC’s wider international strategy. The focus on early stage researchers is significant as the AHRC believe international links made at this stage of an academic career usually last longer and are more productive in terms of stimulating future research collaborations and impact.
The deadline for applications for the International Placement Scheme is 15th March, 2012. Please contact us for advice and support with your application.
ESRC’s current knowledge exchange funding call, which includes public engagement, will close on 7th February. The programme provides part-funding for knowledge exchange activities – it is not for new research. External (non-academic) partners need to provide the balance not covered by ESRC.
This is a valuable mechanism for maximising the impact of research, and is very timely in relation to the Research Excellence Framework‘s Impact component. Projects can be up to 12 months’ duration, starting from September 2012. This means they provide a good chance of helping you achieve impact from your research in time for the REF submission deadline of November 2013.
To quote the ESRC material:
The scheme provides the opportunity to apply for funding for knowledge exchange activities at any stage of the research lifecycle, and is aimed at maximising the impact of social science research outside academia.
The flexibility built into the scheme is intended to encourage applicants to think creatively about knowledge exchange, and applications are welcomed for either a single activity or a combination of activities; be it setting up a network to help inform the development of a research proposal, arranging an academic placement with a voluntary or business organisation, or developing tools such as podcasts and videos aimed at communicating the results of research to non-academic audiences.
Applicants can apply for projects up to one year in duration. However, the proposed start date should be no earlier than 1 September 2012.
NERC has today issued a final reminder for those who want to nominate themselves to be part of their Peer Review College:
We have reduced and equalised the number of review requests per member in order to make involvement in NERC peer review activities more manageable and to allow NERC to widen the expertise-base of the College by increasing the number of members from 450 to 600.
We are looking for members with all types of environmental sciences expertise, including those from the public and private sector user communities. Those selected will play a vital role in determining the research that NERC funds and in maintaining its quality.
Those interested have until 27th January to respond by completing the nomination form, available on the NERC website. Note that if you’re nominating yourself you’ll need a senior colleague to support your application.
There has been a spate of calls for peer review membership among the research councils recently, with AHRC adding to its burgeoning 1,300-member College at the end of 2011 and the ESRC’s call still open. The benefits of membership include opportunities to network and to gain an insight into the peer review process, as well as improving your own proposal writing skills.
Grant Assessment Panels meet approximately three times per year to consider grant applications to the ESRC and give funding recommendations. Being part of a panel is an excellent opportunity to work with other experienced academics as well as those in the private, public and third sector and to shape the ESRC’s funding portfolio. Members also have the chance to read a range of project proposals, which is a great way to learn and share best practice with colleagues.
The current call for membership is focusing specifically on the following areas:
Sociology (particularly the sociology of health)
Science and technology studies
Management and business studies (including accounting and finance)
Economics (particularly micro economics)
Further information, including a vacancy specification, is available on the ESRC website. To apply you need to complete a short application form and attach a two-page CV, to be sent to email@example.com no later than 5pm on 1st February 2012.
ESRC are also recruiting members for their Committees. The committees lead on ESRC’s corporate strategy and oversee the development of research, evaluation, methods and infrastructure, and training investments.
Vacancies are available in all three of the ESRC’s policy committees – Methods and Infrastructure, Research and Training and Skills – as well as their Audit and Evaluation Committees. In terms of time commitment, the ESRC suggests you should be willing to spend a minimum of 10 days per year in addition to attendance at committee meetings. Further details on the vacancies and eligibility are available in the vacancy specification on the ESRC website.
If you’re interested in applying you should complete a short application form, two-page CV and attach a supporting statement from a suitable referee, to be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5pm on 1st February 2012.