Posts in UPRISE Category

Talking the Walk: A Co-Creation Approach To Understanding Active Travel: Project News

Salford Meadows

This project involves piloting innovative methods to understanding active travel inequalities. In collaboration with Colleen Donovan-Togo from St Clement’s Community Centre, Ordsall, Nick Davies organised a workshop in April which involved input from community members and practitioners from numerous organisations involved in the low-carbon travel agenda in Greater Manchester, including TGFM, Sustrans, Living Streets and Salford City Council.   The workshop drew out community-specific issues for the Ordsall area which are now being taken forward in a series of focus groups, community engagement events and interviews.

The project will also result in a short film which will be used to highlight the issues, barriers and enablers for walking and cycling in the area. Discussing the progress of the project, Nick suggests that: ‘So far the research has highlighted the role infrastructure plays. Construction, development and the roads in the area can be seen as sometimes discouraging active travel to, from and within the Ordsall area.  This can be remedied by a more joined up approach to highlighting safe routes, connectivity and intermodality; and in particular more attention to ensuring low-carbon options are more accessible in the whole of the area’.  It is intended that this will lead onto a longer-term project and research council bid.

Dr Nick Davies, Research Fellow, UPRISE


How to Write a 4* Journal Article

Professor Mark Reed, Professor of Socio-Technical Innovation at Newcastle University

In December, Prof Mark Reed, Professor of Socio-Technical Innovation at Newcastle University and the man behind Fast Track Impact, tweeted some thoughts on how to write a 4* paper for the REF and wrote a blog about it. This post is published here with the author’s permission.

How do you write a 4* paper for the Research Excellence Framework (REF)? It is a question I’ve asked myself with some urgency since the Stern Review shredded my REF submission by not allowing me to bring my papers with me this year to my new position at Newcastle University.

Obviously the answer is going to differ depending on your discipline, but I think there are a few simple things that everyone can do to maximize their chances of getting a top graded research output.

I’m going to start with the assumption that you’ve actually done original, significant and rigorous work – if you haven’t then there is no point in reading any further. However, as I am increasingly asked to pre-review papers for colleagues across a range of disciplines, I am seeing examples of people who write up work as a 2* or 3* paper that has the potential to get a better score. I should point out that I believe that there is an important role for 1* and 2* papers, and that I regularly write these on purpose to address a problem of national significance and frame it for the specific, narrow audience that is likely to be able to benefit most from my work. However, whether I like it or not, as a Professor in a research-intensive University, there is an expectation that I will be submitted as a 4* researcher, which means I need a few 4* papers as well.

You can see some more detailed thoughts on what I think makes 4* for different types of paper in this Tweet:

https://twitter.com/profmarkreed/status/801348612345253888/photo/1

As you’ll see from the discussion under that tweet though, my more detailed thoughts probably only apply to Units of Assessment across panels A-C, and probably isn’t relevant to the arts and humanities.

Having said this, I think there are a number of things we can all do to maximize the chances of our work being viewed favourably by REF panelists.

  1. Write to the criteria:when I was learning to drive, my instructor told me that in the test I should make sure I moved my head when I was looking in the rear view mirror, to make sure the examiner noticed I was using my mirrors. We’re all used to writing to the criteria of funding calls, and in fact we are all perfectly used to writing papers to the criteria of our target journals. In the last REF, research outputs were judged against three criteria: originality, significance and rigour. Whatever the interpretation of these criteria in your discipline, have you made it explicit to REF panelists reading your work exactly what is original, and why it is so original? Have you explained and effectively justified the significance of your work? And have you included evidence that your methods, analysis and interpretation is rigorous, even if you have to use supplementary material to include extra detail about your methods and data to get around journal word limits?
  2. Get REF feedback before you submit your work for publication:find out who is going to be reviewing research outputs for REF internally within your Unit of Assessment at your institution and ask them to review your work before you submit it. They may be able to make recommendations about how you might improve the paper in light of the REF criteria. Sometimes a little bit of extra work on the framing of your research in relation to wider contexts and issues can help articulate the significance of your work, and with additional reading and thinking, you may be able to position your work more effectively in relation to previous work to demonstrate its originality more clearly. Adding a few extra details to your methods and results may re-assure readers and reviewers that your approach is indeed rigorous. This is not just about doing world-leading research; it is about demonstrating to the world that your work is indeed world-leading. For me, these criteria are nothing new and are worth paying attention to, whether or not we are interested in REF. Meeting these three criteria will increase the chances that you get through peer-review and will increase the likelihood that your work gets cited.
  3. Analyse and discuss good practice in your own area: the only way to really “get your eye in” for REF is to actually look at examples of good and poor practice in your own area. Below, I’ve described how you can design an exercise to do this with your colleagues. You can do it yourself and learn a lot, but from my own experience, you learn a lot more by doing this as a discussion exercise with colleagues who work in your area. If you can, take notes from your discussion and try and distill some of the key lessons, so you can learn collectively as a group and more effectively review and support each other’s work.

How to organize a discussion to work out what makes a 4* paper in your area:

  • Identify top scoring institutions for your Unit of Assessment (UOA): download the REF2014 results, filter for your UOA (columns E or F), then filter so it only shows you the outputs (column J), and then filter for 4* (column L), showing only the institutions from your UOA that had the highest percentage of 4* outputs. Now for those institutions, look across the table (columns L-P) to see which has the highest proportion of outputs at either 3* or 4*. For example, an institution may have 80% of its outputs graded at 4* and 15% graded at 3*, meaning that 95% of its outputs were graded at 3-4*
  • Download a selection of papers from the top scoring institutions: go to your UOA on the REF website, find and click on the institutions you’ve identified in step 1, under “view submission data”, click on “research outputs”, copy and paste output titles into Google Scholar (or your search engine of choice) and download the articles. You may want to select outputs randomly, or you may want to go through more selectively, identifying outputs that are close to the areas your group specialize in
  • Repeat for low scoring institutions so you can compare and contrast high and low scoring outputs
  • Discuss examples: print copies of the high and low scoring outputs, labeled clearly, and in your next UOA meeting, let everyone choose a high and a low-scoring example. Given them 10-15 minutes to quickly read the outputs (focusing on title, abstract, introduction, figures and conclusions so you’re not there all day) and then ask the group (or small groups if there are many of you) to discuss the key factors that they think distinguish between high and low scoring outputs. Get your group(s) to distill the key principles that they think are most useful and disseminate these more widely to the group, so that anyone who wasn’t present can benefit.

It would be great if I could tell you that these are my “three easy ways to get a 4* paper” but doing work that is genuinely original, significant and rigorous is far from easy. If you have done work that is of the highest quality though, I hope that the ideas I’ve suggested here will help you get the credit you deserve for the great research you’ve done.


THINKlab partnership project receives €425K funding

THINKLabTHE University of Salford will lead the way in helping to create more energy efficient cities, after receiving a €425,000 grant from the EU.

Buildings waste huge amounts of energy but annually just 1-2% of the building stock of cities is upgraded for efficiency – a process known as retrofitting.

It is estimated that the majority of European building stock will need to retrofit at a rate of 2.9% a year to achieve the target, versus the current 1.2% rate, in order that EU achieve its emission reduction targets by 2050.

However, current retrofitting processes are expensive, and face many uncertainties and complexities. Experts in the School of the Built Environment are partners in a €8.7 million project, and will lead the development of a knowledge-based tool which will select the integrated solutions with highest impact.

The other nineteen industry and academic partners involved in the project are from the UK, Spain, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria and Estonia. The wider project will explore innovative components, processes and decision making methodologies to guide all value-chain actors in the building renovation process; including a specific knowledge based tool for Real Estate Industry.

Professor Fernando, Director of the School of the Built Environment’s THINKlab and an expert in digital visualisations and simulation, said: “This project offers us further funding to continue our work on designing energy efficient buildings and neighborhoods that we have been doing over the last three years as a part of the Design4Energy project.

“We plan to apply our knowledge in advanced visualisation and collaboration in creating an interactive platform for the stakeholders involved in the retrofit market to create innovative solutions that can not only enhance the energy efficiency of the building but also the value of the property.”

This new technology platform will be built on the THINKlab’s ongoing work on advance data visualisation and building simulation.

Find out more

Victoria Barker

0161 295 4779


ESRC Festival of Social Science 2017 – Call for Proposals

ESRC Festival 15th Year BannerBuilding upon the successful collaboration from last year, University of Salford will partner with the Economic and Social Research Council, the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University to deliver the ESRC Manchester Festival of Social Science.

The aim of the Festival is to showcase Manchester social science research to a broad non-academic audience. Last year we hosted an eclectic blend of activities designed to celebrate the social sciences, including discussions and debates, exhibitions, schools visits, workshops, and lots more.

The call for applications is now open. The Festival runs from 4-11 November and will involve academics working alongside community and cultural partners to create engaging and inspiring research-led events, aimed at a broadly non-academic audience. The goal is to provide an insight into the many ways social science contributes to social, economic and political life across our cities, regions and beyond.

Any researcher or team can apply to hold an event under the ESRC Festival banner. Applicants can also request up to £1,000 sponsorship from the University of Salford to hold an event as part of the Festival. This will also be an excellent opportunity to tag these events to the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations. Events must include social science and seek to engage groups outside of academia including young people, third sector organisations, business, local government, policy makers and the general public.

We particularly welcome applications that:

  • Seek to bring together two or more festival partners
  • Seek to deliver interdisciplinary events
  • Consider the role and future of social science as a discipline
  • Involve early career researchers
  • Address issues pertinent to the Manchester city-region

For inspiration and ideas for the kind of event you might run, you can find out about the 2016 events at www.esrcmanchesterfest.ac.uk

Please note, applications SHOULD NOT be made directly to the ESRC, but rather via the University of Salford. The application deadline is 4pm on Friday 5th of May. The application form and guidance can be requested through research-impact@salford.ac.uk.

Further details can be found on the ESRC website, including eligibility criteria: www.esrc.ac.uk/public-engagement/festival-of-social-science/apply-to-organise-an-event/

 


Publishing in Scholarly Journals

Peer review of scholarly writingAs a researcher, sharing your work is essential to furthering the discussion, development and potentially even funding of your findings. The sheer quantity of guides available on “how to write” and “how to target X journal” perhaps signifying the impact of targeting the right place and the best audience for your research.

Before reaching the stage of submitting in the hope of publication, many publishers expect researchers to have already made some key considerations:

  1. Is your research original, engaging, innovative?
  2. Who do you expect to be the audience for your research?
  3. Which journal(s) do you think might be interested in accepting your article for publication and does your article fit with their aims, scope and style?
  4. What are your open access needs?
  5. Is your manuscript suitably and well written (free from grammatical error, solid narrative, clear abstract and conclusions) in accordance with the journal’s style guide?

Your researching peers and foremost, your supervisor, are the best place to start for advice on where to publish and whether your manuscript is ready. Then, once you think you have found the right journal for your article, you should read their Author’s Guide and make sure you can freely submit to them as some journals are invitation-only.

Read more…..


UPRISE, ELS and SHUSU Exploring Local & Regional Approaches to Ecology & Flooding

Irwell Flooding

Photo of a flooded Irwell by Dr Luke Blazejewski

Researchers from UPRISE are collaborating with colleagues from the School of Environment and Life Sciences, Research and Innovation and SHUSU (Sustainable Housing & Urban Studies Unit) on a HEIF-funded project to explore local and regional approaches to ecology and flooding.  This project will involve engaging with organisations, agencies and communities in the Salford and wider Manchester region to understand how ecological principles can be applied to the issues surrounding floods, and the wider functioning of a city.  This diverse partnership draws from a pool of expertise, and demonstrates precisely the interdisciplinary approach required to look at 21st century urban issues – keeping in spirit with the ICZ strategy of the University of Salford.

Led by the Dean of School, Prof. Hisham Elkadi, the project will run until the end of July.  By strengthening partnerships with UPRISE across the university and beyond, this important area of study will provide a basis for a larger and longer term body of work which will evolve our thinking on cities and how they function, Dean of School, Prof. Hisham Elkadi says “Climate change results in more severe and more frequent adversial weather conditions.  Flood-control infrastructures in our contemporary cities are not reliable mitigation defenses in the face of climate change uncertainties. The aim of the project is to build-in ecological resilience measures to mitigate against flooding”

A series of workshops and interviews are being organised by UPRISE as part of the project.  UPRISE Research Fellow, Dr. Nick Davies, described the co-creation approach of the project: ‘The workshops will provide a platform for organisations involved in various sectors concerned with flood resilience to interact, and be involved in designing and sharpening the key research focus of this project.’


Professor Jason Underwood People Count – the culture of digital construction

The School of Built Environment’s Professor Jason Underwood wasJason Underwoods an invited keynote alongside Chris Boardman, MBE and former British and Olympic cyclist, at an event organised by the global technology organisation Trimble Solutions/Tekla on 1st December.

The event was focused  on the people aspect of collaboration and digital construction entitled “People Count – the culture of digital construction“. Jason gave a keynote on the psychology of collaboration in the construction industry in relation to changing the perceived norms, which followed on from Chris’ presentation that considered the psychology of winning. Further information on the event can be found  at www.tekla.com/uk/about/events/people-count-culture-digital-construction.

 


THINKLab rail partnership wins national prize

ThinkLab Rail Award Team

L to R: Roy Hickman and Ben Gillespie (Network Rail), Steve Neybour (S&C Alliance), Terrence Fernando (THINKlab Director)

DIGITAL technology to ease the planning of Britain’s rail upgrades has won a national award for industry.

The 4-D simulation developed with S&C South Alliance for Network rail scooped Most Outstanding Building Information Modelling project at the Constructing Excellence awards in London.

Network Rail recently signed a new contract with the University to roll the technology out across the country after successful series of trials. The technology was developed by School of the Built Environment’s THINKLab, which creates virtual models and simulations for a host of industries.

The Director of THINKLab, Professor Terrence Fernando said: “We are thrilled to win this prestige national ward from the Contruction Excellence.  We were up against large companies, but we managed to win because  our innovative IT solution introduced a new way of working to reduce waste and improve efficiency of large railway projects. We hope to build on this success to bring further innovation to the building construction sector.”

Network Rail had been frequently experiencing programme overruns of its track renewals due to planning errors, costing millions of pounds and causing severe disruption to passengers. It has described the new package as a ‘game-changer’ in network planning, saving them time and money in scheduling upgrades.

The inability to effectively schedule works on complex sites was a major factor in projects overrunning.   THINKLab technologists helped Network Rail create 4-D simulations, meaning the tool can be is used for visualising and scheduling of tasks to the minute over a time period, allowing them to run different scenarios  for pre-work briefings and post-work evaluation.

“I have been planning track renewals for 17 years and this has blown me away,” says Stephen Kearney a site manager for Network Rail. “It’s suitable for small planning schemes as well as major programmes over a number of years.”

Nathan Lord, site manager at S&C South Alliance said the possibilities of the package were “unbelievable” and it gave them the confidence to know their planning for deliver more efficiency at lower cost. Head of Transformation at S&C South Alliance Steve Naybour said “this is a 4D planning package for now that will take us into the future of delivering more”

Judges at Constructing Excellence said the technology “has the potential to be applied across the rail industry both in the UK and internationally and is an “outstanding example of a technology and digital approach being applied to drive better incomes – not just for construction and industry – but for wider society as well.”

THINKLab’s 4D BIM Track Renewal project beat off six other finalists:

– Priority Schools Building Programme (North East), The Meadows Project (E Mids), Habberley Learning Campus (W Mids), The Faculty of Business & Law University of West of England (South-West), Land Rover BAR America’s Cup HQ (South East), East Riding Leisure, Bridlington (YH) and Holywell Learning Campus (Wales).

Follow the THINKLab on Twitter

See how the package works in this company video.


Behind the scenes of Visioning Lab: a future-casting exercise

ESCR-Festival logo

Dr Jessica Symons, the academic behind Visioning Lab and its future visioning workshops will be available online for a behind the scene discussion with special guests and spontaneous future-casting sessions on topics of participants’ choosing.

Visit the Visioning Lab YouTube channel on 10th November between 8-9pm for live chat. Check out the channel anytime for future-casting exercises that take people on imaginative journeys on themes ranging from love and shopping to death and music.

On the Visioning Lab YouTube channel, you can:

  • Meet Star the Cat who features in a number of future casts and other special guests who will do a live future visioning session with Dr Jess.
  • Find out what the background noises are in the YouTube videos (it’s the gerbils)
  • Hear about other people’s experiences of doing the future-casting exercises
  • Take part in a future-casting exercise yourself

Subscribe to the Visioning Lab YouTube channel to stay in touch and get a reminder for the broadcast

For further information, please contact Jessica Symons (j.symons@salford.ac.uk)


University announces new research partnership with AECOM

Mersey Gateway Project, photo credit: Merseylink

Mersey Gateway Project, photo credit: Merseylink

new research partnership between the University and global consultancy firm AECOM, which aims to boost understanding of the environmental impact of major infrastructure projects, has been announced.

The organisations will jointly bid for and fund research on topics directly related to major infrastructure projects, such as the £1.86bn Mersey Gateway scheme. The research areas will be chosen to provide benefits, and to help reduce adverse impacts and improve outcomes for the natural environment on future projects.

The UK has an ambitious infrastructure plan, so developing industry’s knowledge of this key area will be increasingly important for future programmes.

Peter Skinner, Chief Executive – Environment & Ground Engineering, Europe, Middle East, India and Africa, AECOM, said: “Shaping research so that it is applicable to specific projects provides students with opportunities to make a tangible difference to both academia and industry through their learning.

“Greater collaboration between universities and the private sector will make an important contribution to mitigating the impact of infrastructure on the environment and protecting the natural world. AECOM is proud to be working with the University of Salford on this initiative to increase understanding of the environmental and ecological aspects of infrastructure projects.”

Read more…..