Posts in EERC Category

Impact at the Festival of Research

Salford is holding its inaugural Festival of Research this year between 25th June and 20th July 2018 across the campus.

The aim of the Festival is to showcase and celebrate Salford’s diverse research and its impact to a wider audience and will encourage both researchers and the general public to become involved.

In the week of 2nd-6th July there will be a concentration of physical events and conferences taking place, including the Salford Postgraduate Annual Researcher Conference (SPARC), which is a two-day PGR-focused showcase event.

Running alongside the Festival will be ‘Storytelling at Salford’: this is a larger project which forms part of the research training strategy and which is also linked to the University’s new research strategy. It involves the Salford Research community (PGRs, Academics and Leaders) recording short videos about what they do at Salford. The first 20 videos will be showcased as part of the festival and during the festival we will encourage more to participate and create videos themselves.

 

 

Targeted Impact Events

As part of the Festival we will be running a number of specifically impact-related events to help inspire our researchers to think more closely about the impact of their research and how they can best improve its significance and reach in the future.

 

Highlights include:

Wednesday, 27 June 2018: Fast Track Impact case study writing workshop with Prof Mark Reed

Mark will focus specifically on the REF and what makes a good impact case study, how to improve your writing around impact, as well as evidence collection tips. This workshop will also include detailed external peer review of 4 draft impact case studies, with recommendations of how these can be enhanced and improved.

To book: https://myadvantage.salford.ac.uk/students/events/Detail/597642/staff-development-fast-track-t

 

Thursday, 28 June 2018: Developing Your Narrative Sessions with Chris Simms, Royal Literary Fund

Chris is holding individual 40-minute mentoring sessions for researchers looking to develop their narrative and storywriting skills, whether it be for the purpose of formulating impact case studies, writing funding bids, making applications for research festivals or similar.

All enquiries: research-impact@salford.ac.uk

 

Tuesday, 3 July 2018: Impact Case Study Writing Retreat (MCUK)

Space will be made available to each School to spend dedicated time working on existing or potential impact case study drafts. Impact Coordinators will be on hand to provide advice and guidance and researchers will be able to access resources from the REF intranet site and use the Figshare data repository to gather impact evidence.

To book:

AM: https://myadvantage.salford.ac.uk/students/events/Detail/604998/festival-of-research-impact-ca

PM: https://myadvantage.salford.ac.uk/students/events/Detail/605001/festival-of-research-impact-ca

 

Wednesday, 11 July 2018: Developing Your Narrative Sessions with Chris Simms, Royal Literary Fund

Chris is holding individual 40-minute mentoring sessions for researchers looking to develop their narrative and storywriting skills, whether it be for the purpose of formulating impact case studies, writing funding bids, making applications for research festivals or similar.

All enquiries: research-impact@salford.ac.uk

 

Why not take this opportunity to check out the Festival of Research website to find events of interest to you: https://www.salford.ac.uk/researchfest

Join the conversation:

#salfordresearchfest         @Festivalofrese1

 


Peer Review of Impact Case Studies

According to Fast Track Impact’s calculations (see: http://www.fasttrackimpact.com/single-post/2017/02/01/How-much-was-an-impact-case-study-worth-in-the-UK-Research-Excellence-Framework for further details), the best impact submissions to REF2014, i.e. those achieving a 4* star narrative case study, had a currency exchange of some £324,000 (£46,300 per year between 2015/16-2021/22). By contrast, a 4* research output was typically valued at between £5,000-£25,000. Generally speaking, impact case studies are thought to be worth around 5 times more than outputs at higher full-time equivalents (FTEs).

As such, the huge potential value this may bring to institutions cannot be underestimated, particularly given the increased weighting of impact from 20% to 25% for the next REF exercise in 2021. Consequently, institutions employ a number of strategies and resources to ensure the best possible outcomes of their REF impact submissions. For example, there are reports of significant sums being spent by some universities in the REF2014 exercise on copy editors or science writers in order to create compelling narratives that would stand up to the scrutiny of the REF panel members.

A robust internal and external peer review process is one means of tracking progress over time in order to enhance and improve narratives and impact evidence ahead of the final REF submission in 2020.

 

Upcoming peer review events

The University of Salford is undertaking its first external peer review of draft impact case studies this Summer as part of its REF Readiness exercise. This will give the University a snapshot of where things stand and where improvements still need to made in the 2 years leading up to the REF submission. The feedback from the external peer review will inform the planned internal peer review due to take place in early 2019.

 

Dates for the diary include:

Monday, 18 June 2018 – Friday, 29 June 2018: External peer review of 10 x impact case studies across UoAs      This will include review and annotation of draft case studies, an overview report, notes on potential grades and advice on how to enhance impact.

Monday, 25 June 2018 – Friday, 20 July 2018: University of Salford Festival of Research       A month-long programme of events celebrating and promoting the University’s valuable research. This will include a REF-focused impact case study writing workshop, an impact ‘writing retreat’ and one-to-one mentoring on impact narratives.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018: Fast Track Impact case study writing workshop with Prof Mark Reed           Mark will focus specifically on the REF and what makes a good impact case study, how to improve your writing around impact, as well as evidence collection tips. This workshop will also include detailed external peer review of 4 draft impact case studies, with recommendations of how these can be enhanced and improved.

 

To book: https://myadvantage.salford.ac.uk/students/events/Detail/597642/staff-development-fast-track-t

 

Why not take this opportunity to look at the upcoming peer review meetings and events information on our REF Intranet site at: https://teamsite.salford.ac.uk/sites/sc02/REF2021/SitePages/Training.aspx


Impact Training and Events

As the REF draws ever closer, thoughts are now turning to impact and how to ensure that the University’s research is demonstrating impact beyond academia and making a real difference in the wider world. This raises a number of questions about what constitutes impact and impact evidence, where this should be stored, when it should be collected and how it can be enhanced.

In order to help researchers to gain a better understanding of research impact and what it means to them, a training programme designed specifically around impact is being rolled out across the University in the coming months.

 

Upcoming internal training and events

Future training will be tailored to meet individual needs in terms of impact. For example, you might be looking for a taster session to learn what research impact is all about, or maybe you are an early career researcher bidding for funding for the first time. Perhaps you are a mid-career or senior researcher who needs some advice on collection of impact evidence. Whatever your requirements, there is something to suit every level and discipline.

 

Events of note include:

 

Monday, 16 April 2018: Impact writing workshop with Chris Simms

Chris from the Royal Literary Fund will be visiting the University again to hold a sessions around writing for impact, creating a narrative and telling a story.

To book: https://myadvantage.salford.ac.uk/students/events/Detail/597635/staff-development-new-to-impac

 

Thursday, 3 May 2018: Fast Track Impact workshop with Prof Mark Reed

Mark returns for the first of two workshops, this one focusing on generating and evaluating impact, as well as how to maximise your social media presence for enhanced impact.

To book: https://myadvantage.salford.ac.uk/students/events/Detail/597641/staff-development-fast-track-t

 

Monday, 25 June 2018 – Friday, 20 July 2018: University of Salford Festival of Research

A month-long programme of events celebrating and promoting the University’s valuable research. This will include the popular PGR event ‘SPARC’ (Salford Postgraduate Annual Research Conference) on 4 + 5 July 2018, as well as an impact ‘writing retreat’ on 3 July 2018 for budding impact case study writers

 

Wednesday, 27 June 2018: Fast Track Impact case study writing workshop with Prof Mark Reed

Mark will focus specifically on the REF and what makes a good impact case study, how to improve your writing around impact, as well as evidence collection tips.

To book: https://myadvantage.salford.ac.uk/students/events/Detail/597642/staff-development-fast-track-t

 

From September 2018 a suite of workshops specifically around impact will be embedded into the staff development programme (SECRET) – further information will be available shortly.

Why not take this opportunity to look at the upcoming training, meetings and events information on our REF Intranet site at: https://teamsite.salford.ac.uk/sites/sc02/REF2021/SitePages/Training.aspx

 

External training

Alternatively, why not sign up for the free 5-week impact online training course run by Fast Track Impact?

Each session comprises 6-minute video and a short reading. After each session, you will be given tasks to complete within your own research before the next session:

  • Introduction: Five ways to fast track your impact
  • Week 1: Envision your impact
  • Week 2: Plan for impact
  • Week 3: Cut back anything hindering or distracting you from your impact 
  • Week 4: Get specific about the impacts you will seek and the people who can help you achieve impact this month
  • Week 5: Achieve your first step towards impact and monitor your success

 

Further details can be found here: http://www.fasttrackimpact.com/for-researchers


Collecting Testimonial Evidence of Impact

One way of effectively demonstrating the impact that your research has had on your stakeholders is to collect testimonial evidence. This generally takes the form of a letter from a collaborator on headed paper, although e-mails are also acceptable.

It can sometimes feel awkward to ask collaborators to write corroborating statements of this kind and this is why researchers often leave it to the last minute to request this information. Don’t make this mistake: if you leave it too late you may find that the main contact for your research has left the institution, may have retired or even passed away. You should therefore capture all evidence from your stakeholders as soon as you can.

Most importantly, don’t forget to look into whether or not you need informed consent and ethical approval before obtaining any testimonials.

 

 

Requesting letters of support

When it comes to requesting supporting letters, the level of detail is in part dictated by what the organisation is willing to provide. However, the following suggestions may help you in deciding what would make a strong testimonial in support of your research impact:

  1. Clearly outline who the letter is from, their role in the organisation and connection to the project in question
  2. State the researcher(s) and University(ies) involved and why they were chosen to be part of the project (e.g. research profile/quality; previous collaborations; expertise in the field etc.)
  3. Describe the project/activities undertaken and importance of the research to the stakeholder organisation (how it has enhanced their business/portfolio)
  4. Describe the benefits to the organisation and/or members, through qualitative and/or quantitative means          (NB: for impact evidence some form of quantitative data will help make a stronger case if available, e.g. audience reach etc.)
  5. Indicate if the organisation is proposing any ongoing partnerships/future collaborations

 

Other guidance

External organisations, such as Fast Track Impact (in the UK) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, provide useful information on how to collect testimonials and what could be included.

Why not check out the following:

Fast Track Impact:

http://www.fasttrackimpact.com/single-post/2018/02/23/Getting-testimonials-to-corroborate-the-impact-of-your-research

Canadian Institutes of Health Research:

http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/45246.html

 

 

Remember: start collecting your impact testimonials as your research develops and don’t forget to store them in our Figshare data repository at  https://salford.figshare.com/

 

 


Alternative Gardeners Question Time

ALTGQT Logo

There is a growing recognition that Green Care can positively influence health and well-being at an individual and community level. However, this knowledge has had limited reach to those who it may impact most in the community. The promotion of health and well-being through alternative approaches such as Green Care presents realistic, alternative methods. Our ‘Alternative Gardeners Question Time’, part of the 2017 ESRC Festival of Social Science, was designed to facilitate debate with local communities, charities, public health and environmental organisations about what constitutes significant health and well-being outcomes for the community and individual. This debate helped identify pertinent well-being outcomes that Green Care could provide for residents within Salford & Manchester.

Nature Based Activity in Salford

A diverse range of nature based activities and green care are located within Salford and surrounding geographical areas. The extent of this activity is currently unknown, the University of Salford is working with local organisations, and the RHS to map existing provision to enable a comprehensive picture of nature based work. Mapping existing provision will help to determine a more coordinated approach and enable CCGs, local authorities and public health to understand the extent of support and asset-based community nature-based approaches. This will help to develop a community referral process and support decision-making processes for those health and social care professionals who work in the NHS and community sector.

 

Event Structure

The Alternative Gardeners Question Time was structured in three parts:  sharing the science base about Green Care, discussing Green Care and key questions and, finally, developing questions for an expert panel for wider discussion.

ALTGQT Workshop

 

Further Information

The full report can be found here:  ALTGQT Report

 


Guide to Research Impact Evidence Collection

There is a growing body of opinion that holds that researchers have a responsibility to articulate the impact of their research to non-academic audiences. Indeed, the way in which research funding is allocated now increasingly reflects researchers’ ability to generate, demonstrate and evidence their impact.

A renewed emphasis on the importance of both planning and evidencing research impact requires researchers to develop ever-more robust and integrated ‘pathways to impact’ (as illustrated by Research Councils UK) within research funding bids in order to identify and reward the contribution that high-quality research will make to the economy or to society. 

Although there are as yet no specific guidelines on what constitutes impact evidence in terms of the next REF2021 exercise, the following pointers provide an indication of what researchers should be thinking about as they start to collect and collate evidence to support their impact.

 

General advice on collecting impact evidence

  • If you are looking to generate impact from your research, ensure that you engage from the start with the University Impact, Engagement and Environment Coordinator (Emma Sutton) and your School Impact Coordinator
  • Consider what indicators of impact are going to be used at the onset of the project – how will success be measured throughout and what will need to be captured?
  • Complete a stakeholder analysis for your potential impact
  • Be able to clearly demonstrate the pathway to impact: what were the steps taken, what is the embedded research etc.
  • Be able to articulate the significance of the potential impact (reach, audience, policy change, technology development) – the “Why should we care?” question
  • Use existing and well-understood baselines and gold standards to measure impact
  • Remember to store all impact evidence on an ongoing basis in the Figshare repository (see below for further details)

 

Here are examples of what evidence could look like:

    • Quotations from high profile figures
    • Testimonials, interviews (always including who, when, where and job title and with consent to reproduce)
    • Specific examples e.g. increased value of a company or number of lives saved by a new technology
    • Published reports as a result of research conducted (especially reports commissioned by independent bodies or those external to the immediate project)
    • Delegate lists to key meetings/conferences/exhibitions/events
    • Letters of support from external bodies

**Look to use both qualitative and quantitative data where possible!**

 

Points to remember:

    • Make sure that the evidence will be available in time to meet REF2021 deadlines
    • Ensure that information is robust and credible
    • Ensure that information is independently verifiable
    • Link evidence to clear targets and indicate whether these were met or exceeded
    • Provide evidence of research being widely disseminated, e.g. through tweets, blogs, access to websites, press coverage, broadcastings, downloads, sales
    • Find ways of communicating the research as it progresses to develop wider impact along the way (not just at the end)
    • Conduct exit interviews with the business if ending relationship/researcher if leaving institution – evidence of impact must be captured before departure
    • Be able to demonstrate that without the research, the impact would not have occurred: how has the research made the difference?

 

The University now uses the Figshare data repository alongside USIR in order for researchers to store evidence relating to their research.

It is therefore good practice for all researchers to begin storing all their impact evidence in Figshare from now onwards so that an institutional repository of impact case study evidence can be built upon.

Currently, Figshare accounts have been created for all those researchers within each School who have been identified as potentials for submitting an impact case study to REF2021 and beyond.

Figshare can be accessed at the following link: https://salford.figshare.com/

Figshare also run monthly webinars to help researchers understand the basics of the system and it is highly recommended that you register for one of these at the following address:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_5kx95ST4RC-XKMYlguumgw

 

 

Remember: the earlier you begin collecting and collating your impact evidence, the easier it will make the final impact case study submission!

 

 


New Chernobyl grant for Salford researchers Apr 06, 2017

 

Dr Wood (second from left) and Dr Entwistle (4th from left) with some of their ‘RED FIRE’ collaborators at the edge of the Red Forest

Award-winning researcher, Dr Mike Wood, is back in Chernobyl.  This time he’s accompanied by fellow Salford academic, Dr Neil Entwistle, as they undertake fieldwork in Chernobyl’s ‘Red Forest’ for their latest NERC grant.

The Red Forest is the most anthropogenically contaminated radioactive ecosystem on earth.  Located just a few kilometres from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant where the 1986 accident occurred, this 4 – 6 square kilometres area of coniferous forest was killed by high radiation levels.  Before the trees died, their needles turned a red/orange colour and the area was named the Red Forest.  In the 30 years since the accident, the area has transitioned into a deciduous woodland (deciduous trees are more resistant to radiation than conifers).

A severe fire in the Red Forest during July 2016 was reported to have burnt approximately 80 percent of the forest. This presented a unique opportunity to study the effect of fire on i) radionuclide mobility/bioavailability and ii) the impact of radiation on the recovery of the forest ecosystems exposed to another stressor (ie. fire).

The new NERC grant, RED FIRE (Radioactive Environment Damaged by Fire: a Forest in Recovery), is funding an international research team to study the aftermath of the fire. Dr Wood and Dr Entwistle, both from the School of Environment & Life Sciences, are working in collaboration with the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, University of Nottingham, Chornobyl Center, the Ukrainian Institute of Agricultural Radiology and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

The team are using a combination of techniques, from soil analysis to drones, to study the fire damages area.  The project builds on Dr Wood’s previous radioecology research collaborations, including those developed through the NERC TREE project (www.ceh.ac.uk/TREE).  Dr Entwistle, an expert in drone-based research, is a new and valuable addition to the research team due to his specialist expertise.

RED FIRE is led by Prof Nick Beresford at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.  Initial findings from the project will be reported at the 4th International Conference on Radioecology and Environmental Radioactivity (ICRER) in Berlin in September 2017.

Mike will be doing a special Alumni Lecture in London on Thursday 25th May (6-8.30pm) at The Royal Institution, 21 Albemarle Street, W1S 4BS. In his lecture ‘Life in the shadow of Chernobyl’ he will take you on a journey through this environment, introduce you to some of the animals that live there and explain how his team’s findings are challenging some recent publications on the effects of radiation on Chernobyl wildlife.

 


The Salford Lecture Series: How the environment affects the immune system Jul 14, 2017

Professorial Inaugural Lecture: Professor Joseph Jackson

Tuesday 18 July 5.30pm Peel Building, Room 337

Join us for the inaugural lecture of Professor Joseph Jackson, Chair in Parasitology in the School of Environment & Life Sciences.

Joe gained his PhD in Parasitology from the University of London, and took up his post at Salford in December 2015, joining us from Aberystwyth University.

Joe’s research looks at how the immune system is affected by the environment we inhabit and should be defined as a “real-world trait”. He says:

“The immune system is a key determinant of individual health, but has evolved to function in a natural environment – rather than in the artificial environments that we live in today. Furthermore, most of what we understand about immunology comes from unnatural laboratory models that don’t allow for the effect of realistic environmental variation.  Studies in naturally-occurring vertebrates are helping us to understand how immunity is adapted to respond to the natural environment. This knowledge may, in turn, help us tailor our environments and lifestyles (or those of other animals of interest) in ways that lead to a healthier immune system.”


Environmental regeneration partnership Aug 01, 2017

Last month, colleagues from the Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre (EERC) in the School of Environment & Life Sciences visited the new Mersey Gateway Crossing between Widnes and Runcorn.

As part of our ICZ partnership with the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust (MGET), the area around the new toll bridge will be a ‘living laboratory’ to monitor saltmarsh changes and effects on grazing cattle.

Professor Philip James, Leader of the EERC said: “For over a decade now we have been working in the Upper Mersey Estuary. Four PhD projects have been successfully completed and three more are currently underway, two of which are supported by i-Case funding.

“One of the aims of the visit was to agree the location for a 5km x1km RAPELD module, the first site in the UK to be part of the international Programa de Pesquisa em Biodiversidade (PPBio). This will offer University of Salford students excellent opportunities to carry out biodiversity surveys and contribute to an international biodiversity monitoring programme.”

The team was given a tour of the insides of the bridge, something that won’t be possible once it’s operational in the next few months. They were also able to take a lift to the top of the north tower from which they were able to see the Upper Mersey Estuary and begin locating the sampling points for the monitoring programme. They then visited various parts of the estuary at ground level to examine the sites in greater detail.

Paul Oldfield from the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust said: “We would not be able to do this without the support of the University of Salford. Becoming part of an international programme exceeds our expectations of where we thought we would be at this stage of our development.”


New research on radiation and health in Chernobyl Sep 01, 2017

The University’s radiation research continues to expand, with Prof Joe Jackson, Prof Richard Birtles and Dr Kevin Bown from ELS joining Dr Mike Wood’s team of researchers studying the effects of radiation in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Their inclusion in the team brings leading expertise in parasitology and immune system function, opening new opportunities to explore the influence of radiation on the health of wildlife in the world’s most radioactively contaminated terrestrial ecosystem.

Funded through one of Mike’s NERC grants, which supports research in Chernobyl’s ‘Red Forest’, Joe and Mike have just completed a 10 day programme of fieldwork in the Zone. Working with Prof Nick Beresford (NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology) and Dr Sergey Gashchak (Chornobyl Center, Ukraine), they have collected extensive data on mammal populations within the Red Forest and associated health information.  They have also used radiation monitoring technology, including drone-mounted equipment, to quantify the radiation exposure of these Red Forest mammals. The team has returned to the University with a wealth of data, which they will be analysing over the coming months.

Mike’s award-winning research in Chernobyl has achieved significant international impact and has catalysed the development of new collaborations, including Fukushima research with the University of Tokyo. His world leading expertise in environmental radiation protection also led to his appointment as Chair of the Government consultation on new radiation protection legislation for the UK.

“The University of Salford is now recognised internationally as a centre of research excellence in environmental radioactivity.  Our growing team of experts from across the University is working together with our external collaborators to tackle fundamental questions about radiation in the environment and its effects on wildlife.  Our work is informing policy developments, underpinning international radiation protection guidance and making significant scientific contributions across a range of disciplines.” said Mike.

“I am delighted with what we have achieved to date and see this as the start of a much larger programme of radiation research at Salford. There are many excellent researchers within this University, with skills and expertise that could significantly enhance our current activities as well as opening up new opportunities. If colleagues have suggestions of ways in which they could contribute to this research area then I would encourage them to contact me to discuss.”

Mike returns to Chernobyl in early September to undertake the final sampling activities in a 12-month study of the influence of radiation on the soil system.  Prior to this he will be delivering a presentation in Berlin on use of novel technologies in radioecological research, an area in which other Salford-researchers, including Dr Simon Campion (SOBE), Dr Neil Entwistle (ELS) and Dr Paul Kendrick (CSE), have been collaborating with Mike.

You can contact Mike by emailing m.d.wood@salford.ac.uk.