Posts in EERC Category

We need to talk about research impact (again)



Original post 

University of Salford’s Impact Coordinator – Chris Hewson discusses why we need to talk about research impact:

Over the last eighteen months, much has been written and said about impact, and how Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) can effectively, and efficiently, place themselves on a secure footing in preparation for the next Research Excellence Framework (REF). Nonetheless, it could be argued that the fevered animation generated by REF2014 has led to a prolonged and ongoing hangover. For most academics and administrators the experience of co-producing impact case studies was a forensic and thought-provoking, albeit ‘seat of the pants’ and largely extemporised experience. The refrain consistently repeated in strategy offices across the land goes something like this: ‘…there is absolutely no chance we’re going to execute our REF impact strategy in such an unsystematic and post-hoc fashion come 2020.’

But we are, aren’t we? As Julie Bayley and Casper Hitchens note, “the burden of effort and pressure to ‘find impact’ led to impact fatigue and a tarnished view of the concept” [i]. Their remedies are sound, and were arrived at independently by a number HEIs of in the aftermath of 18th December 2014; the need for greater planning and (ongoing) data collection, the institutional normalisation of impact, the co-ordination of both internal and external engagement processes, and so forth. The authors playfully mimic the language of HEFCE, noting the dawning of “an opportunity to significantly and demonstrably… change how we achieve impact.


“Microbial Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems” meeting 22nd/23rd June

A “Microbial Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems” meeting will be taking place on the 22nd and 23rd June at Media City UK. micro

The first day will consist of a number of talks that cover the diverse ways that microbes influence the ecology of organisms and ecosystems. During the second day there will be a  “Horizon Scanning Workshop” – the aim of which is to identify the next big questions in microbial ecology (similar to previous events run by Prof. Bill Sutherland). This is a really valuable exercise with high potential for impact, and all participants will be listed as co-authors on the resulting peer-reviewed publication.

More information on the event is available here:


Research Excellence Award – Vice Chancellor’s Awards 2015-16

Congratulations go to Dr Stephen Parnell, Lecturer in Spatial Epidemiology in the School of Environment and Life Sciences, who has been award the Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award. Dr Parnell was presented with his award at the University Day celebrations on 8th June by Dr Jo Cresswell, Associate Director of Research.




Stephen is a mathematical modeller with research interests in epidemiology and the use of modelling and spatial analysis to better understand disease spread and control. He has an established international reputation as an expert in quantitative approaches to surveillance for emerging diseases.

Stephen’s research has attracted national and international attention from grant funding bodies including DEFRA and the USDA, and from international academic communities and national media, with his work leading to changes in our understanding of early detection emerging diseases.

Describing his School and Research at the award ceremony, Stephen said:

“The School of Environment and Life Sciences is a fantastic, supportive environment for research and I’m really grateful for the nomination that led to the award. It’s great to have this work recognised by the University and I look forward to developing the work further with another post-doctoral researcher joining the group in August.

“Our research looks at how we can better protect agriculture and the environment from the inundation of exotic plant pests and diseases that threaten them. With increases in global trade and travel, plant pests and diseases are continuing to show up in unexpected places causing sometimes billions of pounds worth of damage and irreversibly changing landscapes and ecosystems. We develop mathematical and computer models of how plant disease epidemics spread and use these to devise better surveillance strategies. With more effective surveillance we can catch new epidemics before they get out of control.”

Follow Dr Parnell’s work on Twitter @parnells

Research project looks at green infrastructure and its impact on ageing populations


A collaborative research project looks into health benefits of green infrastructure

The University of Salford is partnering with the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University on a £700,000 research project that looks into the benefits and values of green infrastructure for an ageing population.

Green infrastructure (GI), a term used in reference to green and blue spaces (including areas of grass, woodland and parks, and rivers, canals and ponds) has already been shown to have direct and indirect influences on human health and wellbeing. However access to GI and the associated health and wellbeing benefits is not shared equally amongst the population. Additionally, as many people aged 65 and over become susceptible to environmental stressors (such as noise, pollution and extremes of weather), this age group in particular may also be the least likely to benefit from GI.

With that in mind, the ‘Green Infrastructure and the Health and Wellbeing Influences on an Ageing Population’ project, funded under the Valuing Nature Programme, an interdisciplinary research programme run by three research councils (ESRC, AHRC and NERC), will look into the relative benefits and stressors of GI and how GI should be valued in the context of the health and wellbeing of older people. The research will use a broad interpretation of health and wellbeing and will consider issues such as the influence of historical, heritage and wildlife value alongside the monetary value of preventing ill-health. Read more…..

Extinct family of bizarre snail-eating marsupials discovered


Malleodectes by Peter Schouten

An international team of palaeontologists which includes Dr Robin Beck of the University of Salford, have identified an entirely new family of extinct marsupial mammals from northern Australia. 

The family has been named Malleodectidae, from the word for “hammer” in Latin and “biter” in Ancient Greek, referring to the presence of an enormous premolar that was clearly used for crushing hard food items.

No other mammal currently known has such an unusual crushing premolar, but similar teeth are seen in Australian lizards that feed on snails, suggesting that malleodectids may have had a similar diet.  Malleodectids, which were about the size of ferret, are known only from 10-15 million year old fossils from the Riversleigh World Heritage Area in far northern Australia.

Very incomplete malleodectid fossils were described in 2011, but the discovery of a new fossil jawbone has now revealed unique features indicating a previously unknown marsupial family.

The research is published today in the Scientific Reports arm of the journal Nature.

Malleodectids were probably related to living Australian carnivorous marsupials such as quolls, the Tasmanian Devil and the marsupial anteater or numbat, as well as the recently extinct thylacine or Tasmanian tiger. However, malleodectids represent a lineage of marsupials that has been distinct since at least 23 million years ago.




Sushi-bar-coding in the UK: another kettle of fish


New research by Salford, Bristol and Exeter academics

Critically-endangered species of fish are being sold in sushi restaurants in the UK without adequate labelling.

Overfished species of tuna and eel are among the sushi dishes being served up without adequate information to consumers, according to research published in the journal PeerJ.

An investigation by scientists in Salford, Bristol and Exeter, to identify levels of mislabelling or ‘non-labelling’ on restaurant menus found evidence that the lax labelling practice in the UK’s service sector – compared to the retail sector – may have undesirable consequences.


HEFCE Open Access Policy

Starting today (1 April 2016), any research paper you have accepted for publication must comply with the HEFCE Open Access Policy to be eligible for the next Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment. open_access

The easiest way to achieve compliance is to deposit your accepted manuscript into the University of Salford Institutional Repository (USIR) as soon as you receive the acceptance message from the journal.  The Library team will then either set up your paper to comply automatically, or will contact you to advise on options if they cannot achieve compliance on your behalf. Read more…..

New video launches to showcase our excellent research

The University launched a video last year highlighting the excellent research taking place here at Salford and this is now available online.

Presented by BBC North West weather presenter and meteorologist Clare Nasir, the two-and-a-half minute package provides an overview of the world-leading research at the University and how it impacts the world around us. video

Professor Nigel Mellors, PVC Research & Enterprise, said: “At the University of Salford, we excel in many diverse areas of research from computing, health sciences, aeronautics and biomedicine, to acoustics, media, disaster management and robotics.

“Linked to our Research Strategy, the aim of this video is to raise the profile of research at the University of Salford.”

The video covers a number of areas of research that are currently taking place at the University.


New REF regulations for published research papers from 1 April

NMUnder the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) Open Access Policy, all peer reviewed journal articles and conference papers, accepted for publication from 1 April 2016, must meet open access requirements to be eligible for the next REF.

The University has developed an internal support approach which will minimise additional work for staff and postgraduate research students. When a paper is accepted for publication, the author must deposit the accepted manuscript into USIR as soon as possible. Colleagues in the Library will then either make sure that all other requirements under the HEFCE Policy are met, or, contact the author to advise on next steps.


Humans help spread honeybee virus


Prof Stephen Martin

The spread of a disease that is decimating global bee populations is man-made, and driven by European honeybee populations, new research has concluded.

A study involving the University of Salford published in the journal Science – arguably one of the top three academic journals in the world – found that the European honeybee Apis mellifera is overwhelmingly the source of cases of the Deformed Wing Virus infecting hives worldwide. The finding suggests that the pandemic is man-made rather than naturally occurring, with human trade and transportation of bees for crop pollination driving the spread.

Although separately they are not major threats to bee populations, when the Varroa mite carries the disease, the combination is deadly, and has wiped out millions of honeybees over recent decades, adding to fears over food security, global economies and human health.