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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!

 

 


Researchers win £1.4m bid to improve prosthetics in Uganda and Jordan

UNIVERSITY of Salford researchers have won a £1.4m grant to look into ways of providing better upper limb prostheses for people in lower and middle income countries.

The project will enable researchers at the University – one of only two in the UK that teach prosthetics and orthotics – to develop better, low cost prostheses.

The funding has come from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) who are committing £16m to a range of projects through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), a £1.5b government fund to support cutting-edge technology that addresses challenges faced by low and middle income countries.

The team will be partnering with Makere University in Uganda and the University of Jordan, as well as University College London (UCL), and the Universities of Southampton and Greenwich.

New ways of making prosthetic limbs 

Engineering and clinical researchers across the three countries will collaborate to develop new designs, as well as novel ways of creating, fitting and evaluating how well the prosthetic limbs work, enabling more people to benefit from them.

Earlier this year, a team of prosthetics students from the University were able to create prosthetic upper limbs for a Ugandan woman who had suffered a horrific machete attack. The students built the prosthetic limbs in the University’s own Brian Blatchford lab before they were sent to Uganda to be fitted.

In many poorer countries, there is a huge demand for prosthetic limbs, because of problems with conflict or road traffic accidents, but there are very few hospitals and medical centres able to provide this specialist work, and few clinicians able to help patients maintain the limbs once fitted.

Researchers at the University believe simple ‘body powered prostheses’, which work by using cables to link the movement of the body with the artificial limb, could be the answer as they are easy to manufacture and maintain.

Researchers hope to address problems

Amputees in Africa and the Middle East often have very poor access to prosthetic services and the devices they are offered are often not fit for purpose, being expensive, providing limited function and being uncomfortable to use.  Researchers working on the project now hope to address these problems.

The two countries were chosen because of the unique challenges they face. While Uganda is one of the least developed countries in the world, with poorly resourced and fragmented rehabilitation services, Jordan is classed as an ‘upper middle income country’ with well-trained clinicians, but facing huge pressure on its prosthetic services partly because of regional conflicts.

The University of Salford is also now collaborating in two other projects in the area of prosthetics, also funded through the Global Challenges Fund of EPSRC – one led by the University of Southampton and another led by Imperial College London.

Life changing experience

Losing an arm is always a horrific and life changing experience, but in many lower or middle income countries it can have a truly devastating effect. It can deprive people already existing at a subsistence level of any ability to support themselves or their families.

Professor Laurence Kenney, research co-lead for Rehabilitation Technologies and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Salford, said: “Losing an arm is always a horrific and life changing experience, but in many lower or middle income countries it can have a truly devastating effect. It can deprive people already existing at a subsistence level of any ability to support themselves or their families.

“Sadly, it is these countries where there is a greater need for prostheses, but for a whole host of reasons it is incredibly difficult for anyone who needs an artificial limb to be able to get one.

“This much-needed research project will enable us to bring together an experienced team in the UK, Uganda and Jordan who can create better prostheses, designed for use in lower and middle income countries across the world, which I hope will have a long term impact on millions of people.”

President of the International Society for the Measurement of Physical Behaviour

Figure caption: Rick Troiano (Program Director at the National Institute of Health, Bethesda) and Malcolm Granat co-chairs of the International Conference on Ambulatory Monitoring and Physical Activity Measurement (Bethesda, June 2017). At this meeting Malcolm was elected President of International Society for the Measurement of Physical Behaviour.

President of the International Society for the Measurement of Physical Behaviour

Professor Malcolm Granat has recently been elected as President of the International Society for the Measurement of Physical Behaviour (www.ismpb.org).   The ISMPB is a non-profit scientific society that aims to promote and facilitate the study and applications of objective measurement and quantification of free-living physical behaviour(s) and its related constructs (e.g. energy expenditure, context) using wearable devices.  Alongside organising  the biennial International Conference on Ambulatory Monitoring and Physical Activity Measurement (ICAMPAM), the Society aims to bring together people from a wide variety of backgrounds and expertise, including researchers, clinicians, therapists, signal analysts, computational scientists and commercial companies.

Seeing a rapid growth of research activity in this field, Malcolm Granat together with Professors David Bassett (University of Tenessee, USA), Hans Bussmann (Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands) and Patty Freedson (University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA), formed the Society in 2016.  Malcolm was also co-chair of the most recent and highly successful ICAMPAM in the USA (Bethesda, June 2017).  The latest initiative of the Society has been the launch of the Journal for the Measurement of Physical Behaviour, which publishes high quality research papers that employ and/or apply sensor-based measures of physical activity, movement disorders, sedentary behaviour and sleep (https://journals.humankinetics.com/page/about/jmpb).

Malcolm believes that his position within the ISMPB will lead to opportunities for University of Salford staff to collaborate with leading international research groups in this fast-expanding field.   An example of this is the joint project of the Universities of Salford and Leicester funded by the National Institute of Health Research – a three arm cluster randomised controlled trial to test the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the SMArT Work & Life intervention for reducing daily sitting time in office workers. 

At the University, Malcolm leads the Physical Behaviour Monitoring research theme within the Health Sciences Research Centre and the Technology theme within the Institute for Dementia.


Research Impact and Funding

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 and demonstrate impact.

A renewed emphasis on the importance of both planning and evidencing research impact requires researchers to develop increasingly 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.

 

Newton's cradle impact imageIn the current research funding climate there is also an urgent need for HEIs to generate income streams from sources other than the Higher Education Funding Councils. Now more than ever HEIs are seeking to raise their profiles and develop relationships with industry, policymakers and other stakeholders in a bid to identify new sources of revenue and facilitate knowledge exchange.

Generating impact, and consequently ensuring that a full range of stakeholders will benefit from the research, is therefore integral to Salford’s research strategy and feeds into its single strategic priority around the Industry Collaboration Zones (ICZs).

The recent announcement by HEFCE that Impact will have a 25% weighting in the forthcoming REF2021 exercise (compared with its 20% weighting in REF2014) serves to further reinforce the importance and relevance of the research impact agenda to HEIs today and in the future.

 

Research Impact Fund

To support researchers at Salford in becoming more ‘impactful’, the University operates an internal Research Impact Fund.

This offers small grants of up to £1000 (match-funded by School/Research Centre) to individuals and groups in support of activities that:

  • reflect the University’s desire to increase the impact and reach of its research
  • highlight strategic engagement that builds upon the University’s vision to pioneer ‘exceptional industry partnerships’

The Fund is currently open for new applications, with a deadline of Friday, 19th January 2018 for the latest round. Further details and the application form can be found here:  https://teamsite.salford.ac.uk/sites/sc02/REF2021/SitePages/Impact%20Funding.aspx

 

If you would like to find out more about the Research Impact Fund, or impact in general, please contact Emma Sutton, Interim Impact, Engagement and Environment Coordinator on research-impact@salford.ac.uk

Alternatively, please visit the Impact pages on our REF intranet site for further details on impact resources, funding opportunities and upcoming training events: https://teamsite.salford.ac.uk/sites/sc02/REF2021/SitePages/Impact.aspx

 


Professor Peter Hogg is honoured with a Visiting Professorship at Hanze University, Groningen

The photograph is of Professor Paul van Wijk (left), Pro Vice Chancellor at Hanze University and Peter. It was taken as part of the professorial inauguration ceremony.

Professor Peter Hogg has recently been honoured with a Visiting Professorship at Hanze University, Groningen, Netherlands. The purpose of the Visiting Professorship is to develop a research and teaching relationship between Hanze University and the University of Salford with a particular emphasis on radiography.

Over the next few years Peter will initiate discussions which should lead to honorary appointments for staff, teaching and student exchanges and also joint research. Peter believes the relationship will add value to our teaching and research portfolios at the University of Salford. The directorates of radiography in Hanze and Salford have been working together for over 6 years and so far they have co-authored over 30 conference/journal papers and published 3 books. They have a common research interest of radiation dose optimisation in medical imaging and Hanze has a major research emphasis on healthy aging, similar to the University of Salford.

At the University of Salford Peter is our Professor of Radiography. He is also Associate Dean Research in the School of Health Sciences and he leads the Diagnostic Imaging Research Programme within the Health Sciences Research Centre.


RCOT MERIT AWARD FOR RECOGNITION OF EXCELLENCE

 

Dr Yeliz Prior, the Deputy Director of the Postgraduate Research Studies at the School of Health Sciences was presented with the Royal College of Occupational Therapy (RCOT) Merit award this autumn, which is given to occupational therapists, recognised by their peers for excellence in their sphere of work, and are making an aspirational contribution to the occupational therapy profession.

Yeliz is an excellent ambassador of occupational therapy (OT), having represented the profession on national and international platforms through her roles in the British Health Professionals in Rheumatology (BHPR) Council as the Education Officer, European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Scientific Committee and the Greater Manchester Allied Health Professionals in Research Network (GMAHPRN) in the North West of England.

She has also served as a Research and Development Officer at the COT Specialist Section for Rheumatology previously. Yeliz has produced a number of peer-reviewed research articles in the field of rheumatology rehabilitation, delivered invited talks at prestigious international conferences and policy meetings in the UK, and published a book chapter on work rehabilitation in the 7th edition of the ‘Occupational Therapy for people Experiencing Illness, Injury or Impairment.

Yeliz is currently supervising a number of PhD students, and actively promotes rheumatology as a specialism to the OT students both at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. In addition to her full-time academic and research career, she also works as an Advanced Clinical Special OT in rheumatology (0.2fte) at the Mid Cheshire NHS Trust.  Here she bridges research with clinical practice, and leads evidence-based practice to promote self-management of rheumatic conditions, and the use of evidence-based interventions.

Julia Scott, the CEO of the RCOT said: “Some of our award winners are recognised for doing an exceptional job; it sounds so simple put like that, but do we all deliver excellence every day? Probably not, but those four people in the room who have received Merit awards, have been recognised by their peers for doing just this.

More information about the RCOT Merit Awards are available on: https://www.rcot.co.uk/news-and-events/awards-and-funding/merit-and-fellowship-awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Salford student wins Best Presentation award at international prosthetics conference!

Salford student wins Best Presentation award at international prosthetics conference!

Alix Chadwell, a PhD student in the Rehabilitation Technologies and Biomedical Engineering research group (http://www.salford.ac.uk/research/health-sciences/research-groups/rehabilitation-technologies-and-biomedical-engineering) recently presented on her work at the Myoelectric Control Symposium (http://www.unb.ca/conferences/mec/), a prestigious conference held in Canada every 3 years. Alix’s presentation on work she has carried out to characterise the real world use of prosthetic hands was awarded the prize for the best student presentation . Alix’s work, carried out in collaboration with Malcolm Granat’s group, was the first study to report on the long term patterns of use of upper limb prosthesis outside of the laboratory. The conference was attended by leading research groups from all over the world, including teams from Northwestern University, and Yale, making her achievement all the more impressive. Well done Alix!


5th international research summer school is a success

 

5th international research summer school is a success

Some of the student participants and tutors at OPTIMAX 2017

 

This year OPTIMAX, a 3 week residential summer school, was hosted by Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Norway, during July and August 2017. This was the 5th rendition of OPTIMAX and to date 189 students and 65 tutors from 12 countries have participated in it.

The purpose of OPTIMAX is to give radiography students a chance to participate in multinational team-based research. This is consistent with providing a near to real life experience, because quality research is often conducted in multinational teams. Each OPTIMAX team comprises students and tutors and they work together on an equal basis; tutor-student contact is extremely high and tutors spend around 40 hours per week working within their research team. This has significant benefit to the student learning experience as they receive constant feedback and support throughout the entire research process. OPTIMAX commences with the development of effective [research] teams; it then progresses rapidly to doing research about medical imaging. The latter includes formulating and testing methods, gathering and analysing data and finally producing outputs (draft journal paper, physical conference poster and also a PowerPoint presentation which is delivered on the final day in a formal conference). Beyond the conference a book is published in which the research articles become chapters; the abstracts are always submitted to the European Congress of Radiology (Vienna, Austria) and normally they are accepted for presentation. All student participants become authors, which is an important first step in establishing a professional CV. So far 3 books and 14 journal papers have been published and also 29 conference presentations have been delivered (see Appendix I). Another book and 4 conference presentations are planned to arise from this year’s summer school.

Participant countries this year included Norway, Switzerland, Netherlands, Brazil, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland and the UK (University of Salford). As always students gained immense benefit from the experience, not simply in terms of the research skills and knowledge they acquired but also through learning about other cultures. There is always a high emphasis on learning about the host country and this is achieved through formal and informal activities. Examples of formal activities include cultural trips on Saturdays; informal activities include student-led social events organised in the evenings. Each research team is multicultural which can comprise 7 or 8 nationalities and we have found that simply working in such a team allows for the development of intercultural awareness and understanding.

OPTIMAX is an intense target-driven experience. Each week day runs from 9-5 and often the students and tutors need to do additional work in the evenings and at the weekends. Production of the 3 outputs is essential as failure to do so would result in a fail; all students are awarded European Credit Transfer Scheme credits and a certificate but these can only be achieved if the 3 outputs are completed and reach the pass standard. Not surprisingly OPTIMAX is a tiring experience, but the approach is fully consistent with how researchers work to achieve their goals within strict deadlines. Nevertheless it is a very rewarding experience.

The funding model was originally based on a successful Erasmus grant. This paid for travel, accommodation and subsistence for tutors and students for the first two years. From then on it became self-sustaining with no need for external grant funding because good value for money was sought in various ways. For instance, the host organisation does not charge for the use of its teaching / research facilities. Accommodation costs are driven down through the use of student accommodation which has self-catering facilities. Student and tutor participants give approximately £100 each to pay for lunch on all working days, a welcome and farewell party and the Saturday socio-cultural events, this approach allows for better buying power / value for money.

OPTIMAX 2018 will be held in University College Dublin and planning will commence in September 2017 with monthly Skype meetings by members of the multinational steering committee.

 


Research awarded Certificate of Merit, British Nuclear Medicine Society Annual Conference 2017 To breathe or not to breath…

Dr John Thompson and Sinead Donnelly won a certificate of merit at this year’s British Nuclear Medicine Society’s annual conference. Sinead is an MSc dissertation student on our MSc Nuclear Medicine (Radiography) at the University of Salford and John is her supervisor. The poster focused on a quantitative assessment of simulated respiratory motion using a lung phantom. A bespoke piece of equipment known as the ‘skateboard’, on loan from The Christie, was used to simulate the speed and amplitude of respiratory motion. The aim was to determine whether this simulation of breathing motion had an impact on lung cancer detection performance; a comparison was made between breathing and breath hold. Detection performance was found to be statistically worse when motion was simulated, suggesting an advantage of a breath-hold technique for nodule detection in low-resolution CT images.

Sinead with the poster at this year’s BNMS conference in Birmingham

This work continues a 7 year stream of work from the Diagnostic Imaging Research Programme where the value of the x-ray computed tomography [coincidental] image has been evaluated for diagnostic value from heart imaging using SPECT/CT. SPECT/CT is a common technique used for assessing heart muscle viability in cases of ischemia and infarct.


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.