MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

Funding opportunities, news and guidance from RKE at Manchester Metropolitan University

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AHSN Funding launch event – this Thursday, 3rd April

AHSNThere is a launch event 2:00-3:15pm, Thursday 3rd April to discuss the funding available through the Greater Manchester Academic Health Science Centre Network (GM AHSN) for the Technology Innovation Challenge.  Refreshments will be available and there is a chance to network with colleagues at MMU and staff at the University of Manchester who have also been invited to the event.

Please email to register your attendance. 

The event will take place in the Council Chamber of the Ormond Building, All Saints Campus, MMU. Ormond Building is number 14 on the map here, the Council chamber is on the first Floor – take a right out of the lift and then follow the corridor and signs to take you to the room.

Aims and background

The aims of the clinical challenge are to reduce harm and enhancing safety across Greater Manchester. The Greater Manchester Academic Science Centre Network (GMAHSN), Manchester: Integrating Medicine and Innovative Technology (MIMIT) and TRUSTTECH, are working together to address unmet healthcare needs in the area and they are seeking any potential device that will address these broad challenges.

They are particularly interested and priority will be given to device that:

  •          Facilitate medicines risk surveillance, alert and /or response in primary care
  •          Monitor and prevent falls
  •          Monitor and prevent leg ulcers
  •          Facilitate cardiac and renal disease risk surveillance, alert and /or response in primary care

This specific call does not include technologies for data mining / handling big data.

Funding available

There is up to £40K available per project for a period of up to 8 months.

For full details of the event please see the agenda here – Agenda – AHSN Launch Event. Further details of the call can be found here – GMAHSN technology innovation challenge.


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Leverhulme Foundation announce latest funding awards including £107,000 for Dr Rob Drummond in Dept of Languages

congrats Leverhulme-Trust1-300x168   The Leverhulme Foundation have just published their list of awards made following their March 2014 board meetings and we’re delighted to say it includes our very own Dr Rob Drummond from the Department  of Languages. His award of £107,113 will fund a two year research project entitled “Expressing inner city youth identity through multicultural urban British English”


You can see all the recent awards Leverhulme have made here:


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Small funding grants available through Digital Economy Network +

de_logo_rgb‘Digital Economy’ is one of a number of cross-Research Council Themes identified by RCUK and led by the EPSRC.  The Theme “ is supporting research to rapidly realise the transformational impact of digital technologies on aspects of community life, cultural experiences, future society, and the economy”. In order to achieve this, Digital Economy research aims to address four challenge areas:

  • Sustainable Society: In sustainable societies of the future, people will be able to make informed choices. Improved delivery of information and services will foster changes in behaviour to minimise the negative impact of our activities.
  • Communities and Culture: Communities, participation and culture are changing in the digital age. It is important that we ensure digital interaction enhances, not replaces face to face interactions.
  • New Economic Models: In an increasingly global economy, as new companies and individuals use digital technologies to innovate, the market can change rapidly. New business models are being created to adapt and take advantage of the opportunities in the digital world.
  • IT as a Utility: Digital infrastructure should be so simple, accessible and reliable that it seems invisible. In delivering this, questions need to be answered about whether people will trust it, how to ensure privacy is respected and how to pay for it
Each of these Challenge areas has a network  (called a Network+) with associated website and they offer a range of small scale funding grants.
You are best signing up to the Network + websites to keep on top of these opportunities but as a snapshot these are some of the grants currently available:
Sustainable Society Network +
Call for Pilot Studies –  Pilot Studies of up to 6m and up to £50k fEC for application of digital technologies in the creation of a sustainable society. Deadline: 12th April 2014
Small Grants Open Call –   Small grants provide funding for projects, or other activities, that lead to, or support, cross-disciplinary collaboration in the use of digital technologies to promote and support a sustainable society. The applications should address the “three pillars” (UN, 2005) or “triple bottom line” (Elkington, 1994) of sustainability – social, economic, and environmental. These will be up to 3 months in duration and are designed to test new ideas or create novel linkages between research areas. Up to £3,000 at fEC. Deadline: 1st of each month.
Communities and Culture Network +
Seed funding –  An open and response-mode call for seed projects of £1-4k per project (£25k available per annum) to fund small discrete projects within the remit of the Communities and Culture Network+. This is an open call for collaborative or academic projects, for post-doctoral up to experienced researchers.  The projects should develop an idea or project, test a concept or theory, be creative or concept driven, and/or develop partnerships through activities.  Deadlines: 30th May and 29th August 2014
Pilot Studies, Networks and Placements – Call to be issued March 14
New Economic Models Network +
£3k Open Call –   Research proposals must address topics which are relevant to the digital economy (e.g. case studies on DE, new business models, digital marketplaces, value constellations, etc) and will last no longer than 3 months in duration. Reviewing dates: 1st February, 1st June, 1st September and 1st of December
IT as a Utility Network+
No current calls

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What Works in Tackling Poverty – call for research proposals

ESRC The ESRC, in partnership with the Public Policy Institute for Wales, invites proposals for research on what works in tackling poverty from eligible research organisations across the UK.

Proposals may involve synthesis research and/or evaluation of existing evidence or secondary data. Projects involving the collection of new evidence will also be considered, provided that they focus on testing what works in tackling poverty. Proposals must identify explicitly the gap(s) in existing knowledge that they will address. They must explain why the gap(s) they will address matter.

The ESRC and PPIW particularly welcome proposals that will:
1. Contribute to understanding about what works in tackling aspects of poverty that are not well-served by existing evidence, including:
• In-work poverty
• Child neglect
• 16-25 year-olds who live alone
• Destitution
• Poverty linked to mental health problems or physical disabilities
• Poverty during periods of transitions (for example between different stages of life or for those moving from employment to unemployment and vice versa).

2. Increase understanding of the approaches different levels of government (community, local, devolved, UK and EU) can take to tackle poverty and how they can work together most effectively

3. Examine ways in which non-state actors (employers, faith groups and others) can contribute to tackling poverty

4. Analyse ways in which governments and others can develop effective links with people experiencing poverty to achieve better outcomes.

5. Encourage cross-jurisdictional learning between Wales and one or more other parts of the UK.

6. Involve comparative research that identifies lessons from international approaches to tackling poverty.

Proposed methods may, for example, include Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs), natural experiments, international comparisons, systematic reviews, cost-benefit analyses, and in-depth evaluation of interventions that have wider lessons for reducing poverty in other contexts. Data may be drawn from primary or secondary sources or a combination of the two, and analysed using quantitative and/or qualitative methods.


  • Max amount available for individual grants is £250,000 at 100 per cent of full economic cost (fEC), of which the ESRC will pay up to 80 per cent.
  • Projects can run for up to 24 months.
  • Expected that between three and five projects will be funded.

DEADLINE is 24th April

Full call information is here:


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Cognitive Motor Function event – March 4th 2014

Cognitive Motor Function Research Day

Health related research at MMU is conducted by a large number of academics spread across different sites within the university.  It also encapsulates a large range of research areas which consider aspects of single cells right the way up to the integration of systems within the whole person.  Tuesday 4th March saw the first in a series of meetings aimed at bringing researchers with common academic interests in work which focused at the larger end of the spectrum.

The overarching aim of the day was to lay the foundations for Cognitive Motor Function research defined by: intellectual principles, track record, available expertise, common interest and strategic goals.  The term Cognitive Motor Function has been very specifically chosen to encapsulate key elements of work which will stem from the forming group.  Physiology relates to the study of function in the context of the whole person; motor refers to the human motor system as a primary focus area; cognitive refers broadly to the information processing systems in the system and is a reminder that the cognitive system is inter-connected with the motor system and within the whole person both systems must operate within a variety of environments which it must adapt and respond to.

The Cognitive Motor Function research group is inclusive by nature, and as such academic colleagues, postdoctoral researchers and PhD students were invited from faculties across MMU representing researchers working in The Healthcare Science Research Institute, Research Institute for Health and Social Change and Institute of Performance Research.  In addition, the Royal Northern College of Music was represented by Dr Michelle Phillips.

A wide number of research disciplines and interests were represented within the 53 people who attended. They were set the challenge of meeting new people, who they had not previously worked with, and identifying new research questions and directions open to the group. Participants were welcomed by Prof. Bill Gilmore who highlighted the strength and depth of researchers within the room and highlighted many achievements which the group have previously contributed to.  This welcome was followed by Prof. Ian Loram who set out his vision for the group, outlining a working definition of cognitive motor function research and stressing his belief in the value of scientific and mechanistic study of the human system from the level of the whole system downwards.  Prof. Juliet Goldbart then delivered a talk entitled ‘Cognitive Motor Function: common strengths, outlook and opportunity – uncommon strengths and diversity’. This explored the cognitive and motor performance aspects of the work that academics in the Research Institute for Health and Social Change undertake: from speech and language therapy to patient rehabilitation for limb control and movement. After a short break, Prof. Paul Holmes completed the set of presentations by raising awareness of the insights for patient rehabilitation that can be gained from research into sport and exercise science and the use of cognitive movement-based techniques.

Following the presentations an extended lunch break was had, providing opportunities for those that attended to mix with each other and learn more about the expertise and academic interests of others in the group. The exchange of information was facilitated by numerous posters, which were presented by PhD students and post-doctoral researchers and show cased the breadth of expertise represented across the group.

The afternoon saw the group split into parallel sessions, with one being a facilitated networking session for staff designed to encourage discussion of common research themes and exploration of the potential for collaborative activity. The other session was a workshop for students and researchers “Building the PhD and Post Doc network”. After these concluded, feedback was presented from the two sessions.

The main actions from the Research Day are:

  • For staff to develop collaborative research proposals with colleagues from across MMU and at RNCM
  • For students to explore the potential of organising a further session for themselves at the Crewe campus
  • To plan the next meeting

Overall feedback from the event was extremely positive, with many indicating the most useful part of the day was the afternoon networking session and PhD student-Post Doc workshop. The majority of those who left feedback also indicated that they had made contact with new people that they would be contacting in the near future.  The challenge for the group is to now build on this positive momentum and encourage the new seeds which have been sown to flourish and blossom!

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Open Access in Focus – Guest Blog part III

Open AccessGuest Blog from Mary Pickstone, Research Support Librarian 

In this week’s blog I’m going to look at some of the advantages, and some of the disadvantages, of OA.

Two of the advantages are a wider readership and quicker dissemination of research.

Research published OA is more widely read, therefore authors get a much wider audience than they would through the readership of a subscription journal.  Readers, for example those in developing countries, who may have only limited access to research literature because of the high cost of pay-per-view charges (journal subscriptions and article viewing charges) can access more journals.  The general public, small businesses, and other readers from ‘outside the academy’ can access research literature, which is, after all, often paid for by their taxes.

Research published OA is disseminated more quickly than research that is published via a more traditional subscription route and can also be re-used, subject to the conditions of the relevant Creative Commons (CC) licence attribution.

A key factor in the success of research is its impact, and funding bodies, including HEFCE via the Research Excellence Framework (REF), are looking for evidence of how this can be demonstrated. Widening the readership and a more rapid dissemination of the research through OA publication can contribute to this.

Some of the disadvantages of OA include:

The article processing charge, or APC, required by many journals to publish articles via the gold route; embargo periods imposed by traditional subscription journals on articles deposited in subject or institutional repositories; the potential threat to the viability of journals published by small publishers such as Learned Societies if subscription charges disappeared; the perceived threat to peer review, and hence quality control, of research in OA journals.

How funds are allocated amongst researchers to pay for APCs is a question currently vexing many universities, and there is a perception that it could disadvantage new and early career researchers who may need to bid for funds against more senior colleagues. APCs are an additional expense for many institutions whose libraries are paying subscriptions for journals, often the very same ones which charge APCs to publish via the gold route.

The green route to OA via repositories is thought to hinder OA as publishers try to maximise subscription income and prevent full-text access to their articles.  They do this by imposing embargo periods on published articles.  Research Councils UK (RCUK) in its OA policy has stipulated that these embargoes should be no longer than 6 months for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) subjects and 12 months for Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

The concerns about the demise of peer review are probably unfounded.  There are now many OA journals that are highly reputable and insist on a rigorous peer review process, for example PLOS One and PubMed.  Hybrid journals, which publish some articles via the gold route, apply as rigorous a peer-review process to these articles as they do to those published conventionally.

Next time I will round off this series by outlining MMU’s response to OA.    

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Open Access in Focus – Going green with Symplectic Elements

The Open Access agenda presents as many challenges as it does opportunities for academic researchers and research managers here at MMU.  Two of the most crucial of these challenges are:

  • The cost implications of publishing in Open Access (OA) journals (the ‘gold route’ to OA), and;
  • Encouraging authors to make their work freely accessible – especially in situations where the author may not want, or be able to fund, submission to an OA journal.

These are especially important when we consider the likelihood of OA publishing being a prerequisite for REF+1.  The ‘green route’ to OA publishing takes these issues into account by proposing that author’s make their work available in an online repository – and the good news is that we already have a fantastic repository system at MMU, called e-space.

Uploading work to e-space can be time-consuming – fortunately, Symplectic Elements, our new research information system, is here to help.

Symplectic Elements (‘Symplectic’ for short) allows academic staff to create and maintain an up-to-date  profile of their research outputs, with much of this information being sourced automatically from online sources such as Web of Science.  Our current development priority for Symplectic is forging a link between the system and e-space, which will streamline the process of depositing publications in the repository.  Here’s how it will work:


  1. On each record in Symplectic there will be a button or link that allows the author to upload a full text document (.doc, .pdf, etc.) for the related publication.Symplectic-Repository process
  2. The author will log into their Symplectic account and find the record for the publication they want to make available in e-space.
  3. A few clicks later and the author will have sent the full text, and the bibliographic details contained in the publication record, over to the repository team at the library.  Neither the author nor the repository team will have to enter the full details of the publication, since they are already contained in elements – quite a time saver!
  4. The team in the library will check the submission over, particularly to make sure that the full-text version sent over is appropriate and doesn’t break any copyright agreement the author might have made with a publisher.
  5. Once these checks have been made, the publication is approved and released onto e-space for posterity, where it is freely available to the public, 24 hours a day, seven days a week!


This new system will greatly improve the submissions process for e-space, and as part of a wider set of initiatives supported by RKE, will encourage and support academics in ‘going green’ as we respond to the challenge of OA publishing.