MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

Funding opportunities, news and guidance from RKE at Manchester Met


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New Guides and Resources for Researchers from your Research Development Team

Although we are are working from home, your Research Development Team are here to support your research activities. Please see below for details of the guides and resources that are now on our Sharepoint site, available for you to access at a time most convenient to you.

Introduction to Research Development

Check out the Resources page for interactive slideshows providing an introduction to research development processes and top tips for developing your research proposal.

Research During Lockdown

See our Research During Lockdown page for a collection of articles and blog posts offering some tips and suggestions for approaching research activity during lockdown.

Research Mentoring

Take a look at our Mentoring page for resources to support mentees and mentors to make the most of their mentoring partnerships. Also included is guidance for running your own introduction to mentoring workshop.


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Resources for Researchers During Lockdown

I am continuing to compile links to opinion articles, blog posts and resources focusing on support for researchers and research activities during lockdown.

Topics covered include wellbeing, mentorship, productivity and ideas for planning writing, completing fieldwork and organising conferences during a pandemic.

Researchers with a Man Met staff login can access them here.


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Last opportunity to feedback to BEIS about the impact of Covid-19 on you and your research activities

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) commissioned Vitae to run a survey about how researchers, their research and their research groups have been affected by Covid-19 restrictions. All researchers from UK institutions are encouraged to respond, to help inform BEIS discussions on policy responses within government. They are particularly interested to hear from principal investigators and research group leaders.

Closing Tuesday 9 June

Survey details and link can be found here.


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BEIS Survey to Understand the Impact of Covid-19 on Researchers and the UK Research Base

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has commissioned Vitae and Universities UK to gather evidence to understand the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic on the activities of researchers and research groups.

The survey can be accessed here.

This evidence will inform BEIS’s consideration and design of potential interventions to help protect researchers, research institutions and facilities, and in the longer term reinforce the research base and sustain research and innovation activity in the UK.

All researchers employed in UK universities, research institutes, charities and companies are invited to respond to the survey. The survey organisers are particularly interested to hear from principal investigators and leaders of research groups.

The survey will be open until Tuesday 9 June. 

A short report will be published to share the findings and key themes. Responses will be aggregated before any reporting (no reporting will be done at individual or institutional level), and will be processed in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation 2016 (GDPR). You do not have to identify yourself as part of your response but there is an option at the end of the survey to leave contact details if you are willing to participate in any follow-up research. Your contact details will be stored by Vitae separately from your other responses and purely for the purpose of any such re-contact.


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Reflections on Approaches to Research During Lockdown

I have compiled some articles and blog posts from researchers and professionals who support researchers, reflecting on the impact of the global crisis, and offering some tips and suggestions for approaching research activity during lockdown.

Please find them at our Research Development Sharepoint.


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Review of the impact of Covid-19 on early career researchers and doctoral candidates in the UK

SMaRteN (UKRI- funded Student Mental Health Research Network), in partnership with Vitae (supporting the professional and career development of researchers), are conducting research into the impact of COVID-19 on the working lives of early career research staff and doctoral researchers.

The survey can be completed here.

Covid-19 and the associated lock down has caused substantive disruption to the study and work of researchers and doctoral researchers in universities. The response to the pandemic has varied across universities and research funders.

SMaRteN and Vitae aim to develop a national picture for how research staff and doctoral researchers have been affected by the pandemic.

​The survey includes questions relating to the impact of COVID-19 on research work, mental wellbeing and social connection.

Who can participate?

All early career researchers and doctoral researchers usually resident in the UK or currently working / studying in the UK are welcome to participate.

The survey can be completed here.

The survey will close on Sunday 3rd of May.


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Research Leadership Development Journeys: Interview with Prof Jamie McPhee

To celebrate the re-launch of the Future RKE Leaders programme, throughout February and March I have been posting interviews with a selection of previous Future RKE Leaders cohort members. Each kindly shared details of their research leadership development journeys, providing useful insights for those looking to develop their research leadership skills.

Our fifth and final interview is with Prof Jamie McPhee, Head of Department of Sports and Exercise Sciences and a member of the 2014 Future RKE Leaders Cohort.

Prof Jamie McPhee

Please name a research leader who you admire. What is it that you admire about them?

Jamie named three people who he had worked closely with, had learnt a lot from, and been inspired by in his career. Firstly, Emeritus Professor David Jones, as he was an innovator in his field of muscle physiology, and the first to apply techniques that are now commonly used. Professor Jones produced many papers throughout his career and was always very modest. Secondly, Jamie named Professor Marco Narici, who is now based at University of Padova in Italy. Professor Narici is very well connected both internationally and nationally. He demonstrated to Jamie the value of networking as people now come to Professor Narici with their new ideas. The third person Jamie named was Professor Hans Degens, currently a fellow member of the Musculoskeletal Science and Sports Medicine Research Centre. Jamie described Professor Degens as a great character, always very accessible and willing to help and collaborate.

What have been the key turning points or ‘light bulb’ moments in your leadership development journey so far?

Reflecting on his career, Jamie believes there is no such thing as developmental ‘light bulb’ moments; that breakthroughs do not happen suddenly. For him, development is a process of incremental gains resulting from lots of unseen hard work. Over a period of continuous improvement, the result is good quality papers and good quality grant proposals. When these proposals are funded this is when a transformation can occur, by increasing the pace and quality of your research.

How do you bring others along with you?

Within a research group Jamie found he was often surrounded by like-minded people, working towards the same goal. In this way success is shared and it is relatively easy to bring people along on the same journey. Jamie has found this becomes more difficult on a larger scale, when you have oversight of multiple groups. At this scale there is increased competition for resources and as a leader you want everyone to be able progress. Jamie’s approach is to ensure effort is rewarded and distribution of resources is transparent and fair. Jamie feels it is also important to support everyone to understand the common strategic direction, ultimately encouraging a shared vision. 

In what ways do you use your leadership skills to promote your research outside of Manchester Met? 

In Jamie’s experience, your external reputation is key. Publications provide a foundation for you to build on by presenting your research at conferences wherever you can. Over time, this can translate into invited talks which are opportunities to demonstrate how your work fits in with that of others. In turn, these activities help you to extend your network and build collaborative partnerships. By building these connections you are now able to access and engage with national and international research groups. It is Jamie’s view that the key to building your external reputation is making the effort to reach out.

How did the Future RKE Leaders programme support you on your leadership development journey?

Jamie benefited from the opportunity to make connections with university leaders and people with influence across the university. He also benefitted from meeting researchers at the same career stage as himself. He found they had similar aspirations and faced similar challenges and they were able to build a good cross-faculty network. He was also provided with insight into university processes, knowledge of which he has found essential for effective research leadership.

How have you continued to engage with your career development since completing the programme?

Jamie views his research career development as a continuous and ongoing process since his time as an undergraduate. He has found he has progressed by working to adapt to each new challenge with the support of different mentors. The role of Head of Department presented a major new challenge. Jamie continues to seek out advice from many different sources, which enables him to best understand and respond to the requirements of the role.


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Research Leadership Development Journeys: Interview with Dr Annabel Latham

To celebrate the re-launch of the Future RKE Leaders programme, throughout February and March I am posting interviews with a selection of previous Future RKE Leaders cohort members. Each kindly shared details of their research leadership development journeys, providing useful insights for those looking to develop their research leadership skills.

Our fourth interview is with Dr Annabel Latham, Senior Lecturer in Computing and a member of the 2016 Future RKE Leaders Cohort.

Dr Annabel Latham

Please name a research leader who you admire. What is it that you admire about them?

Annabel named Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, who is a space scientist and science educator who currently co-presents the astronomy TV show ‘The Sky at Night’. Annabel attended a workshop in which Dr Aderin-Pocock gave a talk about her career journey. Annabel found this really inspiring, in particular how Dr Aderin-Pocock challenges barriers to achieving career goals experienced by new mothers.

This was very pertinent to Annabel’s own professional journey, as it was the birth of her daughter which moved her to re-train and pursue a career in research. This change was driven by a desire to show her daughter she could do whatever she wanted with her life.

During this talk Dr Aderin-Pocock also demonstrated the importance of science outreach, something which Annabel also champions through her work as Chair of the IEEE UK and Ireland Women in Engineering (WIE) Affinity Group.

What have been the key turning points or ‘light bulb’ moments in your leadership development journey so far?

For Annabel, these occurred as part of the Future RKE Leaders programme as it provided time for personal reflection, resulting in her feeling more empowered. In particular, mentoring provided Annabel with an objective view on her leadership development. She found the mentoring process worked to give her permission try new things and to challenge herself. An example being the pursuit of key research networking opportunities, including a two-month research trip to the educational technology laboratory at a German AI Institute in Berlin. Also key was the opportunity for discussion with fellow programme participants and the resulting formation of a supportive peer group, who again encouraged her to challenge herself.

How do you bring others along with you?

Annabel demonstrates leadership in a variety of ways at Manchester Met. She led her departmental application to Athena Swan, which was the first department to apply for an independent award. Annabel was able to provide a template and guidance for subsequent applications from other departments. Within teaching, Annabel leads a unit contributing to a core Masters course with critical business links. Annabel also takes part in lots of informal mentoring within her UCRKE and department.

In what ways do you use your leadership skills to promote your research outside of Manchester Met? 

Annabel is Chair of the IEEE UK and Ireland Women in Engineering (WIE) Affinity Group. IEEE WIE is the largest international professional organisation dedicated to promoting women engineers and scientists. Through this group, Annabel is linked into key professional networks including industry and academic representatives and has been invited to speak about her research on a number of occasions, including several conference plenaries. Under her leadership the UK and Ireland Group won the IEEE Region 8 (Europe, Middle East and Africa) 2019 award for WIE Group of the Year. Reflecting on her role as Chair, Annabel recognised the opportunities it has given her to implement her leadership skills through organisation of group members and allocation of roles matching individuals’ strengths.

How have you continued to engage with your career development since completing the programme?

Through mentoring, Annabel was introduced to workload management and prioritisation techniques and tools. This led to a significant shift in mind-set. Where Annabel previously felt overwhelmed she now feels empowered to take ownership of her situation and think practically about how to get everything done. To continue her practice of personal reflection Annabel continues to dedicate one hour per week to planning.

What advice do you have for successful nominees to the Future RKE Leaders scheme?

Annabel advises successful nominees to take advantage of the time the programme provides for personal reflection, as she felt this was key for her leadership development. For the same reason, Annabel also advises nominees to take ownership of the development process, particularly the mentoring partnership, as you get out what you put in.


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Images of Research: Vote NOW!

Celebrating the work of our early career and postgraduate researchers.

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Discover the fantastic work of our early career and postgraduate researchers by attending our Images of Research exhibition from Monday 2 March.

The Images of Research photography competition challenges our early career and postgraduate researchers to communicate the significance and impact of their work through a single image and a 150-word abstract.

The event, now in its second year, follows the great success of the 2018/19 Images of Research competition where Sarah Scott, third-year PhD student from the Faculty of Science and Engineering, scooped both the ‘People’s Choice’ and ‘Judge’s Choice’ awards with her submission ‘Data Incoming!’.

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This year’s shortlist includes a host of fantastic entries from our emerging researchers: 

Postgraduate  

  • Charlotte Arculus, Faculty of Education – ‘Illuminating Arts Practices in Early Childhood with More-Than-Human Technologies’
  • Carlos Bedson, Faculty of Science and Engineering – ‘Britain’s Unspoken Wildlife Tragedy’
  • Rebecca Clarke, Faculty of Science and Engineering – ‘The Long Trail Ahead in Stroke Recovery’
  • Jamila Makarfi, Faculty of Business and Law –‘Corporate Security Responsibility’
  • Alejandra Zamora, Faculty of Business and Law – ‘Fighting Extinction’

Early career 

  • Becky Alexis-Martin, Faculty of Science and Engineering – ‘Laughing in the Face of Death’
  • Su Corcoran, Faculty of Education – ‘Exploring Displaced Young People’s Belonging and Learning Experiences Through Art’
  • Emily Crompton, Faculty of Arts and Humanities – ‘Documenting Demolition: A Community Evidencing Project at Manchester’s LGBT+ Centre’
  • Sarah Fox, Faculty of Arts and Humanities – ‘Trust Women’
  • David Tomlinson, Faculty of Science and Engineering – ‘Defining Obesity: ‘BMI or Body Fat Percentage?’

Three awards are up for grabs, including the ‘People’s Choice Award’, ‘Judge’s Choice Award – early career researchers’ and ‘Judge’s Choice Award – postgraduate researchers’.

Our 10 finalist’s images will be on display throughout March in the reception of the Benzie building and you can vote for your chosen winner in the ‘People’s Choice Award’ on the Images of Research competition webpage


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Research Leadership Development Journeys: Interview with Dr Rob Drummond

To celebrate the re-launch of the Future RKE Leaders programme, throughout February and March I will be posting interviews with a selection of previous Future RKE Leaders cohort members. Each kindly shared details of their research leadership development journeys, providing useful insights for those looking to develop their research leadership skills.

More details on the Future RKE Leaders programme can be found on our Research Development Sharepoint.

The deadline for nominations is this week: 12pm Wednesday 26th February.

Our third interview is with Dr Rob Drummond, Reader in Linguistics and a member of the 2015 Future RKE Leaders Cohort.

Dr Rob Drummond

Please name a research leader who you admire. What is it that you admire about them?

Rob named Professor Hannah Smithson, Head of the Manchester Centre for Youth Studies (MCYS) within Manchester Met Arts and Humanities Faculty. Rob works with Professor Smithson through his role as head of Youth Language in MCYS. Rob admirers Professor Smithson as she is ambitious and clearly communicates her vision. She is also open to other’s opinions and ensures the success of MCYS by building and nurturing a strong team rather than solely focussing on her own career.

What have been the key turning points or ‘light bulb’ moments in your leadership development journey so far?

Reflecting on his career so far, Rob was able to identify a series of pivotal training and funding opportunities. Rob feels that he was able to progress his career by making the most of each opportunity and taking care not to become complacent following a successful outcome. For example, starting with some accelerator funds, followed by a sabbatical period and a writing retreat, Rob submitted a successful bid to The Leverhulme Trust, which in turn led to the successful AHRC bid with colleague Dr Erin Carrie. Rob also commented that it can be difficult to model your career development on others as you only tend to hear about successful outcomes, especially concerning the grant application process.

How do you bring others along with you?

Rob consciously looks to work collaboratively where possible, especially with more junior colleagues. As part of their current research project funded by The AHRC, Rob and his co-investigator Dr Erin Carrie incorporated two Research Associate positions and a number of ‘jobs for students’. Through roles like this, Rob is able to support junior researchers to develop and grow and in doing so, extend the legacy of the grant funding.

In what ways do you use your leadership skills to promote your research outside of Manchester Met? 

Rob’s research is public facing and community centred, he is therefore heavily involved in a number of outreach activities including talks in schools. Rob regularly appears as a language expert on radio and television, working to challenge prejudice and promote linguistic equality. To this end, Rob is in the process of contributing evidence to an All Parliamentary Group on the teaching of oracy (spoken language) in schools.  

How did the Future RKE Leaders programme support you on your leadership development journey?

Rob felt the most valuable part of the programme was meeting fellow cohort members from other faculties and gaining a different perspective. He also appreciated the opportunity to meet, and have access to, senior leaders for their insight. As a member of the programme, Rob was granted additional status within his Faculty. This led to further beneficial experiences such as the chance to mentor others.

How have you continued to engage with your career development since completing the programme?

Towards the end of the Future RKE Leaders programme, Rob applied for progression to Reader, but unfortunately his application was unsuccessful. Rob used the feedback from his application to guide his career development over the following two years and actively addressed the gaps in his C.V.. This resulted in a successful application to Reader in 2019. In the role of Reader, Rob is looking to develop his leadership skills further by continuing to support early career researchers and feeding into Centre and Faculty leadership teams.