MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

Funding opportunities, news and guidance from RKE at Manchester Met

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UK interdisciplinary research landscape workshop

HEFCE is running a workshop to contribute to research it is commissioning with the Medical Research Council exploring the UK interdisciplinary research landscape.

The workshop will explore the current interdisciplinary research landscape considering:

  • disciplinary experiences
  • collaboration and knowledge sharing
  • reward and progression.

The workshop will take place in central Manchester on 1 March 2016.

If you wish to attend, please express your interest no later than 15 February.

For more information and to register, please visit:

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REF by Numbers? HEFCE launches consultation into use of metrics for research assessment

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has launched a formal call for evidence relating to the use of metrics in research assessment and management. The review will explore the potential use of metrics for research assessment, consider their robustness across different discipline areas, and assess their potential contribution to the development of research excellence and impact.

Professor Wilsdon (Science Policy Unit, University of Sussex) is leading the independent review that defines metrics as “the quantitative analysis of scientific and scholarly research outputs and their impacts. Metrics include a variety of measures and statistical methods for assessing the quality of and broader impact of scientific and scholarly research.”

The call for evidence asks academics to identify useful metrics for research assessment, to consider how those metrics should be used in research assessment, ‘gaming’ and strategic use of metrics, and the international perspective.

The outcomes from the review will inform the work of HEFCE and the other UK higher education funding bodies as they prepare for future iterations of the Research Excellence Framework.

The deadline for responses is Monday 30th June, and MMU’s RKE team is coordinating an MMU institutional response to the call for evidence. If you are interested in feeding into this exercise then please email for further information.

Alternatively, you can find out more by going to:

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HEFCE announce Open Access policy for REF+1


Following on from extensive consultation throughout 2013, HEFCE have recently unveiled their policy on the role of Open Access (OA) publishing in the next Research Excellence Framework (REF).


HEFCE’s position is that the research they fund should be as widely and freely available as possible, and that OA presents a useful means of achieving that goal.  With this in mind, they have decided to use the next REF exercise as a means to accelerate the adoption of OA publishing in the HE sector.


In a nutshell, HEFCE now requires the following:

  • To be eligible for submission to the REF, journal articles and some conference proceedings will need to have their full text made available on an institutional or subject repository (i.e. green route OA) within three months of acceptance for publication.
  • In cases where the full text of a research publication can’t be made freely available in this time frame (e.g. where a publisher’s agreement forbids it), the full text should be made accessible as soon as possible.
  • Other types of publication are unaffected by this policy and will still be eligible for REF submission.  Additionally, HEFCE have also provided a set of circumstances where exceptions may be made to the policy.


Full documentation for the policy can be found here.  With this publication, HEFCE have posed some interesting new challenges for higher education institutions – but they have also provided an exciting opportunity for the growth of OA publication in UK Higher Education.

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Science and Innovation Conference 2013

You may well have heard that the UK is the second most effective country at university-business interactions. Part of the motivation for my attending last Thursday’s Science and Innovation Conference was to mingle in this vibrant ecosystem and learn from the UK’s record of success.

The aim of this blog is not to be a blow-by-blow account of the day (honestly, you had to be there); instead, here is a summary of highlights and key messages.

There’s an exciting new development in the offing: the RCUK’s Gateway to Research ( This portal provides searchable access to research grants funded by any of the research councils, representing a total of over £3bn investment. Steve Harris from BAE Systems is already using the system to alert him to which academics the company would like to work with. Given that it’s likely that other research-intensive organisations either are – or very soon will be – doing much the same, it’s another reason to ensure that impact statements make clear the benefits of MMU’s research to potential industrial partners.

Leo Poll of Philips spoke about the need for innovation across all aspects of a business, not just in their core technology or technologies. Areas such as outsourcing, legislation, processes and time to market are all as important as new ideas, and they are all interests that Philips shares with other companies, even if they operate in quite different markets. For this reason, Philips has transformed the way it innovates from doing it alone and in secret, to being open and shared. Philips has stripped the barbed wire (both literally and metaphorically) from its research sites and opened them up to academia and other companies with the aim of sharing facilities and expertise. Leo is a real enthusiast for this approach and recommended it for all organisations.

Sir Alan Langlands, Chief Executive of HEFCE, spoke very positively of the contribution of HEIF. He said there’s £150m pa allocated until 2016 and “…if we can squeeze a little more out, we will.”

We heard from Dr Gillian Sinclair of the University of Manchester who manages a combined supercomputing service for the N8 consortium of northern research-intensive universities. Their 5,000-odd processor machine is available to external organisations and was recently put to use analysing a BBC archive of over 100,000 pieces of music to determine whether they were happy or sad, a process that would have taken over a year on a standard computer but which instead took only six hours.