MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

Funding opportunities, news and guidance from RKE at Manchester Met

Leave a comment

Research Matters: A Year in Focus

You can read the online version of Research Matters here or a PDF version here. Paper copies will be available at all reception points across MMU from next week.

This article is taken from ManMetLife – written by Gareth Hollyman, MMU Press Team – available in its original form here.


The University has produced its first cross-institutional research brochure called Research Matters – ‘World Class Research Impact’ 2014.

The 36-page glossy reviews the past year in research and knowledge exchange celebrating the quality and diversity of work and its relevance to industry and society.

Inspired by our impressive entry to the Research Excellence Framework, the brochure is being marketed to funding councils, commerce and industry and university and other collaborators.

Writing in his preface, Vice Chancellor Professor John Brooks says: “MMU has set a challenging 2020 vision to become a top 50 university for both teaching and research.


Create, communicate, commercialise

“We have a very strong foundation laid by the REF submission which demonstrates research with world-class outcomes is being produced by some 330 of our academic staff who were selected.

“The role of modern universities is to create, communicate and to commercialise knowledge. Our RKE strategy ensures that our research is relevant, has impact and informs our teaching.”

Research Matters includes case studies related to our five key areas of:

  • Lifelong Health and Wellbeing
  • Sustainability and Adapting to Climate Change
  • New Technology and Innovation
  • Education and Society
  • Arts and Humanities

Some highlights featured include: Nick Bowring’s ‘microwave’ security scanner, Jamie McPhee’s healthy ageing physiology work, Katherine Runswick-Cole’s work on new approaches to adoption, Cathy Parker’s retail management and high street research and Carl Payton’s work on disabled swimming to support Paralympians.

The cover features the high-profile work of artist Steve Dixon whose sculptures of Nobel Prize winners including Aung San Suu Kyi are on show at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

Public engagement

Vanda Murray OBE, Deputy Chair of Governors said: “I never cease to be amazed at the vibrancy and diversity of research within the University and this publication provides a timely review of the breadth and quality of our work.”

“Equally important is engagement with external communities which has become an expected part of everyday academic life. I am always struck by how grounded MMU academics are; experts in their field undoubtedly, but also able and, more importantly willing, to take time out to communicate their ideas to a wider audience.

“It is important that staff that engage in these agendas feel recognised for their efforts.”

Research Matters was overseen by Professor Dave Raper and Sam Gray in the RKE team and produced by the Marketing Communications and Development Team, with design by Jo Phillips.


Leave a comment

REF Website goes live!

This week marks the launch of the brand new REF website at MMU from the Research and Knowledge Exchange Team. Taking information from our REF2014 submission, including case studies and content from each unit of assessment, the website celebrates the hard work put in from members across the University.

The new website has been built with the aim to show case MMU’s research excellence for the last six years and falls in line with the recent submission to the REF in December. The content of the site includes an introduction to each of the 13 units of assessment and includes the impressive total of 42 case studies.

RKE is proud to be launching the website this week after much hard work, including help from research colleagues and the REF team, namely Sam Gray. However, special thanks must go to Kellie Keith, RKE’s Web Officer for the many hours she has put into perfecting the site.

Dr Steve Hoon, REF co-ordinator for Earth Systems and Environmental Science says ‘I am very impressed by the way the new REF facing website has come together. It summarizes the core of the high quality MMU research output and its impact over the past six years, research that builds upon decades of hard work by a University wide team of academic, technical and administrative support staff.’

You can visit the site here:

Leave a comment

Open Access in Focus – Guest Blog part IV

Open Access

Guest Blog from Mary Pickstone, Research Support Librarian

In my final blog on Open Access I will look at MMU’s response to OA.

MMU, in common with many other Universities, is adopting the green route to OA.  This means that we are putting research outputs into e-space, our institutional repository, which will then allow them to be viewed freely over the Internet.  This will increase readership and disseminate the research beyond traditional journal subscribers as described in my previous blogs.

One of the reasons MMU is not going down the gold route for OA publication for most of its research output is that there is usually a cost involved. This cost, the Article Processing Charge, or APC, will have to be paid for by the University.  In the wake of the Finch Report, RCUK gave some help to offset APC costs in the form of transition funding to Universities, but in 2013/14 MMU received only £11,442 (compared with £824,459 received by the University of Manchester).  On current rates of APC charges in high impact journals, this will only pay for about five or six APCs!  However, although MMU is adopting the green route to OA, there may be occasions when it is strategically advantageous to MMU to publish research in prestigious, high impact journals (which usually charge an APC).  In these cases, funds will be released to pay the APCs.

The current method of getting outputs into e-space is to send them to the Library, and we will carry out the necessary administration and deposit them for you.  In future, outputs will be put into Symplectic Elements, our new CRIS (Current Research Information System) and from there, subject to routine checks, they will be deposited automatically into e-space, the ‘public face’ of MMU’s research.  (See Christian Woodward’s recent RKE blog post about Symplectic for further information.)

Many publishers, having introduced APC’s to offset the revenue they will lose from subscriptions as more journals become OA, are responding by introducing deals to universities.  These often take the form of discounts on APCs if universities sign up to publishers over a period of time.  At present, MMU does not publish enough articles with one publisher to make these sorts of deals worthwhile or cost effective.

OA publication is a complex and evolving area, which all universities and university libraries are grappling with.  Research Council funded research already stipulates that outputs should be published OA; this will be reinforced further as plans for the next REF are rolled out.  In these blogposts I have attempted to explain some of the issues surrounding OA and why you should engage with OA publication.

If you would like to know more or want to discuss any of the issues raised, please get in touch , and to give you further help and guidance the Library will shortly be launching an online guide to OA.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

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.    

1 Comment

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.


Open Access in Focus – Guest Blog part II

Open Access


Guest Blog from Mary Pickstone, Research Support Librarian

This week’s Open Access (OA) blog will explore the different types of OA.

OA research articles are primarily delivered to the reader via OA journals – the so-called ‘Gold’ route – or repositories (institutional or by discipline) – the ‘Green’ route.

Gold Open Access is immediate OA ie accessible to the reader with no charge.  However, this route often comes with a charge to the author, the so-called Article Processing Charge, or APC, which is levied by publishers for articles published in their journals. The APC is therefore a charge to ‘pay-to-publish’.

OA journals operate under a variety of business models which have been developed to accommodate different disciplines, or the situation in different countries.  Some traditional subscription journals from the mainstream publishers offer an option of publishing OA articles in a so-called ‘hybrid’ model.  The author, or their institution or sponsoring body, will usually have to pay an APC to publish these articles OA, and they will appear alongside the majority of articles in the journal which are ‘pay-per-view’.

It just so happens that many of the high prestige, high impact journals – in which you are probably being encouraged to publish – come with APCs to publish OA, but there are many OA journals which do not charge, or whose APC charges are very low. I will discuss MMU’s response to this in a later blog.

The use of APCs is inevitably controversial, particularly when libraries are already paying to subscribe to the very same journals where APCs are being charged to publish OA.

The Finch Report favours gold OA so, to try to help with the transition to a fully OA model of publishing, the RCUK has given some Universities money to help pay for APCs.  However, the allocation is based on previous and projected funding by the Research Councils so universities such as MMU, which are aspiring to expand their research output but which have not traditionally received a lot of RCUK funding, have not received much of this transition money.

The alternative to the gold route to OA is the green route.  By this route an article can be made available via a repository, either a subject repository eg ArXiv in Physics, Maths and Computer Science, or an institutional repository such as MMU’s e-space, usually after an embargo period imposed by individual publishers (typically 6 months for STEM subjects, longer for the Humanities).  Articles made OA by the green route will not usually be the published version but an ‘author final copy’, or post-print, which has been peer-reviewed and corrected and is, as far as the content is concerned, the same as it appears in the journal.

e-space, MMU’s repository, is managed by the Library.  It contains journal articles, both pre-prints (journal articles submitted for peer-review) and author final copies, as well as book chapters, working papers, conference presentations and other types of output in a variety of file types and formats.

Next time I will explore some of the issues surrounding OA including the  impact and dissemination of research, and how OA works with different disciplines and outputs.