Monthly Archives: January 2011

Research Outputs

The Repository Team are continuing to facilitate several practical workshops over the next few months on the Lincoln Repository.  Please send an e-mail to eprints@lincoln.ac.uk for further details.  

Whitework

The ninety minute workshops will show you: 

-  how to deposit a publication or arts research into the Lincoln Repository

-  write the necessary metadata to assist the search engines sourcing their work

-  interpret publishers’ copyright policies and guidelines 

The sessions are open to both research and administrative staff involved in uploading publications to The Lincoln Repository.  No prior knowledge is required to attend. 

MRC Delivery Plan 2011-2015

In line with other research councils, MRC released its Delivery Plan for 2011 – 2015 in late December 2010. These documents set out the research councils’ strategic priorities for the next four years – i.e. the anticipated duration of the current Coalition government – and in particular they outline how research councils will respond to the austerity measures laid out in last October’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

The MRC aims to develop and sustain leading edge research programmes that will accelerate the transition of fundamental research into measurable positive impact on health, innovation and wealth creation.

Fundamental to their delivery plan is a transformative translation agenda to drive innovation and speed up the exploitation of the best ideas in medical science to deliver new preventative and therapeutic interventions and demonstrable improvements in the return on investment in science base.

They will continue to work with partners such as the NHS, government, industry and the charity sector. The partnership with the charities sector aims to bring greater engagement with patients, carers and volunteers in line with the governments ‘Big Society’ agenda.

The MRC currently funds around 1600 PhD students and this number will decrease slightly to allow more support for research training, but they will continue to focus studentships in institutions and programmes that provide breadth and depth of research and training as well as high quality transferable skills training. There will be no change to the number of CASE students, currently 35pa. They plan to increase the number of early and intermediate career fellowships, although these fellowships will be required to align with strategic plan priorities. Senior Fellowships will be maintained at the current levels, these fellowships provide funding to enable outstanding individuals to establish themselves as leaders of world-class research teams.

There is no mention of any changes to research grant funding other than there being a gradual increase in funding from £240m in 2010/11 to £291m in 2014/15 which equates to an increase of 21.2%.

MRC Bid Management

The peer review system adopted by the MRC has already led to a high level of concentration of extramural funding in a small number of HEIs (less than 20). Demand management solutions, promotion of shared use of large equipment, and the focus on centres of excellence will lead to further concentration, particularly as HEIs collaborate and/or develop novel strengths.

The MRC along with other RCs will:

  • work in partnership with Universities to support them in self-managing demand and delivering quality control of research proposals.
  • Discuss plans for demand management with stakeholders.
  • Develop and share tools for demand management across RCs & Universities, share good practice and strive for continual improvement.
  • Maintain awareness of the effect of demand management on the wider community & stakeholders.

In addition to managing demand RCs will consolidate and simplify/streamline schemes, where appropriate, to reduce complexity.

The MRC has the following specific plans for managing future demand for funding:

  • MRC will require less successful HEIs to take steps to move their institutional success rate to at least the current average. If improvements are not seen MRC will move to specific sanctions including for example restrictions on frequency of submission and resubmissions.
  • MRC is undertaking a strategic programme of visits to HEIs, initially to those which submit a high volume of applications and have below average success rates. We will share HEI specific data and wider anonymised HEI data to better understand and manage poorer performing areas
  • MRC will engage with HEIs around development of shared research facilities and explore opportunities for a more strategic approach to some devolved portfolio management by Universities.
  • MRC will consider creative approaches to support young investigators and help improve their success rates

MRC Research and Training Priorities

New frontiers in biomedical research

Stratified medicine

Regenerative medicine, stem cells and tissue repair

iSystems medicine

Living a long and healthy life

Mental health and well being

Addressing the impact of lifestyle and behaviours on the health of the nation:

Obesity

Addiction

Healthy ageing

Health research is a global issue

International leadership

Global Health

Harnessing the value of population health sciences for the public health agenda

Maximising the impact of large scale population-based cohorts

Increasing economic and societal gain through E-health research

Public health infections research

STFC Delivery Plan 2011-2015

In line with other research councils, STFC released its Delivery Plan for 2011 – 2015 [PDF] in late December 2010. These documents set out the research councils’ strategic priorities for the next four years – i.e. the anticipated duration of the current Coalition government – and in particular they outline how research councils will respond to the austerity measures laid out in last October’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

The STFC carried out a review of its activities in 2009 and made some significant cuts in at that time, including slashing funding for astronomy and physics research. This Delivery Plan must therefore be seen in the light of these measures. STFC commit to ” maintain resource spending on science projects and grants, limiting any programme reduction to 2% in recognition of  the contribution already made from these areas to past budget reductions” (p8).

Key messages from the Plan are as follows:

  • Spending on research grants and studentships will be maintained over the plan period.
  • Grant support will be transitioned from the current system of standard and rolling grants to a new “consolidated grant mechanism” providing support for up to four years. This will limit applications to one every three years per university department per subject area. This is estimated to reduce the number of proposals handled every three years from 600 to between 100 and 200.
  • Demand management and concentration are key themes in STFC’s efficiency drive. Currently just six institutions receive half of STFC’s grant funding, while 80% goes to 16 institutions. This concentration is expected to continue although there are no explicit targets. Grants awarding panels have been briefed to favour grants for departments and research groups with “critical mass” (although this term is left undefined).
  • A new “elite research” fellowship scheme will be introduced targeted at individuals with “future leadership potential” (p10). This, together with a new Studentship Enhancement Programme is aimed at nurturing early career researchers to become future leaders.
  • STFC provide the UK research base with access to leading international large-scale facilities. The Research Councils together with the Wellcome Trust “are working together on a new model for funding their usage of these large facilities.  This model will match the funding Councils’ scientific priorities and requirements to the provision by STFC of appropriate facility access are working together on a new model for funding their usage of these large facilities.  This model will match the funding Councils’ scientific priorities and requirements to the provision by STFC of appropriate facility access” (p11).
  • They will work with other research councils on some of the cross-council programmes to address grand challenges. In particular, STFC will contribute to:
    • Global uncertainties: security for all in a changing world
    • Living with environmental change
    • Ageing: lifelong health and well-being
    • Energy
    • Global Food Security