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    Greater than the sum of its parts: why the GCRF Interdisciplinary Research Hubs should adopt a programme approach to research design and management

Greater than the sum of its parts: why the GCRF Interdisciplinary Research Hubs should adopt a programme approach to research design and management

Awards for the GCRF Interdisciplinary Research Hubs will soon be announced. Each of these Hubs will inevitably have to balance the different imperatives of research excellence, development impact, and collaborative processes. To improve their chances of being successful in doing so, Valeria Izzi and Becky Murray suggest that each Hub must set out with the explicit intention of being […]

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    Towards more consistent, transparent, and multi-purpose national bibliographic databases for research output

Towards more consistent, transparent, and multi-purpose national bibliographic databases for research output

National bibliographic databases for research output collect metadata on universities’ scholarly publications, such as journal articles, monographs, and conference papers. As this sort of research information is increasingly used in assessments, funding allocation, and other academic reward structures, the value in developing comprehensive and reliable national databases becomes more and more clear. Linda Sīle, Raf Guns and Tim Engels […]

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    “Interdisciplinary, like everyone else.” But are you being interdisciplinary for the wrong reasons?

“Interdisciplinary, like everyone else.” But are you being interdisciplinary for the wrong reasons?

Interdisciplinarity is the talk of the town. Funding agencies favour interdisciplinary research proposals, teaching programmes focus on developing interdisciplinary courses, and the publication of interdisciplinary studies has surged over recent decades. Lakshmi Balachandran Nair considers whether interdisciplinarity remains a strategy to surpass the limits of the methodological tools, theories, and views offered by a single discipline or has instead […]

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    How to save space and stick to the limit when writing research funding applications

How to save space and stick to the limit when writing research funding applications

Research funders impose length limits on applications for practical reasons: to discourage epic submissions, and to ease the burden on reviewers. It’s also true that concise ideas are generally stronger ideas. But sticking to these limits can often seem a difficult and frustrating task. Jonathan O’Donnell offers advice to researchers looking to find a little more space in their […]

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    Plan S[how me the money]: why academic-led initiatives represent a more equitable, less costly publishing future

Plan S[how me the money]: why academic-led initiatives represent a more equitable, less costly publishing future

Plan S, announced last month, represents an exciting example of the scholarly community mobilising to create funding requirements that could lead to an open access future. However, the plan has also raised a number of legitimate concerns, not least the absence of any incentive for publishers to lower journal costs. Brian Cody suggests how simple adjustments to the proposed […]

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    Open access book publishing should be community-focused and aim to let diversity thrive, not be driven by a free market paradigm

Open access book publishing should be community-focused and aim to let diversity thrive, not be driven by a free market paradigm

The whole reasoning around open access for books is now aligned to a commercial agenda, where authors invest in openness with the prospect of greater downloads, citations, and impact in return. Marcel Knöchelmann argues that the free market paradigm is particularly ill-suited to humanities and social sciences book publishing and its many diverse scholarly communities. Equitable foundations for open […]

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    Developing approaches to research impact assessment and evaluation: lessons from a Canadian health research funder

Developing approaches to research impact assessment and evaluation: lessons from a Canadian health research funder

Assessing research impact is complex and challenging, but essential for understanding the link between research funding investments and outcomes both within and beyond academia. Julia Langton provides an overview of how a Canadian health research funder approaches impact assessment; urging caution in the use of quantitative data, highlighting the importance of organisation-wide capacity-building, and outlining the value of a […]

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    Sandpits can develop cross-disciplinary projects, but funders need to be as open-minded as researchers

Sandpits can develop cross-disciplinary projects, but funders need to be as open-minded as researchers

The research “sandpit”, where a cross-disciplinary group of academics and practitioners come together for a short time to create new projects around a given theme, is gaining ground as a way to foster innovation and creativity in research design. While sandpits can spark ideas for novel projects better suited to tackling grand challenges and urgent questions, research from Kate […]

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    It’s not the winning but the taking part that counts: how the process of applying for competitive grants is of benefit to researchers

It’s not the winning but the taking part that counts: how the process of applying for competitive grants is of benefit to researchers

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part.” So goes the famous saying by Pierre de Coubertin, the father of modern Olympic Games. But does the same apply for competitive research grants? Charles Ayoubi, Michele Pezzoni and Fabiana Visentin report on their study which finds that simply taking part in an application process […]

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    Linguistic analysis reveals the hidden details of research grant proposal peer review reports

Linguistic analysis reveals the hidden details of research grant proposal peer review reports

Despite peer review panels being the most common way of selecting applicants for research funding, little is known about how selections are made. New methods for large-scale text analysis allow for review panels’ written reports to be analysed and studied for patterns. Peter van den Besselaar and Ulf Sandström show how the frequency of positive and negative evaluation words […]

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    Research data should be available long-term…but who is going to pay?

Research data should be available long-term…but who is going to pay?

There is now a broad consensus that sharing and preserving data makes research more efficient, reproducible and potentially innovative. As such, most funding bodies now require research data to be stored, preserved, and made available long-term. But who is going to pay for this to happen? Marta Teperek and Alastair Dunning outline how the costs of long-term data preservation […]

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    Predatory publishers threaten to consume public research funds and undermine national academic systems – the case of Brazil

Predatory publishers threaten to consume public research funds and undermine national academic systems – the case of Brazil

An unintended consequence of the open access movement, predatory publishers have appeared in many countries, offering authors a quick and easy route to publication in exchange for a fee and usually without any apparent peer review or quality control. Using a large database of publications, Marcelo S. Perlin, Takeyoshi Imasato and Denis Borenstein analyse the extent of this problem […]

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    Doing research for (and not on) development: some important questions for the Global Challenges Research Fund

Doing research for (and not on) development: some important questions for the Global Challenges Research Fund

The Global Challenges Research Fund has an impressively wide-ranging research agenda, covering a range of development issues. But as well as funding research on development, Ajoy Datta argues the fund should promote understanding of how to undertake research for development too. This requires academics to have specific skills and experience of working effectively with colleagues and partners in the […]

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To move towards a more open science, we must free the data

Data sharing is a key principle of open science, and research funders are increasingly including this as a condition of grant awards. Despite this, Jessica Couture reports on research that found little more than a quarter of relevant research projects to be compliant. While there are valid reasons for certain data not to be made available – its sensitivity […]

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Funder open access platforms – a welcome innovation?

Funding organisations commissioning their own open access publishing platforms is a relatively recent development in the OA environment, with the European Commission following the Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation in financing such an initiative. But in what ways, for better or worse, do these new platforms disrupt or complement the scholarly communications landscape? Tony Ross-Hellauer, Birgit Schmidt and […]

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    Gender equity in health research funding: what do we know, what do we wish we knew, and where do we go from here?

Gender equity in health research funding: what do we know, what do we wish we knew, and where do we go from here?

Research shows women continue to face systematic disadvantages in research funding competitions, publishing, hiring, and promotion. Zena Sharman considers what can be done to foster gender equity, including piloting unconscious bias training and developing a clear definition of what is meant by equity and how that informs strategic and operational work.

At the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research we […]

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    The benefits of open access books are clear but challenges around funding remain

The benefits of open access books are clear but challenges around funding remain

As part of Academic Book Week 2018, last week Springer Nature hosted an event exploring open access books featuring representatives from the researcher, funder, and publisher communities. Mithu Lucraft reports on the presentations and panel discussions which revealed that the benefits of publishing open access books are clear, with more downloads, citations, and online mentions, in addition to an […]

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    Hitting the QR sweet spot: will new REF2021 rules lead to a different kind of game-playing?

Hitting the QR sweet spot: will new REF2021 rules lead to a different kind of game-playing?

Today marks 999 days until the expected deadline for submissions to REF 2021. Universities’ preparations are already well under way, with additional guidance published last autumn in the form of new REF rules designed to reduce game-playing behaviours among institutions. However, as Simon Kerridge observes, the rule changes may have introduced, or rather enhanced, some hidden dangers around universities’ […]

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    False investigators and coercive citation are widespread in academic research

False investigators and coercive citation are widespread in academic research

A recent study has revealed widespread unethical behaviour in academic research. Allen Wilhite focuses on two activities in particular; the addition to funding proposals of investigators not expected to contribute to the research, and editors who coerce authors to add citations to manuscripts even though those citations were not part of the scholars’ reference material. Research institutions, funders, rankings bodies, and […]

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    The RAE/REF have engendered evaluation selectivity and strategic behaviour, reinforced scientific norms, and further stratified UK higher education

The RAE/REF have engendered evaluation selectivity and strategic behaviour, reinforced scientific norms, and further stratified UK higher education

The UK’s periodic research assessment exercise has grown larger and more formalised since its first iteration in 1986. Marcelo Marques, Justin J.W. Powell, Mike Zapp and Gert Biesta have examined what effects it has had on the submitting behaviour of institutions, considering the intended and unintended consequences in the field of education research. Findings reveal growing strategic behaviour, including […]

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