Research marketing

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction plus a social media overreaction.

Topic: Sector news

Reddit's Ask Me Anything

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📥  Sector news, social

Just before Christmas I blogged on our use of Facebook Live to engage our social media followers in a new way about our research and expertise. This time it's the turn of another social media tool: Reddit's 'Ask Me Anything' (AMAs). 

Since the start of the year, we've promoted two AMAs - first with Saiful Islam, fresh from the Royal Society's CHRISTMAS LECTURES, and just recently with Joanna Bryson on Artificial Intelligence - both of which attracted huge online audience and engagement.

Fresh from the Ri CHRISTMAS LECTURES, Professor Saiful Islam's Reddit AMA attracted an audience of 10,000.

Fresh from the Ri CHRISTMAS LECTURES, Professor Saiful Islam's Reddit AMA attracted an audience of 10,000.

A brief history of AMAs

AMAs were created by the Reddit community as an opportunity for interesting individuals to field questions about anything and everything. Over the past few years, high profile AMAs with Barack Obama, Sir David Attenborough and Elon Musk have generated lots of interest in Reddit and AMAs in particular.

In an effort to bring science education to the masses, Reddit's Science community (known as /r/Science) has used this model to create an independent, science-focused AMA Series – the Science AMA Series. Its goal is to encourage discussion and facilitate outreach while helping to bridge the gap between practising scientists and the general public. This is something that is open to any research scientist, or group of
scientists, that wants to have a candid conversation with the large, diverse and normally very well informed Reddit Science community.

How it works and why it's beneficial

Reddit describes its AMA Series as 'a unique format' in that it allows scientists to speak about their work in a manner that is not possible within the confines of traditional short-form journalism. Via AMAs,
questions can be explained individually and follow-up points fielded so that the readers have a clearer understanding of the field and research being discussed.

AMAs are particularly useful for researchers looking to clarify their findings and expand upon their results in situations where the mainstream press releases were too limited to accurately convey their work. In this way AMAs are often referred to as an 'open source interview'.

Reddit's Science community extends to more than 13 million so it's a huge opportunity to get research and expertise in front of an engaged audience. All you need to take part is a few free hours and a computer.

How our AMAs fared

To date, Saiful's AMA had a total reach of 7.5 million, with 5,080 votes and nearly 10,000 users clicking through read his answers. Joanna's had a total reach of 19.54 million, with over 14,002 votes and over 41,000 users clicking through to read her answer to AI-related questions. Both generated lots of social media engagement, which also fed through to media coverage. Joanna's AMA was picked up by Tech Crunch - a channel which is followed by over 8,000,000 on Twitter.

If you'd be interested in being put forward for an AMA please let us know and we'll look for opportunities.

Making sense of Stern

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📥  Research news, Sector news

The long-awaited Stern Review of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) was published last week which outlines a number of recommendations in advance of the next assessment submission.

This autumn we expect to see a consultation on the detailed guidance with the results published next summer 2017. REF submissions are still set to be collected in 2020 with the assessment and results earmarked in 2021. Read more about Stern here via the THE.

To help us make sense of Stern and its implications for Bath, Katy McKen (Head of Research Information and Intelligence) has helpfully put together this list of the 12 main recommendations covered by Stern:

  1. All research active staff should be returned in the REF;
  2. Outputs should be submitted at UoA level with a  set average number per FTE but with flexibility for some faculty members to submit more and others less than the average;
  3. Outputs should not be portable;
  4. Panels should continue to assess on the basis of peer review.  However, metrics should be provided to support panel members in their assessment and panels should be transparent about their use;
  5. Institutions should be given more flexibility to showcase their interdisciplinary and collaborative impacts by submitting ‘institutional’ level impact case studies, part of a new institutional level assessment;
  6. Impact should be based on research of demonstrable quality.  However, case studies could be linked to a research activity and a body of work as well as to a broad range of research outputs;
  7. Guidance on the REF should make it very clear that impact case studies should not be narrowly interpreted, need not solely focus on socio-economic impacts but should also include impact on government policy, on public engagement and understanding, on cultural life, on academic impacts outside the field, and impacts on teaching;
  8. A new institutional level Environment assessment should include an account of the institution’s future research environment strategy, a statement of how it supports high quality research and research-related activities, including its support for interdisciplinary and cross-institutional initiatives and impact. It should form part of the institutional assessment and should be assessed by a specialist, cross-disciplinary panel;
  9. The individual UoA environment statements are condensed, made complementary to the institutional level environment statements and include those key metrics on research intensity specific to the UoA;
  10. Where possible REF data and metrics should be open, standardised and combinable with other research funders’ data collection processes in order to streamline data collection requirements and reduce the cost of compiling and submitting data;
  11. That Government and UKRI could make more strategic and imaginative use of REF, to better understand the health of the UK research base, our research resources and areas of high potential for future development, and to build the case for strong investment in research in the UK;
  12. Government should ensure that there is no increased administrative burden to HEIs from interactions between the TEF and REF, and that they together strengthen the vital relationship between teaching and research in  HEIs.

To find out more about our last REF submission and research performance see here. If you have comments or questions about the process from here, please contact Katy.

Don't miss also Dr Richard Watermeyer's (Department of Education) article on Stern for The Conversation.


Encouraging shift in how our students rate our research reputation

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📥  Research news, Sector news

Data is back from the latest Higher Expectations Survey 2015 and there’s an encouraging sign when it comes to how our students rate the University’s reputation for research excellence.

When asked the question - ‘Thinking back to when you were choosing universities, do you agree or disagree that your university had good research reputation?’ – more of our first year undergraduates than ever before tended to ‘strongly agree’.

Highest ever jump

In fact, for this latest reporting period, we recorded our highest ever jump, by around 10%, which is an important shift in perceptions after nearly 10 years of flat-lining on this figure.

Of course there are caveats with data like this, and of course there is clearly much more we can still do, but it’s a positive sign that things appear to be moving in the right direction and it's useful insight as we look towards the next academic year.

Come September when the next cohort of undergraduates arrive, we’ll use these results as a springboard to further improve the connections we make between our research and our efforts in student recruitment and delivering all-round student experience.

Finding innovative ways to link them all together presents a powerful message about the kind of unique offering here at Bath.

There's been an important shift in how our students rate our research.

New data from the Higher Expectations Survey shows there's been an important shift in how our students rate research here at Bath.


Getting the message out

Over the past few years our media team, with colleagues around the University, has done lots to increase the profile of our research externally, but it’s important this is reflected back here on campus too.

New research displays, aligned to the 50th Anniversary, and finding more opportunities to get our research reported through student media are just two of the projects I’m currently working on to strengthen this.

There’s a clear opportunity to involve our own students more directly in getting messages out about Bath research too, be that through Impact or URB or even by writing commissioned articles for sector press, arranged through the press office.

Not only does this kind of activity help us share our success stories, but it gives our students a chance to become more involved in projects and use their knowledge to translate messages about our research to different audiences. All useful CV-beating tips.

If you have other thoughts or ideas about involving our students more in research marketing and communications please drop me a line.


Today’s the day for Open Access

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📥  Sector news

HEFCE’s Open Access Policy comes into force today which has important implications across all our research and will be a critical factor when it comes to the next REF assessment.

From today (1 April 2016) all journal articles and conference papers with an ISSN must be accessible via Open Access. Practically, for researchers, this means that authors’ final peer-reviewed manuscripts must be deposited in PURE in full text form within three months of their acceptance for publication.

Whilst this policy does not apply to monographs, book chapters, other long-form publications, working papers, or data, the publishing of these in Open Access is strongly encouraged and may also be important for other purposes, including for external funders.

Over the past 18 months we have seen a strong upsurge in Open Access publishing across all Departments and are now in a good position going forward.

If you are still unsure about how to comply, please follow the three steps below.