Research marketing

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

A bumper month in The Conversation

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📥  Materials, Research news

From Brexit to (Gareth) Bale, dinosaurs to social death, June was our busiest month ever for The Conversation both in terms of published articles and readership.

In the one month alone, nearly three quarters of a million people around the world read content authored by our academics and 14 new articles – roughly one every other day – were published.

Dinosaur spike

June’s spike in traffic was driven to a large extent by one article, published towards the end of the month, by Dr Nick Longrich (Milner Centre for Evolution, Department of Biology & Biochemistry) which has already become our most read article ever, having been seen by 383,410 people.

How and where Conversation articles are republished is the key factor in determining their readership stats. Among many other sites to have picked up on Nick’s article, ‘The top six dinosaur myths and how we busted them’, IFL Science ran it which engaged a huge US audience. Over half its readership came from the US.

June saw our highest readership and the most number of articles published on The Conversation.

June saw our highest readership and the most number of articles published on The Conversation.

Bend it like Bale or bail it like Boris

Dinosaurs aside, June also saw a new article from Dr Ken Bray (Senior Visiting Fellow, Department of Mechanical Engineering) on the aerodynamics of the perfect free kick – published to coincide with the knock-out stages in the Euros and the progress of the Welsh national squad. Ken’s article has already been read by close to 20,000 and has been republished in India, Russia as well as closer to home for MailOnline.

Professor Charlie Lees (Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies) became one of our most prolific authors, providing quick turnaround responses to the EU referendum and its impact on the Conservative and Labour parties as well as the botched leadership bid from Boris Johnson.

Charlie’s three articles in June were read by a worldwide audience of nearly 30,000 and republished on prominent new websites, such as Newsweek. His latest article ‘Boris bails – or are we falling for another trick from magic Johnson?’ – was used in full in this Saturday’s i newspaper.

Charlie Lees' article on the decision of Boris Johnson not to stand for the leadership of the Conservative Party was republished by the i newspaper.

Charlie Lees' article on the decision of Boris Johnson not to stand for the leadership of the Conservative Party was republished by the i newspaper.

Other popular Conversation articles concerning the referendum included Dr Richard Fairchild’s (School of Management) ‘Game theory offers a better way forward in Britain’s EU drama’ and comments from Professor Bill Durodie (POLIS) in response to the vote to leave on the morning of Friday 24 June. Bill was also the first Bath academic to take part in The Conversation’s new podcast series The Anthill: ‘Brexit special’.

If you’re feeling referendumed-out, by the way, don’t miss Luke Cahill (PhD, POLIS) contribution to ‘Beyond Brexit, the world’s still turning: global stories you might have missed’.

Lightbulb moments, tackling cancer and social death

In among everything else, three other significant articles were published in June including Dr Momna Hejmadi’s (Cancer Research at Bath, Department of Biology & Biochemistry) ‘Why do some cancers suddenly disappear?’, Professor Alison Walker’s (Department of Physics) ‘Why you should get ready to say goodbye to the humble lightbulb’ and Jana Králová’s (PhD, Centre for Death & Society, Department of Social & Policy Sciences) ‘Why we need to find a cure for ‘social death’.

Momna’s article was republished across the world, including in the New Zealand Herald and has so far reached over 160,000 people. Alison’s article – timed to coincide with the announcement of new Horizon 2020 funding - has seen wide coverage with 33,310 reads and also been republished on the influential World Economic Forum – Agenda. Jana’s article complements her recent entry for our Images of Research competition ‘In loving memory…’.

Start writing for The Conversation

If you’re interested in joining the 182 academics and PhDs from around the University who have already written for The Conversation please do get in touch with me via .


Rain couldn’t stop play at water-themed Festival of Nature

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📥  50th anniversary, Event

Apocalyptic downpours could not deter nearly 2,000 visitors who came to Festival of Nature events in Bath last weekend to interact with researchers from our Milner Centre for Evolution and Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies (CSCT).

Professor Jonathan Knight speaking at the Festival of Nature launch event in The Colonnades, Bath.

Professor Jonathan Knight speaking at the Festival of Nature launch event in The Colonnades, Bath.

The Festival – the UK’s largest free celebration of the natural world – is organised through the Bristol Natural History Consortium and has been running since 2003. This year marks the first time the festival has taken in the region's waterscapes, with events running between Bristol and Bath along the River Avon.

Although we’ve been involved in the Festival for the past two years, as first time sponsors this year, the event in Bath gave us an opportunity to showcase some of our work to the local community and also acted as one of the first events for our 50th anniversary celebrations. Activities in Bath this weekend provided the grand finale for two weeks of river-themed activities that took place in June.

Researchers from the Milner Centre for Evolution demonstrate interact with attendees at the Festival of Nature in Bath.

Researchers from the Milner Centre for Evolution demonstrate interact with attendees at the Festival of Nature in Bath.

Saturday’s event, which took place in Royal Victoria Park, involved researchers from CSCT who used hands-on demonstrations to talk to visitors about climate change, water purification and making polymers from renewable sources. Others performed stand-up and took engineering out on the streets with a new form of busking –‘buskineering’.

Elsewhere researchers from the Milner Centre for Evolution spoke to festival goers about evolution through interactive games and demonstrations with opportunities to analyse fossils.

We’re greatly looking forward to working closely with Festival of Nature ahead of next year’s event in 2017.

Find out more about the Festival at


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.


The one month countdown starts…now

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📥  Event

There’s now less than one month to go now until Britain goes to the polls in the long-awaited referendum on its membership of the EU. As we approach the final furlong in campaigning, get ready for many more stories like this emanating from ‘In’ campaigners and an equal share like this to be pushed out by Brexiteers.

At the University we’ll try to cut through some of this spin in order to help inform the debate and the choices you make from a variety of different perspectives.

EU Referendum

How will voters decide come 23 June?

Colleagues at the Institute for Policy Research (IPR) are lining up a significant new policy report focusing on the impact of the referendum and Britain’s membership across different themes – from migration to jobs and the economy. Crucially, this resource also steps outside the confines of the UK to examine other member states’ perspectives on a potential Brexit. The report will build on recent contributions to the IPR’s analysis blog; more on this very soon.

Next Thursday, 2 June, our first Referendum debate – hosted by the School of Management and IPR – takes place in The Edge. ‘Brexit or Bremain – what’s best for business in the South West?’, chaired by Professor Hope Hailey, will tackle some of the major economic and business issues in the context of the region. It will feature contributions from Graham Cole (former MD at AgustaWestland) and John Mills (entrepreneur and economist as well as Deputy Chairman of Vote Leave) as well as academic voices from Bath, including Professor Nick Pearce (Director IPR) and international collaborators.

The following Wednesday, 8 June, our Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies will host an afternoon event ‘Unravelling the complexities of the referendum debate’. Debating issues including the impact of the referendum on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, lessons from the Netherlands on 'rejecting Europe’ by referendum, as well as alternatives to EU membership looking at the Norwegian, Swiss and Canadian models, the event has been structured to tease out some of the real issues at stake on 23 June from different vantages.

I hope you can get to one or both of these events.

Finally if, after all this, you’ve not had enough of the referendum, via our Opinion blog we’ll continue to post contributions from academics across the University in the lead up to the big event.


Name-checked on Netflix

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📥  Research news

It’s often hard to know in advance of its release just how far and wide a news story about our research will travel.

In December, when my colleague Rob sat down with Chris Chuck (Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies and Department of Chemical Engineering) to discuss this story about news of significant new funding to develop a yeast-based alternative to palm oil, neither – I imagine – would have predicted that six months on this work would be referenced on a hit, prime-time US TV show.

But that’s just what’s happened.

Via a tweet from former CSCT PhD Rhod Jenkins, we were alerted this week to a recent episode of Grace and Frankie - the America comedy drama starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin currently streaming on Netflix – and a specific scene where the character Frankie, the hippy art teacher played by Tomlin, quite incredibly, talks directly about Chris’ work.

Frankie tells Grace:

“The word is yeast. I’ve done some research and I’ve found that scientists at the University of Bath believe yeast will duplicate palm oil’s key properties almost exactly.”

We think this must be a first for our research, so please do catch it (Season 2, Episode 10) if you’re on Netflix! Thanks very much to Rhod too, who is currently working as a Post-Doc researching sustainable biofuels at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Extensive media coverage

In truth Netflix's Grace and Frankie is just the latest in a long list of media around the world to have picked up on this research. What started out as a news item for regional print, radio and TV, soon became a national story featured by UK broadsheets, before spreading around the world, most significantly perhaps thanks to coverage by Reuters US.

This has helped generate a huge buzz around Chris’ work, including in the sector in influential trade publications. This extensive coverage has helped Chris reach future collaborators and industry partners – proving just why media engagement can be an important pathway to impact.

And if all that media coverage wasn’t enough, Upworthy have also drawn on the work for a campaigning video shared widely on Facebook. This has already been seen by nearly 100,000 people.

Finally, if you missed it at the time, here's the initial video we created that started the ball rolling in the first place!

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.



Bring on the 3MT final contestants

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📥  Event

Seven of our PhD candidates have battled through the on campus heats, but only one can be crowned champion of this year's Three Minute Thesis. Who will it be?

It's now just one day to go until the 3MT live final, taking place this year at The Bath Brew House in the City Centre on Wednesday 23 March from 6PM.

Our finalists are competing for a place in the national 3MT competition, as well as a £150 Amazon voucher.

Please join us to support our active and engaged PhD community for what promises to be an evening of fascinating research and thought-provoking discussion. To reserve your free ticket click here.

Our finalists

Representing the Faculty of Science, we'll hear from:

  • Matthew Camilleri (watch Matthew's presentation from the 3MT heats talking about 'Photo-flow-organo-catalysis for sustainability redox chemistry')
  • James Corbett (here's Jame's presentation from the 3MT heats on 'Differentiation of Bipotent and Pluripotent Cells to a Mature Biliary Phenotype')


Representing the Faculty of Engineering and Design we'll hear from:

  • Jemma Rowlandson (watch Jemma's 3MT heats entry on 'Sustainable Activated Carbons from Renewable Feedstocks for Water Treatment Applications')
  • Jonathan Wagner (here's Jonathan's talk from the 3MT heats on 'Novel materials for catalytic conversion of bio-oils')


Flying the Humanities and Social Sciences flag we have:

  • Gustav Bösehans (this is Gus from the 3MT heats talking about 'Encouraging healthy and sustainable travel in a university setting and beyond')
  • Natalie Booth (here's Natalie's presentation on 'Prison and the family; an exploration of maternal imprisonment from a family-centred perspective')


And last but not least, representing the School of Management you'll hear from:

  • David Cross (here's David's talk from the 3MT heats on 'The Experience and Enactment of Employee Commitment in a Liminal Environment: The Case of Independent Contractors')


We hope you can join us in a month!

Hello to our new Research Marketing Manager

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📥  Research news

The beginning of February saw us bid farewell and good luck to Katrina who excitedly headed off to have a baby. We’re delighted to report that Baby Kelly has since arrived and both mum and baby are doing well.

Stepping into Katrina’s well-worn Research Marketing shoes is our very own Andy Dunne. Up until now Andy has been covering media and PR in the press office for the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences and our Institute for Policy Research.

At the start of week three in post I asked him some questions for the blog.

So Andy, how have the first ten days been?

Busy! And productive. I’ve tried to use the first two weeks to meet and introduce myself to a whole host of people across the University, including those I wasn’t as familiar with in my previous role. So it’s involved meetings with colleagues in Research & Innovation Services, the Library, the Department of Development & Alumni, Bath IMI, the IPR, all our Faculty Marketing Teams and Matchtight (who organise pr for the STV and all Team Bath-related activities), in addition to trying to get up to speed on a host of pressing research marketing tasks.

For the time being I’m also still picking up some of the media and PR activities related to my previous role. The press team has had an excellent few weeks of placing stories about our research into breakfast, tobacco legislation, drones and our bio-tech spin out Atlas Genetics into the headlines for national and international media.

What are you most looking forward to in the role?

Firstly, I’m really looking forward to meeting and working with colleagues from right across the University in order to put the research we do at the forefront of many of our activities and our thinking. A key area however is about thinking more about the specific audiences we want to target with our research, whether that be industry, policy or civil society. So, I’m looking forward to thinking more strategically about how, why and when we publicise our work in order to bring about impact through research marketing.

What made you decide to go for it in the first place?

I’ve hugely enjoyed covering media and PR for the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences and Institute for Policy Research for the past two and a bit years. It’s been great to see University academics leading the news on stories I’ve worked on. Whilst I’ll still be involved in press-related activity, I’m looking forward to the new challenge and thinking of different ways and means to get messages about research out in the public domain.

Looking to shake things up a bit over the next year?

There are already lots of excellent initiatives afoot in terms of research marketing over the next year, not least our 3MT Final next month (do come along), and of course it’s a very big year for the University as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary. My job will be ensuring our research stays at the forefront of those conversations as well as finding new and exciting ways to profile our projects.

What's next in the pipeline?

For the immediate future, various work in relation to the Milner Centre for Evolution, our 50th Anniversary and looking ahead to the next REF with research marketing plans around our potential case studies. A main element to my role will be coordinating our research marketing efforts around these potential case studies and I’ll be working with Faculty web teams, our Digital team, and press colleagues to ensure our work is profiled in the best ways possible.

In amongst all that, you will no doubt have spotted David Cameron’s announcement at the weekend on a date for a referendum for Britain’s membership of the EU. As politicians on both sides of the debate do battle on our TV screens, we’ll be working to line up Bath academics to provide comment and analysis as things develop. We’ve already started, in fact!

Oh, and life wasn’t already quite busy, I've embarked on our MOOC – ‘From State Control to Remote Control: Warfare in the 21st Century’ – in order to write about the learning experience for University Business. It’s not too late to sign up to the free course if you care to join me.

Now for the more important question...tea / coffee?

I thought you’d never ask, Maree. Yes please. Yorkshire Tea, splash of milk. No sugar.

New Research Marketing Manager, Andy Dunne, with the Webb Ellis RWC trophy on campus last year. Aligning our research with high profile on campus events, such as this, has helped to elevate the profile of our expertise and research strengths.

New Research Marketing Manager, Andy Dunne, with the Webb Ellis RWC trophy on campus last year. Aligning our research with high profile on campus events, such as this, has helped to elevate the profile of our expertise and research strengths.