Research marketing

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

Engaging our followers through Facebook Live

  , , , ,

📥  Event

Promoting our research and expertise using social media is not a new thing, but over this past year we’ve done much more to think about the ways in which we’re using our main social channels to grow our audiences and better engage people with our stories.  

For the University’s Twitter and Facebook, we’ve seen a significant jump in numbers for our followers and much more engagement (retweets / likes) to boot. More than 50,000 people now follow @uniofbath on Twitter and our Facebook page (/uniofbath) has over 55,000 likes.

That’s a huge audience of students past and present, parents, important stakeholders from different sectors, international partners, media contacts; not to mention staff and members of the local community, each getting updates on our activities on a daily basis.

With better planning of more engaging content (videos, photos, GIFs) we’ve grown our audience and we’re getting more interaction (leading to increased web traffic on our site) as a result.

Going live

For the last two months we’ve also trialled Facebook Live events. This format grew in prominence in 2016 having been adopted by certain media organisations and high profile individuals.

Facebook Live is a free service enabling Facebook users to film content on their iPhones or tablets to broadcast to their followers. As it goes out, followers pose questions, comment on discussions, and others can watch again after the event if they missed it live the first time.

Facebook Live in our Department of Poltitics, Languages & International Studies

Facebook Live in our Department of Poltitics, Languages & International Studies

We’ve used this twice, both times with the Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies, drawing on the expertise of their researchers to comment on the big issues of the day: Trump and Brexit in November (with Professor Charlie Lees) and Europe at a crossroads in December (with Professor Anna Bull and Dr Aurelien Mondon - see our videos below).

These are broadcasts of between 20-30 minutes, filmed in 1W on an iPhone, and timed to coincide with people’s lunch breaks (they went out at 12.30PM). With just two examples they’ve shown the potential in using this format to tell other research stories from right across the University in 2017. Upcoming events could include demonstrating research live, going into labs and conducting interviews out and about on campus; we're working on plans.

Our November Live event drew a crowd of nearly 2,000 and our December Live event, filmed on Wednesday 21 December, has already significantly surpassed that (and will continue to grow in reach). Both elicited interesting questions and discussion points from far and wide.

Watch again

Europe at a crossroads in 2017

  • John Evans is joined by Aurelien Mondon and Anna Bull - 21 December 2016
  • Watch again 

From Trump to Brexit

  • Andy Dunne and Charlie Lees discuss a tumultuous year in UK politics and the election of President Trump in the US - 10 November
  • Watch again 

My thanks to Sophie in our marketing team who has been leading much of this work and was on hand to film both. From January onwards we’ll be running more of these, so stay tuned and Merry Christmas / Happy New Year in the meantime!

Glistening research stories decorate campus

  , ,

📥  50th anniversary, Research news

You may have spotted our brand new series of research posters springing up around campus over the past few weeks to coincide with the start of the new academic year.

Recently installed across 13 locations from the East Building to the entrance of 10W, these new window vinyls reflect some of the latest research successes across each of the Faculties, the School of Management and our Institutes.

Glistening in gold in the autumn sun they’ve been designed as part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations and its ‘look further’ campaign.

Over the course of the academic year, we’ll be telling the individual stories behind each of them in a number of different ways. But, for the time being, here’s an overview of the research behind the posters:



Flexing our research muscle for the BBC

  , ,

📥  Research news

We had the pleasure of welcoming Michael Mosley and crew to campus a few months back to film the latest episode of ‘Trust Me, I’m a Doctor’ which aired last night and asked whether or not stretching was important before doing exercise.

Putting Michael through his paces in our Applied Biomechanics Suite and around campus was Dr Polly McGuigan whose research interests within the Department for Health focus on muscle and tendon mechanics.

And stretch

For a whole day, Polly had Michael squatting, jumping and flexing before exercise in an effort to see what effect (if any) stretching had on his flexibility, performance and power.

Michael’s results revealed to him by Polly over coffee in The Edge CAFE showed that he was more flexible after the stretching routine due to reduced stiffness of his muscle-tendon units, but that this had a detrimental effect on performance: reducing his jump height and the amount of power produced by his muscles.

Powerful activities like jumping require muscles to develop a lot of force and to transmit that force to the skeleton very quickly. Stretching reduces the stiffness of muscle which means they transit their force a little more slowly, reducing the power of their contraction.

You'll find out more about Michael's results here.

Polly and Michael discuss results from his stretching tests outside The Edge

Polly and Michael discuss results from his stretching tests outside The Edge

Behind the scenes, what ends up as a 5 minute segment may have taken a whole day’s filming and also involved extra organising too – you may have spotted some familiar faces stretching and running around the lake during the introduction!

But when there’s an opportunity to reach an audience of around three million on primetime TV it’s an excellent opportunity to take and one that really helps to get our research and expertise out to the masses.

Lights, camera, action as Michael Mosely is put through his paces in our Applied Biomechanics Suite.

Lights, camera, action as Michael Mosley is put through his paces in our Applied Biomechanics Suite.



Amplifying messages

So how does an opportunity like this come up? Back at the beginning of 2015, we’d put Polly in touch with the editor on NHS Choices who was writing an article about pre-exercise stretching in light of new research casting doubt about its effectiveness.

Last night’s ‘Trust Me’ shows how one thing can lead to another, helping to amplify messages about research and expertise. As the BBC producer explained to me: ‘When we were trying to find an expert to talk to us about muscles and stretching, the NHS Choices article with Polly’s name were the first to come up.’

Watch last night's episode again via iPlayer - (starts - 44m35s)


Making sense of Stern

  , , ,

📥  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.


International Images of Research

  , , , ,

📥  50th anniversary, Event

We had an opportunity on campus last week to celebrate and share our Images of Research with international colleagues visiting from Brazil and, in turn, to learn more about the kinds of projects they are involved in through some brand new, international Images of Research. 

This was all part of a reception, hosted to celebrate our partnership and shared interests with Unicamp, our Brazilian partners who also celebrate 50 years in 2016.

We were able to share our Images of Research with international colleagues from Unicamp at a reception held on campus last week.

We were able to share our Images of Research with international colleagues from Unicamp at a reception held on campus last week.

Celebrating international collaboration

For the past three weeks, 23 of our colleagues from Brazil have been on campus participating in a new course, designed through our Skills Centre, that will foster greater collaborations in the future - more about which you can read here.

During last Wednesday’s reception, Ed Stevens from our Public Engagement Unit, who organise the Images of Research initiative, spoke of the success in uptake we’ve seen in 2016 – this year we received the highest number of entries ever (50) with representation from right across the University and from the academic community at all stages of their careers.

After Ed we heard quick fire presentations from 10 researchers, five from Bath who talked about their Images of Research entries, and five from Unicamp, who displayed their own image and explained their work’s relevance, impacts and potential collaborations in just 5 minutes.

Bath researchers

From Bath it was a chance for Caroline Hickman, Ammar Azzouz, Paul de Bank, Cassie Phoenix and Jamie Francis-Jones to summarise their winning entries for the competition. From Caroline’s through to Jamie’s, these images cover an array of topics such as how our relationship with pets could help shape interventions for Alzheimer’s right through to the development of new optical fibres.

You’ll be able to find more about each of their Images of Research by clicking on the links above.

Unicamp researchers

Topics covered by Unicamp researchers were equally diverse, from the philosophy of happiness right through to carcinogens and future food engineering.

Tristan Torriani

Download Tristan's poster as a PDF.

Click to download Patricia's poster as a PDF.

Download Patricia's poster as a PDF.

Download Afredo's poster as a PDF.

Click to download the Marcelo's poster as a PDF

Please contact me if you would like a copy of Marcelo's poster!

Click to download Adriana's poster as a PDF.

Download Adriana's poster as a PDF.

If you’re interested in contacting any of the 5 Unicamp researchers to discuss potential collaborations please let me know.


A bumper month in The Conversation

  , , ,

📥  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

  , , , ,

📥  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

  , ,

📥  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

  , , , ,

📥  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

  , , , , ,

📥  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!