Shifting attitudes around cycling

Dr Rachel Aldred is a Reader in Transport at the University of Westminster.
Earlier this year Dr Aldred was presented with the
Outstanding Impact in Public Policy award in our annual Celebrating Impact Prize.

This blog is part of a new series which looks into the research behind the five successful awards, whilst touching on how the winning academics will spend their £10,000 prize.


I was delighted to win the 2016 ESRC Outstanding Impact in Public Policy prize for my research into cycling. In this and the other categories, there was a strong field that showcased the importance of social science – and the need to support it.

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Rio 2016 Olympics: Understanding outbreaks like the Zika virus

Ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics, there has been much fear over the Zika virus epidemic currently ongoing in Brazil. High profile sport stars such as basketballer Stephen Curry and cyclist Tejay van Garderen, as well as seven of the world’s best golfers, have quoted the virus as a reason to pull out of the Games.

Here ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize winner Professor Melissa Leach, Director at the Institute of Development Studies (and former Director of the ESRC-funded STEPS Centre), shows how social science can reveal vital socio-cultural dimensions and stories to help responses to epidemics such as the Zika virus.


Zika virus is the latest emerging infectious disease epidemic to hit global headlines. First identified in Uganda in 1947 and transmitted mainly by the Aedes aegyptii mosquito, the virus is now spreading rapidly across Latin America and beyond.

Many cases just have flu-like symptoms, but the virus is also blamed for complications such as Guillain-Barré syndrome and, most significantly, a dramatic upsurge in birth defects, including thousands of cases of microcephaly in Brazil since October 2015. Continue reading

Can we measure the impact of art?

Jessie Nicholls manages all communications and marketing activity for Project Oracle: London’s Children and Youth Evidence Hub, which is funded by the ESRC. She also works part-time as the Communications Manager for The Social Innovation Partnership (TSIP).

Jessica Nicholls

Can we measure the impact of art?

Many feel that evaluation methods are inappropriate and even directly opposed to the values of art. Most people have felt the effect of a work of art or a play, either intellectually or emotionally. Artistic value is intrinsic and is associated with ideas of aesthetic excellence and individual experience. Efforts to force the qualitative nature of art into the quantitative measurement of other kinds of outcomes, undermine and even threaten this intrinsic value.
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Planning for impact: helping universities make the most of their research

Louise Shaxson is manager of the Evidence & Policy Group (EPG) of the DFID-ESRC Growth Research Programme.  She is also a research fellow in the Overseas Development Institute‘s (ODI) Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) programme, which focuses on improving public sector policy and strategy within the broad framework of evidence-based policy making.
Louise Shaxson

The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) continues to spark debate, with some fascinating work by public policy research organisation RAND on how universities submitted their impact case studies and how they were assessed, and by King’s College London on the nature, scale and beneficiaries of research impact.  We don’t know what exactly will happen next time, but assuming impact remains important, should universities begin to prepare now?

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