New academic year, new policy engaged you!

by Sarah Foxen

As the new academic year kicks off, I wonder if you’ve planned any ‘new year’s resolutions’. Perhaps you’re going to try a different approach to doing your teaching prep or find a new way of conducting data collection? Or perhaps you’re considering taking steps to have more impact with your work?

If it’s the latter of these, then you should know that engaging with the UK Parliament can be a great way to achieve policy impact. I’d like to share some of the benefits of engaging with Parliament through research – and share some practical ideas on how to do so. Continue reading

Why GDPR matters for research

by Sarah Dickson and Maria Sigala

On 25 May 2018 new data protection regulations are introduced in the UK and across the EU. We have been working for many years with the research community and the Information Commissioner’s Office, trying to understand what the new regulations mean for research.

The General Data Protection Legislation and new Data Protection Act, which come into force in the UK, will enable greater accountability and transparency by those who process personal data. The new legislation, GDPR for short, offers enhanced rights to individuals whose data is being processed.  Continue reading

A disciplined approach to disciplines

by Alex Hulkes

If you were to guess what proportion of the ESRC portfolio reflected thinking from, or somehow related to, more than one discipline, what figure would you come up with?

We tried this experiment in ESRC, and came up with a figure of around 60%, but that was based on gut feel. Happily, ‘gut feel’ isn’t the basis for our decision making. Neither are dowsing or entrail reading, and someone has lost the corporate copy of the I Ching. Continue reading

What actually is a PhD?

Hannes Titeca 150px.jpgHannes Titeca is an ESRC-funded PhD student at the University of Exeter.

It is only as I enter the second year of my PhD that I now feel able to start answering this remarkably simple question.

Throughout my first year, I found myself constantly updating the few expectations I did have. I feel that this illustrates a more general issue of young people, as part of the wider population, not knowing enough about what doctoral study involves and how it relates to research, universities, and academia more generally. Continue reading

How to collaborate with local government – lessons from LARIA

Jasmin 150pxJasmin Fox-Skelly is a freelance science writer based in Cardiff. She writes for publications such as New Scientist, BBC Earth and Sky at Night.

Jasmin recently spoke to academics who attended the LARIA conference in May, asking them about their ‘tips for collaboration’ with local government.

Earlier this year the ESRC funded five academics from UK universities to attend the Local Area Research and Intelligence Association (LARIA) conference.

LARIA is a membership body for analysts and policy officers working in local government across the UK – the city, metropolitan and borough councils that deliver public services to citizens in a particular area. The LARIA annual conference is an opportunity for people working in the public sector (local government, local authorities and councils) to come together and talk about what research they are doing, what challenges they are facing, and share tips and guidance on best practice.

The ESRC-sponsored academics attending the conference were able to learn about how ‘the other side works’ – in other words, what research needs public sector organisations have, what sort of research they do, whether there are any differences or similarities in the way they work, and if there are any opportunities for collaboration. Continue reading