Thursday 28 November 2013

Evaluation of Academics in the UK with the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

As the REF submission period ends, mismatched publishing incentives signal challenging times ahead in academia.

Academics are frequently subject to new types of evaluations. November marks the end of the submission process for the UK funding council’s evaluation, the Research Excellence Framework (REF). John Hudson discusses some of the shortcomings of the REF and the methods individual papers are ranked. New evaluations and requirements change the incentives of economists and can affect their research – sometimes not for the better.

New TV Documentary on 4000-year-old body found preserved in an Irish peat bog, in Cashel, in Ireland's midlands

BBC Four - 4,000 -Year-Old Cold Case: The Body in the Bog

 A 4000-year-old body is found preserved in an Irish peat bog, in Cashel, in Ireland's midlands. To scientists and historians, it could offer brand new clues to solve an ancient mystery: the hundreds of bodies found mummified in the boglands of Northern Europe.
An international team of experts assemble to investigate this new find, led by Ned Kelly of the National Museum of Ireland. Ned is a veteran archaeologist, and has previously investigated some of Ireland's most famous bog bodies.
Now, will "Cashel Man" help prove his theory these Irish victims were ancient kings? And what clues can the bog bodies of Europe offer to explain our ancestors' most macabre tradition - ritual murder?
Meanwhile, that question could be answered by the bog itself. New science has found clues to suggest these deaths may be explained by prehistoric climate change. The body was unearthed in the Cúl na Móna bog in Cashel in 2011 by a Bord na Móna worker operating a milling machine.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Maximizing the Impact of your Research: a Handbook for Social Scientists

The Handbook

The handbook  which was produced by a team of academics based at the London School of Economics, the University of Leeds and Imperial College who have been working on a ‘Research Impacts’ project aimed at developing precise methods for measuring and evaluating the impact of research in the public sphere.
The aim of this handbook is to  help researchers to achieve greater visibility and impacts with audiences outside the university. It provides a large menu of sound and evidence-based advice and guidance on how to ensure that your work achieves its maximum visibility and influence with both academic and external audiences.

The critical role of arts and humanities

The arts and humanities play a critical role in the development of vibrant communities.

 Providing a historic look at how society has understood the value of the arts and humanities, Jason M. Kelly argues that today’s scholarship has largely framed itself around the context of the neoliberal commodified university. But there are other ways to understand scholarly value. By drawing from the Community Capitals Framework, he demonstrates how the arts and humanities play a critical role in the civil ecology of vibrant communities.

Science Foundation Ireland and Research Impact

SFI - SFI Research Impact

 The recently published SFI Agenda 2020 sets out a vision in which Ireland will, by 2020, be the best country in the world for both scientific research excellence and impact.  The 2012 report of the Research Prioritisation group has identified a number of priority areas around which future investment in publicly performed research should be based. These priority areas will deliver sustainable economic return through their contribution to enterprise development, employment growth, job retention and tangible improvements in quality of life.

The objectives of SFI’s impact assessment are as follows:
  • To stimulate researchers to consider how best to maximise the impact of their research and how to maximise the engagement of users of their research
  • To actively demonstrate the contributions and benefits of publicly funded research to society and the economy and, in doing so, demonstrate the value of publicly funded investment in R&D
  • To better understand the transfer of scientific knowledge into practice, strengthen the system and structures for this transfer and so maximise the use and benefits of publicly funded research.

Monday 25 November 2013

Will icy Comet Ison survive its close encounter with the sun?

Will icy Comet Ison survive its close encounter with the sun?

 This week will see the moment of truth for Comet Ison, the much-awaited “comet of the century” that could be about to put on one of the greatest celestial lightshows in living memory.

The Antikythera Mechanism, which might be called the First Computer.


More than a hundred years ago an extraordinary mechanism was found by sponge divers at the bottom of the sea near the island of Antikythera. It astonished the whole international community of experts on the ancient world. Was it an astrolabe? Was it an orrery or an astronomical clock? Or something else?

Friday 22 November 2013

Final day of the Warsaw Climate Change Conference - November 2013

Warsaw Climate Change Conference - November 2013

Check out the state of play of the negotiations on their final day plus livestreams from the press office.  This conference is about detailing the international response to climate change, how to implement it and how to finance it.

According to Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary UNFCCCCOP "19/CMP9 affords an opportunity to consolidate responses to climate change and to showcase the many ambitious adaptation and mitigation initiatives being implemented around the world. By scaling and speeding up action we prepare for a universal global agreement and move toward a safer future."

Universities patenting discoveries does not pay off !

Patenting Their Discoveries Does Not Pay Off for Most Universities, a Study Says
 Universities try to cash in on discoveries — gene splicing, brain chemistry, computer-chip design — but the great majority of them fail to turn their research into a source of income, according to a new study from the Brookings Institution.

Thursday 21 November 2013

Virtual guide to our Galaxy

Guide to our Galaxy

Starting from the centre this virtual journey shows the different components that make up our home galaxy, the Milky Way, which contains about a hundred billion stars.
It starts at the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way and with the stars that orbit around it, before zooming out through the central Galactic Bulge, which hosts about ten billion stars.

Its produced by the NSA. Great visualisation though to avoid permanent brain damage the funky soundtrack is best muted.

English seas get new marine conservation zones

English seas get new marine zones

 The UK government has announced it will create 27 new marine conservation zones (MCZs) to protect wildlife in the seas around the English coast. The MCZs will help seahorses, coral reefs and oyster beds to remain safe from dredging and bottom-trawling.
The Marine Conservation Society welcomed the "significant milestone". But it warned there were still fewer than a quarter of the number of MCZs recommended by scientists to complete an "ecologically coherent" network.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Snowball Metrics

Snowball Metrics | SciVal
 In line with recommendations made by the sector, several distinguished institutions agreed to collaborate with a supplier, Elsevier, to define and agree their needs around metrics for decision making. The resulting metrics, Snowball Metrics, help establish a reliable foundation for institutional strategic decision making to complement existing approaches.

The project partners are:
  • University of Oxford
  • University College London
  • University of Cambridge
  • Imperial College London
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Leeds
  • Queen’s University Belfast
  • University of St Andrews
  • Elsevier

Halt the avalanche of performance metrics

Halt the avalanche of performance metrics
 The leaders of major universities around the world used to maintain a healthy scepticism towards league tables and the metrics that underpin them. But now, officials at institutions that do well in such assessments — partly on merit, and partly because they use the English language or have other historical advantages — are becoming beguiled with quantitative measures to rate the performance of academic staff. People who care about genuine quality in research and teaching need to resist that shift.

So argues  Colin Macilwain. in Nature (500) (7462)

Chronicling America Historic American Newspapers

Chronicling America « Library of Congress

 Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. Learn more

Friday 15 November 2013

Presentation slides from ‘Open Data and Evidence Informed Decision Making’ seminar | The Programmable City

Presentation slides from ‘Open Data and Evidence Informed Decision Making’ seminar | The Programmable City
 The 1st Programmable City Seminar filled the house with Ireland open data advocates, NUIM Students, NIRSA & NCG & StratAg & AIRO researchers, Media Studies Faculty, Computer Science Faculty, geographers, public servants, the folks at Dlublinked, technology media, the project team and others.  The audience reflected the trans-disciplinary nature of the Programmable City Project.

Really interesting seminar well done to all.

Global Forest Change 2000–2012

Global Forest Change | Google Crisis Map
  Results from time-series analysis of 654,178 Landsat images in characterizing forest extent and change, 2000–2012. From the University of Maryland Dept of Geographical Sciences.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Science Exhibition in Russell Library to celebrate Science Week | NUI Maynooth Library

Science Exhibition in Russell Library to celebrate Science Week | NUI Maynooth Library
 The Russell Library is hosting a mini exhibition of science related historical texts to celebrate Science Week (Monday, 11th – Friday, 15th November). Highlights of the exhibition include the third edition of Newton’s ‘Principia Mathematica’ which was printed in London in the year 1726, as well as Samuel Sturmy’s ‘Mariner Magazine’, printed in 1669. Sturmy’s work contains practical instructions relating to navigation, surveying and astronomy, and features several working volvelles.

Country profile and featured projects for Ireland - Horizon 2020 - the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation - European Commission

Country profile and featured projects for Ireland - Horizon 2020 - the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation - European Commission

Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness. Running from 2014 to 2020 with a budget of just over €70 billion1, the EU’s new programme for research and innovation is part of the drive to create new growth and jobs in Europe.

MERIL - Research Infrastructures Information System

MERIL - RI Information System

 The MERIL database is an inventory of the most excellent research infrastructures (RIs) in Europe of more-than-national relevance across all scientific domains: from archives and statistical offices to biobanks and satellites. Read more about MERIL and the criteria for inclusion.
 Note: The MERIL database is currently being populated; a full version of the MERIL database will be launched in 2013.

Friday 8 November 2013

Nobel Laureate Lecture Professor Serge Haroche Nobel Prize Winner in Physics

Nobel Laureate Lecture | Serge Haroche | Registration and Live Stream

“Shedding new light on Schrödinger’s cat”  
Professor Serge Haroche Nobel Prize Winner in Physics, 2012
Monday, 11th November 2013 at 11am in the Mahony Hall, The Helix, DCU.
 If you would like to attend the lecture in The Helix Register Now to secure your attendance as places are limited

 The Nobel lecture will also be streamed live on this page @ 11am on Monday 11th

Thursday 7 November 2013

The Doegen Records Web Project

The Doegen Records Web Project

In 1926 the Irish government asked Dr Doegen to make recordings of Irish speech in the Gaeltacht and in areas of the country where Irish had suffered decline.
 The 212 surviving records which comprise the collection contain some 400 tracks in all. These include folktales, versions of the parable of the Prodigal Son, songs (both sung and spoken), discourses, prayers and miscellaneous items of vocabulary such as recitations of the numbers 1 to 30 or the days of the week.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Getting Better Cited in the Social Sciences

4: Getting Better Cited

"A key reason why academic work is poorly cited is that the authors make virtually no effort to encourage citation" 

So link into this very informative piece to get some tips on how to improve your citation counts !

Flash Eurobarometer reports - European Commission

Flash Eurobarometer reports - European Commission

Flash Eurobarometers are ad hoc thematical telephone interviews conducted at the request of any service of the European Commission. Flash surveys enable the Commission to obtain results relatively quickly and to focus on specific target groups, as and when required.

Current Reports include:  Attitudes torwards Biodiversity, Firearms in the European Union, Introduction of the Euro in rececently acceded member states.

Science Week 10th to 17th November 2013

Science Week - About Science Week
 The aim of Science Week is to promote the relevance of science, technology, engineering and maths in our everyday lives and to demonstrate their importance to the future development of Irish society and to the economy.
Science Week is a Discover Science & Engineering (DSE) project. DSE initiatives are managed by Science Foundation Ireland on behalf of the Office of Science, Technology and Innovation at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Science Week Events

Science Week Events

This year Science Week will take place from 10th  to 17th  November  2013. The theme for this year’s Science Week is:
“Science Week 2013 – Exploring the XTRA-Ordinary”. 

Check out the evening lectures taking place in Maynooth or visit the National Science Museum Exhibition in St Patricks College on Saturday afternoon.

Friday 1 November 2013

Planet Hunters

Planet Hunters

NASA's Kepler spacecraft is one of the most powerful tools in the hunt for extrasolar planets. The Kepler team's computers are sifting through the data, but there will be planets which can only be found via the remarkable human ability for pattern recognition.
This is a gamble, a bet if you will, on the ability of humans to beat machines just occasionally.  Fancy giving it a try?
 The Planet Hunters initiative, where volunteers trawl through light curves from Kepler, has just reported finding numerous exoplanets, including a seventh planet orbiting a star about 2,500 light years from Earth, “marking the first seven- planet candidate system from Kepler”, according to details posted on

Nobel Week Dialogue: 9th of December: "Exploring the Future of Energy"

Nobel Week Dialogue

A forum for scientists and non-scientists alike, the meeting aims to deepen the dialogue between the scientific community and the rest of society. The Nobel Week Dialogue is free to attend and accessible to a worldwide audience online.

Sign up to attend the event in person or register your contact details to receive information regarding the online streaming of the day's programme

Greater training is necessary to put open data at the heart of Research Data Management policy and practice.

Greater training is necessary to put open data at the heart of Research Data Management policy and practice.
 As higher education institutions look to implement broader visions of openness, there is a need to re-assess the training and skills required for appropriate research data management (RDM). Geoff Curtis and Stéphane Goldstein present the findings of a report on how best to exploit developments in RDM practice to promote greater awareness and understanding of open data.

World University Rankings 2023

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023 include 1,799 universities across 104 countries and regions, making them the lar...