Gateway to Research (GtR) – Studentship information

We are pleased to announce that Studentship information is finally being published on RCUK Gateway to Research. This comprises of data from AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, MRC, NC3Rs, NERC and STFC.

In keeping with the communication that was sent out to Research Organisations in September 2015, the data being published is restricted to Training grants and Studentships that started on or after 1 February 2015.

Studentship data will be refreshed on a monthly basis in line with project information. So any information submitted via the Je-S student data portal in between refreshes will be published after the next refresh.

There are no ESRC studentship records on GtR at this time because the last cohort of ESRC training grants were awarded before 1 February 2015

We are now working on publishing historic studentship data on GtR with the aim to complete this in March 2016.

Living with Air Pollution in a Chinese Megacity

By Cerian Foulkes, Communications and Programme Manager, RCUK China.

AQI, PM2.5, 3M N93. For Beijing residents, these are the everyday terms we use to navigate the smog that engulfs our city. Early last week, as Beijing’s pollution reached ‘Beyond Index’ levels not seen since early 2013, daily chatter moved away from Christmas holiday plans to comparing the effectiveness of our air purifiers.

Putting AQI into context, Beijing US Embassy Air Quality and Pollution Measurement website.

Putting AQI into context, Beijing US Embassy Air Quality and Pollution Measurement website.

Understanding Air Quality Index (AQI) tables is a relatively new challenge for both Chinese and foreigners living in this megacity, as is forecasting which weather changes will bring us blue skies again. The 1st December this year was one of the most polluted to date with official figures measuring the AQI as more than 600 PM2.5 (Particulate Matter up to 2.5 micrometers in size) and office rumours had it at over 1000, both figures well into the ‘Hazardous’ range. For 24 hours it felt like we were living in a dystopia rather than the political centre of one of the most powerful countries in the world. Anticipation grew as our working day came to an end and someone announced that the evening would bring north westerly winds to finally chase the choking air away. As forecast, on 2nd December we awoke to a mere 25 AQI, which according to the Beijing US Embassy is ‘Good’, and we knew that for at least a few days we could put our 3M N93 masks aside and breathe easy.

Maggie from RCUK China team stands outside the British Embassy in Beijing, taken at 2pm on 1st and 2nd December.

Maggie from RCUK China team stands outside the British Embassy in Beijing, taken at 2pm on 1st and 2nd December.

Over the same two days, in another major capital some 8,000km away, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with world leaders for the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, ‘to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate’. As one of the largest producers of greenhouse gas, China plays a pivotal role in climate change mitigation. However as President Xi states “Addressing climate change should not deny the legitimate needs of developing countries to reduce poverty and improve living standards” it is clear that further research is required to ensure development is not at the expense of urban environments and population health.

While the average Beijing citizen is focused on adapting our everyday habits to life under a blanket of PM2.5, working in the RCUK China office we are able to celebrate the progress being made to find long-term solutions. Just last week it was announced that five projects are being funded by the UK-China joint programme Atmospheric Pollution and Human Health in a Chinese Megacity (see link for full list of projects). With support from our team, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the National Natural Sciences Foundation of China (NSFC) have come together to support these four-year bilateral, interdisciplinary projects that will provide insight into the sources, processes and impacts of urban air pollution. Part of the NERC funds and all of the MRC funds for this programme is from the Newton Fund, part of the UK Government’s official development assistance.

Beijing, along with Dehli and others, are often described as some the most polluted cities in the world and these new research partnerships are a major step to providing new knowledge to solve this challenge. In addition to this call in China, NERC and MRC have also recently launched a separate call into Atmospheric Pollution & Human Health in an Indian Megacity to continue understanding this global development problem. As the population continues to rapidly urbanise in China, India and across the rest of the world, efforts made to understand and solve severe air pollution will no doubt benefit millions of lives.

We’re now a member of ORCID

By Sarah Townsend, Senior Research Funding Analyst, Research Councils UK (RCUK)

The Research Councils can today announce that we have become members of the Jisc UK ORCID consortium and our grants system will be ready to start capturing ORCID identifiers (ORCID iDs) early next year.

This news is the culmination of several years of engagement between the Research Councils and Jisc to understand how we can improve the flow of information across the higher education sector. In a joint RCUK and JISC report published earlier this year, we identified the ORCID iD as the leading standard for a researcher identifier. By becoming a member of ORCID through the Jisc UK ORCID Consortium, the Research Councils have benefited from reduced membership as well as access to enhanced technical resource. As a UK university, you can also take advantage of these benefits by joining the UK ORCID consortium today. By becoming a member of ORCID, you can integrate the ORCID iDs of your researchers into your institution’s research information system which in the longer term will make the flow of information to RCUK and other funders quick and easy.

As a researcher the ORCID iD is a bit like a fingerprint. It gives you a unique digital identity which can be kept throughout your career. This allows you to keep an on-going record of your scholarly activities even if you change research organisation or leave academia. Registration for an ORCID iD is fast and free. You only need to enter your name and email address and create a password. And there is no need to wait until the New Year. You can sign up for an ORCID iD instantly by clicking here – it only takes about 30 seconds to register and you will be joining the 1.8 million researchers worldwide who have already done it.

And that’s all that needs doing in the short term. In time, you can populate your ORCID record with your publications and other works, funding and employment history. This is made easy with tools to easily search and select stuff that is relevant to you. This is where the real benefits start to come as this is information that in future you will be able to use again and again in different systems.

And there are other more immediate benefits. We know that name ambiguity can be a real problem for a researcher, especially in making sure that your publications are properly attributed to you. An ORCID iD solves this helping to improve the chances that your work is discoverable.

These benefits will only be fully realised if we see widespread uptake of ORCID iDs across the research community and for ORCID iDs to be integrated within HEIs, funders and publishers systems. So if you are a researcher take the first step and register for an ORCID iD now. If you are a UK University become a member of the UK ORCID consortium.
RCUK has reviewed ORCIDs privacy policy and are assured that their principles are based on respect for the privacy of individual researchers. You have complete control! You can find out more by reading these FAQs.

What is the Connected Nation?

By John Baird, Lead for the RCUK Digital Economy Theme.

With the stage set for Connected Nation: Thriving in the Digital Economy, a major cross-council event taking place at the British Library this Tuesday, 8 December, John Baird, Lead for the Research Councils UK (RCUK) Digital Economy Theme provides a background to the event, and explains how research funded by the UK Research Councils is helping make the UK a safer, more trustworthy and more enjoyable place to live.

The world is changing. Our economy and society are becoming increasingly dependent on digital and data technologies, which are presenting us with new challenges and opportunities almost every day.

The UK is ideally placed to tackle these challenges – it’s in our DNA. From Charles Babbage’s 1822 concept for a Difference Engine, a landmark in the prehistory of the computer, to the work of Alan Turing, the father of theoretical computer science, and to modern data analytics, which can make sense of the digital world around us, the UK has an incredibly strong foundation in the science that has supported digital technologies over the last centuries.

Today, our skill at connecting people, things and data together, in safe, smart, secure, trustworthy, productive and efficient ways is more important than ever, as we design and build digital technologies for future generations (some as yet unimagined) that will rely on discovery and innovation stemming from fundamental research.

The Research Councils are at the heart of this and have currently invested more than £170 million in cutting-edge research in the digital economy and information & communications technologies.

Connected Nation: Thriving in a Digital World will bring together influential policymakers, businesses and third sector leaders on 8 December at the British Library to discuss the key issues affecting the future of our digital economy. The event will also showcase how long-term Research Council investments are already benefitting the UK and how they can continue to help our economy and society not just to survive, but thrive as a future connected nation.

You can find out about this research on the Connected Nation blog, which has been launched to coincide with the event, and gives Research Council-supported researchers a chance to describe their ground-breaking work in their own words.

As the Connected Nation is about you and the contributions we can make together, we will be covering the event live at #ConnectedNationUK for you to engage and ask questions even if you are not there in person – our speakers are looking forward to answering your questions. So please note the date – 8 December. Log in, follow the hashtag #ConnectedNationUK hashtag, have your say and help us take the discussion forward into our connected future.