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Posts tagged ‘Social_Science’

Anti-Jewish and Anti-Muslim Racisms and the Question of Palestine/Israel

This international conference, organised by UEL’s Centre for Research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging (CMRB) in collaboration with SOAS’s Centre for Palestine Studies (London Middle East Institute), the Runnymede Trust and the LSE Centre for the Study of Human Rights will explore the multiple, complex and inter-related ways that anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim racisms are being constructed in relation to the question of Palestine/Israel.

The ‘Anti-Jewish and Anti-Muslim Racisms and the Question of Palestine/Israel’ conference takes place on Monday 9 February 2015 at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Read more

THE reports on UEL austerity conference

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Read more about how UEL researchers have been addressing the impact of austerity on the Times Higher Education website in its coverage of the ‘Living with the Cuts’ conference.

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News and funding: The Wellcome Trust has recently expanded its Society and Ethics stream

The Wellcome Trust has recently expanded its Society and Ethics stream from a tight focus on bioethics to a much broader interest in the social, economic and cultural factors that influence health, biomedicine or health research.


Funding Streams 

Essentially, there are five potentially interesting streams within Society and Ethics:

  • § Strategic Awards: these are large scale grants that engage with the Trusts five ‘strategic challenges’.
  • § Investigator Awards: the Trust’s ‘flagship’ scheme, offering awards of between £500k-£1m over five years in three broad areas: new investigators, senior investigators and joint investigators. It had funded 17 awards in its first two years, to lawyers and philosophers, anthropologists and economists, sociologist and psychologists. It has recently moved from an annual application cycle to a six monthly one, with deadlines in March and September.
  • § University Awards: Unlike the investigator awards, these are aimed at those who are not in permanent academic posts. They are intended as a way into academia, and the host institution for this form of postdoctoral fellowship have to guarantee a permanent position to the award holder at the end of five years.
  • § Fellowships: another form of postdoc fellowships, but with no expectation of a permanent position at the end of it.
  • § Small grants: offer up to £5k with a rolling, monthly deadline. Outcome times are approximately 6 weeks, and success rates roughly 50%.

The Application

At the heart of the application form is a 3,000 word case for support.

  • § This needs to focus on a compelling research question. The whole application hinges on this, and it is this that the shortlisting panel will judge to decide whether the budget and timescale are justified, and whether it should be put forward to the interview stage.
  • § However, a strong research question needs to be coupled with a watertight methodology. You need to convince the panel that you have a well planned project with clear objectives and appropriate methods to provide answers.
  • § As with other funders, you need to write for a mixed audience. Paul put it succinctly: ‘assume intelligence but don’t assume knowledge.’
  • § Include advisory boards, particularly if there’s any area of weakness in your expertise, or if your project will inform policy or effect practitioners.

The Process 

All of the major schemes (other than for small scale funding, such as Small Grants) have a three part process:

  • § A preliminary outline: for some schemes this is mandatory (such as Fellowships); for others it is recommended. This is the point at which applicants can get feedback from the Trust on their research ideas. Is it worth exploring further? Officers might offer advice on how the full application should be prepared, in readiness for the second stage.
  • § Shortlisting: the full application is looked at by an Expert Review Group. They whittle down the list of applications, taking out half to two thirds of the applications.
  • § Interview: those left go through to interview. Of these, about half are funded. This gives an overall success rate of between 20-25%. The Trust will provide anonymised reviewers comments for unsuccessful applicants.

Whilst the Trust is happy for applicants to put in concurrent applications to the Research Councils or other funders if they are applying for Fellowship funding, they do not let them to do so if they are applying for standard grants.

The Future 

The Trust has clearly decided that the relationship between science and society is important. The broadening of this stream demonstrates that. Funding for the Society and Ethics is guaranteed until 2016, and the current Strategic Plan is due to run until 2020.

In the meantime, the Trust will on occasion offer specific calls. One such is the current Health Systems Research Initiative. This is intended to support research that will generate practical measure to improve health systems in low and middle income countries. Grants will be offered for between 1-5 yrs, £100-800k, £15m total. The call is looking for research that will inform evidence-based interventions or structural changes and be of direct relevance to decision makers and users in the field. The deadline will be in January.

Success: UEL awarded ESRC seminar series grant to address personality disorders

Dr David Jones from UEL’s School of Law and Social Sciences has been awarded £27K from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to run a seminar series that aims to encourage cross disciplinary work on issues surrounding the problems posed by Anti Social Personality Disorder.

The seminar series is designed to promote thought and provide new perspectives on the difficulties posed by people who have major problems in their lives and their relationships – who are sometimes given the diagnosis of ‘personality disorder’.  It will bring together perspectives from a range of academic disciplines along with professionals representing different aspects of the health and welfare services, and with service users who have had direct experience of living with these difficulties.

Dr Jones will lead the project with the cooperation of co-investigators from The University of Manchester and East London NHS Foundation Trust.

The seminars, along with subsequent publicity and publications, will raise the profile of psychosocial studies, a newly developing field which has just achieved recognition as a learned society by the Academy of Social Sciences. UEL is host to one of the major centres of psychosocial studies in the UK.

This research builds on a collaborative relationship with the Millfields Unit, part of East London Hospital Trust. This is a forensic unit that treats serious offenders who have the diagnosis of personality disorder and it hosts a Postgraduate Certificate called ‘Working Psychosocially with Personality Disorder’ run in collaboration with Psychosocial Studies at UEL.

Dr Jones said: “The social problems created by those whose behaviour falls under the category of ‘Antisocial Personality Disorder’ are considerable. Despite the fact that these kinds of difficulties have been receiving medical diagnoses for 200 hundred years, we are still struggling to understand the nature of the problem. This project is driven by the belief that there is currently too great a reliance on medical and psychological perspectives and that these problems need also to be understood in their social and cultural contexts.

“We are bringing together experts from a range of disciplines such as history, criminology, psychoanalysis, media studies, sociology along with practitioners in the field. This seminar series aims to have an impact on academic research and practice by building up interdisciplinary research capacity in this area.”

Dr Jones is currently writing a book for Routledge titled:  Disordered Personalities and Crime: A Psychosocial History of ‘Moral Insanity’. This is due to appear in 2014.

Event feedback: Interdisciplinarity in European research from the perspective of the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities

The UK Research Council  Office recently attended a conference entitled ‘Learning by Doing. Making Interdisciplinarity Work. Lessons Learnt From FP7 Projects’, which explored the role of interdisciplinarity in European research from the perspective of the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities (SSH).

The article below provides a short summary of the event:

Organised by the international network of National Contact Points for SSH, NET4SOCIETY, in partnership with the European Alliance for the Social Sciences and Humanities, the conference afforded researchers from different disciplines and SSH stakeholders the opportunity to interact and share experiences and good practices through the description of interdisciplinary research projects in different FP7 themes.Moving forward towards Horizon 2020, the conference sought to overcome the challenges inherent in properly integrating contributions from SSH into different research fields, through presentations from project coordinators on a series of thematic panels. Each of these was then followed by a panel discussion with the involvement of the audience.

A speaker from the European Commission began by saying that in Horizon 2020 interdisciplinarity will be applicable across all three pillars “where appropriate” – conceding that from an SSH perspective appropriateness was as yet left without clear definition.  According to the Commission there will be a variety of approaches for interdisciplinarity and varying degrees of relevance of SSH, with some naturally SSH free zones.

Three problems with interdisciplinary work were highlighted: firstly, that there remains resistance among some researchers to the ideals of interdisciplinarity; secondly, that difficulties exist in building a career around interdisciplinary research due to complications with publishing research findings – and thirdly a reference to “fake” interdisciplinarity through the bolting-together of research topics.

The thematic panel presentations and discussions, although focusing on some very dissimilar research collaborations, found much common ground in terms of pitfalls and recommendations for interdisciplinarity under Horizon 2020. Successive presenters began by stressing to the audience that the level of repetition among talks was in fact a very positive sign as it showed a high level of agreement among contributors.

A number of key themes for success in interdisciplinary research emerged from the presentations and discussion:

1). The composition of review panels needs to reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the research projects under review;
2). Substantive involvement of each of the disciplinary communities is needed at proposal/project design/goal setting stages;
3). The need for an experienced Project Coordinator;
4). The need to establish a common language among the research group, which feeds into a strong conceptual framework; and
5). The need to build-in a level of flexibility to negotiate among different partners throughout the project.

The main recurrent point made at the event was that ultimately it is the Work Package structure and project specifications that will be the main challenge in terms of hardwiring Horizon 2020 with interdisciplinarity. Some contributors wondered whether entire work programmes ought to be designated interdisciplinary rather than just specific projects.

A representative of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) provided insights into the ESRC’s approach to interdisciplinarity, pointing out that the Societal Challenges to be seen in Horizon 2020 match very closely the Research Councils’ cross-council priority areas. It was stressed that disciplines are social constructs and are therefore varied in the nature of their categorisation, and that research – as policy at the UK research councils reflects – must be funded on the merits of the endeavour and the rigor of the approach rather than any ‘artificial’ classification within subject area.

Finally, an argument was put forward for sufficient funding for interdisciplinary research as warranted by the additional costs incurred from the necessarily extended lengths of research of this kind, and the question asked of whether or not a move towards greater open access will impact upon the evident tension with disciplinary publication incentives.