SAGE continues the celebration of British Heart Week!

Jessica Costello, US PR TeamBHW

In a time where health awareness is becoming more of a trend (and a good one at that), SAGE is pleased  to continue the celebration of British Heart Week by offering our readers free access to a few articles that provide knowledge on a range of useful topics. From preventative measures to post-diagnostic treatment, the following articles are jam-packed with great information and relevant studies:

The following article, “Working together in cardiovascular prevention: the common mission of the European Heart Journal and the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology” from European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, is an overview of the importance of prevention care. Topics such as, body fat, inflammation and Cholesterol are discussed throughout the article.

In the article, “Recommendations for participation in competitive and leisure sports in patients with congenital heart disease: a consensus document” from European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, discusses the importance of competitive or leisure sport activity in children and adults with congenital heart disease is emphasized. Various methods of exercise were tested and the most effective results are revealed.

 The following article, “European Guidelines on cardiovascular disease prevention in clinical practice” from European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, is packed with information regarding the prevention, treatment and methods for diagnosis and treating cardiovascular diseases. From vocabulary words and treatment techniques, to studies and exercise methods, this article has a wide variety of relevant information.

Want to learn more about British Heart week? Give their Facebook page a “like” and see what events will be going on near you.

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The Value in SAGE Major Reference Collections

Guest post by Salvatore Babones, University of Sydney

BabonesPhoto-2[1]In a world in which nearly all journals are available online, what value is there in buying a hard-bound collection of journal articles?

The answer is that the SAGE major works are not really collections of journal articles.  They are master classes taught by top scholars in their respective fields.

These days academic literatures are enormous — so enormous that beginners can not hope to master them on their own.

Review articles can help, but even review articles rarely go back to the beginnings of their literatures.  They usually assume that their readers are already experts, that they already know the basics.

For students and scholars at major research universities, this isn’t too much of a problem.  When they need help getting started in a new literature, they can usually turn to their colleagues for guidance.

For students and scholars at teaching-focused universities, universities in non-English speaking countries, and universities without comprehensive expertise in all sub-fields, getting started in a new literature can be much more challenging.

For them, SAGE major works can be stairways to the next levels of their careers.

It can be near-impossible for an outsider to identify the foundational works of a literature, the articles that consolidated the field into its current form, and the few papers among the hundreds published each year that truly represent the future of the profession.

The editors of SAGE major works do all this and more: in article-length orienting introductions they lay out the contours of their fields and contextualize the articles included in each set.

Seen as straightforward book purchases, SAGE major work  collections can seem quite expensive.  Seen as career development self-study seminars, they are fantastic value for money.

If just one scholar at a university uses a SAGE Benchmarks collection to retrain into a new literature, the collection has more than paid for itself.  If two or more scholars use it, the benefits to the university far outweigh the cost.

As a SAGE Benchmarks editor, I have worked hard to make my collections useful and meaningful for self-study scholars.  I hope these works find many readers.  Many or few, I would love to hear from them.


Salvatore Babones is the editor of the SAGE Benchmarks in Social Research Methods sets, Applied Statistical Modeling (March 2013) and Regression Fundamentals (September 2013).  He can be reached at his website,

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SAGE strengthens commitment to digital: Interview with Executive Director of Product Innovation, Martha Sedgwick

Earlier this year, SAGE announced the internal appointments of  Martha Sedgwick as Executive Director of Product Innovation within the UK, and  Todd Baldwin as Executive Director, Online Library and Reference Publishing  within the US. In order to find out a little bit more about what these new roles will entail at SAGE, we got Martha in for a quick interview!

Martha SedgwickCongratulations on your promotion, Martha! Can you tell us a little bit more about your new role at SAGE? What will it entail?

Thank you! As Executive Director of Product Innovation, I will assume responsibility for leading the development of SAGE’s online products for the library market, together with a number of new digital initiatives for the College market.  My team of Product Managers lead the development of our existing products which include SAGE Journals Online, SAGE Knowledge, SAGE Research Methods, CQ Researcher, and the CQ Electronic Library products.  I will also be working closely with Todd Baldwin (Executive Director of Online Library & Reference Publishing at SAGE) to continue to explore new product innovations to support the evolving digital reference and research needs in this space.  SAGE is experimenting with a number of new initiatives to support faculty and higher education (HE) as they continue to deliver top-class education for their students. I’m working closely with our new Director of College eLearning, Darin Derstine and our College teams on the development of new products in this space.

We are at a very exciting point in the development of HE as we see developments in technology open up opportunities, access, and application of teaching, learning, and scholarship across the globe.   Both mine and Todd’s roles demonstrate SAGE’s continued commitment to developing innovative solutions that support education and scholarship.

What do you hope to accomplish in your new role?

I want to continue to support SAGE’s focus on our customers and truly understand the needs of the institution, the library, the researcher, the faculty member, and the student to ensure that we develop and support our customers and scholarly partners effectively.  Our content should be as easily accessible as possible and should be delivered elegantly to provide a pleasurable experience.  I’m keen to make innovations with the HE community fun and energising for the people at SAGE – to push our expectations and to deliver with excellence.

SAGE already has a suite of products to support education and scholarship. Can you tell us a little more about these?

A large focus of our development over the past 5 – 10 years has been to deliver our traditional content digitally. We launched our own online platform to house our journal content in 2006, partnering with HighWire Press and today hosting almost 800 journals across the HSS and STM disciplines.  Last year we launched our SAGE Knowledge book & reference platform, recently named SIIA Content CODiE Award Finalist for Best General Reference Service 2012.  As an enhancement to this product, in April 2013, we launched SAGE Navigator, the literature review tool to provide students with a launching-off point in their area of study as they look to read the key literature in their particular field. In parallel we have explored what we can offer at SAGE beyond our traditional publishing programs. In 2011 we launched SAGE Research Methods, our award winning tool that is a destination site for academics to kick off their research design and research project development process.

We are incredibly excited by the launch of our StateStats data product, and are looking to expand this area of data publication to make data more accessible and available for student use.

In October 2012, we announced a key acquisition that marked our movement into the area of primary source archive publishing. Adam Matthew provides key primary archive material for the library community and it is a partnership that we are incredibly excited to develop over the forthcoming years.

As you have already mentioned, the way that people are consuming and accessing information is shifting dramatically.  What do you foresee to be the biggest challenges within the online product market over the next year or so?

Market issues currently centre on ease of use, access and discoverability. We are very much in a user-centred generation where researchers and students want to feel “equipped to learn.” The community wants to be able to access the material that they need in the format that they want, all quickly at the click of a button.

One of the biggest challenges that will continue as we move forward is defining a strategy and making decisions around what are significant investments in digital and online products. We need to understand which end-user technologies will offer viable opportunities for us to present information at a time where there is a lot of change in terms of the products being used, mobile devices, and the use cases.  Many of the technologies available for online products and mobile technology for example, are still evolving and today there are limitations to what we can deliver in some areas. Of particular note for academic publishing for example is access control for remote users and multimedia delivery.  Publishing is increasingly about establishing and maintaining processes, not about producing once-and-for-all finished and final products.

How do you think SAGE is positioned to adapt to these changes/challenges?

SAGE is active across both the library and college marketplace, and our strong partnership with both types of partners enables us to talk through challenges and opportunities, understanding more about where we can best place our support. Our product innovation is firmly grounded in market research. We have established a fantastic set of Library Advisory Boards who meet regularly to provide feedback, ensuring we are listening to key issues and concerns in our markets and are able to respond to them.  We continue to hold conference research activities, longitudinal studies to track market trends, and market research plans for product development – we work in partnership with our communities to ensure that we continue to support the scholarly community with the research they need, in the format that they want. Our status as an independent company enables us to focus on the changing needs of our authors, editors and societies, and drives us and our approach to innovation and change.

Can you tell us a little more about what you are currently doing?

SAGE continues to explore new ways to promote content to respond to the digital demand. We are currently looking at the development and enhancement of our eTextbooks, such as the recently launched 4th edition of Andy Field’s Discovering Statistics using SPSS textbook which was launched with enhanced online resources such as WebAssign, MobileStudy, CWS development, and increased social media support and interaction. We are also developing new digital assets and online courses for institutional sales and are currently exploring institutional contracts for end of 2013.

Engaging with the way that research practices are changing, however, is not just through product development. SAGE is also actively involved in supporting innovative approaches within the community. In 2011, Plymouth University launched its e-book scheme, the first of its kind in the higher education sector, providing first and second year students with free downloads of their core textbooks. SAGE was one of five publishers supporting this scheme, providing the highest number of core texts for second-year students. The innovative approach at Plymouth, which was recently recognised at the Guardian Higher Education award, is all about enhancing the student learning experience. Supporting the move towards innovative, interactive and collaborative learning as a digital environment is something that we continue to explore here at SAGE, through both our online products, enhanced digital features, and support for our e-textbook development.

Thank you for your time! Just as a little aside for our readers who may be interested in getting into online product development, what would you say is the one best piece of advice that you would give them?

Think about what you really wish you could have done or used as a student carrying out your research and propose that new product idea to a publisher!

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SAGE announces winner of early researcher travel grant for EERA International Conference 2013

One of SAGE’s founding principles is that education creates healthy minds and healthy cultures. In an environment where both the education and research landscapes are rapidly evolving, it is increasingly important that forums exist in which early career researchers can join the debate and help to shape the direction of their research fields.

The European Educational Research Association (EERA) is committed to promoting communication between educational researchers and international government organisation. SAGE has worked in partnership with the EERA for several years, and earlier this month we were delighted to announce the winner of the EERA/SAGE 2013 travel grant award, which sponsors an early career researcher to attend the annual EERA international conference. We were fortunate enough to be able to speak to the winner, Ana Inés Renta Davids, to find out more about what this travel grant will mean for her future research career.

Thank you for joining us Ana. Congratulations on winning the EERA/SAGE conference travel grant for your paper on “Transfer of learning: Effects of Motivation, Training Coherence and Workplace Features”. Can you tell us a little more about what winning the SAGE conference bursary means to you?

My pleasure and thank you! First of all, winning the SAGE conference bursary is a reward for all the efforts I have put into my work during my last years as a PhD student. I am gratified to know that members of EERA and SAGE considered my work to be good enough to be given such recognition. Secondly, the beginnings of any research career tend to be difficult in terms of job stability and our budgets are barely sufficient, so the bursary is of a great help in enabling me to be a part of the research community and conversation by attending the European Conference on Educational Research.

How will the award impact/influence your future research?

I think that being given award recognition such as this provides a research with more confidence and strength to continue doing your work. This is particularly important when you are at the beginning of your career, because it helps you to see that you are doing a good job and that you are going in the right direction!

What do you hope to get out of attending the conference?

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the conference last year, and found that this meeting provides an exceptional opportunity to meet and network with other educational researchers from different countries. It provided me with a great opportunity to get helpful feedback on my work and to listen and learn from prestigious researchers. Furthermore, the conference is a great occasion to meet other fellow students and share with them experiences, knowledge and opinions, which enriches your own vision and experience. So for the forthcoming conference I am looking forward to being able to take advantage of these opportunities again and to deepen my social relationships with fellow students and to continue to learn from other senior researchers who are always willing to give advice.

What do travel grants such as this, mean to researchers?

As a recent graduated PhD student I have to cover all expenses myself, and it is increasingly difficult to be able to be a part of this research community and conversation without additional financial support, such as this travel grant. EERA’s conference is a great opportunity to learn from other researchers and to present your own work and obtain helpful feedback. The SAGE conference bursary enables me to attend the European Conference on Educational Research, present my work to an international audience, meet fellow researchers and create collaborative relations. It is an opportunity that I would encourage all young researchers to try to take part in as the experience is one that I highly value in helping to support my career as a new researcher, and one that I am immensely grateful to have.

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Congratulations to Sara Miller McCune, Pacific Coast Business Times Hall of Fame Inductee

By Camille Gamboa, PR, SAGE US

Sara Miller McCuneOn Tuesday, May 14, I was delighted to take a drive up the California coast to Santa Barbara to watch our company’s founder, Sara Miller McCune, receive the honor of being the first woman inducted into the Pacific Coast Business Times 101 One Hundred Hall of Fame. It was with great pleasure that I witnessed other members of the Santa Barbara community recognize Sara’s dedication, entrepreneurial spirit, and success as a publisher and philanthropist.

“Starting an academic publishing outfit at 23 years old would be a bold move in 2013, but in 1965 it was practically unheard of,” wrote Stephen Nellis, staff writer at Pacific Coast Business Times.

Sara had the opportunity to make her own remarks at the event as well. Her words were inspiring to anyone with a dream and a desire to make a difference. “Once you have defined your dream, your goal, your vision, it is imperative to act to build a team that will change with the times and yet retain the vision, the dream the goals, and to Henry DuBroff, Sara Miller McCuneenlarge your culture and embrace the communities in which you and your employees, live, work, and raise families,” she stated. “It is very important that we think about and nourish education, that we think about inspiring and helping others, and that we think about and do something about giving back as well.”

Launched in 2010 on the 10th anniversary of the Business Times, Sara will join Mike Towbes of the Towbes group, retired San Luis Obispo County banker Carrol Pruett, Oracle Chairman Jeff Henley, Jordano’s President Peter Jordano, labor and workplace pioneer Hank Lacayo, the late Martin V. Smith, developer of the Topa Financial Plaza and Channel Islands Harbor, and the late Jack Gilbert, a Ventura County Developer.

Congratulations, Sara for this honor!

For more information on the award, click here.

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SAGE’s Global Giving scheme donates to the Good Earth Trust

Following on from the recent SAGE Connection post about SAGE’s donation to the Amani Children’s Home in Tanzania through Global Giving, our annual scheme which supports educational and developmental charities and organisations in the developing world, Barbara Levinson, Personal Assistant to Clive Parry (SAGE’s Global Marketing Director), explains why she nominated the Good Earth Trust to receive a donation from Global Giving for the second time and what the money will enable.

7-Rural setting“Good Earth Trust, Tanzania promotes ‘appropriate technology that doesn’t cost the earth’, starting with ‘compressed earth blocks’ to assist construction in the affordable housing sector, and to include improved sanitation and domestic rainwater harvesting.  We promote and train in environmental technologies.  Our latest project is to sustainably support three enthusiastic young Masai men to make and sell toilet (pit latrine / ‘long drops’) domed cover-slabs.

Improved sanitation, hygiene and clean water are essential foundations for realistic and sustainable development.

This technology is very simple and fail-safe, assuring a quality engineered product that can14-Pit latrine - domeslab with Curved Interlock ISSBs be mass produced with a simple fabrication kit.  Due to its innately strong domed shape, it needs no costly steel reinforcement to create the domed latrine cover-slab, allowing also for a good 100% profit for the fabricators whilst substantially reducing the user cost by 70% compared to other options in the market. The young men also gain lifelong construction skills to support their future families.”

To learn more about our past Global Giving initiatives, check out a few of the projects from last year:


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Peer Review Best Practices Part IV: Allowing authors to suggest potential reviewers

By Gabriella Massari, Peer Review Editorial Assistant, SAGE US

peer_reviewFinding reviewers to review a manuscript that has been submitted to a journal is often a challenging task. Many reviewers refuse because of busy schedules or because they are already in the process of reviewing another manuscript and many do not respond to the invitation at all.  When this occurs, the timeliness of the peer review process can be impeded greatly.

In an effort to avoid the prolonged process of finding and securing appropriate peer reviewers and expedite the peer review process overall, many journal editors allow authors to provide a list of preferred and non-preferred reviewers when submitting their manuscripts. Preferred reviewers are those who the author feels would provide an effective review of their manuscript while non-preferred reviewers are those who the author does not feel would be an appropriate choice. Because securing reviewers on a manuscript is the initial step for the entire process, allowing authors to provide a potential list of reviewers at submission has proved to be a beneficial practice for many journal editors.

When authors supply preferred and non-preferred reviewers, editors have the option to use this list for guidance and proceed with assigning reviewers for a manuscript as they see fit.  For example, if an editor is struggling to secure reviewers for a manuscript or has sent out numerous invitations with no success, they can invite one of the author’s preferred reviewers if necessary.   Alternatively, an editor can make sure not to invite those who are designated as non-preferred on the author’s list. It is important to remember, however, that editors are not required to use the lists if they do not feel it is appropriate.  The list is merely to guide editors when assigning reviewers to manuscripts.

*Important Tip*: There are some ethical issues that must be considered when allowing authors to provide this list of potential reviewers.  Although a rare possibility, authors may suggest an inauthentic reviewer or a colleague in an effort to secure positive reviews of their manuscript.  When considering preferred reviewers, it is highly recommended that the editor always do an independent, external search of the reviewer. An editor’s diligence in this matter will safeguard against these unethical situations and the SAGE editorial team is always available to talk through this important part of the process.

Although there are possible ethical concerns that may arise when allowing authors to suggest this potential list of reviewers, when done carefully, it may prove to be an essential tool for editors when faced with untimely peer review processes.  Our editorial team here at SAGE is more than happy to assist the journal editor as they search for reviewers. Feel free to contact the Editorial Assistant from SAGE that corresponds to your journal if you need further assistance.

For more on peer review best practice topics, check out previous posts here:

5 Tips for Getting your Article through Peer Review Quickly and Successfully

Peer Review Best Practices Part I: Inviting Reviewers

Peer Review Best Practices Part II: Reject without External Review

Peer Review Best Practice Part III: Selecting and Utilizing the Editorial Board

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SAGE Open: Celebrating 2 years of open access publishing in the Social Sciences

Guest post by Lucy Robinson, Executive Publisher, SAGE UK

Last month we celebrated the second birthday of SAGE Open, the world’s first broad-spectrum open access journal for the humanities and social sciences. This coincided with a breakout session I convened at this year’s UKSG Annual Conference in Bournemouth to share SAGE’s experiences of open access publishing in the social sciences.

Why SAGE Open?

Since opening for submissions in December 2010, and launching with 6 published papers just a few months later in May 2011, a huge amount has been happening in open access publishing in the UK and around the world. In particular, the challenges the social sciences face in finding funds to cover Article Processing Charges (APC’s) for gold open access publishing remains subject to important ongoing debate.

As a leading independent academic and professional publisher, and the foremost publisher of the social sciences, SAGE is uniquely placed to launch and develop the premier open access destination for the social sciences. Founded as a social science publisher, for nearly 50 years we have championed research across the social and behavioural sciences. In SAGE’s already long-established history, the development of SAGE Open has an especially natural fit in nurturing and creating new fields of international and interdisciplinary research. A core vision in launching SAGE Open was to continue to support new research, and the connections and discoveries between and within disciplines that will serve to shape and enrich our understanding of society for future generations to come.

What have we achieved so far?

SAGE Open has had a fantastic first two years. Not only has it attracted nearly 1,000 article submissions in the first year of launch alone, but it has now been recognised with an APEX award for excellence . We are currently projecting to reach 3,000 submissions by the end of 2013. Authors are submitting from around the world with papers from over 75 countries, demonstrating SAGE’s outreach around the globe. Our fundamental commitment to quality is reflected in a high rejection rate (around 70% of submitted papers are rejected).To date, we have published just over 180 articles and are currently publishing on average 10 new articles per month which we expect to grow significantly over the longer term.

What have we learnt?

Launching a broad based open access journal in the social sciences that spans all disciplines, inevitably requires a large amount of support from the academic community it is seeking to serve, all the more so when open access remains very much in its relative infancy in the social sciences and humanities. While open access awareness has increased dramatically in the last 12-18 months, driving submissions and delivering quality, high volume open access publications requires significant editorial and marketing investment. Different research cultures in the social sciences and humanities often present very different evaluative measures in establishing quality research. In the more established open access publishing fields of the natural sciences, an open access journal is able to accept a high percentage of papers on technical scientific criteria alone.

We are indebted to SAGE Open’s Advisory and Editorial Boards and the hundreds of article editors and reviewers now supporting SAGE Open. Only through their time and commitment in ever increasing numbers have we been able to significantly improve our turnaround times since launch, for example, and to attract more authors to an open access alternative. We are also proactively working with our social science editor and society partners to partner with us in referring authors to SAGE Open.

The future?

We are excited about the research we are publishing for a future generation of social scientists and humanities researchers and the world at large in SAGE Open. There remain, however, very real challenges in building sustainable open access alternatives for the social sciences and humanities compared to STEM subjects. From our own research, we know, for example, that less than 15% of our social science journal authors received any form of direct funding for their published research article. As an independent publisher SAGE is able to take a long term view in supporting the development of open access publishing for existing and new fields of research in areas long core to our vision and mission. We will continue at the same time, however, to lobby against a one-size-fits all approach and remain a passionate defender of the social sciences, mixed business models and the need for increased, not less, funding for social science research.

To learn more about SAGE Open please visit the SAGE Open homepage


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‘Deliberately formal, purposefully obtuse, and decidedly difficult’: what essays should not be (Part 3)

Guest post by Alex Osmond, author of “Academic Writing and Grammar for Students”

IAO author photo bwn this three part series, Alex Osmond, author of Academic Writing and Grammar for Students), discusses three common issues faced by students in academic writing. Providing helpful tips and advice on how you can help your students overcome the common pitfalls in academic writing, this series is not to be missed!

In this final post, Osmond discuss expletive constructions. Missed the first two posts in this series? Don’t worry you can check them out here and here.

Issue #3:  ‘There are…/there is…’

For this final post, I’ve chosen one of the ‘lighter’ issues my book deals with.

 Nobody will lose marks for using the phrases ‘there are’ or ‘there is’ in their assignments. In the interests of conciseness and clarity, though, it is worth knowing that these phrases, known as ‘expletive constructions’, can often be removed.  (Unfortunately, ‘expletive constructions’ have nothing to do with obscenity-littered essays. I personally got away with profanity in one assignment. That said, I was studying creative writing. I think this is my second digression.) The resulting sentences are shorter, simpler – they more quickly ‘get to the point’.

Take a look at this example:

There are many historical examples that shed doubt on the dictum ‘violence never solves anything’.

Now remove ‘there are’, then remove ‘that’ to repair the grammar.

Many historical examples shed doubt on the dictum ‘violence never solves anything’.

Does anybody disagree that the second version is more effective?

Here’s another:

There is another school of thought which focuses on the idea of prison as rehabilitation.

This becomes:

Another school of thought focuses on the idea of prison as rehabilitation.

Again – isn’t the second one better?

Exceptions to this rule do exist, of course. As always, the writer should try something, and then check for correct grammar and clear meaning. In the next example, the possible new versions are quite different from the original:

There is a risk of complacency among non-smokers.

Clearly, ‘a risk of complacency among non-smokers’ isn’t a complete sentence. What is missing? It has a subject, and an object – so it needs a verb. (The subject-verb-object idea is explained in my book). Following other advice from my book, let’s use a clear, strong verb:

A risk of complacency threatens non-smokers.

Something still isn’t right. Surely ‘a risk’ is threatening? So it follows that if something is threatening you, you are at risk of it? And as such, if we use ‘threatens’, we don’t need ‘a risk’? Let’s try it:

Complacency threatens non-smokers.

Or, if we want to put the emphasis on the people in the sentence, and include the word ‘risk’:

Non-smokers are at risk of complacency.

We’ve seen that in most cases, sentences including ‘there is’ or ‘there are’ can be quickly and easily improved.

In the more complex cases, the writer must think through exactly what they are trying to say, and craft a sentence that says that – no more, no less – in clear and grammatically correct terms.

This idea repeatedly comes up in my book.

And isn’t it what academic writing is really about?

The above post not enough? Then head to Alex’s Facebook page for more great writing tips and resources! Get your students to like the book’s site and Alex can provide personalised one-to-one advice on their essays!

Want to know more? Then Click here to watch a series of videos where Alex talks about his new book, common mistakes found in student essays and how students can keep their writing concise and clear.

About Alex Osmond
Alex Osmond still can’t believe his first book has been published by SAGE. He has taught academic and writing skills at Cardiff Metropolitan University and Brunel University. Alex just spent two years managing Brunel’s VLE upgrade and is now developing a programme that enhances the attributes of the University’s graduates.  Alex can’t stand run-on sentences and won’t get a good night’s sleep until they have been eradicated (we managed to get rid of smallpox, after all…).


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“Horizon 2020” – EU’s funding mechanism for research and innovation – Where are we now?

Guest post by Michael Galsworthy, Department of Applied Health Research, University College London.

Last month the Journal of Health Services Research & Policy published an academic paper regarding the Horizon 2020 programme, the European Commission’s science funding programme, due to start up in 2014. The paper argues that in order for Europe to fully exploit the €70 billion being spent on research and development under Horizon 2020, the EU will need to make some key innovations.

To learn more about the programme and the opinions surrounding it, lead author Mike Galsworthy has provided us with a taster summary to  tell us a little more about how the programme is shaping up. To learn more you can read the full journal article here.

Horizon 2020 is an ambitious new programme which aims to bring together all EU research and innovation under one single funding scheme, promising to better previous European science programmes by simplification, reduction of bureaucracy, a focus on key issues such as health and sustainability, and better economic exploitation of R&D activities through integration with small businesses in particular. This is no ‘small order’, but it reflects the importance of R&D in Europe’s future. The Commission and many others believes science and innovation to be key to driving the economy forward, maintaining Europe’s competitive place in the world, and improving quality of life and sustainability.

So far so good in terms of vision, but how are its emergent plans looking to meet the task practically? In our new paper “Horizon 2020 – how is it shaping up?” we sought to explore the current state of research funding alongside the new plans. What we argue is that although some solid progress is on the cards, reforms are necessary in four key areas in order to go beyond merely tidying up some obvious problems and instead harnessing the fuller potential of EU research and innovation. Those four areas are:-

1. Reduction of red tape at the interface between small business and academia. While the EC has taken welcome steps to reduce bureaucratic burdens, we would like to see a removal of compulsory tendering, thus allowing research projects and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to interact with each other dynamically and choose each other freely.

2. Better mapping and linking of the research funded. There is increasing recognition of the benefit of mapping research, but the central database of projects funded needs to be better categorised, linked to academic outputs, and open for all to explore and analyse. We give the RePORTER website of the American National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a good example.

3. Leading in open data. There is a need to guarantee outputs from projects. Increasingly, funders are encouraging data-sharing plans, but getting scientists to declare data management plans upfront can add unwanted bureaucracy and efforts have had mixed success. We suggest that the EU could set a new gold standard in data preservation were it to demand raw data as an end-of-project “deliverable”, check those data for third-party usability, and archive the databases in a central searchable resource with unique citable reference codes. Open data is reusable data which will become a critical resource in the future of science.

4. Ending inegalitarian salary policies that block Eastern European competitiveness. The original 15 member states (“EU-15”) have received a staggering 34 times more health research funding under FP7 than the 12 newest member states (“EU-12” in the Commission’s new parlance), representing dramatic funding differences, even allowing for population and GDP differences. Much analysis of under-representations of these regions has ignored the level of the individual scientist. Currently, scientists on EU projects are paid not according to their work regardless of geography, but rather at their local funding rate – driving east to west brain drain. Our paper recommends paying researchers in new member states comparable salaries to those in Western Europe, enabling Eastern Europe to use its competitive advantage of marginally lower living costs to retain and even attract top researchers. At the moment, the salary policies are borderline protectionist towards the better-established countries.

With a funding programme of such scale, the proposed changes in central administration can have huge impacts on dynamism and productivity. As Horizon 2020 approaches, these are issues that need to be more widely debated in academic and public alike. Our opinion paper is one more step in this process and we welcome contact from stakeholders and researchers alike to gather more insights, interaction and discussion on the future of European science.

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