July 2017: Impact & Engagement continued

Research Bites will continue the theme of Impact and Engagement throughout July. Thank you to the fantastic presenters that we’ve had so far, and to everyone who has attended.

Just turn up, no need to book! Tea/coffee and a cake provided.


How to write a good impact case study

Thursday 22nd June, 12pm, Bowland North SR 3. Live stream at 12.00 BST
Hints and tips for writing a high quality impact case study for REF.
Amy Gibbons, Faculty Impact Manager, Faculty of Science & Technology

Writing ‘Pathways to Impact’ statements

Wednesday 28th June, 12pm, Bowland North SR 3. Live stream at 12.00 BST
What they are, why they’re important, and some tips on best practice.
Ross Dachraoui, Impact Development Manager, Research & Enterprise Services


School-University Research Engagement

Friday 7th July, 12pm, Bowland North SR 3. Live stream at 12.00 BST
Information about opportunities available for you to engage schools in your research, including Extended Project Qualification Mentoring and Research in a Box.
Jane Taylor, Senior Lecturer, Lancaster Environment Centre & Catherine Baxendale, Research Project Administrator, UK Student Recruitment & Outreach

Measuring academic impact using citations and bibliometrics

Wednesday 12th July, 12pm, Bowland North SR 19. Live stream at 12.00 BST
Learn how citations and bibliometrics can be used to indicate academic impact.
Tanya Williamson, Academic Liaison Librarian, Library

Proactive partnerships for impact

Thursday 27th July, 12pm, Bowland North SR 3. Live stream at 12.00 BST
Co-designing productive impact driven research.
Nick King, Business Development Manager & Colin McLaughlin, Technology Transfer Manager, School of Computing & Communications

Using SciVal to measure academic impact, citations and collaborations

Monday 31st July, 12pm, Bowland North SR 1. Live stream at 12.00 BST
Learn about using SciVal to measure academic impact for yourself, your team, or your discipline and how it can be used to strengthen grant applications and identify potential collaborators with impact in mind.
Masud Khokhar, Head of Digital Innovation, Library


Qualitative data analysis: NVivo event at Lancaster University

Research Bites readers might be interested in this event being organised by Dr Steve Wright in the faculty of Health and Medicine.

NVivo@Lancaster on Monday 26th June 2017

Discover how to get the most out of your qualitative research

NVivo@Lancaster is an event aimed at equipping researchers like you with the tools to be successful in your research. QSR International Limited are the software developers of NVivo and we’re hosting a day on campus in association with the Faculty of Health and Medicine Research Training programme to help you with your Qualitative Analysis.

You can learn more about NVivo@Lancaster by:

Attending one of our NVivo Seminars to see how NVivo can be used. LUMS LT10 Collaboration Suite – B Floor, Management School

  • Literature reviews with NVivo (9.30am to 11am)
  • Framework analysis with NVivo (11.30am to 12.45pm)
  • Analysing Social Media and Large Datasets (2pm – 3.30pm)

There will be an opportunity for Q&A’s during the seminars and you can attend as many sessions as you want.

Visiting the QSR International Exhibition Stand. LUMS, B Floor Foyer (outside LT10)

  • Drop by the stand to chat to the makers of NVivo. We’re on hand all day to answer your questions.

Drop by the NVivo Café. LUMS, B108 (opposite LT10)

Have a burning question about your research? Drop in with your project, do some work and get some expert advice or guidance. New to NVivo or want to see how it works? Call into the NVivo Café to try it.

All events are open to both staff and students of Lancaster University. Sessions will be live streamed and recorded, and remote support will be available at the cafe too.


Please register and book on the sessions at http://bit.ly/NVivoAtLU – instructions here NVivo@Lancaster 26th June 2017- promo info and registration

We’ll be tweeting about the event using the hashtag #NVivoAtLU

All enquiries to Steve Wright.

Research impact and engagement: coming very soon!

We’re almost ready to release the Research Bites programme for June and July, where the focus will be on Research Impact and Engagement.

Look out for sessions about:

  • engaging with the public, schools and industry
  • impact through social media
  • writing impact case studies and statements
  • impact metrics

Research Bites sessions are usually live-streamed and recorded, so if you can’t make it in person, you can catch up online.

More details to follow very soon!

Research ethics of data use and reuse

Thanks to Debbie Knight, Di Hopkins and Becky Case for another interesting Research Bites session on the theme of Research Ethics and Ethical review process at Lancaster University.

The slides are available, courtesy of the presenters.

If it’s out there, can I use it?

The primary question raised in this session was whether data relating to human subjects which is in the public domain – whether shared via a data repository, presented as open data, or online, e.g. on social media – can be reused in research simply because it’s available.

The answer was, ‘Not necessarily’.

Ethical review is still necessary as the participants or subjects may not have given their consent to the research.

Primary data

For studies using primary data, such as social media posts, interviews or survey responses being collected for the first time, it will be necessary to provide as much supporting information as you can, such as information sheets for participants, and a sample of the questions being asked.

Applications should be made to the Faculty Ethics Committee, and will likely be reviewed by a sub- or full committee as cases can be complex.

Secondary data

It is still necessary to submit your research through ethical review when re-analysing existing data, e.g. reusing data which has already been made available. This is mainly to ensure that the researcher has applied the principles of:

  • informed consent
  • anonymity
  • security

While anonymity is a principle, it may not necessarily be a requirement, depending on your context. Also, consider whether combining and re-using two datasets may unintentionally expose participants.

[Aside: Research Bites readers might also be interested in this write up of the Sharing Qualitative Data workshop, from April 2017]


There is a need to potential reuse of the data generated in your research at an early stage. Ideally, participants will be fully informed of the potential reuse of the research data on the information sheet which is available before they are asked to consent.

You might also find this guidance on writing Data Management Plans useful.

It was acknowledged during the session that best practice in data management includes planning for re-use and sharing of research data, and this should be done with consideration of the ethical implications of doing so.

Example questions

Every question is better understood the full context of the research being proposed, so please seek advice from your Faculty Research Ethics Committee key contacts if you have questions.

It is helpful to the committee to supply any supporting information such to highlight any issues, and help them to understand how you have considered them.

Can I include Terms & Conditions of online platforms (e.g. Twitter) in an ethics application?

Does  it make a difference if the platform is open or closed?

How can I gain consent from people unable to read, in other languages, or from people of different cultures?

Can I re-use data from news or published sources? This is considered as ‘the literature’, so yes, but if in doubt, ask!

Do I need ethical approval if I’m using data from leaked documents in my research? Yes!

Lancaster Data Conversations: data security and confidentiality, Thursday 4th May 2017

Readers may also be interested in Lancaster Data Conversations this week on the topic of data security and confidentiality.



What’s the Difference? Ethics at Lancaster University – Common themes and FAQs

Original Image: http://www.thebluediamondgallery.com/wooden-tile/e/ethics.html (Image credit: Nick Youngson – http://nyphotographic.com/ CC BY-SA 3.0)


It was great to welcome back Becky Case, Debbie Knight and Diane Hopkins for more on research ethics following their previous Research Bites session on the Ethics approval process at Lancaster University.

The ethical mindset

When considering ethics the first question researchers ask is: “Can I do X?” .  The short answer is always:  YES – if it is ethical.  Is what you are trying to do morally justifiable for your research goals?

This question should be at the heart of every research proposal; the ethics committee are looking for an ethical mindset.  Consider the following questions:

  • Are you trying to do good and trying to avoid doing harm?
  • How are you dealing with personal data that has been freely given?
  • Are you respecting that data?

Conduct your research with an ethical mindset

Almost all ethical issues have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis but there are some themes which are common to many research projects.

Anonymity vs confidentiality

There is sometimes confusion between what is meant by “anonymised” and “confidential”.


Asserting that data will be anonymised means that individuals cannot be identified from the data.  You will be expected to anonymise data and make it clear to people what it is you are going to do.  Bear in mind however that some data is hard/impossible to anonymise. Also be aware that there are some people do not want their data anonymised.


Confidential is a very difficult concept – people have different ideas about what this means. The lay person is likely to understand this as not sharing the data with anyone.  This would preclude sharing the research in any way.  The academic may understand confidentiality as capable of being shared with an academic audience or that the data can be shared if it is anonymous.

  • There are limits to confidentiality as in some areas there might be a statutory obligation to report information, especially where there is a duty of care.
  • Do not promise things which cannot be honoured.
  • Ensure participants understand what is going to happen to their data – good communication is vital!

Researcher vs counsellor

There is a fundamental difference between being a researcher and being a counsellor.

When conducting interviews with people, ask yourself the question:

What would you do in the event that people become upset?

The natural human response is not always the correct ethical response – your role is as a researchers not a counsellor and this should not be undertaken unless you are qualified to do so.  There is guidance available on safeguarding issues and you should be aware of these when dealing with potentially complex issues.

Informed consent

This is key to a good ethical approach.  It can be written or verbal.

There are several considerations relating to participation/non-participation which need to be made explicit at the outset:

  • What will happens to the and their data at the end of the project?
  • What happens if the participant changes their minds about taking part in the project?
  • What will happen to their data in this scenario?

You need to be able to show that you have considered all of this when planning your project and method of gathering data eg via forms, tick boxes etc.

Paying for participation

Paying people for participation is acceptable depending on the circumstances.  It is reasonable to pay travel expenses or as a thank you but it must not be used coercively. For example if a person decides to withdraw from the project they cannot be “threatened” with non-payment.

Bear in mind:

  • the effect of payment on benefit claimants.
  • working overseas a small amount of money here can be a significant sum.


Assessing vulnerability is not always easy – some people may be vulnerable at certain times and not at others.  Focus on capacity to consent.

Vulnerable vs non-vulnerable

You do not necessarily need parental consent for children to take part but it is vital that no-one, child or adult, is coerced into taking part in research.  Often the context in which the research takes place is key – children in a classroom. a dementia sufferer with their family etc.

Determining capacity to consent

The ethics committee will be looking for a description of how you are going to determine capacity to consent.  Do not make claims involving clinical judgements about people if you are not qualified or able to make them.   Do not assume consent to take part is a one-off process and it must be easy for participants to withdraw if they change their mind.

Widening participation

This should be balanced against the need to widen participation in research. Because of perceptions of vulnerability certain groups eg those with disabilities are often excluded from research.  This negatively affects outcomes and participation.

Consent forms

There are templates for consent forms if you are having trouble getting started on lots of help available on the sorts of things you should be putting on the consent form.
The consent form is vital and protects the researcher as much as the participant.


There were various questions raised after the presentation including around

  • Retrospective ethical approval
  • Research with children as participants
  • The role of researcher vs teacher
  • The use of human tissue samples


Ethics is not about getting in the way of research its about informing and facilitating!

If in doubt – get in touch with the Research Ethics Officers!

Intellectual Property and Enterprise in May

May’s theme will be Intellectual Property and Enterprise.
Join us for an informal 20 minute session. Just turn up, no need to book. Tea/coffee and cake provided.

Licensing your work with Creative Commons
Thursday 4th May, 12.00, Bowland North SR 3. Live stream
Creative Commons licences and how they communicate what others can do with your work.
Lorna Pimperton, Academic Liaison Librarian & Copyright Officer, Library

Filing and commercialising a patent based on your research
Monday 8th May, 12.00, Bowland North SR 3
Using patents to generate impact and revenue from your research.
Gavin Smith, Intellectual Property Development Manager, Research and Enterprise Services

Using copyright material in your research. 
Wednesday 10th May, 12.00, Bowland North SR 3. Live stream
What to do about third party copyright in your thesis or research output, and how to navigate the grey area of ‘fair dealing’.
Lorna Pimperton, Academic Liaison Librarian & Copyright Officer, Library

Trademarks, design rights and copyright
Thursday 11th May, 12.00, Bowland North SR 3
Expert advice on intellectual property rights, other than patents, for your invention or research output.
Gavin Smith, Intellectual Property Development Manager, Research and Enterprise Services

Starting a spin-out company from your research. 
Monday 22nd May, 12.00, Bowland North SR 3.
Expert advice on forming a university company, running a company and obtaining finance.
Gavin Smith, Intellectual Property Officer, Research and Enterprise Services

How do I engage with business, and get industry partnerships?
Wednesday 31st May, 12.00, 12.00, Bowland North SR 3. Live stream
A look at how to gain more meaningful and productive relationships with external partners and how be proactive in forming successful collaborative research partnerships.
Nick King/Colin McLaughlin, Business Partnerships Team, Faculty of Science and Technology