Monthly Archives: December 2012

Suggested Research News Feeds

It’s easy to stay focused on our own sphere of work and research. But keeping up-to-date with research in other fields and disciplines might spark a new idea or collaboration.

Below is a list of worth-your-while research blogs and news feeds from different universities, funding agencies, and various news sources. With daily updates that cover all disciplines, these sites highlight different research efforts with insightful articles that are sure to make you think. It’s easy to “subscribe” to these feeds and receive daily or weekly digests that are sent to your inbox. Or bookmark a few to browse on a regular basis.

Research feeds from universities:

Harvard University
This all-star science news feed from the Harvard Gazette is updated regularly with relevant information present through an organized, easy-to-follow setup. The archives are a great place to get lost.

University of Iowa
IowaNow updates its research news throughout the day from its various departments and is an excellent university news feed.

University of Oxford
You can always count on news that’s sure to pique your interest from this research powerhouse.

University of Southern California
USC News offers a user-friendly setup with pictures and synopses. Articles are updated weekly and are comprehensive.

University of Washington
This research news feed offers plenty of compelling, captivating reads focused on their research efforts.

Research feeds from funding agencies and news sources:

National Institutes of Health
Francis Collins, director of the NIH, explains why you should read his new blog: “I’m starting this blog to highlight new discoveries in biology and medicine that I think are game changers, noteworthy, or just plain cool.” Enough said.

Chronicle of Higher Education
The Chronicle of Higher Education is an excellent source of news from various colleges nationwide. Don’t miss the site’s “The Bottom Line” blog.

Huffington Post
The HuffPost Science bloggers highlight science news from universities and organizations around the world on a daily basis.

Science News
Science News covers all aspects of science news and introduces each article with an easily understood synopsis.

The Guardian
The UK-based site provides interesting and  relevant information in education and research, among many other topics.

Research Funding, Gaining Insight

Before delving headlong into that first research project pursuit let’s take some of the mystique out of the research funding process. As in any specialized field there is a language with which the practitioners can communicate ideas to each other using a “shorthand” language of acronyms and abbreviations. This is just as true for funded research endeavors as it is for rocket science. Thus, a glossary of important terms should prove a valuable learning tool in and of itself. In the following paragraphs you will find a few selected terms and definitions that should be helpful in gaining insight the art of funding pursuit. Allow some time to carefully think about the ideas associated with each item in the brief glossary below.

Academic Earmarkinq – The U.S. Congress has made a practice of providing Federal funds to educational institutions for research facilities or projects without merit-based peer review. This practice, known as academic earmarking, results in hundreds of projects being funded for almost a billion dollars annually.

Blind Proposals – Proposals that are written without the advantage of having sponsor inputs are known as blind proposals.

Competition – Every research funding dollar has multiple potential projects on which it may be spent. There is always competition for research support, even in the case of a small individual research grant. All research funding agencies and their personnel are under great pressure to produce quality results for the money spent. Thus, researchers must convince potential funding sources that proposed projects have merit and the investigators are competent. Additionally, the project must be relevant to the agency’s objectives.

Discriminators – The customer must have a reason for giving an award to one researcher as opposed to another. In a great many research funding situations it is extremely difficult for a sponsor to make clear and decisive award decisions, because there rarely are clear-cut reasons to give an award to any particular bidder. This lack of a decisive reason to give you the award is typically your own fault. In every case of an award, there should be at least one clear and decisive aspect of a proposal to which a sponsor can point to as a significant advantage.

Evaluation Criteria – With the exception of academic earmarking situations, every proposal submitted to a funding source is evaluated on the basis of formal or informal procedures. Proposals submitted to Federal Government agencies are formally evaluated through the use of evaluation criteria, i.e., factors used to quantitatively score and rank submissions for research funding.

Grant – A grant in support of research is actually a gift. There is no formal requirement for delivery of a research result, no mandatory schedule to be followed and no required level of performance. Even though many agencies impose a set of grant terms and conditions, as long as a best effort is honestly made, the government cannot require you to perform beyond the grant period and funding. Of course, you should always make every effort to satisfy your proposed research objectives for your own satisfaction and to maintain your research credibility.

Themeing – The art and science of creating a set of selling messages based on what you can offer a customer in exchange for funding your project is “themeing.” Themes should be incorporated directly into the text of your proposal. Examples of themes are: “this project assures America’s continued competitiveness in this field of research;” and “we have the only such facility in the country.” More examples of themes are offered in Chapter 5 and in case studies presented in later chapters.

White paper – The term “white paper” refers to a document that is typically several pages in length and represents an informal pre-proposal submission to a potential sponsor in which you describe the essence of the proposed project without formally requesting funding.

 

Source: LaunchSpace, http://launchspace.us/

 

Workshop on the Design of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) to Be Held January 16th

The Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office (AMNPO) will provide a workshop to allow for public review and discussion of the proposed NNMI (National Network for Manufacturing Innovation) and IMI (Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation) design, an initiative proposed by President Obama.

The workshop will be held on January 16, 2013, at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Davidson Center for Space Exploration, in Huntsville, Alabama. Representatives from industry, academia, economic development authorities, and local, state, and regional governments are encouraged to participate in this design review of the proposed NNMI and its IMIs.

For more information, see the website.

DOE Selects New Batteries and Energy Storage Hub

The Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $120M over 5 years for a new Batteries and Energy Storage Hub, to be lead by the Argonne National Laboratory. This hub, to be known as the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), will be a partnerships of five national labs, five universities, and four private firms. The goal of the hub is to take a giant leap forward in battery and energy storage technology for vehicles and the electric grid.

Read the press release here.