New year…

Cardiff University Colleges and SchoolsHappy new year. 2013 promises plenty. I’m committed to two externally funded research projects, collaborating with outstanding folk located both in, and out, of Cardiff University. In the fullness of time I’ll perhaps blog about these studies when there’s more to say. I’ll be supervising people working on their doctorates, and as always will be teaching and assessing across the range of academic levels. I’ll be working up grant applications (there’s one in the pot at the moment), writing papers (including the one I’ve mentioned before), and contributing to various types of ethics and scientific review processes. I also have a number of external examining roles to fulfil, at doctoral and pre-registration undergraduate level.

In the year ahead I suspect there will be some interesting organisational changes to adjust to as Cardiff University refashions itself, and as the new College and School structure (which I’ve reproduced to the left of this post, with an added oval to highlight where I work) takes shape. As it happens, the University is making headlines at the moment. Just before the Christmas and New Year break Cardiff’s collaboration with the Open University (and others) to develop ‘MOOCS’ (Massive Open Online Courses) was widely reported. As I understand it, MOOCS are free-to-access courses made available via the web to pretty much anyone with use of a computer and an internet connection. I’m not sure how, if at all, people are able to work towards achieving formal academic awards in this way but I very much like the idea of freely available knowledge. Meanwhile, in this week’s Times Higher Education there’s a report on the new Vice Chancellor’s plans to develop the University’s international presence.

REF 2014In 2013 there’s also the small matter of the Research Excellence Framework (REF). I think the REF (like its predecessor the Research Assessment Exercise, or the RAE) is a flawed process, but it remains a (very) big deal for the UK’s universities. In this cycle, formal submissions will be made at the end of the year. Panel members will then have their work cut out in 2014, reading and assessing the quality of outputs (typically, journal papers), judging the impact of completed research beyond the realms of academia (for example, on policy and practice), and reviewing the institutional environment for research activity. Universities will be ranked on the results, and money will flow (or not). For an ambitious, research-led, Russell Group university like Cardiff this is an exercise of great import. It’s also significant for the professions of nursing and midwifery, which have spent the last decades upping their evidence base. In the last RAE, the outcomes of which were made known at the end of 2008, nursing and midwifery research fared pretty well. Let’s hope this can be sustained.

Outside of work I’ll keep running, hoping to stay injury free. As a meticulous record keeper I track my miles. So far for 2013 it’s 22-and-a-bit, and the aim is to manage 1,000 in total. This I achieved in 2012, and more besides. There’s also an increasingly good chance that this year will see Cardiff City climb out of the Football League Championship. I’m liking this, and it’s something I follow (with season tickets) with one of my boys. And, for those interested in the health and well-being angle of all this, check out the work of Alan Pringle and his colleagues on using football as a means to promote mental health, particularly amongst young men. Alan gave a fantastic talk on this at last year’s Network for Psychiatric Nursing Research conference.

That’ll do for now, I think: enough of the rambling.


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