News in brief

August 12, 2010

Academic publishing

Title takes on provocative role

The first editorial board of the journal Hypotheses in the Life Sciences has been appointed. The title was set up by editor William Bains, a biochemist and founder of Rufus Scientific, a consultancy firm, in the wake of changes imposed by publisher Elsevier on the journal Medical Hypotheses earlier this year. The latter publication was ordered to institute peer review following a row over the publication of a paper denying the link between HIV and Aids, and editor Bruce Charlton was dismissed when he refused to comply. Hypotheses in the Life Sciences, which will be published by the University of Buckingham Press, will adopt its forerunner's commitment to disseminating controversial ideas in biology, and submissions will not face peer review. Its editorial board comprises John Baross of the University of Washington, Sir Roy Calne of the University of Cambridge, Tim Freegarde of the University of Southampton, Aubrey de Grey of the SENS Foundation, Graham Richards of the University of Oxford, Mark Smith of Case Western Reserve University and Gavin Spickett of Newcastle University.

Environmental sustainability

Hefce cash goes to 11 innovators

Eleven higher education institutions have been awarded funding to conduct research into sustainability and energy use in the sector. The Higher Education Funding Council for England held a competition last year to offer up to £200,000 to support projects to improve sustainability in the academy. The winners, announced last week, include Harper Adams University College, which is helping universities with large landholdings to measure the greenhouse gases produced by agricultural activity; the University of Lincoln, which is designing software to encourage improvements in energy use; and the University of Liverpool, which is evaluating green technologies to generate renewable energy. Projects at Birkbeck, University of London, Bournemouth, Cranfield, Gloucestershire, Northampton, Nottingham, Oxford and Staffordshire universities will also receive funding.

Knowledge transfer

It's better together, say creatives

Universities have an opportunity to increase collaborations with creative-industry professionals, a study suggests. An online survey found that those working in the creative industries spend more time working collaboratively and carrying out research than they do sharing knowledge via social networks or traditional publications such as books and manuals. Respondents to the Creative Industries Knowledge Transfer Network poll say that they spend 26 hours a month working on projects with other people and companies, and 18 hours a month carrying out their own research. The knowledge-transfer network said the results should be encouraging to universities, which it said should do more to encourage industry staff to work on joint research with academics.

Welsh foundation degrees

Proposals and partners welcome

Welsh universities are to submit proposals to the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales outlining how they would spend their share of £7.64 million to offer new regional part-time foundation degrees in partnership with employers and further education colleges. The funding, announced last month, is aimed at making Welsh businesses more competitive and providing better access to higher education.


The suggestion that vice-chancellors could have anticipated government plans to scrap the fixed retirement age provoked debate online.

Marcus writes: "I recently went to a conference where more than half of the plenary and semi-plenary lecturers were retired. They were still doing stuff they started 30 years ago. Younger people (in their 40s and 50s) who are doing more interesting research were crowded out (not to mention those in their 30s who didn't even figure in the main part of the event)."

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