News in Brief

April 14, 2011

Chinese research

Web of Knowledge spreads East

Thomson Reuters has launched a new version of its Web of Knowledge that will expand the facility's coverage of research carried out in China. The widely used database of academic papers, conference proceedings and citations will incorporate the Chinese Science Citation Database, which is produced by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and contains nearly 2 million records. Joel Hammond, senior director of product development at Thomson Scientific, said the move reflected the growing importance of China as a research power: "Everyone recognises that a tremendous amount of important research is now coming out of China." The revamped Web of Knowledge will also incorporate the Biosis Previews database of citations in the life sciences, as well as Thomson Reuters' Researcher ID facility, which assigns a unique number to each researcher in order to avoid misidentification when names change or vary in different papers.

European Research Council

Escaping the 'valley of death'

The European Research Council has launched a new funding stream to help researchers in receipt of ERC grants to commercialise their findings. The "Proof of Concept" scheme will offer researchers up to EUR150,000 (£132,000) per grant to carry out activities such as technical validation, market research and clarifying intellectual property rights ahead of making an approach to venture capitalists or companies that may be interested in bringing their innovations to market. Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, the European commissioner for research, innovation and science, said: "ERC-funded frontier research sometimes yields spin-offs with immediate commercial potential, and Proof of Concept funding will help get them safely across the 'valley of death' into which good ideas often plunge due to lack of capital to bring them to market."

Postgraduate funding

Helping hand in the hunt for cash

A UK database of postgraduate funding sources has been launched. The online resource is a collaboration between Graduate Prospects, the commercial arm of the Higher Education Careers Services Unit, and The Grants Register, an annual guide prepared by academic publisher Palgrave Macmillan. It contains details of 1,200 scholarships from 0 funders in the UK, including universities, charities and foundations. Mike Hill, chief executive of Graduate Prospects, explained: "Postgraduate funding is very different from that of further and undergraduate education because it's so fragmented and very little of it is automatic. The database is sure to be welcomed by students who will no longer have to hunt around to find the money they need."

www.prospects.ac.uk/funding

Law

Good works on the rise

The number of law schools that carry out pro bono work has grown to more than 65 per cent of institutions in England and Wales, new figures reveal. According to the LawWorks Student Pro Bono Report 2011, published last week by the charity LawWorks, the proportion of schools delivering free services to the public has increased by more than 40 per cent since 2006. The report draws on a survey of 111 law schools, and details the range of pro bono activities they are engaged in.

www.studentprobono.net

ONLINE NOW

Last week, Margaret Sheil, head of the Australian Research Council, reflected on the first Excellence in Research for Australia, the country's new research assessment programme.

A reader writes: "Interesting that Australia managed to put in place a research assessment largely based on metrics, at least in the sciences, and the academic system didn't fall apart. A shame that the UK assessors/academic system didn't have the courage to move to a cheaper, more streamlined system based on metrics when they had the chance."

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