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Scottish and global impact

The OU has four strategic research areas aimed at addressing twenty-first century global challenges and promoting social justice.​
Photo from space science showcase at Dynamic Earth

Citizenship and governance: we are rethinking the changing relationships between citizens and authorities, from global issues like migration to the increasing scrutiny of private lives.

Education: we are the European leader for massive innovations in learning technologies which have worldwide influence and deliver digital education at scale.

International Development: we are pioneering a different, 'inclusive innovation' approach. We are working with poor and marginalised people developing their own solutions.

Space: we are one of the top three university space science centres in the UK. OU scientists play key roles in iconic missions, such as Rosetta, the first comet landing. Pictured right is Dr Colin Snodgrass, at an OU space science showcase held at Edinburgh's Dynamic Earth.

Find out more about OU research

In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) rankings from The Times Higher Education, almost three-quarters of OU submitted research was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent, and we came in the top third of UK higher education institutions for 'research power'.

You can visit The Open University's main research website by clicking here.

eSTEeM is our centre for Science, Technology, Engineering and Open Access logoMathematics teaching, which promotes innovation, scholarship and enterprise in open and distance learning.

Open Research Online (ORO) is The OU's repository of research publications and other research outputs. It is an open access resource that can be searched and browsed freely by members of the public.

Research that impacts in Scotland, and worldwide

Scotland benefits from the quality and impact of the wider OU's research, such as: innovations in floodplain management; the empowerment of people through intuitive technology; the development of a new theory of software engineering; improved decision-making in financial environments.

Open University in Scotland staff and research students are actively engaged in a varied programme of research work, which is of impact and relevance both in Scotland and further afield. This includes:

Putting poverty at heart of Holyrood election campaign

Dr Gerry Mooney, a Senior Lecturer and Staff Tutor in Social Policy and Criminology in Scotland, co-edited and co-authored Poverty in Scotland 2016, a new and updated 'state of the nation' report. 

A unique collaboration between The OU in Scotland, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, Glasgow Caledonian University and the Poverty Alliance, it sets out how key tools, like social security, fair work, education and local government, could be used by the Scottish Parliament to transform Scotland toward a poverty-free country.

Launched at The OU in Scotland's office prior to the Scottish Parliament 2016 election period, representatives from all five of Holyrood's political parties gave responses: Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners' Rights Alex Neil (SNP); Scottish Green Party co-convenor Patrick Harvie MSP; Scottish Labour Party MSP Ken Macintosh; election candidates Alex Cole-Hamilton (Scottish Liberal Democrats) and Iain McGill (Scottish Conservatives). 

Dr Mooney is pictured, far left, with the book editors and contributing authors at the launch.

Poverty in Scotland 2016 report launch photo

Solving crime through social media

Dr Hayley Ness (pictured far right) is a Lecturer and Staff Tutor for Psychology in Scotland, and member of The OU's Forensic Cognition Research Group. An applied cognitive psychologist, her main areas of interest and expertise include face recognition and perception, facial composite construction and eyewitness memory, plus more general aspects of memory, visual evidence and juror decision-making.

She is interested in research that impacts on policy and/or aims to improve police investigations. 

At an OU OpenMinds talk at Glasgow's Mitchell Library in Spring 2016, How can we solve crime? with a key focus on the role of citizens, Dr Ness spoke of her research into the way the public and police engage with social media. She is working with policing partners to better understand the use of social media in policing, both in terms of engagement with the public and the impact of citizen identifications on Facebook. 

Recent papers Dr Ness has contributed to include Are two views better than one? Investigating three-quarter view composites, published in a special issue of the Journal of Forensic Practice on facial composites.

Icelandic and Chilean volcanoes: being prepared for future eruptions

Dr Dave McGarvie, a Senior Science Lecturer and Staff Tutor in Scotland, is leading research into two Icelandic volcanoes and doing a Chilean study, via three Natural Research Council-funded PhD studentships with the Universities of Edinburgh and Hull. 

The unstudied Icelandic Tindfjallajökull volcano neighbours Eyjafjallajókull, which shut European airspace in 2010. Research aims to map Tindfjallajökull,and understand its eruptive history and gain an insight into past environmental change. 

Iceland’s largest historic eruption, in 1362 by Öraefajökull, produced a large ash cloud over the country and would have disrupted air travel. Still active, it contains Iceland’s highest land. This project aims to understand what happened, to improve prediction and mitigate the effects of future eruptions. 

A Dr McGarvie-led expedition found Quetrupillán (pictured left) in Chile has produced large eruptions in recent centuries. Any repeat would threaten population centres. The study will examine potential hazards and inform future plans should unrest be detected.

Photo of Dr Elaine Moohan

Dr Elaine Moohan brings medieval music to our ears

Dr Elaine Moohan, Senior Lecturer and Staff Tutor in Music in Scotland, is bringing medieval music back to life by producing a performing edition of the 16th century music of fugitive Scottish priest and composer, Robert Johnson.

She is interpreting and transcribing the medieval notation used to write down Johnson’s works into modern-day notation, which involves producing scores from sets of individual partbooks. 

Dr Moohan won a research grant from the The Royal Society of Edinburgh to visit UK libraries - which have 36 of Johnston’s works in scattered manuscripts - to compile the volume.

Once published, it will enable schools and amateur and professional singing groups to perform the music, as well as being of interest to music scholars. 

Recent research by Dr Moohan also includes investigating the remaining fragments of medieval books from Glasgow Cathedral.

Contacting us

Visit our Contact us page for details of how to get in touch with The OU in Scotland.

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