Explore Themes

Research Activities

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Clip: Pitch and frequency
Duration: 00:03:26
Date: 06-07-1985
Video: Reading experiences across the world
Duration: 00:03:39
Date: 2013

Research Funding and Grants

Another aspect of research across 50 years of the OU is that researchers have benefitted from grants and funding – indeed some of the first staff brought existing funding with them from their previous posts at other universities.

Such funding has come from a wide variety of places. A significant proportion came from national research councils, such as the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), or the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Between 1992 and 2018, HEFCE (the Higher Education Funding Council for England) was the major source of funding for all UK universities, the OU included. A number of projects were given significant financial support by European Commission / Union bodies, but the total number of funding sources over 50 years is immense.

The money coming in to the University has been earmarked for many things, for example specialist equipment, researcher staff time, or laboratory facilities. In 1982 (when finances were otherwise stretched) the Petrogenesis Research Group was awarded £100,000 by the Department of Education for the purchase of a stable-isotope gas-source mass spectrometer which proved invaluable to their research.

In 2002, the Innogen Research Institute was founded with significant ESRC funding. This research centre is a partnership between The Open University and the University of Edinburgh and one of their main stated aims is to “build and consolidate new social science approaches and methods to meet the challenges of supporting innovation... in developed and developing countries”.

The first clip on this page sees Professor Keith Attenborough discussing pitch and frequency on a Technology undergraduate course. Professor Attenborough’s work on acoustics has received notable awards over the years, and in 2011 he led a £680,000 project funded by the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) to investigate a non-invasive acoustic-seismic method.

The UK Reading Experience Database (UK RED) emerged from research in the OU’s English Department, and was allocated two rounds of funding by the AHRC in 2006 and 2011. It consists of an open access database of reading experiences dating from between 1450 and 1945 – not only collecting details of what people read, but of the environments in which they read. The second clip on this page gives an overview of RED. In 2017, a new €1 million research project was announced titled READ-IT (Reading Europe Advanced Data Investigation Tool). Led by the OU’s Dr Shafquat Towheed, it aims to look at similar content from a European perspective.

Research Activities (page 2 of 5)