Annual Research Events

These big events, which take place once or twice a year, provide Aston's early career researchers with good opportunities to meet and discuss issues and concerns related to their career development with other ECRs and more senior research staff, who have been through similar experiences. These issues include career development, publishing, funding and other good research practices.

ECR event
Research Event 2015: 23 - 24 September, Mike Wright Lecture Theatre, Aston University

Dear Colleague

Early Career Researchers including Research Fellows and Early Career Academics  form an essential part of the research community here at Aston, and we are strongly committed to supporting the personal, professional and career development of our ECRs (  Following the launch of the Early Career Research Forum last year, we are planning another Researcher Development Event for ECRs at the University.  This second Researcher Development Event will be held on the 23rd - 24th September 2015 in the Mike Wright Lecture Theatre, and adjoining MB606 on the 6th floor of the main building.

I would like to invite you to join us on this exciting two-day event, which will showcase ECR research and provide training and focused support on researcher development, including the research funding environment, the Research Excellence Framework and the assessment process, EC funding, research funding for Fellowships, research impact, enterprise and entrepreneurship.  The event will be a dedicated training programme for ECRs and will also include:

  • An ECR poster competition (please see website for further information)
  • Networking opportunities over lunch and coffee
  • Advice on planning your own research strategy
  • Career development advice from senior staff including a senior representative from industry
  • Poster prize awards and drinks reception

I do hope that you are able to join us for this second  ECR Researcher Development  Event and present your poster!

To register for the event, please email Sarah Hosten on by Monday 14th September (for catering purposes) and advising whether or not you would like to present a poster at the event.

Best wishes

Prof Martin Griffin

Dean of Aston Graduate SchoolProfessor in Biochemistry,  Aston University

21st September, 2016

9.30-10.00 Registration and Coffee (G11)

10.00-10.15 Opening speech (G11)

By Prof Martin Griffin

10.15-10.30 Introduction of the programme (G11)

By Dr Vivian Wang and Dr Jeanette Lilley

10.30-11.00 Introduction to Mentoring (G11)

By Mr Patrick Buckley (HR) and Prof Martin Griffin

11.00-11.15 Launch of the Aston Mentoring Scheme (G11)

By Prof Helen Higson 

11.15-11.45 Introduction of Aston Academic Mentors (G11)

11.45-12.00 Coffee break (G8)

12.00-13.00 Funding Landscape for Early Career Researchers (G11)


13.00-14.30 Lunch break and Poster Section 1 (G8)

14.00-14.30 Introduction to Learning and Teaching in HE (G11)

By Dr Julian Lamb (CLIPP)

14.30-15.30 Gaining teaching experience, joining the Brilliant Club (G11)

By Joe Loudon (The Brilliant Club)

15.30-17.30 Poster Section 2 with reception (G8)

22nd September, 2016

9.30-10.15 Managing Research Grants- Finance (G11)

By Finance (Mr Matthew Cooper)

10.15-10.45 Aston Research and Enterprise Strategy and  REF (G11)  

By Sally Puzey, REO

10.45-11.15 Gaining Impact from your Research (G11) 

By Larry Atwood, REO

11.00-11.15 Coffee Break (G11)

11.15-11.45 Promotion Procedures in HE (G11)

By Prof Martin Griffin and Christine Campbell (HR)

11.45-12.30 Working in a flexible manner (G11)

By Christine Campbell & Heather Eden (HR)

12.30 Closure Remark and Prizes for Poster Winners (G11)

By Prof Martin Griffin

Day 1 - 23rd September 2015

08:30 - 09:00 Coffee and registration

09:00 - 09:15 Introduction and overview of programme

by Prof Martin Griffin

09:10 - 10:10 Overview of research funding in UK universities

by Sally Puzey

10:15 - 10:30 Coffee

10:30 - 11:00 Importance of gender balance in research funding

by Prof Alison Hodge

11:00 - 12:15 Research Excellence Framework and the assessment process in a REF subpanel 

by Prof Martin Griffin

12:15 - 13:15 What is research impact?

by Dr Sarah Lee

13:15 - 14:15 Buffet lunch with networking and posters to be put up

14:15 - 15:30 Effective publishing strategies for researchers and the importance of PURE and open  access

by Dr Sarah Lee and Paul Jones

15:30 - 16:00 Coffee, networking and posters

16:00 - 17:30 Types of research funding available for Research Fellows and ECRs

by Dr Karen Woodhall, Paul Knobbs and Nat Golden

Day 2 - 24th September 2015

09:30 - 11:00 Enterprise: its importance in UK universities

by Prof George Feiger

11:00 - 11:30 Coffee and posters

11:30 - 12:45 Spinning out a university company

by Dr Thomas Drew from EyeTech

12:45 - 13:00 About ICE

by Neil Scott

13:00 - 14:00 Buffet lunch and posters

14:00 - 15:15 Collaborating and gaining funding from industry (part 1)

by Dr Angela Jeffery et al

15:15 - 15:45 Coffee with networking and posters

15:45 - 16:30 What does industry want from academia in a research collaboration

by Dr Alan Horner, Smith & Nephew

16:30 - 17:30 The key to building an excellent research career in academia and industry 

by Aston Established Researcher Excellence Award winner 2015: Prof Pawan Budhwar, and for industry: Dr Alan Horner, Smith & Nephew

17:30 - 18:30 Awards for posters and drinks reception

The competition requires you to present your research in a poster in 'layman’s terms' that is, understandable to a person who has no knowledge of the field.

Rules of entry

  • poster must be A1 size (59.4cm x 84.1cm)
  • poster can be either portrait or landscape
  • A4 versions of the poster may be used as handouts in addition to business cards.  No other handouts may be used.
  • no additional material may be used or added to the poster (e.g. laptop demonstration, speaker in poster, anything stuck on the poster, flaps or lifts on the poster, illustrations requiring 3D glasses are not permitted)
  • entrant name, title of poster and name of entrant’s university must be clearly  presented on the poster
  • one QR code at the top right hand corner of the A1 poster WILL be permitted.  The QR code will be for information only and used in the same way as a website address on a business card.  Students will only be able to share the additional information gained from the QR code AFTER judging has finished.  Students should NOT use the QR code as an alternative to illustrating their posters or explaining their research clearly to the judges.  Judges are not permitted to view material gained from a QR code until after judging sheets have been returned to the event organisers

For further information to assist with the production of the poster, please see the mark sheet, which will be used to assess your poster.

Last year's slides are below. Slides from this year's event will be published shortly.
The following are the slides of the main presentations given during the ECR event.

  1. Introduction to Personal Research Strategy and Planning asks questions that new researchers need to ask in order to move from where they are to where they want to be. It includes helpful ways to think about how to both define and operationalise your strategy, and begins to introduce thoughts about how to secure the necessary funding to realise these results. This theme will be expanded upon in Octobers “complete funding seminar” which will also address the question of personal research.     

  2. The Research Funding Landscape provides information about the major funders of research in the UK, who funds what, and the differences in remit for the various main funders.

  3. What Makes a Good Proposal is taken primarily from information provided by the ESRC but the core message remains the same  across all funders. Whilst being something of death by powerpoint, the list of key points should be helpful to anyone writing a proposal. 

  4. Support for Research at Aston provides an overview of the wide range of support and resources available to the University's ECRs

  5. Research Finance gives information about the process after research projects have been awarded  

  6. Summary of the flip chart notes

A Research Event for Aston’s Early Career Researchers (ECRs) was held on the 25-26th September at Conference Aston Meeting Suites. This was the first time such a University-wide event was organised. More than 50 ECRs from the four Schools of the University attended this two-day event and 21 participated in a poster competition at the event.

The event, which was hosted by Professor Martin Griffin, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor in Research, and organised jointly by the Research Support Office, ECR Committee and Staff & Graduate Development, will now take place once or twice a year as part of the University’s commitment to supporting the personal, professional and career development of its ECRs, enabling them to become effective and highly-skilled researchers. This commitment was emphasised by Professor Martin Griffin in his welcome note to the participants, underlining that the University has already undertaken a number of initiatives, e.g. ECR Forum, to enhance its ECRs’ career development.

In a talk following his welcome, Professor Griffin gave an overview of the importance of excellent research to Aston University and how this contributes to the University reputation and funding. In this presentation, entitled the Importance of Excellent Research to Aston University, he stressed that over the next 5-10 years Aston aims to become a leading research-led university and to achieve this in today’s rapidly changing environment the University must grow and develop its own ECRs to become world class leaders in their field.

For early stage researchers, research funding/application and research strategy/planning are key to developing a successful research career. It is for this reason that the areas were chosen for this inaugural ECR event. Guided by the Research Development Managers from the four Schools: Dr Karen Woodhall (LHS), Dr Nathaniel Golden (ABS & LSS) and Dr Sarah Lee (EAS), throughout the two days, the participants had the opportunities to learn about, exchange views and work together on important issues, such as personal research strategy and planning, research funding environment, the requirements of different funding calls, writing research proposals, best practice and funding considerations. During the event, they also heard experience from senior academics, such as Professor Jonathan Tritter, Deputy Dean and Professor of Sociology and Public Policy (LSS) and Dr Mark Leaper, Lecturer in Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry (EAS) who came to share their own experience on how to build a successful academic career.

In their respective presentation, Dr James Brown - Co-chair of the ECR Committee, Peter Lakeland - Manager of Staff & Graduate Development, Sally Puzey - Director of Research Support Office and Matt Cooper - Manager of Research Finance Office spoke about a wide range of resources and courses that the University offers to ECRs. For ECRs, especially those are new to Aston, the information on these opportunities is very important because it enables them to know the support, resources and training opportunities that are available to them and how to benefit these opportunities. The event also provided the ECRs with a great opportunity for networking, knowing each other and their research, and this aspect was generally appreciated by the participants. For instance, one said that the event provided them with ‘a chance to meet other ECRs from different Schools, you might not normally encounter’.

The event culminated in a poster award and drinks reception hosted by Prof Martin Griffin, during which he presented the poster prizes to the following three winners:
  • Winner of the 1st prize (£250): Dr Carlos Marques, Marie Curie Intra European Fellow, EAS
  • Winner of the 2nd prize (£150): Dr Xi Yu, Research Fellow, EAS
  • Winner of the 3rd prize (£100): Dr Shakil Ahmad, Senior Research Fellow, LHS

The event was a success because it provided the participants with a good opportunity for networking and deepening their knowledge of issues that are very relevant to them such as research funding, research strategy and planning. 

'The ECR event was very dynamic, engaging and useful. The people involved in the event were knowledgeable, experienced and honest about the funding application process; they shared their personal experiences and answered our questions, making the whole process a bit less intimidating. As a newcomer to Aston, attending the event was an excellent opportunity to meet people from many departments, learn about the range of resources available to researchers and get to know about the excellent research that’s being done at the University’ (Flor Gonzalez Correa, Teaching Associate, LSS). 

I find the event helpful. It helps me to reflect and build my research career. The presentation from senior academics on topics of career pathway and grant application is really valuable for me because it enables me to learn and establish myself as a successful independent researcher. I think this event is indeed beneficial to us because it enhances the connection to Aston's academics’ (Xi Yu, Research Fellow, EAS).

'This event was very useful to broaden and enrich my knowledge. While some of the material wasn’t new to me, I don’t feel like anything was a waste of my time and I came away with some new information. Some sessions answered questions for me that I didn't even know I had yet. It was helpful to meet other researchers in a relaxed environment and I would like to see more of these events in future' (Irundika Dias, Research Fellow, LHS).

This event allows ECRs to build a different vision of the future, given the quality of invited speakers and sharing of activities like group mentored sessions. Here, we talk about different, specific and crucial aspects that we sometimes do not think. It helps us to improve our skills and have new horizons as a researcher. I hope this event will become even greater with more ECRs participating in it’ (Carlos Marques, Marie Curie Intra European Fellow, EAS).

‘I found the event very useful because it gave me plenty of information of what life as a researcher is like. I think that it was brilliantly organised: short presentations and several tea breaks. The venue was very convenient and the expertise of the speakers was impressive’ (Aurelio Caballero, Teaching Associate, LSS).