I would like to start this post by saying a massive thank you to everyone out there supporting this project. To those who have given money to this research and all of you in the background spreading the word and rallying the troops. It all means a great deal to not only me but the people who will ultimately get to use the information from this work to help bat conservation.
There has been a question posed about the academic integrity of my work and why I can’t get academic funding. It’s a fair question as to those who don’t know much about academic funding it may seem a simple solution. I will start with a bit of background to my work. My original project was funded by several industrial bodies including NGOs and SNCOs and by the Engineering Research Council EPSRC. This funding was for an Engineering Doctorate, which is a doctorate based within industry. Therefore it has to have a real life problem that is backed by those who need the solution. This project was always a bit of an ‘odd one out’; combining ecology, conservation, materials science and engineering is not something you come across every day.
The research itself looked at an area that had never previously been considered. This made it very hard to quantify in terms of research value. So throughout the work I have strived to make the research bridge the gap between conservation and construction…therefore making it have not only academic value but industrial impact.
Throughout this work the research has been backed by academics and industrial partners, testing methods are based on currently used British Standards and results have been verified throughout. During my viva my external examiner (a renowned bat scientist) stated that my work should be published in a series of 4-5 papers. This (and the fact my work passed the viva) shows the academic integrity of my work.
The plan was always to put papers out, however there were a couple of issues. The interdisciplinary nature of my work meant that many Journals did not think it met their scope…too much about buildings for conservation journals and vice versa. By the time I published one paper the focus had to shift to the thesis submission. Now anyone who knows academia knows that to get any kind of funding you need papers. The more the better! You also need to be able to show the interest level surrounding your topic (it needs to meet the ‘hot topic’ criteria) and it needs to fit the scope of the funding body.
My project is unique there is nobody else studying it, so it is hard to show an interest level as so little work has been done in the area. My research is also so interdisciplinary that it doesn’t fit in a nice neat bubble of tick boxes so finding the right funder is more difficult. Finally, I will write papers on this topic, however, this will take time. It could take a year to get my work published and then another year to find funding……..I personally think this issue needs tackling now.
PhDs are relatively cheap to fund which is why there appear to be a good number around. Post-doctoral funding is a different ball game and anyone can tell you right now, funding is hard to find for any subject let alone conservation. Which is why I asked everybody to help keep this research going, so we can all work together to find solutions to this problem. Crowdfunding is not by any means a traditional way to fund research but with limited resources and a unique project I thought it was worth a try.
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