Wednesday, 28 January 2009

funding applications old and new - part 2

Back to my friend the Grants Register...

  • Hilda Martindale Educational Trust - To help women of the British Isles with the cost of vocational training for any profession or career likely to be of use or value to the community. Contact Miss J L Hurn, Secretary to the Trustees, or email Can apply for up to 1000 pounds. They are interested in supporting women who aren't eligible for grants from research councils (which I can definitely put a case for, seeing how my research really doesn't neatly fit into research council boundaries). March 1st deadline. Have asked for an application form
  • Intellectual Property Office Bursary scheme - for women who have had previous arts experience and who then go on to do a science/engineering course - THIS PAGE SEEMS TO HAVE VANISHED??
  • Carnegie Scholarships - to support PG research for anyone possessing a 1st Class Hons degree from a Scottish university - does my masters count? Full scholarship. March 15 deadline. + other trusts as well - NOT ELIGIBLE :(
  • Lindbergh Grants - Intended for research projects that imporve the quality of life through balance between nature and technology. Maximum of $10580. Aimed at research and education rather than tuition, Deadline: 2nd Thursday in June
  • To add to the BFWG links: FFWG / Crosby Hall Association (British Federation Crosby Hall fellowship) / IFUW - BOTH CHECKED (SEE PART 1 POST)
  • The Hinrichsen Foundation (L E Adamson: The Hinrichsen Foundation Awards, The Hinrichsen Foundation, PO Box 309, KT22 2AT) To promote the written areas of music - contemporary music composition, performance and research. UK applicants given preference. Not sure of Deadline - have enquired. NB: "The Trustees are not as a general rule prepared to finance degree courses. Their aim is to encourage composition and research, but not to finance the acquisition of basic skills in these subjects."
  • Microsoft European PhD Scholarship Programme - very interesting that the first page on their main research site is for their Songsmith project... a good omen maybe? They are looking to fund people who work at the 'intersection of computing and the sciences including biology, chemistry and physics'. Closing date april according to Grants register but according to the microsoft site, applications don't even open till march - I'll keep checking..
Got some nice links from another site as well: or or or or or

(Some of these sites I think I've seen already)

Well I think I've completely exhausted the Grants Register now - and myself! Time to start updating this blog entry with deadline dates and narrowing down who it is worth applying to - lets be brave this year and just really go for it. I've got some great stuff that I'm doing, it's worth funding, lets just see who's lucky enough to be the organisation funding my work.. :)

blog progress

Well as a result of one of my friends (the lovely Sandra) finding my blog and reading about exactly what I'm interested in, we've come across something that could be quite helpful to my research - image schemas. I'd never heard of them until Sandra mentioned them but from what she says, they're definitely worth further investigation. Sandra, I'm coming over to your office now...!!

Sound synthesis articles

As part of some second marking work I was doing for a music technology course, I stumbled across a great set of articles from Sound on Sound, about how sound synthesis works (from the very very basics, onwards)

Having looked through them quickly, I think I'm going to set aside some time to go through these articles properly and make sure my knowledge on this is up to scratch. I guess it's a little off-topic in terms of creativity, but I'm finding that some serious gaps in my knowledge here are causing a bit of a barrier in terms of understanding some of my reading. So this seems like a more successful way to try and plug the gaps rather than ploughing through the massive volume by Curtis Roads, say, on computer music...

Monday, 26 January 2009

Application 1. - done!

So today I finished my application for the Google Anita Borg memorial scholarship, and have submitted it. Fingers crossed... if selected then I get to see Google HQ and possibly have the chance for a 5000 euro scholarship grant.
Two things I've noticed:
  1. It's amazing how people will go out of their way to help another person, even when there seems to be no benefit for themselves (apart from feeling good about helping other people or maybe having the favour repaid at a future time). With my application, four other people have read draft copies of the application text and commented on it, with no expectation of any return for themselves. I'm so grateful to them - Katy, Unaizah, Nick and Geraldine - thank you!
  2. I'm finding that writing applications for grants, scholarships etc, where you really have to sell yourself, is very hard when you are writing to some faceless application panel. However, if I imagine I'm writing to a colleague, or supervisor of some kind, suddenly the process gets a lot easier. I still need to work more on really putting into words what I have to offer in these applications - I guess this is a personal thing (and partly a British cultural thing), not wanting to show off, etc. But doing these types of applications are turning out to be very good for me!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Workshop - Completing the Circle: Incorporating Evaluation in Creative work - part 2

I wanted to blog my notes on each paper from the 'Completing the Circle' Landsdown Symposium, as an online record I can access (rather than paper notes I will no doubt lose or scrunch up by mistake). Seems like a useful way to reflect on the presentations as well, a couple of days later.

Chair's Welcome

Stephen Boyd Davis raised a few interesting questions when introducing the symposium:

  • Is it necessary to evaluate creative work or does the work stand on its own without being experienced by people? Most people at the workshop advocated that some evaluation was necessary as part of the artistic process, mentioning a ?Dewey? quote that I have totally forgotten to reference in my notes. It would have been good to hear a more rounded discussion of this though.
  • Who should evaluate the work - the creator? a specific evaluator? a user? This was most directly addressed byErnest Edmonds, with most other presenters only hinting at this.

Value of HCI evaluation in preserving new media art (Piotr Adamczyk)

Unfortunately the angle this was presented from was so off-topic for me that I didn't find much to help my own work in this talk. Adamczyk's main focus is in preservation and recording of new media art (I believe he works for a museum?). He discussed what control and contribution the audience have over a piece of art, and how this effects evaluation and archiving. A final point Adamczyk made was intriguing: Would generalised evaluation methods "smooth out the rough edges" of creative work? And if so, the "inspections made at these rough edges" might be more informative than investigating the generalisms drawn by such evaluation methods. Fascinating point (maybe I got more from this talk than I first realised).

Evaluating Cause and Effect in User Experience (Mark Springett, Middlesex)

Springett used a case study of examples of user experience of e-banking web design - a slightly different type of visual creativity that added some variety to the papers. He talked about different "instruments for evaluation": actual physical tracking (such as eye tracking or galvanic skin response), asking for summative feedback, conducting probes into causality (direct and indirect) and critiquing user reactions. 

Springett mentioned the triangulation approach to evaluation (evaluating from many different angles) which was also taken up by Michael Hohl later on. I've come across triangulation before in terms of academic training, as Richard Cox and I have discussed it during the work I did for him on the Research Methods course at Sussex. Seems an intuitively good way to progress, as long as each 'point in the triangle' is concretely connected to the other points, to get an overall picture.

[N.B. Could really have done with a coffee break at this point - four presentations in one 2 hour session - and then three presentations over 2 hours 15 after lunch - meant my brain was tiring towards the end of the day]

[At this point in the workshop I was wondering: are we considering the creative work, as I had hoped, or the experience of the audience for that creative work, which is useful but only part of the picture to me. Up till this point it was very much the latter perspective which was prevalent; this continued throughout the day.]

Vision and Reality: Relativity in Art (Robin Hawes, University College Falmouth)

Incorporating psychology, physiology and philosophy. Great ideas in this presentation, that we should be careful when assuming everyone sees the same thing when seeing a piece of art, and evaluating that art accordingly - influences such as individual saccadic patterns when surveying the artwork will mean that different people have different views of the same work. Ideally I would have liked to see this idea pitched at a slightly higher academic level, with more evidence like the eye-tracking experiment for saccades (rapid surveying eye movements when taking in a larger image) to back up what he was saying. Having said that, the paper may be worth a further read to see if Hawes extends what he was saying in the presentation.

Using Grounded Theory to Develop a Model of Interactive Art (Michael Hohl)

I may have written the title down slightly incorrectly here; but the Grounded Theory explanation was the most interesting part of this talk for me. Grounded theory is a technique that seems intuitive but was officially described by Strauss in the sixties, as a social science tool for qualitative evaluation. Hohl presented participants with a piece of interactive art and interviewed them after they had finished interacting with the artwork. The process of going from verbose interviews with no pre-conceived hypothesis to theoretical abstractions was by Grounded Theory. 

As I understand it, there are four stages:

  1. Open coding - tagging the transcriptions with very general themes
  2. Axial coding - Concepts and categories are defined
  3. Selective coding - Refining the concepts
  4. Expressing the theory

I wish I'd known about this before doing a paper based on interviews... but as it turns out this process is pretty much what I did anyway, through seeing other people do research with interviews. Seems quite common sense as well.

Are you seeing what I'm seeing? Eyetracking evaluation of dynamic scenes (Group from Leeds Metropolitan/London Metropolitan)

Tracing the attentional flow of film viewers seeing what they pay attention to. Some very impressive visualisations of this attentional flow which were done in Max/MSP using the Jitter plug-in.

The researchers performed two rounds of statistics during this project. The second round was guided by repeated input from a statistician. I didn't catch much of the exact statistical testing they were doing but I think this would be worth reading about in their paper.

Using the Sensual Evaluation Instrument (Laaksolahti, Isbister, Hook)

Even though this was the talk that had been pointed out to me by two people, I have to admit I was flagging in concentration at this point. All I picked up was that the sensual evaluation instrument seemed to be made up of several small objects of different types of shapes (some smooth, some spiky, etc) that participants used to evaluate how they felt about some object of evaluation. So rather than expressing their thoughts in words, they were asked to express their thoughts via these shaped objects. Rather a nice idea to get around the problem of expressing sub-language concepts in words, but I guess this approach adds a layer of ambiguity in the interpretation - what does it mean if e.g. a person chooses the spiky object to express their thoughts about some piece? You then have to find words to express and interpret this, surely? Otherwise this research is quite limited in the value you can extract for more general evaluation (everything can't be described by shapes! e.g. for papers etc you couldn't use the shapes to describe the findings as effectively and clearly as with words?)

The speaker (Laaksolahti) apologised in advance for poor slides and said he'd had little time to prepare due to illness - this gave me quite a negative initial impression before he had even started - even though he seemed to be very pleasant during the talk. 

3 viewpoints on Interactive Art, Evaluation and user experience (Ernest Edmonds, Zafer Bilda, Lizzie Muller, Creativity and Cognition studios, Sydney, Australia)

This talk was the highlight of the day for me, probably due to Edmonds' excellent presentation of the topic matter. I have a lot of notes from this talk!

The three roles of Evaluator (Bilda), Curator (Muller) and Artist (Edmonds) were discussed, by Edmonds in person and by Bilda and Muller through pre-recorded videos. 

  • Evaluator: Concerned with human behaviour and cognition
  • Curator: Concerned with the audience/artwork encounter (I consider this analogous to a provider or enabler type of role, in a more general context)
  • Artist: Concerned with the functioning of the artwork in particular (more generally I would refer to this role as a 'creator' type of role)

Methods of evaluation: direct observation (getting 'here and now' information but perhaps disrupting the interaction between person and artwork) VS post-event recall by commenting on a video (perhaps more accurate but with some time passing between the event itself and description by the person which may affect how well the person remembers interacting with the artwork)

To get people to engage with the artworks, Edmonds discussed three ways of stimulating engagement: having Attractors to get people interested in the artwork, using Sustainers to maintain their interest, and Relaters which - I think - help the person relate this artwork to other interests of theres (not sure about this last one).

Considering aesthetics as part of the evaluation of artwork: aesthetics includes complexity and ambiguity (as a measure of difficulty) not just beauty/pleasantness (this links back to engagement, I should think). 

Evaluation done by this team uses social science software called (I think) Interact to measure interaction over time by making time-stamped observations (Edmonds et al have another paper on this). 

How do you take interactive art evaluation out of the laboratory setting? Sydney have the Beta-Space which is a public area for installations. 

One point which refers back to something that Adamczyk said earlier: Simplification smooths out over-complexity - but this isn't necessarily the right thing to do. 

Some useful references at the end of this talk: 

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Workshop - Completing the Circle: Incorporating Evaluation in Creative work

I went to this workshop symposium yesterday.

I'll write about it in a bit more detail when I have more time - but general impressions were...

  • Got to hear about creative work in a more broad domain than just music
  • Some innovative ideas in how to evaluate creative work
  • One talk in particular by Robin Hawes was quite thought-provoking - he used physiological and psychological arguments to demonstrate that we don't all perceive things the same way, so this should be taken into account when evaluating such perception
  • Ernest Edmonds' talk was entertaining and had lots of interesting and useful content about the study of cognitive creativity both in his labs in Australia and beyond - especially a plug for the Creativity and Cognition conference that is happening this summer in California + a mention of Leonardo transcriptions - collection of 2 page papers
  • Shame that all presenters only considered visual creativity. The concept of creativity using sound seemed to be entirely absent, to the extent that I felt too shy to ask questions about it, even though I am sure there were at least five people in the audience whose main research focus is sound-based creativity (silly me really, should have been braver)
  • Nearly everyone seemed to focus on evaluating the user experience at the end of the artistic/design process, rather than evaluating any other viewpoints, or taking evaluation during the creative process to be used as feedback in the process. Ernest Edmonds was a notable exception here.

Friday, 16 January 2009

funding applications old and new

Starting the ole "let's try to get funding" process again, for the second time. It's just struck me that a blog would be a great place to store a whole list of potential places to apply to, especially so that I can access it from home etc. So here we go. I have the 'Grants Register' bible and an internet browser in front of me and am ready to go...

Last year's applications
  • Richard Stapley Trust: Charity offering 300-1000 pounds per year for mature postgrad students - they seem to take a genuine interest in the students they sponsor, judging from the correspondence I had from them last year when I successfully got a grant from them. Definitely going to apply again. DEADLINE: 31/03/09. Application form requested
  • AHRC: Really not sure about how to apply to this, this year, it seems to have changed again but the university pages on this are out of date. Depending on whether Sussex is a 'BGP' partner of AHRC, I think I either get considered by the university for AHRC funding, or have to apply directly to AHRC. I really need to talk to someone in the know about this - wonder if my supervisor is up to date with the changes? Or Phil Husbands seems to know what's going on with funding usually. (In fact he'd probably be worth chatting to anyway) UPDATE: Sussex has got a BGP grant, but I'm not sure if I'm eligible to apply - frustratingly, perhaps I might be inbetween research council remits yet again. (With all this focus on interdisciplinary research, you'd think the research councils would be more interested in arts/science crossings?!?) I'm chasing this up. Deadline 20/03/09. Need to submit a 500 word max research proposal, three references and transcripts.
  • Wingate Scholarship: I really like the ethos of this charity - encouraging interdisciplinary research. I got through to the final round last year. Must look at the application to see what I could improve on. UPDATE: Damn I missed the deadline. Very careless of me.
  • Departmental Funding: Well, all I can really do with this is make sure the department know I'm applying and maybe go see Phil Husbands about how I can improve my chances. Depends on what money they've got available but after two failed chances I'm really not hopeful the department is willing to support my research; disappointing given that I particularly liked Sussex's approach to interdisciplinary research when I was deciding to come here and thought I'd have more of a chance. Well musn't grumble, that won't get me anywhere! Actually on further looking, there is a GTA application form - I'll fill that in and get that off ASAP. Note to self... I'll go through and double check the other links advertised on the departmental funding page when I'm done with the Grants Register - lets concentrate on the big book for now. No deadline it seems - I'll fill this in now and check with Richard Chambers as to exactly what to do
  • Google Anita Borg Scholarship: deadline 26th January - work in progress!

New potential options:
  • Open University: Now that I'm a tutor for the OU (or will be) I know they have some money for staff to develop their academic knowledge (the Development fund): "Associate lecturers can apply to the Development Fund that may provide financial support for attendance at events such as external conferences and to help support associate lecturers in PhD and masters studies." I'll contact Sue Truby about this for the best person to approach, and in the meantime will find my login information for the OU site, see if there's anything online that isn't on the main site. UPDATE - this has fallen through as the OU for SE england unfortunately didn't get enough applications to run the course I was supposed to be tutoring :(
  • EPSRC and ESRC: I guess the benefits of such an interdisciplinary research is that I should try all the research councils that might be relevant... they can only say no. I think the EPSRC is through the department only but there is something in ESRC that might be worth pursuing (the open competition) (again the site is out of date currently though...) UPDATE: EPSRC - scholarships distributed through universities (as I thought). ESRC is the only research council I've looked at that is actively encouraging interdisciplinary work but as luck would have it, I'm really not sure whether I'm eligible for this, given that Informatics isn't mentioned on the ESRC page at Sussex. Internal deadlines appear to be in March
  • SEMPRE: Arnold Bentley New Initiatives fund for interdisciplinary music psychology projects (max about £500) deadline 1st May, Conference awards for attending one of SEMPRE's supported conferences - it has to be said that the online list of conferences supported by Sempre is not the most extensive at present... :( and the Aubrey Hickman award for graduate students - which is biennal and linked to Sempre's own conference which happened last year, so I doubt this is available this year.
  • British Federation of Women's Graduates - a lot of opportunities for final year postgrad research. Particularly Kathleen Hall fellowship (but I might be from the wrong country..) **BFWG Scholarships** (2,500-6000 pounds), DEADLINE 27/3/09 IFUW international fellowships (promotion of women in scientific and technological careers - I have to be a member of BFWG) Deadlines: late march/early april. UPDATE: This is biannual and doesn't open again till March 2010. Also FFWG Charitable Foundation (DEADLINE 31/3/09) and Emergency (deadline Feb 21st - missed it) grants. The IFUW website is well worth a look as well - there is a Crosby Hall Fellowship which I might have missed the deadline for (september deadline) CFUW/A Vibert Douglas fellowship (stretching the point on evolutionary aspects of my work somewhat!) and the Dorothy Leet grants and Ida Smedly MacLean fellowships - need to find more out about these (again might have missed the september deadline but to know about just in case for next year) UPDATE - looks like just the BFWG scholarship and the FfWG foundation grants here. Need to pay 20 pounds for the BFWG so checking eligibility, plus have requested a FfWG form.
  • Carnegie Grants and Scholarships - as I have got a good degree from a Scottish university. UPDATE- should only apply for this if work is in a Scottish university or will benefit a Scottish university. Hmm... that might be stretching things for me!
  • Gilchrist Educational Trusts - up to 1000 pounds. closing date feb 28th. Need to show that my need for money is unexpected - this would be due to the recent family circumstances so I could consider applying to this. Also they have group grants which may be interesting for the research group in general perhaps?
  • Leverhulme Trust - can I apply as a person pursuing a research project? Prob not...
  • Reid trust for the higher education of women - a grant to promote the education of women in the UK. Open to women educated in the UK with appropriate qualifications who wish to undertake further training or research. Up to 1000 pounds grant. Deadline 31/5/09 - 1 in 5 chance of success. Need to send a SAE for requesting an application form to: Mrs H M Harvey, Honorary treasurer, Reid Trust (f.t.h.e.o.w) 53 Thornton Hill, Exeter, Devon, EX4 4NR. Founded in connection with Bedford College for women. Administered by a small voluntary committee. No online presence except this PDF. Have requested application form.
So that's me half way through the Grants register. A few new leads when I've searched for general funding options, next time I'll look at the more subject specific leads. Also, when searching through the 'Any student, any subject' options, I could only face doing A-L - there are so many options here! So next time I'll also finish that off. Not a terrible way to spend an hour, especially if it leads to some funding (wish me luck). To be continued...

from negative to positive

My recent blog posts have been concentrating on good intentions - what I could do better from now on. Maybe its time to take a step back and concentrate on what I did achieve academically last term, even with the very heavy demands on my time.

  1. I wrote my first journal paper!! Just waiting to see if it gets accepted. The paper was a follow-on from the interdisciplinary Musicology conference in Greece that I went to last summer (CIM08), and of course it couldn't just be a rewrite of the conference paper. The original conference paper presented a musical accompaniment program which used artificial intelligence to track the performer being accompanied, and play the accompaniment to fit their performance. I extended this work by interviewing 8 human accompanists and comparing my artificial accompanist to the typical strategies that I found from the interviews. How on earth I got time to do these interviews I'll never know, but I was really pleased with the results. I'll talk about this more when I hear back the feedback from the journal reviewers. It's in for the Journal of New Music Research. fingers crossed...
  2. I got masses of experience in teaching and marking... At the start of the term I was quite nervous about marking computer science type scripts, but given the amount of marking I did last term this is now definitely not an issue for me.
  3. Job with Open University. Somehow I found enough time to apply for, and get, a tutor job with the Natural and Artificial Intelligence course for the Open University. I'm just waiting now to see if enough students enrol in the South East England region to justify running the course this February.
  4. After seeing the ESCOM conference for 2009 (European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music) and especially seeing the keynote speakers - David Huron, Ani Patel, Marc Leman and others - I really want to get to this conference. So submitting two abstracts (one talk, one poster) was a major thing for me to do last term. I need to work on what I submitted, to get the work mature enough for this conference, but now that I'm finding more time, these two abstracts give me concrete structures to work around.

That's all that springs to mind right now, but it's been quite good to filter out some points that I'm really pleased with from last term: adds a positive note to the blog as well.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

floundering under a sea of books

Looking at the pile of books around my desk at the moment, I am finding several that I really haven't gotten around to reading yet, that I have had out on loan from the library or have acquired some other way, for a shameful amount of time. 

Some of these books have been key references for me - Wiggins and Delieges book on musical creativity, Lerdahl and Jackendoff's book A Generative theory of tonal music, various books on creativity or emergence, Bregman's Auditory Scene Analysis - the list goes on and on.

Let's face it - even if I sat down and did nothing else but read the books in my shelves, I still couldn't read all of them properly, page-by-page, and in any case I don't have that luxury with time. 

So a new approach is required - I'm going to train myself to be able to pick and choose content better from these books. I need to be stricter and really focus my attention on my research area of musical creativity. Which means, for example, that the Lerdahl and Jackendoff book is only useful to me (right now) for a small project I'm doing on the crossover between musical creativity and creativity in language use, so I should give it the appropriate level of attention and then return it so other people can read it. 

I've kept very sporadic notes from the reading I have done so far, so as of now I'm going to keep these notes electronically and file them together, otherwise they're impossible to find. I guess this blog would be a good place to do this, so quite a few future posts will be my thoughts and notes from books I've read over the past year and a half as well as future books. In a way this will be good anyway, to review what I have read - I'm sure that 75% at least of this reading has gone out of my head by now...

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Work priorities for this term

1. ESCOM work

2. Funding applications

3. Submission for Computational creativity conference (NB if either submission for ESCOM doesn't get accepted, can they be reworked for this conference?) (Where is this conference this year... is it happening?)

learning from last term

So last term was a little bit crazy. I took on too much teaching, marking, gigs, rehearsals, and assorted 'other stuff', at a time when family commitments became quite pressing as well. So my DPhil work really suffered.

However... I still managed to write one journal paper (being sent off for review as I speak/write) and submit two abstracts for the ESCOM conference on music cognition in Finland, which I really hope to go to (some amazing keynote speakers and I am quite interested in Jyvaskala university as well, which is hosting the conference).

So the plan for this term is:

1. To actually have a plan for the term...

2. To be more efficient, sorting things out or plan them as they arrive, so I'm on top of things (particularly emails that I put off replying to - if they're small things I should just do them rather than procrastinating)

3. To organise my academic (and personal) life so that I know where I'm supposed to be and what I'm supposed to be doing, at any one time. (this one is going quite well so far.)

4. To be a bit more ruthless about what I accept and take on - if I can't do it, or if it's not worth the effort, I won't do it... no point in trying to please everyone if my own stuff suffers.

Lets see how this goes... will be interesting to come back to this post in a few months time and see how I'm doing.

Monday, 12 January 2009

time to resurrect this blog... new year's resolution perhaps?