10 secrets of successful grant applications

During my career I have won bids with a collective value of over £10 million. My success rate is two out of three. Not bad eh! In this post I am going to share all my secrets with you.

1. Start small

When I started at Manchester Metropolitan University I worked in a team well known for their retail research, on a small bid aimed to investigate the training needs of independent retailers. Although the problem was really quite big, the actual project was tightly focused. Without realising it, this was a very important project that went on to define my research profile and identity. I became known as Mrs Small Shops.

2. Think big

Establishing the training needs of independent retailers in the UK is one thing. Actually designing interventions that will improve their business performance is quite another. The next couple of bids I wrote built upon the reputation I had in understanding of research problem and included a diverse range of partners who wanted to tackle the problem in a practical way. One of the outcomes of the Retail Enterprise Network project was the creation of new bite-size qualifications for retailers that could be studied in 10 hours that led to measurable improvements in key performance indicators, such as footfall, sales and profitability.

3. Instill confidence

Having lots of relevant partners is often a good way to instil confidence in the people that are assessing your grant application. If you have all the major players that can help answer a research problem, or a practical problem, or a combination of the two, who are willing to work on your project, then why would the funders reject your application? Another good way of instilling confidence is showing how the project supports the core aims of the organisation you work for. Sometimes grant calls don’t expect you to work with other people, however, having a few letters of support, in my view, never does any harm.

4. Humility

There’s a fine line between instilling confidence and sounding arrogant! If your research is trying to solve ‘real world’ problems, then the ‘real world’ should be part of defining the research objectives and interpreting the research findings. I would class all my research now as a form of engaged scholarship or ‘knowledge partnering’ (Eversole, 2014). Project partners enter into a process of co-inquiry. We agree up front what everyone wants to achieve from the project, and, as Principal Investigator, it is my job to make sure everyone gets what they expected.

5. Accept divides

Whilst I strongly believe all the partners in a project should benefit from participating, that doesn’t mean all the key people in your project can work in the same space. Often there is such big differences in people’s background/foreground, e.g. public sector vs private sector, it is naive (and irresponsible) to expect everyone to work as one happy family. In our latest project, for example, we have created user-groups, so that people from similar backgrounds (property, retailing, policy) can work together. 

6. Collaborate

If other people or other groups are doing similar or useful things related to what you are proposing in your bid then you must try and collaborate. If they don’t seem to want to work with you, then persevere. What are the barriers to working together? How could these be overcome? Is it possible for you to arrange a joint seminar, for example, to share findings at the end of your project. Is someone willing to be a key informant, keynote speaker or visiting researcher or advisor? Sometimes I have had to wait years for a key organisation or person to become a true partner in joint projects. But it is always worth the wait. After all, if they have a reputation in the area in which I am working, then that reputation will have been earned for a reason. Your funder will want to feel that they are spending money which will end in a contribution to knowledge, or practice, or policy. This rarely happens without partnership. To show that you are working with the key players and willing to collaborate will be crucial to your success.

7. Offer value

Funders want to know they are getting value for money. So pack what you can into your bid. This is where having the support of your organisation is very important. Are there opportunities to include activities in your bid that are part of your organisation’s mainstream business? For example, if you work in a university, can the findings of your research project be incorporated into the curriculum? Do you have partners in your project that can incorporate project findings into dissemination events that they run regularly anyway?

8. Think backwards

I learnt this secret fairly late in my bid writing career. It is much easier to craft a convincing bid if you have the end goal clearly in your mind at the beginning. About 10 years ago we realised that town centres should meet the needs of their catchment communities. Common sense. But it’s surprising how easy it is to lose sight of this and write over complicated bids that, collectively, take us no further forward towards an agreed goal.


Following on from my last point, if you cannot explain to someone on the bus or someone in the pub what you are doing and why, in general terms, then it is unlikely you will convince your funder either. Obviously, there will be parts of your bid that may be incredibly detailed and assume a high degree of technical knowledge. But there is always a section that allows you to write a short and simple summary of your project. This is very important. It might only be 150 words but be prepared to invest time and effort in getting this right.

10. Have fun

Bid writing is hard work. And it is even harder work when somebody actually gives you that money to deliver your project! If you don’t enjoy what you do, if you are not really passionate about your end goals, then my advice is to focus on doing something else. Projects can be hard work for your team and your partners too. So don’t be afraid to factor in some fun time. Going on visits, having drinks or meals out, chatting over coffee et cetera are all ways in which you can show your appreciation for everyone’s hard work – and give people a bit of ‘down-time’ as a much-needed contrast to all the high-energy doing and thinking in your project.


Here is a number of publications that have come from the research project funding I have won.

Parker, C., Ntounis, N., Quin, S., & Grime, I. (2014). High Street research agenda: identifying High Street research priorities. Journal of Place Management and Development, 7(2), 176-184 http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/JPMD-06-2014-0008

Coca‐Stefaniak J.A.,  Cathy Parker, Patricia Rees, (2010) “Localisation as a marketing strategy for small retailers”, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 38 Iss: 9, pp. 677 – 697 http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/09590551011062439
Coca-Stefaniak, J.A., Parker, C., Quin, S., Rinaldi, R., Byrom, J. (2009) Town centre management models: A European perspective, Cities,vol. 26 (2), P. 74-80 http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.mmu.ac.uk/science/article/pii/S0264275108001236

Parker, C., Gimenez, R.Y., Coca-Stefaniak, J.A., Byrom, J. (2007) Perceptions of the Andalusian independent retail sector, International Journal of Business and Globalisation, Vol. 1 (1), 125-142 http://www.inderscienceonline.com/doi/abs/10.1504/IJBG.2007.013723

Roper, S., Parker, C. (2006) Evolution of branding theory and its relevance to the independent retail sector, The Marketing Review, Vol. 6(1), pp. 55-71 http://mmu.library.ingentaconnect.com/content/westburn/tmr/2006/00000006/00000001/art00005
Coca-Stefaniak, A., Hallsworth, A.G., Parker, C., Bainbridge, S., Yuste, R. (2005) Decline in the British small shop independent retail sector: exploring European parallels, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Vol. 12(5), p. 357-371 http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.mmu.ac.uk/science/article/pii/S0969698904000943
J. Andres Coca‐Stefaniak, Cathy Parker, Amadeu Barbany, Xavier Garrell, Enric Segovia, (2005) “Gran Centre Granollers – “city, culture and commerce””, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 33 Iss: 9, pp.685 – 696 http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/09590550510611878

Parker, C. and Coca-Stefaniak, J. A. (2005) Looking back and looking forward. In J. A. Coca-Stefaniak and B. Oldfield, eds. The persefones project: a twinning experience. Manchester: Manchester Metropolitan University http://e-space.openrepository.com/e-space/handle/2173/85934

Cathy Parker, Tracey Anthony‐Winter, David Tabernacle, (2003) “Learning by stealth: introducing smaller retailers to the benefits of training and education in Barnet”, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 31 Iss: 9, pp.470 – 476 http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/09590550310491441

Ruth Anne Schmidt, Cathy Parker, (2003) “Diversity in independent retailing: barriers and benefits – the impact of gender”, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 31 Iss: 8, pp.428 – 439 http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/09590550310484106

Hallsworth, A., Parker, C., & Coca-Stefaniak, A. (2003). Small Retail and TCM Shemes: Theory and reality from UK y USA. I Encuentro Centros comerciales Abiertos.

John Byrom, Cathy Parker, John Harris, (2002) “Towards a healthy high street: identifying skills needs in small independent retailers”, Education + Training, Vol. 44 Iss: 8/9, pp.413 – 420

Richard Hudson‐Davies, Cathy Parker, John Byrom, (2002) “Towards a healthy high street: developing mentoring schemes for smaller retailers”, Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 34 Iss: 7, pp.248 – 255 http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/00197850210447237

John Byrom, John Harris, Cathy Parker, (2000) “Training the independent retailer: an audit of training needs, materials and systems”, Journal of European Industrial Training, Vol. 24 Iss: 7, pp.366 – 374 http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/03090590010377727
Parker, C., & Byrom, J. (Eds.). (2000). Towards a healthy high street: Training the independent retailer. Manchester Metropolitan University. http://www.opengrey.eu/item/display/10068/578514


Can we provide more accurate predictors of footfall than catchment alone?

Continuing on the theme of identifying research questions for our Improving the Customer Experience in Town Cenres: Bringing Big Data to Small Users project, we are wondering whether we can start to predict footfall in a particular location.

With more retail sales moving on-line and out-of-town then traditional catchment areas or numbers may need updating. In fact, in HSUK2020, Millington, Ntounis, Parker and Quin (2015) found that local resident population was a better predictor of footfall in smaller locations than catchment statistics. We like footfall as a measure as it concentrates on actual attractiveness (the number of people a retail centre actually attracts) rather than ‘potential’ attractiveness (catchment). 
We will develop an improvement on existing methods of identifying catchment by providing a new method of predicting footfall (consisting, initially, of those components identified in USUK2020, i.e., geographical location, location of nearest stronger centre, resident population, employment, tourism and vacancy rates). First of all, we will want to compare estimated footfall from our HSUK2020 footfall predictor against actual footfall and catchment data for all towns in the Springboard historical footfall dataset. Then we will refine our original HSUK2020 model to improve its predicative ability. This will also allow decision-makers to estimate how attractive a location is (how many people it should be attracting) – especially important for smaller centres that may not be able to afford to collect real-time footfall data.

How does weather impact upon footfall?

Bad weather can impact on footfall, especially in traditional open retail centres like the High Street. During traditional peaks like Easter, bad weather can reduce footfall by around 5% according to Springboard who collect footfall data in retail centres across the UK. But good weather doesn’t impact as positively on retail footfall as consumers often find other things to do when the sun shines – like visiting the seaside, parks and other attractions.

 Retailers have to be very good at predicting the weather (and pay the Met Office to provide this insight) – as staffing levels and product ranges need to be sensitive to changes in both temperature and precipitation. Many maths graduates go on to careers with grocery retailers modelling the relationships between weather, consumer demand and the subsequent impact this then has to have on retail operations. Just how many barbecues do we need to put out on display next Saturday?

We are just about to start a big project that will analyse 9 years of hourly footfall data against 9 years of hourly weather data! For the first time the project consortium, led by researchers at MMU and Cardiff University, will be able to fully understand how weather changes  consumer behaviour and retail sales in specific locations  – not just in comparison shopping centres, but also in seaside and holiday or tourist destinations.
For more information on this project follow the link
And read this blog for more ‘soft launch stories’ around this research

What different town types are emerging in the multi-channel era?

Our ‘Bringing Big Data to Small Users‘ project is funded by Innovate UK, the UK Goverment’s innovation agency, to improve the customer experience of town centres and traditional retail areas, such as high streets and markets. The project will do this by bringing new research and insight directly to key stakeholders in locations – such as retailers and other businesses, property owners, local councils and place managers. The project is led by retail data specialists Springboard, who are the sector leaders in collecting footfall data in retail and other locations.

The new insight generated by the project is completely unique – it will come from combining nine year’s of UK multi-centre, hourly, historical footfall counts from Springboard with a number of key sources of information from other sources – such as retail sales, meteorological data, customer satisfaction, sentiment analysis, customer flow and dwell times. For the first time the Manchester Metropolitan University and Cardiff University research project team, consisting of world-leading retail and computer science researchers, will be able to scientifically test a number of assumptions – such as the relationship between car-parking charges and town centre performance.

The first task we have set ourselves is to develop a long list of the type of problems we want the data to answer. We will be sharing these over the next couple of days so that project partners and other interested people can give us their initial reaction and feedback. I start with the first research question we have identified – to give you an idea of the type of research and analysis we will be doing in the first stage of the project.

What different town types are emerging in the multi-channel era?

Our preliminary research (part of HSUK2020), strongly indicated the existence of distinct footfall signatures (comparison shopping, speciality and convenience/community). Are these town types recognisable in the bigger data set we now have? Are there other signature types present in the data, different town types we may want to include (for example, holiday towns). What makes a signature distinctive? For example, when is a town a comparison shopping town? In our previous research, we identified comparison shopping towns by those that display significant ‘January Drops’ (reduction in footfall after Christmas). But we need a more scientific method to define signature types. Our new method will now include daily and weekly variations – thanks to all the hourly footfall data Springboard have provided the research team.

Once we have established a reliable method to identify town types we can then find out how many UK retail centres have, or have had, a recognisable signature. In other words, what type of towns have we got in our sample? Can we find evidence of towns changing type – or are town types comparably stable over time? To what extent do our town types correspond to existing typologies or hierarchies? Is there a relationship between the amount of footfall and town type? In other words, do all comparison shopping towns have the largest amount of footfall. Conversely, do all convenience/community towns have the smallest footfall. Is there any recognisable pattern to the location of town types? Does the ‘north/south’ divide we see in other retail statistics (e.g. vacancy rates) exist in relation to footfall and town types? To what extent do the signature types we find in the data correspond to existing perceptions or current decision-making, plans and strategies? In most of our HSUK2020 project towns, stakeholders perceived their centres to be comparison shopping or speciality but as we didn’t have footfall data we couldn’t test their assumptions. Are place managers’ intuitions reliable (do they accurately predict town type), aspirational (implying town types can change) or delusional (because their assessment is inaccurate and town types are fixed)?

A full list of research questions will be published over the next couple of days through my blog. I welcome any feedback or comments. Will this research be useful – are there other questions we should be asking?

Getting our heads around little big data

It sounds like a character from The Beano – but ‘little big data’ describes the size of the file of footfall data Springboard has just given IPM access to, which contains over 9 years of hourly footfall data, from locations around the UK.

This file of historical footfall will provide us with the data we need to test a number of assumptions (or maybe myths) about what affects the performance of the UK High Street.

This research forms part of a large government-funded Innovate project which will improve the customer experience of UK town centres, through improving the quality of place management decision making.

Today myself and Dr Christine Mumford at Cardiff School of Computer Science and Informatics, the Principal Investigator for the inductive and computational research stage of the project, have been orientating ourselves with the data (there is a lot of it) and writing the protocols for how we store and access the data – as it is, of course, very valuable.

The next stage is to identify a clear set of hypotheses or research questions we are going to answer, using Springboard’s historical footfall data – as well as other data such as population, employment, weather and retail sales.


Too posh for Aldi?

Last week I was invited onto BBC Radio Manchester to discuss an online row that had erupted in the Cheshire village of Poynton about the opening of a new Aldi store.

The online discussion on the Poynton Forum – was started by Poytonman62 posting

“I thought we were making real progress as a community with the opening of Waitrose in 2012. However with the opening of Aldi I feel as though we are taking a step back into the lower class.”

Aldi and Waitrose are at very different ends of the grocery retail market – but both have a similar market share (around 5%). And both are growing at the expense of The Big 4 (Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons) because, love them or hate them, they have a clear offer. Aldi is cheap and Waitrose is posh.

In contrast, The Big 4 have created confusion around their brands – is Asda cheaper than Sainsbury’s? Are Tesco Finest dishes finer than Morrison’s Signature dishes? Consumers aren’t stupid – we know these items are often made by the same manufacturers and just packaged differently. Likewise we know some ‘deals’ do not always represent better value. For example, Sainsbury’s are dropping ‘buy two get one free’ offers because they are not saving people money – instead, these offers are just encouraging customers to buy more than they need.

Opinion as to whether Aldi is a good or a bad addition to the village of Poynton is clearly firmly divided with one online forum user (Anotherwhingerlikeu) saying “It has the feel of an indoor market area with a car boot sale in the middle”. But markets and boot sales are well known for bargains, and another user (Belvoir) pointed out that Aldi is great for low prices – and cited caviar face cream – normally costing over £100, being available in Aldi for only £6.99.

Towns and their collective offer of shops are there for everyone – and one man’s tat is another man’s treasure. Retailers compete by offering a bundle of products, prices and service that appeal to particular customer segments. There is a lot of talk about customer loyalty in retailing – but loyalty can mean being loyal to brands (and shopping at different outlets), being loyal to outlets (and buying own brands) or being loyal to the idea of saving money (and buying bargains wherever they appear).

When discounters like Aldi entered the UK market they were just expected to appeal to people who had less money to spend, but 20% of Aldi’s customers are AB or middle class. And this figure is rising. Liking a bargain – or not feeling you are being ripped off – is not just the prerogative of poorer shoppers.

The last few years have been characterised by low consumer confidence. People obviously feel they should tighten their belts when there is talk of unemployment, or bad times ahead – but do you really have to do without Serrano ham when it is 1/10th of the price you are used to paying for it? Aldi and other discounters allow consumers to have their cake (or even posh gateaux) and eat it, literally.

Many of the posts on the Poynton Forum are not just about Aldi. They are more general comments about parking and also the impact the opening of another supermarket will have on local shops.

At the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University we have just completed a nationwide project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, that investigated all the factors that influenced high street performance (High Street UK2020), in particular footfall – or how many people shop in an area. The convenience of a centre was the 5th most important factor out of the 201 that we found. In other words how convenient is a centre to reach and get around once you are there is a very important predictor of its performance.

The Aldi development is not as convenient and well connected to the rest of Poynton as some of the other supermarkets (Waitrose, Asda and Coop). The Aldi is over the 500m distance of the typical linked trip. That’s when you go to a centre for one purpose, like a top-up shop (milk, toilet paper etc) and then also visit other stores or services, like stopping for a coffee, popping to the bank or doing other shopping like buying cakes at the bakery or picking up a birthday card.

So Aldi is unlikely to strengthen the collective offer of the village. Putting it simply, people driving to Aldi and parking are unlikely to shop in rest of Poynton. In fact, the walk from Aldi to Waitrose, the strongest anchor at the end of Park Lane, is well over half a mile.

Of course when Aldi and Lidl entered the UK, market analysts thought that there would be no cross-shopping between the discounters and high end stores like Waitrose. But that’s not the case. Consumers are far more willing to buy from a variety of stores. Some of that is due to the amount of in-town competition and provision. After the government of the day cracked down on the development of out of town shopping – The Big 4 grocery stores moved into town and edge of town centres because it was the only space they were allowed to expand into.

All of a sudden customers had a realistic choice to driving to an out of town location and doing a weekly shop. And that’s often been good news for the smaller traditional stores that tend to be located on high streets like Poynton. Supermarkets bring footfall.

As a village Poynton is very fortunate – as according to Which they have both of the UK’s best supermarkets, Aldi and Waitrose. Whether you think Aldi is good news or bad news is a matter of personal opinion and, of course, where you shop is up to you. As an academic who has been studying town centre change for nearly 20 years I am pleased to see there is such a strong local grocery retail offer in Poynton. Which is accessible to both car drivers and pedestrians.

If you want to hear the full BBC Radio Manchester story click here.

If you want to see how the Daily Mail covered the story click here.

The High Street and technology: Friend or foe?

The Internet is a transformative technology. It is changing retailing. At IPM we have been lucky enough to have access to Springboard’s historical footfall data. We have analysed over half a billion shopper movements, and the overall picture is that town centres and traditional retail areas like High Streets are in decline.

Whilst much has been made of the ‘restorative power’ of innovations such as click and collect, in general retailing is shifting on-line and out-of-town. Springboard’s footfall figures from Black Friday demonstrated this, measuring a 10% decline in High Street footfall, compared to the same day in 2014. In 2015, many multi-channel retailers were keen to offer higher discounts online, perhaps to avoid the more shameful displays of in-store consumer behaviour we have seen in previous years. Similarly, many shoppers picked up a car boot-full of bargains, enjoying the convenience of driving to their local retail park (where footfall was up 3%, compared to Black Friday 2014).

Whilst national statistics can be very useful, averages can be misleading. When we drilled down into the Springboard data we found many centres with stable or increasing footfall, even over the Christmas period. And we think we know why. Those centres with a clearer collective offer perform significantly better than those whose offer is unclear. So far, we have identified 3 generic types of centre offer from their footfall profiles. Comparison, speciality and convenience/community towns. Comparison shopping towns still have significant retail floor space. The anchor is clearly retail. These towns and cities are where multichannel retailers are concentrating their offer. In contrast, speciality towns are not anchored by retail. They tend to have a strong tourist offer instead. Convenience community towns are anchored by services that people need frequently, if not daily. Like transport hubs, employment or food retail.

What’s interesting is that size does not always predict centre type. We are releasing a report early next year with our findings but the headline message is this….

“retailers will perform better if their offer is congruent to the overall offer of the location”.

In other words, if retailers collaborate with other stakeholders and help deliver the overall experience customers want from a location, they will attract more footfall. For example, a failing comparison centre should be concentrating its retail offer geographically if the catchment usage and profile suggests the town needs to adjust to becoming a convenience/community town. The Internet makes this possible as so much comparison shopping has already shifted from smaller centres online. Shops selling stock have a big physical footprint – they take up space (remember the size of an average Woolworths?) Without so many of these ‘public warehouses’, centres can shrink and become more walkable and convenient for regular – in some cases, daily visits. Some comparison retailers should be thinking of more congruent store formats to suit convenience/community or speciality locations. The big four grocery retailers have already showed how they can shrink the size of their operations significantly and slot into existing units in traditional centres.

We see many opportunities for the disruptive power of the Internet to save some of our failing physical retail environments. However, in many instances we are concerned that it just won’t happen. Strategic decision making skills and the analytical skills needed to use evidence to inform change are poor – so many of the positive opportunities technology can bring will be missed. Through our High Street UK partnership with 10 UK towns, we have already identified the 25 priorities that will improve footfall in physical retail centres and technology can facilitate many of these. For instance, intelligent waste disposal and more responsive or even automated street cleaning can improve levels of cleanliness. And these seemingly basic aspects of the customer experience take on even more importance when people have a choice not to visit physical locations at all.

In summary technologies can help physical centres – but they need grasping and integrating. And this shouldn’t be just the responsibility of the local authority. Because if retailers invest in strengthening the locations they are in, in the way our research suggests, they will see a return on investment, in the same way they invest in back-room operations to improve the bottom line.


Journal rankings – do we care?

Last month the latest version of the Journal Citation Report (JCR) was released by Thomson Reuters. This publication is viewed as the ‘industry standard’ in terms of establishing a publication’s impact. The report does this by calculating a variety of metrics which stem from the number of citations an article in any given publication achieves.

With over 11,000 journals now publishing peer-reviewed research, it is not surprising that individual researchers and their employing institutions find the sort of statistics and rankings contained in the JCR helpful.

Researchers want their work to make a contribution to knowledge, so the average number of citations per article for a journal is a useful way of seeing if previous research published in that journal has a higher (or lower) citation rate. The more people that cite articles – the more those articles are likely to be influencing the development of theory or knowledge in an area.

Likewise, universities want to know that they are investing in influential research (and researchers), in terms of funding activity and promoting their best academic staff.

But what about journal editors like us? What do all these metrics and the rankings mean to the Journal of Place Management and Development?

Well firstly, as a relative new journal (published since 2008) we are not currently reviewed by Thomson Reuters. Therefore we do not appear in the JCR. Game over? Well, not quite. As we have already said, rankings and listings are a popular and simple way by which a journal’s impact is judged. Therefore, if we want to attract authors, reviewers and Editorial Board Members we need to give some indication as to how well JPMD performs.

Despite not being included on the Thompson Reuters JCR list, it is still possible to compare the citations of JPMD articles, using other, publicly accessible sources, such as The SCImago Journal & Country Rank. This uses information from the Scopus® database (Elsevier B.V.), which does include the Journal of Place Management and Development.

This year, our cites per document over a 2 year period (which is calculated in the same way as the Thomson Reuters journal impact factor) is 1.45 which puts JPMD in the top quartile of journals in Urban Studies (12th), Business & International Management (51st) and Geography, Planning & Development (80th). And it means we are also above ‘average’ in Strategy & Management, Tourism, Leisure & Hospitality Management, and Marketing too.

So what does this mean? Well, we are fairly specialist and have not published that many articles. Therefore, there is a fairly ‘tight’ community around the JPMD, which makes it more likely that the authors that publish in it are building on each other’s work. However, as a group we must be careful that we do not ‘game’ and skew the results – by, for example, only citing authors that also publish in JPMD or, even worse, self-cite too often. All of this gets monitored and could result in the JPMD being blacklisted in future rankings and listings.

The ease by which the 2 year citation average (Impact Factor) can be manipulated is probably why it is frequently criticised. Nevertheless, other metrics, such as the SJR indicator go one step further to measure the “scientific influence of the average article in a journal” and express how central to the global scientific discussion an average article of the journal is. This metric also includes where the citations are to be found, as well as how many are counted. Therefore, SJR includes both a measure of quality and quantity. The results using the SJR indicator for the JPMD are the same as for the 2 year citation average, which means we are also performing well in terms of our articles being cited in higher quality / more established journals.

So, whilst there are different ways of measuring, listing and ranking, we do care how well JPMD does as it shows how relevant the research we publish is to other academics. However, it is the individual articles that, collectively, make up the journal’s position, so the only way to improve our standing is to attract the best quality research and provide an excellent service to our authors. In our first Editorial of 2016 (Volume 9, Issue 1) we will explain how we intend to do this. But, as always, we are very open to your ideas and suggestions.

Cathy Parker and Dominic Medway

Note : If you are interested, and want to make comparisons with other journals, you can see the JPMD’s performance in the SCImago Journal & Country Rank for yourself here.

Journal of Place Management and Development Awards for Excellence: Who won and why

Yesterday, Emerald Group Publishing, publishers of our Journal of Place Management and Development, (JPMD) announced the 2015 awards for excellence across the whole of their journal portfolio.

First of all, on behalf of the Editorial Board and Team, I would like to congratulate our JPMD winners listed below. It is not easy to be chosen for one of these awards. As many of our articles have high download figures and citations, we also take into account other factors, especially the contribution of a paper to the aims and objectives of the journal, when we are judging. Likewise, as we are lucky to have such a wonderful body of knowledgeable and reliable reviewers, we have to look for other outstanding qualities, to recognise our award-winning reviewers.

So, here are the JPMD, 2015 Outstanding Authors and Reviewers along with a short commentary from me explaining why they were chosen.

Outstanding Paper

The award of Outstanding Paper 2015 goes to Staci M. Zavattaro, for “Re-imagining the sustainability narrative in US cities“, Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 7 Iss: 3, pp.189 – 205.

Staci takes a critical look at how US cities are communicating about sustainability, through reviewing content on their websites. The findings suggest rather a myopic (environmentally-focused) view of sustainability is often portrayed, ignoring social and economic goals. However, of more concern, is the place marketing activity analysed. This promotes ‘sustainability as consumption’ which Staci notes is unsustainable. As well as these findings, there are four other reasons which, together, we feel makes this paper outstanding.

First, the paper is interdisciplinary – combining theory and methods from political science, public administration, marketing, management and tourism. The literature reviewed is rich enough to fully analyse the research problem identified, in this case the ‘gap’ between the long-term aim of sustainability for the planet and the current communication practices of specific cities.

The research problem also deserves special mention, as the second reason this paper was enjoyed by the judges. It is a ‘real-word’ problem, affecting most places. It is not merely an academic endeavour, so ultimately the findings can be adopted/adapted/interpreted by place managers to make better, more sustainable, places.

Third, the method was appropriate and ‘scientific’ in its application. As a piece of qualitative research it was clear what content had been chosen to analyse and how it was analysed.

Finally, Staci has identified recommendations for practitioners – as part of the overall methodology adopted (in other words, these are not just an afterthought – but their development is an intrinsic part of the study). As the official journal of the Institute of Place Management, where the great majority of our members are practitioners, there is an expectation that articles in the journal will be useful outside of academic circles, and can have genuine impact. It is not much help to a busy, and usually under-resourced, place manager to read ‘critical reviews’ which only identify the faults and flaws in current practice and do not offer solutions or recommendations to improve the status quo.

Highly Commended Paper

The award of Highly Commended Paper 2015 goes to Salman Yousaf and Li Huaibin, for “Branding Pakistan as a “Sufi” country: the role of religion in developing a nation’s brand”, Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 7 Iss: 1, pp.90 – 104.

Salman and Li present a very different type of paper. It is almost a ‘worked example’ of a specific policy recommendation – to associate Pakistan with the many positive aspects of the Sufi religion – in contrast to the existing, widely-held, negative perceptions of the country. As a journal that seeks to publish research of international importance, this article has the potential to make a real difference to a whole nation, if the recommendations are adopted by policy makers. The passion and conviction with which the authors write is also unusual in journal articles. But perhaps not in the Journal of Place Management and Development, where ‘place’ and ‘people’ are valued as an intrinsic part of the research inquiry.

Outstanding Reviewers

The awards for Outstanding Reviewers 2015 go to Javier Lloveras and
Eduardo Oliveira, for similar reasons. Both Javier and Eduardo have recently completed their PhDs. However, when they were both in their final year, preoccupied with the stresses and strains that come with the fast-approaching deadline of ‘hand-in’, they both found time to review for JPMD. Despite being new to the process, their responses were extremely detailed, offering lots of guidance and advice for the authors if aspects needed to be improved or, if they felt the paper was not good enough, very specific feedback explaining their decisions. It is really good to see academics at the start of their career share their skills and knowledge of their subject areas so willingly.

Congratulations Staci, Salman, Li, Javier and Eduardo! Our outstanding class of 2015.


The Outstanding Paper is available to download, free of charge, until 1st June 2016. Staci M. Zavattaro, “Re-imagining the sustainability narrative in US cities“, Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 7 Iss: 3, pp.189 – 205.

The Highly Commended Paper is available to download, free of charge, from 1st to 31st July 2015. Salman Yousaf and Li Huaibin, “Branding Pakistan as a “Sufi” country: the role of religion in developing a nation’s brand“, Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 7 Iss: 1, pp.90 – 104.


The Impact of Litter on Place Attitudes

Litter is one of the scourges of modern society. In the United Kingdom alone, more 30 million tonnes of unofficial litter (i.e. not in bins and recognised disposal units) are collected from streets annually, costing UK local authorities some £885 million to clean up.
In a new study, published this week in in the Journal of Marketing Management, I have investigated (along with my co-authors Professor Dominic Medway and Professor Stuart Roper) how attitudes to places are affected by litter. For the first time, by adopting a quasi-experimental method with over 600 respondents, this study has provided evidence of a causal relationship between litter and place attitudes, at the level of the individual. The place chosen for the study was a park.

This, we hope, will be helpful information for local authorities making budgetary decisions. Councils have been cutting their investment into litter collection and street cleaning – but this study is the first of its kind to show that seeing litter does reduce attitudes. We go on to argue that as many of the other forms of place marketing (associated, for example, with inward investment) have not proved their worth, in ROI terms, then public money is better targeted at more basic interventions, like litter clearance, if a place wants to have a better image.

Finally, the study concludes that there is nothing contentious about clearing up litter. Unlike other physical incivilities, such as graffiti, everyone hates litter! Likewise, its removal is very straightforward and isn’t associated with any displacement effects. This is in contrast to interventions such as CCTV which are costly and complicated and which have been associated with relocating rather than reducing crime.
The Journal of Marketing Management is offering FREE ACCESS to this article. You can access it here.