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Archive: April 2016 (Features)

Monday, 25 Apr 2016
Rob Chidley

Operational Research (O.R.) is the science of better decision making and The Operational Research Society runs its Pro Bono O.R. scheme to match up analysts with charities and other third sector organisations to improve their operations - for free!

By Felicity McLeister

On a bright sunny morning in February a group of people gathered together in a function room at Southwark Cathedral to make a film to promote Pro Bono O.R.

Making such a film had been something I’d wanted to do for a little while and this was made possible by the arrival of a full-time marketing and communication manager at The OR Society.

Volunteers and third sector organisations who had taken part in the scheme would be invited to come and talk about their experiences of the scheme in an informal, script-free day full of cake, coffee and filming. 

A venue was selected, a date picked and the requests sent out and I was overwhelmed with the positive responses, given the relatively short notice. The day started bright an early, setting up the room and equipment at 8am for our first interviewee from Diabetes UK to begin at 9am.  Throughout the day we had 12 interviewees: six representatives from The Childhood Trust, Marie Curie, Dachshund Breed Council, Disability Law Service and Bloodwise; and six volunteers who were able to attend, many of who had worked with the charities that were represented.
Representatives of organisations who received Pro Bono O.R. support talked about impact of the project, and the effect of the volunteer who worked on it. Volunteers talked about what it is like to work for a different kind of organisation, how they used their skills on the projects they worked on and the benefits to volunteering.

For me personally this was a great opportunity to meet with many of the organisations and volunteers whom I normally only have email and phone contact with.  It was fantastic to hear first-hand about the projects and the enthusiasm and positivity that all who involved got out of being involved with the scheme.

There was so much footage one film has now turned into two.  One is aimed at encouraging more organisations to take up the offer of Pro Bono O.R. and the other is to encourage more O.R. analysts to sign up as volunteers.

Find out more at about the scheme here or tweet to Felicity McLeister at ‏@FMcLeister to get the conversation started.

Wednesday, 6 Apr 2016
Jeffrey Jones

OR Essentials is an exciting new concept. Our journals provide an important platform for disseminating knowledge across the vast field of what has become accepted as operational research. But if you are looking for papers on a specific technique or methodology or OR has been applied in specific area, searching through these journals for the best papers requires the knowledge and expertise of an expert. And that is precisely what OR Essentials is capturing.

The OR Essentials series presents a unique cross-section of high quality research work fundamental to understanding contemporary issues and research across a range of Operational Research (OR) topics. It brings together some of the best research papers from the Operational Research Society and its associated journals, published by Palgrave Macmillan.

Our discipline of OR deals with the use of advanced analytical methods to support better decision making. It is multidisciplinary with strong links to management science, decision science, computer science and many application areas. It is practised in these application areas including commerce, defence, energy, environment, education, engineering, finance, health, logistics, manufacturing, public sector, services, and transportation. Each of the above has additional theoretical, methodological and technological subdomains. In short, there are a huge number of OR-related topics. As a discipline it has many “sub-fields” making it difficult for a student or novice to know where to begin! The OR Essentials series will help.

Each of the books in the series, and so far there are six with a further two in the pipeline, covers a particular topic. Dr Simon J E Taylor, Brunel University London, who developed the concept, is the series editor and the editor of the first book in the series: Agent-Based Modeling and Simulation. This was quickly joined by OR, Defence and Security (Forder); Operational Research Applied to Sports (Wright); Operational Research for Emergency Planning in Healthcare (Vol 1 & 2) (Mustafee) and; Essentials of Knowledge Management (Edwards). The two on the way are on System Dynamics and Discrete-event simulation and will be available shortly.

An OR Essentials book is therefore a convenient publication and key text that makes it easier for a student to find important publications when studying an element of OR, help an academic to recommend to his/her class background readings in an area of OR in a convenient manner and promotes industrial dissemination in OR. For a practitioner an OR Essential book represents important research papers that summarises an area of OR in an easily accessible form.

More details can be found at If you want to discuss a possible new title in the series then please contact the editor at


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