Is there a culture of denial around sexual misconduct in academia?

I write this from my office in a department of philosophy somewhere in the northern hemisphere. Beside my computer, the unshorn mug of Harvey Weinstein stares out from the cover of the 23 October edition of Time magazine. Beside his unpleasant mien are three words: Producer, Predator, Pariah. Academia is no Hollywood, but it is also infected by a hidden epidemic of sexual misconduct. There is at least one sexual predator… Read more
Face of a woman with her eyes shut

Kevin Veale: Tactics for addressing Alt-Right ideologies in the classroom

Universities are generally understood to be bastions of independent thought and free-expression, which is exactly what they need to be. However, one of the realities that we need to take into account is that “freedom of speech,” “free expression” and other vitally important ideals are not and never have been evenly distributed within our society: the Guardian studied its own comments section and revealed… Read more
Meeting full of alt-right Pedro Frog characters.

John Morgan: Are graduates good value for money?

The world has more graduates than ever before. In an era of mass expansion, the proportion of the population with degrees is at a historical high across many nations, both developed and developing. The world also has more newspaper and magazine articles, thinktank reports and academic papers than ever before questioning the value of that expansion. In recent years, policymakers have been driven by a human capital… Read more
mortarboards being thrown in the air

Jäschke, Linek, and Hoffmann: New media, familiar dynamics: academic hierarchies influence academics’ following behaviour on Twitter

Twitter is a platform well-suited for disseminating and collecting information. Politicians, NGOs, and corporations eagerly employ Twitter for agenda-setting. The platform is a popular source of news and quotes for journalists. As a result, academics may be attracted to Twitter for public outreach and research dissemination. A recent study of computer scientists’ activity on Twitter finds that information… Read more
Twitter bird wearing a black mortarboard

The Thesis Whisperer: I call bullshit on pointless ‘hope labour’

About 30% of my work week is classified as ‘service’: work that supports others in the community, such as sitting on committees, writing reviews and references, consulting on problems and so on. As a result of this higher than usual level of service work, the sheer number and range of things I do in a day can be bewildering. Sometimes I feel like I work behind the counter at an academic delicatessen serving an endless… Read more
Frazzled academic under a stack of marking in front of a blackboard

Charles Chu: Umberto Eco on the Merits of Studying History (and the Terrors of Losing It)

Unit 731. Sound familiar? Probably not. Until recently, I didn’t know what they were. Or what they did. Unit 731 was a Japanese military unit responsible for chemical warfare and biological research during WWII. Here’s a small sample of what they were capable of, from Wikipedia: “Physiologist Yoshimura Hisato conducted experiments by taking captives outside, dipping various appendages into water, and allowing… Read more

Shahidha Bari: The curse of the living deadline

A few weeks ago, you might have heard that somebody took a steamroller to novelist Terry Pratchett’s hard drive. At the Great Dorset Steam Fair, an industrial beast named Lord Jericho was tasked with executing the last wish of the Discworld creator, who died in 2015 after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease: the utter obliteration of his unfinished works. There are reasons you might not wish your last work to… Read more
Cartoon of a person sitting at a desk in deep procrastination.

Sui Huang: Bland peer review needs a pinch of salt

Research funding agencies face a daunting task when deciding which proposed research project to fund. It takes a great deal of expertise to distinguish between what investor Warren Buffett once called the “three I’s”: innovators, imitators and idiots. The anonymous peer review system that has emerged as the universal and unquestioned tool for assessing research grant applications reliably eliminates… Read more
Dilbert and manager discussing peer review

Minouche Shafik: Experts must fight back

Universities often take their public value for granted. We witness at first hand how immersion in an environment of scholarship, diversity and enquiry can open doors of opportunity for students from all sorts of backgrounds. We have seen pioneering research save lives, reduce poverty, expand the frontiers of human knowledge, and enrich us all. And it’s not just about the headline-grabbing graduate and research… Read more
French scientists and researchers protesting in the 2017 March for Science

Pat Thomson: blogging helps academic writing

Why do academics blog? What do academic bloggers get from blogging? Discussions about scholarly blogging most often centre on the need for we academics to write in ways that attract new audiences. If we write blogs, we are told, we can communicate our research more effectively. Blogs enhance impact, they are a medium for public engagement. The advocacy goes on… Blogs (and other social media) can point readers to our… Read more
A picture of The Thinker against a black background with the phrase "I think, therefore I blog" in large text.