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.

Glen Wright: The conundrums of academic co-authorship: cats, credit and croquet

Choosing your co-authors is not dissimilar to choosing a life partner (except you can always change your partner, but once your names are together on a paper, there’s no taking it back). Generally, academics team up with close colleagues or others from their field, but the literature also evidences some unexpected collaborations. David Manuwal, an emeritus professor at the University of Washington, managed to… Read more
cartoon of a head researcher telling a junior researcher to take next week to write in the names f all of the people who co-authored

Gavin Costigan: Academic recognition for public policy work is slowly gathering pace

Issues surrounding how universities should work with industry on commercialisation of research have been a topic of conversation in the UK for at least 30 years. There is a major report on university-business collaboration every 18 months or so, immortalising the names of Dowling, Lambert, Witty, Adonis, Hauser and the rest. Many of these reports bemoan a lack of progress and highlight things that still need to be… Read more

Book Review: Research Justice: Methodologies for Social Change edited by Andrew J. Jolivette

Research can be unjust, even abusive. Many people know about historical abuses such as the Tuskegee study of the mid-twentieth century in which Black American men with syphilis were studied instead of being treated. There is much less awareness that injustice and abuse are also caused by contemporary research, which is often conducted and reported in ways that perpetuate inequalities. The aim of Research Justice:… Read more
Book cover for Research Justice: Methodologies for Social Change

Book Review: Academic Conferences as Neoliberal Commodities by Donald J. Nicolson

While rarely interrogated for the role that they play, academic conferences form a significant part in the construction of an academic career. Any aspiring, or indeed expiring, academic has at some point presented at, or attended, a conference. How many researchers have sat sleepily in a stuffy room, listening to the chap who ate all the egg-and-cress sandwiches at lunch drone on about something that they suspect… Read more
Book cover for Academic Conferences as Neoliberal Commodities

Dr. Mike Joy: Value of humanities should not be underestimated

Successive governments have taken the view that education is about generating a short-term profit. For years, tertiary education policy has sought to create and expand a marketplace where the learning opportunities necessary to deliver such profits are supplied and purchased. One of the consequences of this is that subjects such as the humanities are judged by what contribution they make to increasing productivity… Read more
social science, humanities, STEM, research, funding,

Hernando, Stone, and Pautz: Think tanks can transform into the standard-setters and arbiters of quality of 21st century policy analysis

Last month, the annual Global GoTo Think Tank Index Report was released, amid claims “think tanks are more important than ever before”. It is unclear whether this was said in spite of, or because of, the emergence of ‘post-truth politics’. Experts have become targets of anger and derision, struggling to communicate facts and advance evidence-based policy. Popular dissatisfaction with ‘policy wonks’… Read more
think tanks, research, policy, academia, social science

Andy Tattersall: Disentangling the academic web: what might have been learnt from Discogs and IMDB

Academia can always learn a lot from the rest of the world when it comes to working with the web. The project 101 Innovations in Scholarly Communications is a superb case study, highlighting the rapid growth in academic and associated web platforms. As a result there is an increasing problem for academics when they come to choose their platform or tool for carrying out their work on the web. Choice is good, but too much can… Read more
tangled web, academia, social science