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

Charlotte Wegener and Ninna Meier: The Materiality of Research: ‘Writing with Resonance’

Although a sufficient handful of people apparently think that I have written interesting papers, there is no way I can explain how I might have done what they believe I did, because I don’t understand it myself. Thus, my final caveat: If you expect to learn how to write an interesting paper by reading this essay, you should stop reading now and go listen to rock and roll (Barley 2006, 16). Does Stephen R. Barley suggest… Read more
research, writing, impact, academic writing, social science

Duncan Green: Why systems thinking changes everything for activists and reformers

Political and economic earthquakes are often sudden and unforeseeable, despite the false pundits who pop up later to claim they predicted them all along – take the fall of the Berlin Wall, the 2008 global financial crisis, or the Arab Spring (and ensuing winter). Even at a personal level, change is largely unpredictable: how many of us can say our lives have gone according to the plans we had as 16-year-olds? The essential… Read more
Berlin wall, social change, social science

Duncan Green: How can Academics and NGOs work together? Some smart new ideas

Just finished ‘Interaction’, a thought-provoking report on ‘How can academics and the third sector work together to influence policy and practice’. Written by Mark Shucksmith for the Carnegie UK Trust, the report has some good research and new suggestions on a hoary old topic. First up, a striking stat that underlines the imbalance in size and resources between academia and the third sector (voluntary organizations,… Read more
unification, ngos, academia, teamwork, desilofication

Stephen Pinfield: Mega-journals: the future, a stepping stone to it or a leap into the abyss?

One of the most important trends in scientific publishing over the past decade has been the advent of the open access mega-journal. Plos One, still seen as the exemplar mega-journal, is 10 years old this year. At its peak in 2013, it published 31,509 articles – an unprecedented scale of output for a single journal title. The fact that it has for some time been the largest academic journal globally is partly due to its wide… Read more

Mark Bennett: PhD – Finding the Right University and Project

Use university rankings – carefully Considering more than one university for your PhD? You probably should be – at least initially. University rankings are one obvious means of comparing different institutions. In fact, they’re the most common benchmark used by the media and, by extension, the general public. Three different organisations produce ‘global’ rankings of universities… Read more
phd, doctorate, study, social science

Donald J Nicolson: The last great unknown? The impact of academic conferences.

Over the course of two years in the mid-1960s, two academic conferences in strikingly different fields had a great impact on academic research that is still felt today to varying degrees:
  • In 1964, the 18th World Medical Association General Assembly held in Helsinki devised a set of ethical principles to guide medical research involving human subjects, now the basis for the ethical treatment of human subjects in
  • Read more

    Sara Ahmed: Against Students

    Complaining, censorious, and over-sensitive, university students are destroying their own institutions. Wait, seriously? People think that? What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilization,  even to life itself. … Read more

    Malcolm Gillies: Is it time we ditched honorary degrees?

    The degree-awarding season is upon us again and, as usual, universities are seeking to add a bit of celebrity sparkle to their ceremonies via the award of an honorary degree or two. Or three or four… Honorary degrees are rarely out of the news, whether for the pomp-filled glory of their award, or the acrimony surrounding their revocation. They are, however, just one corner of a vast global network of honours, courtesies… Read more

    The Materiality of Research: ‘Creating a Community of Writing Practice in the Classroom’ by Nonia Williams Korteling

    When I ask students, from undergraduate to PhD level, what they ‘do’, they seldom describe themselves as writers. As students, yes, and often in terms of the subject matter of their study, but only very rarely might someone say ‘I’m a writer’. And yet, most of them are assessed, in part if not wholly, on their writing. To think about how we might support students to feel more confident about their writing processes… Read more