Each year OpenCon brings together students and early career academic professionals from around the world to advance Open Access, Open Education and Open Data. Nick Shockey and Joseph McArthur announce here the next OpenCon dates. In addition, Chris Hartgerink takes a look back at OpenCon 2015 and reflects on how the conference became the catalyst for a variety of deliberate actions […]
Case method in the digital age: How might new technologies shape experiential learning and real-life story telling?
The Case Method is a teaching approach popular in business schools that aims to introduce students to a range of real-life scenarios and build decision-making skills. But little evolution has occurred in the style of Case Studies over the years. Tom Clark looks at innovation in the format and its delivery to teachers and students. In the age of digital learning, the route […]
What makes research excellent? Digging into the measures aimed at quantifying and promoting research excellence.
“Research excellence” is a tricky concept in theory and arguably trickier to capture in practice. Toni Pustovrh shares findings from a recent study which looks at how research is currently quantified and evaluated in Slovenia. In-depth interviews with scientists reveal a variety of views on the concept and the current mechanisms in place. The analysis suggests that neither a predominantly peer-review based […]
The Materiality of Motherhood in Academic Research: Notes on ”Workflow” from a Mid-Life Doctoral Mother
In this feature essay, Helen Butlin reflects on the process of rethinking the notion of ‘workflow’ as a mid-life doctoral mother concurrently working in front-line healthcare. She describes how this has meant apprenticing to writing as a craft, redefining one’s understanding of ‘the good PhD student’ and accepting the inevitable messiness of both life and academic research.
This essay originally appeared […]
Fundable, but not funded: How can research funders ensure ‘unlucky’ applications are handled more appropriately?
Having a funding application rejected does not necessarily mean the research is unsupportable by funders – maybe just unlucky. There is a significant risk to wider society in the rejection of unlucky but otherwise sound applications: good ideas may slip through the cracks, or be re-worked and dulled-down to sound more likely to provide reliable results. Oli Preston looks at […]
Drawing on a range of evidence-based principles that underpin impact delivery, The Research Impact Handbook by Mark Reed aims to equip researchers with the skills and confidence needed to embed impact in their own research. Steven Hill, Head of Research Policy at HEFCE, finds the text a valuable contribution and welcomes the mixture of theoretical and practical approaches for researchers […]
The social and material conditions of data collection have a significant bearing on how we think about and understand data. Sandeep Mertia looks at the history of data collection in India and how the conditions have changed over time. From the work of the eminent statistician and founder of the Indian Statistical Institute, Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, to the now large scale surveys conducted […]
How do students access the resources they need? Survey finds only one in five obtain all resources legally.
Laura Czerniewicz presents an overview of findings from a study on the practices of university students accessing learning resources at a research-intensive university in South Africa. There is a grey zone in the access of resources that is now simply part of normal life in a new communication and information order. The students’ perspectives raise critical issues for new models of […]
Metrics in academia are often an opaque mess, filled with biases and ill-judged assumptions that are used in overly deterministic ways. By getting involved with their design, academics can productively push metrics in a more transparent direction. Chris Elsden, Sebastian Mellor and Rob Comber introduce an example of designing metrics within their own institution. Using the metric of grant income, their tool ResViz […]
Nine things you need to know about copyright: A good practice guide for administrators, librarians and academics.
It is impossible to work in a university and avoid coming into contact with copyright at some point, especially given the ease with which online content can be copied, pasted, streamed, downloaded and shared. Chris Morrison and Jane Secker provide a helpful explainer of copyright in universities and break down the complexity of how copyright works in practice.
The Association […]
What impact evidence was used in REF 2014? Disciplinary differences in how researchers demonstrate and assess impact
A new report produced by the Digital Science team explores the types of evidence used to demonstrate impact in REF2014 and pulls together guidance from leading professionals on good practice. Here Tamar Loach and Martin Szomszor present a broad look at the the types of evidence in use in the REF impact case studies and reflect on the association between use of […]
We are constantly being told that chocolate is bad for our health– but is it bad for our mind? Mara P. Squicciarini and Johan Swinnen share an excerpt from their book, The Economics of Chocolate, which provides an economic analysis, as well as an interdisciplinary overview on all things chocolate. Here they explore the benefits of chocolate consumption and the impact chocolate cravings […]
The traditional ways in which promotion and tenure committees assess scholarship — whether quantitatively or qualitatively — are either inappropriate or insufficient for capturing its true value, argue Stacy Konkiel, Cassidy R. Sugimoto and Sierra Williams. Altmetrics can help fill in the knowledge gaps, but ultimately will only provide a limited view. Richer narratives can always be found by digging deeper into […]
There are two contrasting temporal logics in academia that shape the ways in which research is understood: project time and process time. Oili-Helena Ylijoki explores the differences between the two. On one hand, there is the tightly scheduled, linear, decontextualized, predictable and compressed project time, and on the other, there is the unbounded, multi-directional, context-dependent, emergent and timeless process time. Due to […]
The recent UK research assessment exercise, REF2014, attempted to be as fair and transparent as possible. However, Alan Dix, a member of the computing sub-panel, reports how a post-hoc analysis of public domain REF data reveals substantial implicit and emergent bias in terms of discipline sub-areas (theoretical vs applied), institutions (Russell Group vs post-1992), and gender. While metrics are […]
Five Minutes with Timothy Gowers: “Academics can publish journals of the highest quality without a commercial entity”
Fields Medal-winning Cambridge mathematician Sir Timothy Gowers and a team of colleagues have recently launched a new editor-owned Open Access (OA) journal for mathematics. Discrete Analysis is an arXiv overlay journal, which means articles are submitted and hosted via the preprint server arXiv first. The journal coordinates peer-review and publishes via Scholastica with no cost to reader or author. Gowers reflects here […]
Yesterday Steven Hill spoke at the University Press Redux conference in Liverpool on the role of policy in shaping the academic book of the future. This post is a summary of the argument of his talk. While there is much potential for innovation, the uptake seems slow. Even when we see the benefits of innovation, the change in process […]
The University Press Redux: Balancing traditional university values with a culture of digital innovation.
This week the first UK conference on the state and future of university presses is taking place. The university press concept has regained strength in recent years and in the last 12 months alone a host of new presses have been launched in the UK. Anthony Cond, Director of Liverpool University Press shares his thoughts on the changing landscape of […]