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    Internet freedom for all: Public libraries have to get serious about tackling the digital privacy divide.

Internet freedom for all: Public libraries have to get serious about tackling the digital privacy divide.

Democratic engagement depends on critique and dialogue. Ian Clark looks at emerging issues related to digital literacy, online privacy and surveillance. Not only is a security divide emerging between those with digital knowledge and skills to protect themselves and those without, but also an intellectual privacy divide. There is scope for public libraries in the UK to teach the […]

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    How should academics interact with policy makers? Lessons on building a long-term advocacy strategy.

How should academics interact with policy makers? Lessons on building a long-term advocacy strategy.

What can academics learn from how civil society organisations and NGOs approach policy impact? Julia Himmrich argues that academics have a lot to gain from embracing the practices of long-term advocacy. Advocacy is about establishing relationships and creating a community of experts both in and outside of government who can give informed input on policies. Being more aware of the […]

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Is there any justification for academic social science?

The role of academic social science in relation to policymaking and practice has seen extensive discussion and disagreement in recent years. An essential starting point for our understanding, argues Martyn Hammersley, is to distinguish among the different types of social research, especially between academic work and more practical forms of inquiry. We need to start presenting a more realistic justification for […]

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    “We should expect more, not less of our profession”: Responses to ‘Should academics be expected to change policy?’

“We should expect more, not less of our profession”: Responses to ‘Should academics be expected to change policy?’

James Lloyd’s recent post “Should academics be expected to change policy? Six reasons why it is unrealistic for research to drive policy change” has received considerable attention in research and policy circles since it was first published two weeks ago. Drawing on their respective experiences with research impact in policymaking, Chris Neff, Paul Smyth and Luke Craven each offer […]

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    We need more solution-oriented social science: on changing our frames of reference and tackling big social problems.

We need more solution-oriented social science: on changing our frames of reference and tackling big social problems.

Solution-oriented social science makes solving problems the object of social science, and working on other people’s problems becomes the key driver of the problems to be solved. These solutions may be of relevance for everyday citizens or actors working in government, non-profits, or for-profits. Mark Western argues that approaching research in this way would influence how we choose problems, how we build […]

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    Should academics be expected to change policy? Six reasons why it is unrealistic for research to drive policy change

Should academics be expected to change policy? Six reasons why it is unrealistic for research to drive policy change

UK social scientists feel a growing pressure to achieve policy change. In reality, this process is more complex than it sounds. James Lloyd looks at six reasons that limit the impact research can have on policy change. None of this should suggest that academic researchers shouldn’t seek to influence policymaking. But more consideration is needed on how best academic […]

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    Is a college degree worth it? Interventions are needed to enhance the practical relevance of higher education.

Is a college degree worth it? Interventions are needed to enhance the practical relevance of higher education.

Many young people around the world struggle to find jobs despite having obtained university degrees. Asit K. Biswas and Julian Kirchherr outline what needs to change in order to boost the practical value of higher education. Recruiting academic staff with work experience outside of academia could provide richer teaching experiences and a more developed understanding of which skills are needed, even […]

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    Evidence and innovation in humanitarian assistance: ‘Conference without Borders’ to address Syrian conflict #MSFSci

Evidence and innovation in humanitarian assistance: ‘Conference without Borders’ to address Syrian conflict #MSFSci

The MSF Scientific Days are a round of conferences looking at how humanitarian action can be improved by scientific research and innovation. On behalf of the organisers, Sarah Venis presents an overview. This year will feature a strong focus on the effects of the Syrian conflict and the resultant refugee and migration crisis. Another theme will also look at how […]

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    Is it really that difficult to find women to talk about the EU Referendum?

Is it really that difficult to find women to talk about the EU Referendum?

The significant absence of expert women’s voices from media debates and academic events related to the EU Referendum has been widely reported. Roberta Guerrina, Toni Haastrup, Katharine Wright share a list of women EU experts and argue there are in fact many women voices on these issues and they are not difficult to find. More work needs to be done by political […]

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    For activist campaigns, disruption gains attention, but evidence-based education changes minds.

For activist campaigns, disruption gains attention, but evidence-based education changes minds.

In their campaigns to get organizations to adopt socially responsible practices, social activists often choose between disruptive protests and evidence-based persuasion. But which tactics are more effective? Forrest Briscoe, Abhinav Gupta, and Mark Anner find that disruptive tactics actually hurt activists’ goal of capitalizing on their wins to influence non-targeted organizations. In contrast, when activists used evidence-based tactics, their […]

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    Gender Gap Extremes: Relational differences, rather than aspirational ones could be major factor in ‘leaky pipeline’

Gender Gap Extremes: Relational differences, rather than aspirational ones could be major factor in ‘leaky pipeline’

The dwindling number of women in senior positions in academia, often referred to as the ‘leaky pipeline’, is particularly apparent in Polish art schools. Anna Gromada, Dorka Budacz, Juta Kawalerowicz and Anna Walewska share findings from recent research shedding light into the more general mechanisms that generate the gender gap in academia and beyond. Crucial differences were identified in networking and […]

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    Book Review: Publics and Their Health Systems: Rethinking Participation by Ellen Stewart

Book Review: Publics and Their Health Systems: Rethinking Participation by Ellen Stewart

Drawing on a detailed case study of Scotland’s National Health Service, Publics and Their Health Systems: Rethinking Participation is a novel contribution to the growing academic engagement with the institutionalisation of public participation as a routine feature of governance. Author Ellen Stewart offers a ‘citizen’s-eye view’ of the Scottish health system, challenging dominant policy narratives by exploring diverse forms of […]

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    Ideas boom or innovation bust? Could Australia’s ‘ideas agenda’ stifle real innovation?

Ideas boom or innovation bust? Could Australia’s ‘ideas agenda’ stifle real innovation?

Australia’s so-called ‘ideas boom’ comes at a cost to research funding and sustainable infrastructure, Kanishka Jayasuriya and Carol Johnson write. An emphasis on entrepreneurial culture at the expense of wider public research investment risks socialising the risks of research and privatising the benefits, which ultimately may do lasting harm to both sectors.

Innovation is a central part of Australian Prime Minister […]

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    With language studies in decline, we need a relevant and integrated approach to foreign languages in the classroom.

With language studies in decline, we need a relevant and integrated approach to foreign languages in the classroom.

There has been a rapid decline in the number of university language departments since the early 2000s. Michael Tavares provides wider context on the state of language teaching and learning in Britain and looks in particular at how universities might boost the relevance of language studies in other degree programmes. By incorporating language exercises and materials for specific purposes, the teaching of foreign […]

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    What makes research excellent? Digging into the measures aimed at quantifying and promoting research excellence.

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 […]

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    ‘We need to speak about race’: Examining the barriers to full and equal participation in university life

‘We need to speak about race’: Examining the barriers to full and equal participation in university life

Looking to examine and address the barriers facing black and minority ethnic academic staff, the LSE is funding a project entitled ‘Race in the Academy’ investigating why so few black and ethnic minority academics are attracted to the LSE and why it struggles to retain black and ethnic minority academic staff. The project is led by Caroline Howarth and Akile Ahmet. […]

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Book Review: The Research Impact Handbook by Mark Reed

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 […]

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    Book Review: An Economist in the Real World: The Art of Policymaking in India by Kaushik Basu

Book Review: An Economist in the Real World: The Art of Policymaking in India by Kaushik Basu

In An Economist In The Real World: The Art of Policymaking in India, Chief Economist of the World Bank Kaushik Basu seeks to explain Indian policymaking in lay terms. Ankita Mukhopadhyay writes that the book deftly delves into the complexities of the Indian economy. However, she warns that while the author is an excellent storyteller, a reader without a background […]

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