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    A systems-thinking approach to public policy eschews linear model for more holistic understanding of decision-making.

A systems-thinking approach to public policy eschews linear model for more holistic understanding of decision-making.

Policy-making and effective municipal intervention are embedded in a complex web of interrelationships. Joseph A. Curtatone and Mark Esposito write on how decisions in one realm have ripple effects in others. Systems-thinking looks to apply a more holistic way of addressing real-world problems. Harvard students and the city of Somerville, Massachusetts are partnering to tackle problems using a systems-focused approach.

For public officials, the law […]

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    Would paying peer reviewers improve the system? Randomised control trial explores economists’ pro-social behaviour.

Would paying peer reviewers improve the system? Randomised control trial explores economists’ pro-social behaviour.

The What Works Centres are government initiatives to improve the use of evidence in policymaking. Max Nathan, the Deputy Director of the What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth, turns the experimental table on researchers by exploring how cash incentives might work to improve the efficiency of peer review. The results are clear that small changes in journals’ policies […]

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    Book Review: How Think Tanks Shape Social Development Policies.

Book Review: How Think Tanks Shape Social Development Policies.

Across the globe, there are more than four thousand policy institutes or think tanks that research or advocate for economic and social development. Yet the relationship between these organizations and the policies they influence is not well understood. How Think Tanks Shape Social Development Policies examines case studies drawn from a range of political and economic systems worldwide to provide a […]

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Book Review: Can Science Fix Climate Change? by Mike Hulme

As political solutions to climate change have so far had little impact, some climate change scientists are now advocating the so-called ‘Plan B’, a more direct way of reducing the rate of future warming by reflecting more sunlight back to space, creating a thermostat in the sky. In this book, Mike Hulme argues against this kind of hubristic techno-fix. Amelia Sharman is impressed […]

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    ‘Robbins Rebooted’ details Labour’s approach to boosting technical skills and regional growth through higher education

‘Robbins Rebooted’ details Labour’s approach to boosting technical skills and regional growth through higher education

Shadow Higher Education Minister Liam Byrne MP has released Robbins Rebooted, a pamphlet on the importance of higher education to the UK’s national life and economic future. Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) welcomes the pamphlet as a clear articulation of Labour’s vision for maintaining a world-class higher education sector, even if ambiguity remains over hard figures and clear […]

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    Book Review: Sisters in the Statehouse: Black Women and Legislative Decision Making by Nadia E. Brown

Book Review: Sisters in the Statehouse: Black Women and Legislative Decision Making by Nadia E. Brown

In 2013, out of 7,776 female state legislators serving across the USA, 364 are women of colour; of these 239 are African American women. Linking personal narratives to political behavior, Nadia E. Brown elicits the feminist life histories of African American women legislators to understand how their experiences with racism and sexism have influenced their legislative decision-making and policy preferences. Muireann O’Dwyer is enthusiastic […]

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    Book Review: Society and the Internet: How Networks of Information and Communication are Changing our Lives

Book Review: Society and the Internet: How Networks of Information and Communication are Changing our Lives

This book brings together research that addresses some of the most significant cultural, economic, and political roles of the Internet. Peter Webster finds that individually, the essays in this volume are uniformly strong: lucid, cogent and concise, and accompanied with useful lists of further reading. As a whole, the volume prompts fertile reflections on the method and purpose of the new discipline […]

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    Patenting of life-saving drugs has created a global health crisis where human life has become a commercial commodity.

Patenting of life-saving drugs has created a global health crisis where human life has become a commercial commodity.

Millions of people—mostly in developing countries—lack access to life-saving drugs. Righting this imbalance is among the most important challenges of global public health of this century, argues Akansha Mehta. There is scant evidence to prove that frameworks for intellectual property rights and patent protection have benefited research, development and innovation in developing countries. When the laws of trade and commerce override the human […]

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    Future-looking research on public sector reform will help address challenges brought on by the financial crisis.

Future-looking research on public sector reform will help address challenges brought on by the financial crisis.

What challenges do austerity policies pose for effective public administration across Europe? Dion Curry writes on the views of citizens and public sector executives on trends within public administration over the last five years. He notes that while perceptions of recent developments are complex and at times contradictory, it is important that academics and practitioners work together to generate evidence-based public […]

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    Four things policy-makers need to know about social media data and real time analytics.

Four things policy-makers need to know about social media data and real time analytics.

The retention and protection of social media data has attracted renewed attention from policy-makers in the UK and across the EU. Having studied the complexity of how social media data operate in contexts of crisis, Ella McPherson provided evidence to a select committee on what lessons can be learned on the ethical and methodological complications of social media analysis. The summary points […]

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    Replication of government research uncovers shaky evidence on relationship between school and degree performance.

Replication of government research uncovers shaky evidence on relationship between school and degree performance.

Interested in the statistical analysis used to justify the Department of Education’s reforms, Ron Johnston, Kelvyn Jones, David Manley, Tony Hoare and Richard Harris requested the data related to school performance and degree results via a Freedom of Information request. One year later the dataset was finally made available and they were able to identify some substantial flaws in the government research including sample […]

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    Neglecting to confront conflicts of interest in industry-sponsored research unfairly burdens early career researchers

Neglecting to confront conflicts of interest in industry-sponsored research unfairly burdens early career researchers

As public funding shrinks, industry-sponsored research may be a remedy. But Rebecca Cassidy reports back from a workshop on how the pressure caused by scarcity of funding and conflicts of interest in certain fields falls disproportionately on early career researchers, the most vulnerable members of the higher education precariat. Those who have yet to build up the social capital which comes […]

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    Will David Willetts be remembered for progressive push for Open Access or pernicious effects of neoliberal academy?

Will David Willetts be remembered for progressive push for Open Access or pernicious effects of neoliberal academy?

Now that the cabinet reshuffle news has settled and Greg Clark MP, the new Minister for Universities, Science, and Cities has begun his tenure, we asked for further reflections on the positions taken by previous minister David Willetts. David Prosser covers the dramatic influence Willetts had on open access legislation and momentum in the UK. Lee Jones instead emphasises the escalation […]

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    Research impact on policy-making is often understood in instrumentalist terms, but more often plays symbolic role.

Research impact on policy-making is often understood in instrumentalist terms, but more often plays symbolic role.

The idea that research should have an impact on policy is premised on an instrumentalist, or problem-solving theory of research utilisation: namely, that research is valued by policy-makers as a means of adjusting their outputs. Yet Christina Boswell’s research has shown that expert knowledge is just as likely to be valued for its symbolic function: as a means of […]

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    The Outing of the Medical Profession: Data marathons to open clinical research gates to frontline service providers.

The Outing of the Medical Profession: Data marathons to open clinical research gates to frontline service providers.

Could greater data transparency across the medical field solve the problem of unreliable evidence? Dr. Leo Anthony Celi charts the efforts to improve the publicly available MIMIC database, a creation of the public-private partnership between MIT, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Philips Health-Care, through a series of data marathons. Data scientists, nurses, clinicians and doctors are coming together to collaborate and answer clinically […]

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    Book Review: Popular Representations of Development: Insights from novels, films, television and social media.

Book Review: Popular Representations of Development: Insights from novels, films, television and social media.

This collection sees development as something that can be understood through studying literature, films, and other non-conventional forms of representation. Chapters focus on development issues on blogs and social media, Band Aid and populist humanitarianism, and teaching international studies with novels. Eleftheria Lekakis finds this a great read for scholars of development studies, media and communications, sociology, anthropology and geography at all levels.

This […]

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    UK think tanks look to achieve influence first and foremost with academic partners.

UK think tanks look to achieve influence first and foremost with academic partners.

The UK has an established and influential think tank sector, with research organisations across the political spectrum providing a constant stream of political and policy ideas, setting the agenda, and influencing the media’s reporting of events. Here, Hartwig Pautz looks at exactly who these organisations communicate with most frequently, and shows that the sector is surprisingly reticent in communicating with elected […]

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    Performance-based research assessment is narrowing and impoverishing the university in New Zealand, UK and Denmark.

Performance-based research assessment is narrowing and impoverishing the university in New Zealand, UK and Denmark.

Susan Wright, Bruce Curtis, Lisa Lucas and Susan Robertson provide a basic outline of their working paper on how performance-based research assessment frameworks in different countries operate and govern academic life. They find that assessment methods steer academic effort away from wider purposes of the university, enhance the powers of leaders, propagate unsubstantiated myths of meritocracy, and demand conformity. But the latest […]

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    Evidence-based service delivery and development requires full range of interactions and connections with research.

Evidence-based service delivery and development requires full range of interactions and connections with research.

To help expand understanding of how research makes an impact Sarah Morton draws from her extensive research into how different types of evidence are used to develop and improve key services. Research might raise awareness of an issue, change people’s knowledge or understanding of an issue, challenge attitudes, perceptions or ideas. Research use doesn’t just mean an instrumental application of […]

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