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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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    A call for inclusive indicators that explore research activities in “peripheral” topics and developing countries.

A call for inclusive indicators that explore research activities in “peripheral” topics and developing countries.

Science and Technology (S&T) systems all over the world are routinely monitored and assessed with indicators that were created to measure the natural sciences in developed countries. Ismael Ràfols and Jordi Molas-Gallart argue these indicators are often inappropriate in other contexts. They urge S&T analysts to create data and indicators that better reflect research activities and contributions in these “peripheral” […]

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    Five Minutes with Alison Powell on what data means, how it is produced and what influence it has for decision-makers.

Five Minutes with Alison Powell on what data means, how it is produced and what influence it has for decision-makers.

Data, information and knowledge are powerful aspects of contemporary society. Managing Editor Sierra Williams recently caught up with Alison Powell on the development and expansion of Data and Society activities taking place at the LSE. Alongside a new MSc programme, a broad range of research is set to be explored, such as the ethics of data and surveillance systems, the roles […]

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    British universities excel in the social sciences. How much of their success depends on EU membership?

British universities excel in the social sciences. How much of their success depends on EU membership?

Some British academics have argued that the social sciences would suffer if the UK left the Union, on the grounds that the EU brings funding and enhances collaboration. But the EU’s contribution to this area is not that simple, argues David Walker. Nor is it correct to claim, as the Leave lobby has, that money currently handed to Europe could […]

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    Activism or research communication? Research organisations could be muzzled by UK charity anti-advocacy clause.

Activism or research communication? Research organisations could be muzzled by UK charity anti-advocacy clause.

Think tanks and research organisations should not ignore the row that has broken out over the recent announcement by the UK government to introduce an anti-advocacy clause into all charity grants. James Georgalakis argues that this move, if fully implemented could have serious consequences for research-based charities seeking to support evidence based policy making, despite the government’s focus on research […]

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    Student evaluations of teaching are not only unreliable, they are significantly biased against female instructors.

Student evaluations of teaching are not only unreliable, they are significantly biased against female instructors.

A series of studies across countries and disciplines in higher education confirm that student evaluations of teaching (SET) are significantly correlated with instructor gender, with students regularly rating female instructors lower than male peers. Anne Boring, Kellie Ottoboni and Philip B. Stark argue the findings warrant serious attention in light of increasing pressure on universities to measure teaching effectiveness. Given the unreliability […]

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