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    Bias against novelty in science: A cautionary tale for users of bibliometric indicators

Bias against novelty in science: A cautionary tale for users of bibliometric indicators

Novel breakthroughs in research can have a dramatic impact on scientific discovery but face some distinct disadvantages in getting wider recognition. Jian Wang, Reinhilde Veugelers, Paula Stephan present an overview of their findings which suggest an inherent bias in bibliometric measures against novel research. The bias is of particular concern given the increased reliance funding agencies place on classic bibliometric indicators in making funding […]

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    Five Minutes with Professor Gary King: Transformational power of big data lies, pure and simple, in its analytics

Five Minutes with Professor Gary King: Transformational power of big data lies, pure and simple, in its analytics

Michael Todd listened to a recent lecture by Gary King on the big data revolution in the social sciences. Professor King insists data is easy to come by and is in fact a by-product of the many improvements in information technology. The issue isn’t its scale, volume or platform. It’s what we make out of all of that and the analytical tools […]

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Why are interdisciplinary research proposals less likely to be funded? Lack of adequate peer review may be a factor.

Recent findings suggest interdisciplinary research is less likely to be funded than discipline-based research proposals. Gabriele Bammer looks at how interdisciplinary research is currently peer reviewed and argues different review processes may well be required to do justice to these different kinds of interdisciplinarity. Discipline-based researchers may be ill-equipped to evaluate the integrative processes that an interdisciplinary proposal plans to […]

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    Blogging platforms are not neutral: Challenging the underlying assumptions of our technology.

Blogging platforms are not neutral: Challenging the underlying assumptions of our technology.

As a farewell post on her last day working on the LSE Impact Blog, Sierra Williams reflects on her time as editor and her relationship with the platform. Drawing on Neil Postman’s critique of technology, she looks at some of the assumptions that underpin the blog and argues a bit of ‘technological modesty’ is required to get a better […]

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    Could Blockchain provide the technical fix to solve science’s reproducibility crisis?

Could Blockchain provide the technical fix to solve science’s reproducibility crisis?

Blockchain technology has the capacity to make digital goods immutable, transparent, and provable. Sönke Bartling and Benedikt Fecher look at the technical aspects of blockchain and also discuss its application in the research world. Blockchain could strengthen science’s verification process, helping to make more research results reproducible, true, and useful.

Currently blockchain is being hyped. Many claim that the blockchain […]

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Cost-benefit analysis of the Teaching Excellence Framework

As the Higher Education and Research Bill gets its second reading in the House of Commons, Dorothy Bishop revisits the costs and benefits of one of its primary components, the Teaching Excellence Framework. Based on the government’s own analysis, the system is designed to separate winners and losers with potentially devastating effects for the losers. The outcome will depend crucially […]

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    Brexit was a huge shock for universities. Now we must regroup and deepen our European links

Brexit was a huge shock for universities. Now we must regroup and deepen our European links

Universities were shocked and profoundly concerned by the Leave vote. So much collaboration between European universities has arisen from membership of the EU. But, writes Anne Corbett, now is the time to forge and deepen our European links thorough associations like Coimbra and the European University Association.
Shock and alarm
Few policy sectors are more shocked than higher education at the referendum […]

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    Repackaging research findings is not enough: Building partnerships for a practitioner-driven research agenda.

Repackaging research findings is not enough: Building partnerships for a practitioner-driven research agenda.

Repackaging findings in an accessible way for practitioners to understand may be a good first step towards research impact, but without practitioner involvement from the outset, the research may still be deemed irrelevant. Julie Kochanek looks at how education researchers have formed partnerships with practitioners to negotiate the research agenda itself. While the action-oriented results of these studies have proven considerably […]

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    How to make better mistakes in public policy: Learn from the negative results just as much as the positive ones.

How to make better mistakes in public policy: Learn from the negative results just as much as the positive ones.

We all make mistakes, a tendency which also extends to those who work in public policy. But we often only hear about successes. Bucking this trend, Kevin Arceneaux and Daniel Butler describe a recent pilot program aimed at boosting civic engagement. Rather than increasing the number of people who volunteered for town committees as intended, the three tactics they […]

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    Peer review and bibliometric indicators just don’t match up according to re-analysis of Italian research evaluation.

Peer review and bibliometric indicators just don’t match up according to re-analysis of Italian research evaluation.

The Italian research evaluation agency undertook an extensive analysis to compare the results of peer review and bibliometric indicators for research evaluation. Their findings suggested both indicators produced similar results. Researchers Alberto Baccini and Giuseppe De Nicolao re-examine these results and find notable disagreements between the two techniques of evaluation in the sample and outline below the major shortcoming in the Italian Agency’s […]

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    Making your Marx in research: Reflections on impact and the efficacy of case studies using the work of Karl Marx.

Making your Marx in research: Reflections on impact and the efficacy of case studies using the work of Karl Marx.

Drawing from a recent study on how impact occurs in the social sciences, Sioned Pearce looks at some specific issues with the case study approach to understanding impact. Viewed alongside the life and works of Karl Marx, the REF’s approach to impact measurement can be seen as highly problematic. Marx’s work was an accumulation of a lifetime of intellectual thought, the […]

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    0 is the magic number: Why small numbers matter just as much as large ones when we talk about altmetrics.

0 is the magic number: Why small numbers matter just as much as large ones when we talk about altmetrics.

The problem many detractors have with altmetrics as a concept is that it seems heavily focused on numbers that may or may not be meaningful. Andy Tattersall sees this as a legitimate concern but argues researchers should consider further what can be gained from these scores, or indeed, the lack of one. In a world increasingly governed by impact and […]

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    Looking to solve the replication crisis in psychology? Limitations of questionnaire methods must be considered.

Looking to solve the replication crisis in psychology? Limitations of questionnaire methods must be considered.

Throughout its history, psychology has been faced with fundamental crises that all revolve around its disciplinary rigour. Current debates – led in Nature, Science and high-ranking psychology journals – are geared towards the frequent lack of replicability of many psychological findings. New research led by Jana Uher highlights methodological limitations of the widely used questionnaire methods. These limitations may […]

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    A Culture of Speed: Anticipation, Acceleration and Individualization in Academic Science.

A Culture of Speed: Anticipation, Acceleration and Individualization in Academic Science.

Ruth Müller draws attention to the social and epistemic effects of a culture of speed in academia. Her research looks at how this wider culture has produced in particular two modes of being and relating for researchers: anticipatory acceleration and latent individualization. These modes could have significant effects on the type of research questions explored and on scientific networks […]

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    Elephant paths: Wider methodological transparency is needed for legal scholarship to thrive.

Elephant paths: Wider methodological transparency is needed for legal scholarship to thrive.

Mariana Gkliati calls for a reconsideration of traditional research methods in legal studies and how these methods are communicated. Most legal scholars seek to fit their conceptual analysis into narrow and strictly legal boxes, often relying on tacit knowledge from the field. Drawing on the metaphor of elephant paths, or an overlaying system for going from place to place, and behavioural […]

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    Fundable, but not funded: How can research funders ensure ‘unlucky’ applications are handled more appropriately?

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 […]

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    Getting our hands dirty: why academics should design metrics and address the lack of transparency.

Getting our hands dirty: why academics should design metrics and address the lack of transparency.

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 […]

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    What impact evidence was used in REF 2014? Disciplinary differences in how researchers demonstrate and assess impact

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 […]

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    Political History in the Digital Age: The challenges of archiving and analysing born digital sources.

Political History in the Digital Age: The challenges of archiving and analysing born digital sources.

The vast bulk of source material for historical research is still paper-based. But this is bound to change. Dr Helen McCarthy considers the lessons from the Mile End Institute’s conference on Contemporary Political History in the Digital Age. The specific challenges of using a ‘born digital source’ is an area that requires considerable attention. For political historians, the advent of […]

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    Evaluating research assessment: Metrics-based analysis exposes implicit bias in REF2014 results.

Evaluating research assessment: Metrics-based analysis exposes implicit bias in REF2014 results.

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 […]

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This work by LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.