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    MSF Scientific Days 2017: improving the effectiveness of humanitarian programmes through scientific research and innovation

MSF Scientific Days 2017: improving the effectiveness of humanitarian programmes through scientific research and innovation

MSF Scientific Days is a global network of events focused on how scientific research and innovation can improve the effectiveness of humanitarian medical programmes. Sarah Venis presents some of the highlights of this year’s programme, including discussion of how to best gather evidence from emergency settings, and the challenges of community engagement; as well as an examination of different […]

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    Content referenced in scholarly articles is drifting, with negative effects on the integrity of the scholarly record

Content referenced in scholarly articles is drifting, with negative effects on the integrity of the scholarly record

In their 2015 post, Martin Klein and Herbert Van de Sompel reported on the beginnings of an investigation into ‘reference rot’ in scholarly articles. This term incorporated ‘link rot’, whereby referenced web-at-large resources vanished from the web altogether, and ‘content drift’, whereby a resource’s content changed over time to such an extent as to cease to be representative of […]

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    Think tanks, evidence and policy: democratic players or clandestine lobbyists?

Think tanks, evidence and policy: democratic players or clandestine lobbyists?

Depending on your perspective, think tanks either enrich the democratic space by conducting policy research and facilitating public dialogue and debate, or undermine democracy by pushing policies favoured by powerful corporate interests. Till Bruckner explains how Transparify are contributing to debate about think tanks’ role in evidence-based policymaking by assessing their levels of financial transparency. The Transparify report, released […]

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    Book Review: Evidence-Based Policy Making in the Social Sciences: Methods that Matter edited by Gerry Stoker and Mark Evans

Book Review: Evidence-Based Policy Making in the Social Sciences: Methods that Matter edited by Gerry Stoker and Mark Evans

In Evidence-Based Policy Making in the Social Sciences: Methods that Matter,editors Gerry Stoker and Mark Evans showcase tools through which to generate evidence-based policy insights. Released amidst discussions of a ‘post-truth’ era, this book is recommended to students looking to broaden their understanding of methods for providing meaningful evidence for policy creation, but leaves open the question of how social scientists […]

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    Developing social science identities in interdisciplinary research and education

Developing social science identities in interdisciplinary research and education

While it is no longer uncommon for social scientists to be included in research groups tackling complex problems in the natural sciences, limited understanding of the different disciplinary areas within the social sciences remains a challenge. Eric Toman describes the approach social science faculties at his university have taken to address this and also outlines how graduate training programmes […]

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    Working with the media can be beneficial but linking to and citing your research should be compulsory

Working with the media can be beneficial but linking to and citing your research should be compulsory

It’s great when academic research is covered by the media but too often this coverage fails to link back to or properly cite the research itself. It’s time academics insisted on this and Andy Tattersall outlines the benefits of doing so. As well as pointing more people to your work, the use of identifiers allows you to track this […]

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    From science to action: principles for doing research that enables knowledge exchange and evidence-based decision-making

From science to action: principles for doing research that enables knowledge exchange and evidence-based decision-making

The integration of scientific research into conservation decision-making processes remains a significant challenge. There is very little empirically grounded guidance to help scientists and decision-makers design and implement research programs that facilitate knowledge exchange and evidence-based decision-making. Chris Cvitanovic outlines how recent research has sought to address this problem, and in doing so established a set of key design […]

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    How academics and NGOs can work together to influence policy: insights from the InterAction report

How academics and NGOs can work together to influence policy: insights from the InterAction report

Questions over how academics and the third sector can collaborate to influence policy are not new. However, Duncan Green has noted some interesting research and insights from the InterAction report published earlier this summer. Intermediaries play an increasingly crucial role, while embedded gateways can help simplify often confusing university infrastructures.

I’ve recently finished reading InterAction, a thought-provoking report that asks “How can […]

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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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