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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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    Policy impact and online attention: Tracking the path from research to public policy on the social web.

Policy impact and online attention: Tracking the path from research to public policy on the social web.

The process by which research gets put into action is far from clear cut, argues Stacy Konkiel. Extracting references to research from policy documents is a step towards illuminating the murky path. But we should be careful not to disregard other forms of evidence like online and media mentions as they are closely interrelated and may even lead to quicker impacts […]

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    The politics of science funding: We need to think about science and knowledge production in a more practical light

The politics of science funding: We need to think about science and knowledge production in a more practical light

Government funding of science has become an increasingly prominent issue in the United States. Examining the current debate and its consequences, Arne L. Kalleberg interviews Gordon Gauchat about his recent article, “The Political Context of Science in the United States: Public Acceptance of Evidence-Based Policy and Science Funding.”

How might your study help us understand the current political debate in […]

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    An election propelled by academia? Blurring the lines between political science and politics in Spain

An election propelled by academia? Blurring the lines between political science and politics in Spain

The recent Spanish general election has proven to be fertile ground for interactions between politics and academia. Tena Prelec and Stuart Brown single out two phenomena that have developed in Spain: the progressive engagement of precariously-paid junior scholars in politics, and a thriving community of young academic commentators which supplements, and in some cases supplants, the work of the mainstream media.

The results of the Spanish elections on […]

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    Book Review: The Two Degrees Dangerous Limit for Climate Change: Public Understanding and Decision Making

Book Review: The Two Degrees Dangerous Limit for Climate Change: Public Understanding and Decision Making

In The Two Degrees Dangerous Limit for Climate Change: Public Understanding and Decision Making, Christopher Shaw explores environmental policymaking by focusing on the public circulation of 2°C as the widely cited maximum figure by which temperatures can be allowed to rise. Derek Wall praises the book for combining natural science and social science to offer a well-researched and provocative interrogation of […]

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    Universities need to hone their argument for staying in the EU

Universities need to hone their argument for staying in the EU

Emran Mian looks at four arguments that British universities have so far mustered for staying in the EU – and says universities must engage further, detail by detail, with the Eurosceptic rebuttals to these arguments. Even in universities the support for staying in the EU is soft. There is still time for universities to construct better arguments.

A referendum on […]

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    Can social science still be used as a foundation for public policy? On improving the reliability of evidence.

Can social science still be used as a foundation for public policy? On improving the reliability of evidence.

John Jerrim and Robert de Vries argue a radical overhaul is needed of how social science is published and produced for it to provide a helpful basis for public policy. More progress is needed in particular over the lack of transparency of the research process, publication bias for positive findings and improved quality assurance mechanisms for peer review.

Governments have started to wake […]

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    6 things policymakers need to know about children and the internet

6 things policymakers need to know about children and the internet

The digital environment offers many opportunities, but also opens up certain risks, particularly for children. How can government action look to maximise children’s online opportunities – thereby boosting digital skills and literacies – without substantially adding to their risks? Sonia Livingstone presents six points that policymakers should consider to encourage wider support of children’s digital opportunities.

I’ve been researching children’s internet use […]

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Spending Review brings good news for science.

The government’s recognition of the value of the UK research budget in the Spending Review is good news for science and good news for the economy. Romesh Vaitilingam argues new knowledge and innovative ideas generated by research – whether done in the public or private sector – are key drivers of productivity growth. But without public investment, society as […]

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    Book Review: Jerusalem: The Spatial Politics of a Divided Metropolis by Anne B. Shlay and Gillad Rosen

Book Review: Jerusalem: The Spatial Politics of a Divided Metropolis by Anne B. Shlay and Gillad Rosen

In Jerusalem: The Spatial Politics of a Divided Metropolis, Anne B. Shlay and Gillad Rosen outline the geographic dynamics of contemporary Jerusalem. While the book is occasionally simplistic in some areas of its analysis, Kenny Schmitt praises the authors for navigating complex terrain with skill and clarity to produce an approachable introduction to the spatial politics of the city.

This […]

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Essential Guide: Eight ways research gets into Parliament

Discussions about research and policy have a tendency to be more reflective about policy-making in general, rather than focusing on the more practical aspects of how research filters through a variety of networks and into policy discussions. Sarah Foxen looks at eight specific ways research currently gets into Parliament and provides some helpful links on where to start to get more involved.

I recently attended […]

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    Peer review of teaching and the TEF – We need more than a tick-box exercise to improve the quality of teaching.

Peer review of teaching and the TEF – We need more than a tick-box exercise to improve the quality of teaching.

Improving teaching in universities is a worthy aim, but how will the Teaching Excellence Framework recognise and reward quality? Marty Chamberlain looks at how teaching is currently assessed. Peer review of teaching tends to operate superficially when it is decoupled from formal staff development and employee feedback processes. Further complicating matters, in professions underpinned by tacit knowledge, experts tend to rely on personal and […]

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    Addressing societal challenges: Joined-up research funding could facilitate innovation and engagement.

Addressing societal challenges: Joined-up research funding could facilitate innovation and engagement.

With changes looming for research councils and research funding as a whole, John Goddard looks at what a more joined-up research council driven by societal challenges would mean for the social sciences. Universities are going to have to increase their capacity to support engagement with society. The social science community therefore needs to actively enter into the fray locally and […]

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    Getting smarter about engaging with Parliament: Embrace digital, think interdisciplinary and plan for serendipity.

Getting smarter about engaging with Parliament: Embrace digital, think interdisciplinary and plan for serendipity.

Jennifer Jeffes investigates how higher education institutions can support long-term strategies to boost engagement with Parliament. Strong research relationships spring up often organically, sometimes serendipitously, but almost never overnight. This should serve as a caution to the sector not to take too instrumental a view of research impact, instead focusing on the positive benefits that can yield from developing sustainable research […]

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    Anonymising UCAS forms is only a first step towards fair and discrimination-free university admissions

Anonymising UCAS forms is only a first step towards fair and discrimination-free university admissions

The Prime Minister recently pledged to make university admissions ‘name-blind’, responding to statistics which showed a significant racial imbalance in terms of who is admitted to university, with obvious implications for social mobility, fairness, and access to higher education. Steven Jones argues that while this idea is in many ways sensible, it overlooks other more significant barriers when considering widening […]

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    Without a balance between research and teaching, there will be nothing “higher” about UK education.

Without a balance between research and teaching, there will be nothing “higher” about UK education.

There are a surge of rumours circulating over how higher education will be affected by the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review at the end of the November. Responding to the latest suggestions, Martin Eve writes below directly to Jo Johnson, the Minister for Universities and Science. Whilst there are many causes for concern outlined, of particular concern is the emphasis put on teaching at […]

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  • An unusual stand of ancient ponderosa pine forest growing out of the sand is the outstanding feature of the Lost Forest Research Natural Area, which is located in the northeast portion of the Christmas Valley Sand Dunes Area of Critical Environmental Concern. A remnant of a forest that existed in a cooler and wetter age, these pines survive on half the typical annual precipitation for this tree species due to unique soil and hydrologic properties of the area. The nearest forest is 40 miles to the northwest, yet the pines continue to reproduce and thrive in this environment. Old growth juniper groves also exist in the Lost Forest. Motorized vehicles are allowed in the Lost Forest on routes posted “open.” No cross country use is allowed. Camping is permissible in designated sites only.
    Permalink An unusual stand of ancient ponderosa pine forest growing out of the sand is the outstanding feature of the Lost Forest Research Natural Area, which is located in the northeast portion of the Christmas Valley Sand Dunes Area of Critical Environmental Concern. A remnant of a forest that existed in a cooler and wetter age, these pines survive on half the typical annual precipitation for this tree species due to unique soil and hydrologic properties of the area. The nearest forest is 40 miles to the northwest, yet the pines continue to reproduce and thrive in this environment. Old growth juniper groves also exist in the Lost Forest. Motorized vehicles are allowed in the Lost Forest on routes posted “open.” No cross country use is allowed. Camping is permissible in designated sites only.Gallery

    In a changing world, climate adaptation researchers play a key role in addressing risk and ethical responsibilities.

In a changing world, climate adaptation researchers play a key role in addressing risk and ethical responsibilities.

The uncertainties related to climate science present some unique challenges for policymakers and researchers alike. Drawing on lessons from the health care domain, where there are established mechanisms and processes in place for managing risk, Justine Lacey, Mark Howden and Chris Cvitanovic look at ways researchers can proactively support decision-makers. Could a similar ethics system to the one used by frontline medical professionals […]

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    The impact of academia on Parliament: 45 percent of Parliament-focused impact case studies were from social sciences

The impact of academia on Parliament: 45 percent of Parliament-focused impact case studies were from social sciences

How does academic research feed into the parliamentary process? Analysing the impact case studies of the 2014 REF, Caroline Kenny draws out potential lessons on how Parliament is currently engaging with academics, and how it might in the future. Impact case studies referring to Parliament were found in all four of the main subject panels, but 45 per cent […]

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