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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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    How should academics interact with policy makers? Lessons on building a long-term advocacy strategy.

How should academics interact with policy makers? Lessons on building a long-term advocacy strategy.

What can academics learn from how civil society organisations and NGOs approach policy impact? Julia Himmrich argues that academics have a lot to gain from embracing the practices of long-term advocacy. Advocacy is about establishing relationships and creating a community of experts both in and outside of government who can give informed input on policies. Being more aware of the […]

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Is there any justification for academic social science?

The role of academic social science in relation to policymaking and practice has seen extensive discussion and disagreement in recent years. An essential starting point for our understanding, argues Martyn Hammersley, is to distinguish among the different types of social research, especially between academic work and more practical forms of inquiry. We need to start presenting a more realistic justification for […]

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    “We should expect more, not less of our profession”: Responses to ‘Should academics be expected to change policy?’

“We should expect more, not less of our profession”: Responses to ‘Should academics be expected to change policy?’

James Lloyd’s recent post “Should academics be expected to change policy? Six reasons why it is unrealistic for research to drive policy change” has received considerable attention in research and policy circles since it was first published two weeks ago. Drawing on their respective experiences with research impact in policymaking, Chris Neff, Paul Smyth and Luke Craven each offer […]

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    We need more solution-oriented social science: on changing our frames of reference and tackling big social problems.

We need more solution-oriented social science: on changing our frames of reference and tackling big social problems.

Solution-oriented social science makes solving problems the object of social science, and working on other people’s problems becomes the key driver of the problems to be solved. These solutions may be of relevance for everyday citizens or actors working in government, non-profits, or for-profits. Mark Western argues that approaching research in this way would influence how we choose problems, how we build […]

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