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    Literacy as Numbers: The efficacy, merits and validity of transnational literacy assessment programmes.

Literacy as Numbers: The efficacy, merits and validity of transnational literacy assessment programmes.

Debates about the nature of literacy and how to account for the diversity of learning are far from resolved. A new book, Literacy as Numbers, looks at how literacy itself is being reframed around globalized assessment regimes. Camilla Addey delves into how these comparable numbers, now so heavily relied on in national policy, are produced, and how they are shaping our understanding of the meanings and […]

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    The Future of Knowledge Sharing for Development in a Digital Age: Delivering an open and fair digital society.

The Future of Knowledge Sharing for Development in a Digital Age: Delivering an open and fair digital society.

Rachel Playforth introduces a new report on how digital technologies might contribute to or damage development agendas in the coming years. Through scenario development planning, the project investigated the landscape of developing countries in the digital age and how practitioners and policymakers might best respond. None of the scenarios below represents the most desirable outcome, but by working backwards from an ideal […]

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Systems of measurement have a productive power in our lives

Metrics already perform a powerful productive role in the social world; they vindicate and limit, they cajole and incentivise, they legitimate and justify. When we reflect on how metrics are frequently used to manage performance, to facilitate competition, to judge us or to compare what we do with others, it is crucial that we see metrics as being central to […]

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    Paying for higher education: What do the UK political party policies mean for universities, graduates and students?

Paying for higher education: What do the UK political party policies mean for universities, graduates and students?

Next week’s UK General Election is set to go down to the wire and university financing has again emerged as a key battleground issue. What do the various party policies mean for universities, graduates and students? Should tuition fees be regulated lower and if so, how will these costs be financed? Gill Wyness explores these questions.

This piece originally appeared on LSE […]

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    ‘Nudges’ may be effective at times, but policymakers can’t rely on them to tackle entrenched social problems.

‘Nudges’ may be effective at times, but policymakers can’t rely on them to tackle entrenched social problems.

Since the publication of 2008’s Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, policy ‘nudges’ have been in fashion, with smaller interventions aimed at altering public behaviour in a subtle manner being adopted by many governments, including in the UK. Frank Mols looked at this phenomenon in a recent journal article, and argues here that while nudges undoubtedly can be effective, their limitations must be […]

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    Life in the Accelerated Academy: anxiety thrives, demands intensify and metrics hold the tangled web together.

Life in the Accelerated Academy: anxiety thrives, demands intensify and metrics hold the tangled web together.

The imagined slowness of university life has given way to a frenetic pace, defined by a perpetual ratcheting up of demands and an entrepreneurial ethos seeking new and quantifiable opportunities. Mark Carrigan explores the toxic elements of this culture and its underlying structural roots. As things get faster, we tend to accept things as they are rather than imagining how they might […]

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    Influential, international and interdisciplinary: The impact of the UK’s research.

Influential, international and interdisciplinary: The impact of the UK’s research.

The Policy Institute at King’s College London, along with colleagues in the digital humanities department, teamed up with technology company Digital Science to build a searchable database and produce a rich analysis of the impact case studies for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. Saba Hinrichs and Jonathan Grant introduce the key findings of the analysis and explain how the resource […]

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    Measuring development: the importance of statistics on the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Measuring development: the importance of statistics on the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda.

In 2013 the UN set up a specific group to look at broadening its data gathering. This is part of a wider trend looking to embrace partnerships that can provide regular evidence of development progress. Thomas Wheeler and Craig Fagan argue that in the age of ‘open’ government, budgets, contracts and aid, there is no reason why data should remain the remit […]

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    The political role of intellectuals: In defence of Hampstead socialists

The political role of intellectuals: In defence of Hampstead socialists

Under Ed Miliband, the Labour Party’s ideational activities have taken centre stage. His wonky style is derided by many, but gurus, intellectuals and policy wonks perform a crucial role in the political process, says Eunice Goes. The role of intellectuals and experts does not stop with political diagnosis. They also help political actors, and in particular political parties, to develop ideas […]

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    The grant economy as tragedy of the commons – are researchers just wasting time by applying for ever-elusive funding?

The grant economy as tragedy of the commons – are researchers just wasting time by applying for ever-elusive funding?

Pressure to bring in grants is steady and increasing, but with only 20% of US applications receiving funding, is the collective time spent writing multiple rejected applications actually worth it? Unless the pool of grant funding is massively increased at the federal level—a remote possibility—this is a zero-sum game. Elizabeth Popp Berman suggests a cap to the number of applications—either at […]

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    Book Review: Rank Hypocrisies: the Insult of the REF by Derek Sayer.

Book Review: Rank Hypocrisies: the Insult of the REF by Derek Sayer.

Publication of the results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework evaluation of the quality of work undertaken in all UK universities last December attracted much attention, as league tables of university and department standings were constructed and estimates of the financial consequences of the achieved grades were assessed. Soon after that, a book was published savagely criticising the peer […]

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    Academic freedom under threat as US Congress targets climate change scholars.

Academic freedom under threat as US Congress targets climate change scholars.

A few weeks ago allegations surfaced over undisclosed ties between Dr Willie Soon, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and corporate interests from the energy industry. Dr Soon is now under investigation, and a Democratic member of Congress has used it as an opportunity to suggest climate change academics who have been invited by Republicans to give evidence at Congressional […]

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    Social science embedded in science: Innovation depends on greater understanding of attitudes and social processes.

Social science embedded in science: Innovation depends on greater understanding of attitudes and social processes.

The labour market is filled with social science graduates and postgraduates shaping the evolution of the UK’s comparative advantage. Growth depends on the service sector innovating and improving productivity. Without a better grasp of people and their motives, technological advances may fail to realise their potential and may be frustrated or blocked. David Walker introduces a new report from the Campaign for […]

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    Building bridges in development: Five recommendations to connect the islands of research, policy and practice.

Building bridges in development: Five recommendations to connect the islands of research, policy and practice.

Elizabeth Harrison, Eleanor Jew, Thomas Smith, Iqbal Ahmed and Sarah Peck present the recommendations from a recent conference for early-career researchers on bridging the gap in development research, policy and practice. Participants were encouraged to consider partnership-based solutions to development problems. From having a realistic understanding of intended outcomes to formulating relevant research questions, constructive debate took place on how […]

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    Prospering Wisely: How research helps us confront the tough choices we face in creating a healthier society.

Prospering Wisely: How research helps us confront the tough choices we face in creating a healthier society.

We are witnessing a growing mistrust, not only in political processes and politicians, but in social institutions as a whole. Inequality is also rising on many crucial dimensions. Lord Stern of Brentford, President of the British Academy argues we need a new kind of national conversation, and the voice of the humanities and social sciences must be at its […]

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    The importance of meta-analysis and systematic review: How research legacy can be maximized through adequate reporting

The importance of meta-analysis and systematic review: How research legacy can be maximized through adequate reporting

Systematic reviews are widely accepted as a ‘gold standard’ in evidence synthesis and the meta-analysis within provides a powerful means of looking across datasets. Neal Haddaway argues that while certain fields have embraced these reviews, there is a great opportunity for their growth in other fields. One way to encourage secondary synthesis is for researchers to ensure their data is reported in […]

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