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    PhD students supervised collectively rather than individually are quicker to complete their theses

PhD students supervised collectively rather than individually are quicker to complete their theses

Given the choice, most PhD students would prefer to receive individual supervision rather than be supervised alongside their peers as part of a collective. This is understandable, given the undivided attention and precise, directly relevant advice one would receive. However, Hans Agné and Ulf Mörkenstam have compared the experiences of individually and collectively supervised students on the same doctoral […]

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    The neurotic academic: how anxiety fuels casualised academic work

The neurotic academic: how anxiety fuels casualised academic work

As higher education undergoes a process of marketisation in the UK and the activities of academic staff are increasingly measured and scrutinised, universities are suffused with anxiety. Coupled with pressures facing all staff, casualised academics face multiple forms of insecurity. While anxiety is often perceived as an individual problem for which employees are encouraged to take personal responsibility, Vik […]

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    Book Review: How to be an Academic Superhero: Establishing and Sustaining a Successful Career in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities by Iain Hay

Book Review: How to be an Academic Superhero: Establishing and Sustaining a Successful Career in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities by Iain Hay

In How to be an Academic Superhero: Establishing and Sustaining a Successful Career in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, Iain Hay offers a guide to how early-career academics can develop their careers while meeting the ever-growing expectations of universities. While the book does not overtly challenge the institutional demand for scholars to be “academic superheroes” and occasionally offers contradictory advice, Iván […]

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    Does not compute: why I’m proposing a moratorium on academics’ use of the term “outputs”

Does not compute: why I’m proposing a moratorium on academics’ use of the term “outputs”

The word “outputs” is now ubiquitous in UK academia, particularly in a REF context that requires authors to think of their publications in such terms. To Kirsten Bell this is jarring, with a term previously more commonly associated with the language of computing or economics, where outputs are measured and monetised, clearly not suitable to academia. It’s ultimately ideas […]

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    Student data systems and GovTech apps will increase competition and performance measurement in higher education

Student data systems and GovTech apps will increase competition and performance measurement in higher education

Current debates in higher education policy have drawn attention to the significant impacts of marketisation, metrics, and performance management on the sector. Ben Williamson argues that a restructuring of the data infrastructure is shaping these HE trends. An examination of the HE data infrastructure reveals the political aspirations coded into its architecture, the actors involved in its production, and […]

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    The proportion of co-authored research articles has risen markedly in recent decades

The proportion of co-authored research articles has risen markedly in recent decades

The proportion of multi-authored papers in the social sciences has risen steadily over recent decades. But what are the reasons behind such a marked increase? Lukas Kuld and John O’Hagan consider a number of explanations, from increased academic specialisation and more affordable communication and travel, to the pressures of publication and an inclination among authors to spread the risks […]

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    How are academic lives sustained? Gender and the ethics of care in the neoliberal accelerated academy

How are academic lives sustained? Gender and the ethics of care in the neoliberal accelerated academy

Intensifying work demands under “new managerial” practices are changing academics’ experiences. In this environment, how are academic lives sustained? Which model of science are we engaging in? And what part does gender play? Ester Conesa explores how existing gender biases in the academy are exacerbated by caring work – still mostly taken on by women – not being properly […]

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    “Cutting through”: overcoming the barriers to academic engagement with policy processes

“Cutting through”: overcoming the barriers to academic engagement with policy processes

A lack of access and poor communication are often cited as reasons why academic research is not widely used by policymakers. But what about the challenges for researchers engaging with decision-makers such as parliaments? Lindsay Walker, Lindsey Pike, Marsha Wood and Hannah Durrant have surveyed more than 400 research professionals and identified some clear barriers, with heavy workloads and […]

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    A brief history of research impact: how has impact assessment evolved in the UK and Australia?

A brief history of research impact: how has impact assessment evolved in the UK and Australia?

Over the last couple of decades there has been an international push around the assessment of the wider societal impact of research. Kate Williams and Jonathan Grant document the evolution of research impact assessment in the UK and Australia, and how policies in the two countries have been seemingly interdependent, a back-and-forth process developed through international learning. Continued political […]

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    Looming REF deadlines lead to a rush in publication of lower quality research

Looming REF deadlines lead to a rush in publication of lower quality research

The increased significance of research assessments and their implications for funding and career prospects has had a knock-on effect on academic publication patterns. Moqi Groen-Xu, Pedro A. Teixeira, Thomas Voigt and Bernhard Knapp report on research that reveals a marked increase in research productivity immediately prior to an evaluation deadline, which quickly reverses once the deadline has passed. Moreoever, […]

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    The gendered impact agenda – how might more female academics’ research be submitted as REF impact case studies?

The gendered impact agenda – how might more female academics’ research be submitted as REF impact case studies?

As the impact agenda increases in importance, appropriate consideration should be given to its effects on female academics. The REF has obviously gendered implications, with a number of different factors combining to exacerbate existing inequalities in the academy. Emily Yarrow and Julie Davies have examined impact case study submissions to the REF2014 business and management studies unit of assessment […]

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    Hitting the QR sweet spot: will new REF2021 rules lead to a different kind of game-playing?

Hitting the QR sweet spot: will new REF2021 rules lead to a different kind of game-playing?

Today marks 999 days until the expected deadline for submissions to REF 2021. Universities’ preparations are already well under way, with additional guidance published last autumn in the form of new REF rules designed to reduce game-playing behaviours among institutions. However, as Simon Kerridge observes, the rule changes may have introduced, or rather enhanced, some hidden dangers around universities’ […]

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    Is pursuing an academic career a form of “cruel optimism”?

Is pursuing an academic career a form of “cruel optimism”?

What does the future hold for PhD graduates? Marie-Alix Thouaille has found that for many the post-PhD transition is characterised by exploitative, often unsustainable working conditions, emotional upheaval, financial worry, and poor wellbeing. Despite this most PhD graduates remain absolutely determined to forge an academic career, unwilling to even entertain the idea of working in another sector. This paradoxical […]

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    Transdisciplinary PhD programmes produce more high-impact publications and foster increased collaborations

Transdisciplinary PhD programmes produce more high-impact publications and foster increased collaborations

Traditional doctoral programmes require students to gain in-depth knowledge in one subject area. Transdisciplinary programmes aim to foster synthesis across disciplines and focus on translating research findings into real-world solutions, helping students to develop a professional disciplinary identity that is enhanced by multidisciplinary methods and theories. Anna-Sigrid Keck, Stephanie Sloane, Janet M. Liechty, Barbara H. Fiese, and Sharon M. […]

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Book Review: A University Education by David Willetts

In A University Education, former Minister of State for Universities and Science (2010-14) David Willetts sets out the changes he fostered during his four-year ministry and his views on what still needs to be transformed, alongside a scholarly appreciation of how the current higher education system and its particularly British (mainly English) features have evolved. In this review, Ron Johnston […]

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    Where are we with responsible metrics? And where might we go next? Reflections from two recent events

Where are we with responsible metrics? And where might we go next? Reflections from two recent events

Widespread scepticism and concern among researchers, universities, representative bodies and learned societies about the broader use of metrics in research assessment and management has led to concerted efforts to promote the “responsible use” of such metrics. But how effectively are UK higher education institutions engaging with this agenda? Lizzie Gadd reflects on two recent responsible metrics-themed events. While it […]

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    Shorter timeframes, co-designed, with “first-cut” insights: how university policy research can become more responsive to the needs of policymakers

Shorter timeframes, co-designed, with “first-cut” insights: how university policy research can become more responsive to the needs of policymakers

How might universities develop a research agenda that is responsive to the needs of policymakers? After running a series of workshops on public policy innovation with policy practitioners from various levels of government in Australia, Tamas Wells and Emma Blomkamp identified three ways in which policy research might become more “user-centred”: more variety in the timeframes of research projects, […]

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    From invisibility to impact: radically different measures are needed to capture the true impact of research

From invisibility to impact: radically different measures are needed to capture the true impact of research

Academics are increasingly expected to produce directly applicable solutions to hard-to-solve “real-world” problems such as poverty, development, and environmental degradation. However, conventional assessments of science have not yet been adequately adapted to capture the diverse effects of this type of problem-centred research. Examining a prominent recent example of multidisciplinary research on consumption, environment and sustainability in Ireland, Henrike Rau, […]

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