When researchers reach the point of actually writing up their analyses, the writing can often centre around the data itself. Howard Aldrich argues this kind of “data first” strategy to writing goes against the spirit of disciplined inquiry and also severely limits creativity and imagination. Literature reviews and conceptual planning phases in particular would benefit if researchers explored the range of ideas […]
The vast availability of digital traces of unprecedented form and scale has led many to believe that we are entering a new data revolution. Will these new data sources and tools allow us to improve business processes in transformative ways? Vyacheslav Polonski argues that the more data is available, the more theory is needed to know what to look for and […]
Research in the age of mass surveillance: Finding an ethical consensus over new digital visual research methods.
With digital recording devices now widely available, the power and functionality of these tools may far outstrip what is strictly required for research purposes. Tze Ming Mok looks at some of the specific ethical research conundrums emerging with the use of first-person visual recording devices. Researchers cannot afford to ignore these ethical challenges. The fundamental principles of research ethics frameworks still stand, and are becoming ever […]
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 […]
Book Review: The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos by Leonard Mlodinow
The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos is an accessible grand history of science and many of its most crucial figures, enlivened by personal anecdotes and insights by physicist Leonard Mlodinow. Mlodinow evocatively demonstrates how scientific developments are not solely the product of isolated genius, but are dependent upon the convergence of […]
Researchers are not ‘hoodwinked’ victims. All choose to play the publishing game and some can choose to change it.
Researchers are often cast as hapless victims in the scholarly communication system. Cameron Neylon argues their largely rational actions to demonstrate productivity are a choice and are also all part of the game they helped to create. Everyone is playing the game, publishers, researchers and funders, but that doesn’t mean that all the players have the same freedom to change it. It […]
A recent study sent data requests to 200 authors of economics articles where it was stated ‘data available upon request’. Most of the authors refused. What does the scientific community think about those withholding their data? Are they guilty of scientific misconduct? Nicole Janz argues that if you don’t share your data, you are breaking professional standards in research, and are […]
Academic freedom and authority are fundamentally about responsibilities and public scholars must navigate with care.
The boundaries between scholarly speech and wider public speech are blurry, as separate discussions about Tim Hunt and ethnographer Alice Goffman have both proved. Academic authority and academic freedom are not easy bedfellows. Cameron Neylon argues that much of the entanglement is due to an incomplete understanding of responsibility. Academic freedom is not the right to speak one’s mind. […]
Should policymakers follow the lead of Facebook and Google and use field experiments to implement better services?
In this article, Robert Metcalfe argues that field experiments can be instrumental in helping policymakers understand how to improve the welfare of their citizens. Field experiments represent a relatively new methodological approach capable of measuring the causal links between variables, thereby allowing policymakers to understand the behavioural responses of their citizens to changes in policies.
Do neighbourhoods matter to outcomes? Which classroom […]
Passing Review: how the R-index aims to improve the peer-review system by quantifying reviewer contributions.
Peer review is flawed. Look no further than the storm of attention over sexist reviewer comments. A new index proposes a simple way to create transparency and quality control mechanisms. Shane Gero and Maurício Cantor believe that giving citable recognition to reviewers can improve the system by encouraging more participation but also higher quality, constructive input, without the need for a […]
Scholarly behaviour and evaluation criteria: Uncovering the superficial characteristics that lead to higher citations
Do scholars adjust their publication behaviour depending on the criteria used in their evaluation? Maarten van Wesel presents findings showing how the publishing behaviour of scholars changed when evaluation switched from emphasising ‘publish-or-perish’ to impact factors. Whilst this may suggest a shift from quantity to quality, the number of citations a paper receives not only depends on its scholarly value, […]
A clear distinction is needed between replication tests and the evaluation of robustness in social science literature
Confusion over the meaning of replication is harming social science, argues Michael Clemens. There has been a profound evolution in methods and concepts, particularly with the rise of empirical social science, but our terminology has not yet caught up. The meaning of replication must be standardized so that researchers can easily distinguish between replication efforts and the evaluation of robustness.
In Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable […]
We are living through a frontier moment of online publishing. The dynamics of open access are new, and the internet opens up the possibility of an ongoing process of revision that is new to publishers, writers, and readers in the academy. Jo Guldi reflects on the experience of releasing The History Manifesto and the subsequent criticism of the lack of a […]
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 […]