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    Evidence and innovation in humanitarian assistance: ‘Conference without Borders’ to address Syrian conflict #MSFSci

Evidence and innovation in humanitarian assistance: ‘Conference without Borders’ to address Syrian conflict #MSFSci

The MSF Scientific Days are a round of conferences looking at how humanitarian action can be improved by scientific research and innovation. On behalf of the organisers, Sarah Venis presents an overview. This year will feature a strong focus on the effects of the Syrian conflict and the resultant refugee and migration crisis. Another theme will also look at how […]

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    “Tenure can withstand Twitter”: We need policies that promote science communication and protect those who engage.

“Tenure can withstand Twitter”: We need policies that promote science communication and protect those who engage.

In the age of social media, the professor’s podium has expanded. Cassidy R. Sugimoto argues so too must our policies on science communication and academic freedom. Academic freedom is a right for unfettered freedom to research, but also with an obligation to disseminate that research. Twitter and other social media can be used to fulfill this obligation. What we need […]

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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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    Credit where credit is due: Research parasites and tackling misconceptions about academic data sharing

Credit where credit is due: Research parasites and tackling misconceptions about academic data sharing

Benedikt Fecher and Gert G. Wagner look at a recent editorial which faced considerable criticism for typecasting researchers who use or build on previous datasets as “research parasites”. They argue that the authors appear to miss the point, not only of data sharing, but of scientific research more broadly. But as problematic as the editorial may be, it points to […]

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    High prices to access scholarly research could drive developing country researchers to use pirate sites like SciHub.

High prices to access scholarly research could drive developing country researchers to use pirate sites like SciHub.

Developing countries are investing more in research and higher education and it should be no surprise that publishers are building commercial relationships to expand access and services. But prices are often still too high. Jonathan Harle argues now is a good time for the research community to reflect on what we can do to bring the cost of access down. If we […]

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    Write As If You Don’t Have the Data: The benefits of a free-writing phase.

Write As If You Don’t Have the Data: The benefits of a free-writing phase.

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 […]

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    The Next Decade of Data Science: Rethinking key challenges faced by big data researchers

The Next Decade of Data Science: Rethinking key challenges faced by big data researchers

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 […]

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    Book Review: Research Justice: Methodologies for Social Change

Book Review: Research Justice: Methodologies for Social Change

In the collection Research Justice: Methodologies for Social Change, edited by Andrew J. Jolivette in collaboration with the US non-profit organisation DataCenter: Research for Justice, a number of authors consider how researchers can contribute to the struggle for social justice through their research methodologies. While Helen Kara would have welcomed more reflection on the possible limitations of methodologies designed […]

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    Research in the age of mass surveillance: Finding an ethical consensus over new digital visual research methods.

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 […]

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  • Newton after William Blake by Eduardo Paolozzi 1995 at the British Library
    Permalink Newton after William Blake by Eduardo Paolozzi 1995 at the British LibraryGallery

    Standing on the shoulders of the Google giant: Sustainable discovery and Google Scholar’s comprehensive coverage.

Standing on the shoulders of the Google giant: Sustainable discovery and Google Scholar’s comprehensive coverage.

The 11th anniversary of Google Scholar passed yesterday. Max Kemman provides an overview of the growth and impact of the platform and also looks at why Google Scholar is virtually unrivaled. The scholarly community might ask whether it is entirely desirable that Google plays such an important role in the scholarly workflow. Not only does Google Scholar have a known effect on discovery and citation […]

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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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    Book Review: The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos by Leonard Mlodinow

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 […]

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    Researchers are not ‘hoodwinked’ victims. All choose to play the publishing game and some can choose to change it.

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 […]

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    Is withholding your data simply bad science, or should it fall under scientific misconduct?

Is withholding your data simply bad science, or should it fall under scientific misconduct?

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 […]

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    First among equals? Recommendations and guidelines for deciding who gets authorship credit.

First among equals? Recommendations and guidelines for deciding who gets authorship credit.

Across all disciplines, the course of determining authorship does not always run smoothly. Emma-Louise Aveling and Graham Martin argue that with funders pushing for wider collaboration, dilemmas about how to allocate authorship fairly is set to intensify. They present guidelines for research teams to consider. To ensure all decisions remain transparent, start discussions on authorship credit early on in the research process.

If there’s […]

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    ‘Picturing the Social’: Questions of method, ethics and transparency in the analysis of social media photography.

‘Picturing the Social’: Questions of method, ethics and transparency in the analysis of social media photography.

Anne Burns has been researching current norms of social media sharing, particularly in relation to photo sharing practices, and reflects here on the implications this research might have for social media research in years to come. Whilst there are many opportunities for researchers, more reflection is needed on the potential for harm that can be caused by the unauthorized reproduction […]

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    Should policymakers follow the lead of Facebook and Google and use field experiments to implement better services?

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 […]

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    Passing Review: how the R-index aims to improve the peer-review system by quantifying reviewer contributions.

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 […]

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    Scholarly behaviour and evaluation criteria: Uncovering the superficial characteristics that lead to higher citations

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, […]

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