Academic systems rely on the existence of a supply of “outsiders” ready to forgo wages and employment security in exchange for the prospect of uncertain security, prestige, freedom and reasonably high salaries that tenured positions entail. Drawing on data from the US, Germany and the UK, Alexandre Afonso looks at how the academic job market is structured in many respects like a drug gang, with an expanding mass of outsiders and a shrinking core of insiders.
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 of the metric and the harmful impact these evaluations can have, universities should think carefully on the role of such evaluations in decision-making.
Choosing something that you are passionately interested in to research is a great first step on the road to successful academic writing but it can be difficult to keep the momentum going. Deborah Lupton explains how old-fashioned whiteboards and online networking go hand-in-hand, and offers advice for when it is time to just ‘make a start’ or go for a bike ride.
Drawing on citation data that spans disciplines and time periods, Elliott Green has identified the most cited publications in the social sciences. Here he shares his findings on the 25 most cited books as well as the top ten journal articles. The sheer number of citations for these top cited publications is worth noting as is the fact that no one discipline dominates over the others in the top 20, with the top six books all from different disciplines.
From vaccinations to climate change, getting science wrong has very real consequences. But journal articles, a primary way science is communicated in academia, are a different format to newspaper articles or blogs and require a level of skill and undoubtedly a greater amount of patience. Here Jennifer Raff has prepared a helpful guide for non-scientists on how to read a scientific paper. These steps and tips will be useful to anyone interested in the presentation of scientific findings and raise important points for scientists to consider with their own writing practice.
Article abstracts typically say little about what the researcher has discovered or what the key findings are, what they are arguing as a ‘bottom line’, or what key ‘take-away points’ they want readers to remember. Here we present a simple ‘how-to’ guide to writing good abstracts.
A good academic conference poster serves a dual purpose: it is both an effective networking tool and a means by which to articulately communicate your research. But many academics fail to produce a truly visually arresting conference poster and so opportunities to garner interest and make connections are lost. Tullio Rossi offers guidance on how to produce an outstanding conference poster, considering the scripting, concept, design, and logistics.
Helen Kara responds to our previously published guide to writing abstracts and elaborates specifically on the differences for conference abstracts. She offers tips for writing an enticing abstract for conference organisers and an engaging conference presentation. Written grammar is different from spoken grammar. Remember that conference organisers are trying to create as interesting and stimulating an event as they can, and variety is crucial.
Academic travel culture is not only bad for the planet, it is also bad for the diversity and equity of research.
Responding to Jürgen Gerhards’ post on the ecological damage being done by excessive academic travel, Race MoChridhe observes how the financial and social burdens of academic travel add an additional barrier to participation in research and argues that if academia wants to address issues of diversity and equity in research, it must first acknowledge the effects of academic travel culture.
It is widely accepted that academic papers are rarely cited or even read. But what kind of data lies behind these assertions? Dahlia Remler takes a look at the academic research on citation practices and finds that whilst it is clear citation rates are low, much confusion remains over precise figures and methods for determining accurate citation analysis. In her investigation, Remler wonders whether academics are able to answer these key questions. But expert evaluation has indeed correctly discredited the overblown claim resulting from embellished journalism.
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