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The Paradoxical Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali’s funeral and memorial service brought together a seemingly incongruous cast of characters, once again spotlighting the many contradictions that have made it so difficult for commentators and biographers to extract a realistic assessment of his life. Even with a staggering amount written about him, Ali leaves behind a contested image largely characterized by misinterpretation.

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Brexit wrecks it for science

We are all reeling from the vote for Brexit. No one in my scientific circle was for exit. Now all are heavily lamenting it. Even cursing it on Facebook. Scientists voted to stay. Seems the entire science sector was pro-Europe and for many good reasons. Many of the best UK science labs are filled with brilliant researchers from across the EU.

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A story of how a cluttered mind can find itself in clover

Once again, no gleanings: the comments have been too few, and there have been no questions. Perhaps when the time for a real rich harvest comes, I’ll start gleaning like a house on fire. When last week I attacked the verb clutter, I planned on continuing with the kl-series; my next candidates were cloud and cloth.

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Yueh-China's Growth

The Brexit trade-off

Amidst the uncertainty around what will happen after Britain’s historic vote to leave the European Union, there is some clarity about the next steps. Boris Johnson, the prominent Leave campaigner and PM contender, has set out his views in a newspaper article in which he says that Britons will have the right to live and work in the EU.

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OUP Philosophy Crest

How well do you know Bertrand Russell? [quiz]

This June, the OUP Philosophy team honors Bertrand Russell (May 18, 1872 – February 2, 1970) as their Philosopher of the Month. Considered among the most distinguished philosophers of the 20th century, Russell’s style, wit, and contributions to a wide range of philosophical fields made him an influential figure in both academic and popular philosophy.

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Research skills, transferable skills, and the new academic imperative

The challenges afflicting higher education in the US are many and multifaceted, and much has been written about the transformation (or full-blown identity crisis) of the academic institution and its place in society. Much of the controversy has to do with the institution’s responsibilities toward its students, its employees, and the community, with some claiming that “knowledge for knowledge’s sake” is no longer a sufficient offering.

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Benjamin Franklin Says “WE ARE ONE”

A year before signing the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin wrote to Jonathan Shipley, one of his closest English friends, about American congressional affairs. He told of his day-long meetings (he worked from 9 AM often until 9 PM) in Congress. Despite his physical exhaustion, Franklin was impressed with his colleagues. Members of Congress, he wrote, attend “closely” to congressional affairs, “without being bribed to it, by either Salary, Place or Pension, or the hopes of any.”

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10 things you didn’t know about sharks

There are more than 400 known species of sharks inhabiting our planet’s marine ecosystems but detailed knowledge about most sharks is considerably lacking. Biologists often encounter barriers to studying sharks in captivity and in the wild due to factors such as their large size, relatively low demand in commercial markets, fast speeds, and wide habitat ranges.

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How the Brexit vision of UK freedom risks turning sour

“All changed, changed utterly,” wrote the celebrated Irish poet W.B. Yeats of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin, adding “a terrible beauty is born!” A century later, he might well have been writing about the result of Britain’s referendum on EU membership.

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Books are for everyone at this outdoor reading room

The first thing you need to know about the Bryant Park Reading Room is that it isn’t a room. Located behind the New York Public Library in Manhattan, this open-air Reading Room sits under a leafy canopy of plane trees at the 42nd Street entrance to Bryant Park.

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Human Reproduction

Do lifestyle factors have an impact on sperm morphology?

The assessment of sperm morphology, determined by the cells’ shape and size, is an important part of male fertility testing. Previous research has suggested that only sperm with good sperm morphology are able to make their way to the egg in the woman’s body and fertilise it. Our knowledge of factors that influence sperm size and shape is very limited

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Songs of exile: a playlist for Psalm 137

Psalm 137 begins with one of the more lyrical lines in the Hebrew Bible: “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.” It ends eight lines later with one of the thorniest: “Happy shall he be, who taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.” Partly because it deals with music—another famous verse asks, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”—the psalm has been like poetic catnip, a siren song luring musicians and composers.

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Journal of Refugee Studies

Europe’s real refugee crisis: unaccompanied minors

The surge in asylum seekers and refugees arriving in Europe over the last two years is regularly described as a crisis. Certainly the numbers are significant: in 2015 there were about 1.2 million asylum applications in Europe, double the number in 2014 which was already a record year. The human suffering should also not be underestimated; almost 4,000 people are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe in 2015.

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Single particle analysis taking biological research to the next level

Recent advances in technology have led to great developments in many fields – especially the field of medicine. In particular, better image detection has vastly improved electron microscopes, allowing for closer study of macromolecular complexes. The ability to visualize macromolecules in more detail, however, has raised even more questions to explore in the field of microscopy.

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The top 10 most common research mistakes (and how to avoid them)

As the saying goes, we learn by our mistakes. And so it goes for virtually all research scientists, with most mistakes occurring during their formative years when they are still being mentored. While missteps in the research process are not usually catastrophic, the risks of allowing them to occur unchecked are many: personal safety is at stake, as are the careers and reputations of individuals, departments, and entire institutions.

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History, philosophy, and political hope

Politics in general is all about how to develop, sustain, and revise institutions, practices, and policies that bind individuals together productively and that point toward more fulfilling individual and joint futures for them. Debates about how best to do this are natural. Should the US become yet more aggressively libertarian-individualist, or should a substantial social compact that enforces terms of fair cooperation via significant redistributions be instituted?

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