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Field experimenting in economics: Lessons learned for public policy

Do neighbourhoods matter to outcomes? Which classroom interventions improve educational attainment? How should we raise money to provide important and valued public goods? Do energy prices affect energy demand? How can we motivate people to become healthier, greener, and more cooperative? These are some of the most challenging questions policy-makers face. Academics have been trying to understand and uncover these important relationships for decades.

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Do we choose what we believe?

Descartes divided the mind up into two faculties: intellect and will. The intellect gathers up data from the world and presents the mind with various potential beliefs that it might endorse; the will then chooses which of them to endorse. We can look at the evidence for or against a particular belief, but the final choice about what to believe remains a matter of choice. This raises the question of the ‘ethics of belief,’ the title of an essay by the mathematician William K. Clifford, in which he argued that ‘it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.’

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The destruction of an Assyrian palace

Ashurnasirpal’s palace at Nimrud (Assyrian Kalḫu) was constructed around 865 BCE during a period in which Assyria was slowly becoming the empire that would come to rule most of the Middle East two centuries later. Ashurnasirpal’s palace is among the few Assyrian palaces to have been excavated (more or less) in its entirety. Measuring at least 2 hectares, it must have been one of the largest and most monumental buildings of its time.

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9780199313396 - Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

A sugar & sweets music mixtape

Incorporating the idea of sweetness in songs is nothing new to the music industry. Ubiquitous terms like “sugar” and “honey” are used in ways of both endearment and condescension, love and disdain. Among the (probably) hundreds of songs about sweets, Aaron Gilbreath, essayist and journalist from Portland, Oregon, curated a list of 50 songs, which is included in The Oxford Companion of Sugar and Sweets.

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Companies House and the £9m typo

Conducting business through a company provides tremendous benefits. The price to be paid for these benefits is disclosure – companies are required to disclose substantial amounts of information, with much of this information being disclosed to Companies House. Every day, suppliers, creditors, potential investors, credit agencies and other persons utilise information provided by Companies House to make informed commercial decisions.

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OxfordDNB

The final years of Fanny Cornforth

Family historians know the sensation of discovery when some longstanding ‘brick wall’ in their search for an elusive ancestor is breached. Crowds at the recent ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ exhibition at Birmingham explored the new resources available to assist their researches, and millions worldwide subscribe to online genealogical sites, hosting ever-growing volumes of digitized historical records, in the hope of tracking down their family roots.

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9780199313396 - Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

The history of chocolate [infographic]

From its journey to Europe from the New World at the beginning of the sixteenth century to its modern-day iteration as we know it, chocolate climbed its way into the hearts and homes of people all over the world. In its long and fruitful evolution through time, we’ve pulled together a timeline of chocolate’s history from Europeans first encounter with the substance with the Aztecs through the Heirloom Cacao Initiative in 2014.

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Who said it? Napoleon or Clausewitz

How well do you know your military strategists? Napoleon Bonaparte and Carl von Clausewitz are considered some of the finest thinkers on war and strategy. Although they were enemies on the battlefield, both men’s insights into the dynamics of war are still widely consulted today. Take our quiz and see if you can tell who said what. Quotes are drawn from Napoleon: On War and On War by Carl Von Clausewitz.

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What’s so fascinating about plants?

On 18th May plant lovers around the world take part in Fascination of Plants Day to raise awareness of the importance of plant science to our lives. Well, what is so fascinating about plants? We asked some of our authors and editors to share why they think plants are fascinating and why they are worth studying.

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The dangers of evolution denial

As the 2016 presidential election season begins (US politics, unlike nature, has seasons that are two years long), we will once again see Republican politicians ducking questions about the validity of evolution. Scott Walker did that recently in response to a London interviewer. During the previous campaign, Rick Perry answered the question by observing that there are “some gaps” in the theory of evolution and that creationism is taught in the Texas public schools (it isn’t, of course).

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Female service members in the long war

We are still in the longest war in our nation’s history. 2.7 million service members have served since 9/11 in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands have been killed, tens of thousands wounded, and approximately 20 to 30% have post-traumatic stress disorder and/or traumatic brain injury.

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OUP Philosophy Creast

Philosopher of the month: Søren Kierkegaard

This May, the OUP Philosophy team are honouring Kierkegaard as the inaugural ‘Philosopher of the Month’. Over the next year, in order to commemorate the countless philosophers who have shaped our world by exploring life’s fundamental questions, the OUP Philosophy team will celebrate a different philosopher every month in their new Philosopher of the Month series. Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, and the father of existentialism.

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Getting to know Sara McNamara, Associate Editor

From time to time, we try to give you a glimpse into our offices around the globe. This week, we are excited to bring you an interview with Sara McNamara, an Associate Editor on our Journals team in New York. Sara has been working at the Oxford University Press since September 2012.

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The Antibody Molecule

Edward Jenner: soloist or member of a trio? Part 1

This month marks 266 years since the birth of one of the most celebrated names in medical discovery. Edward Jenner, credited with the discovery of the smallpox vaccination, was born on 17 May 1749 (6 May by the Julian calendar, still in use in England by a quirk of anti-papal authoritarianism until 1752) in the village of Berkeley in Gloucestershire, England.

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