Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World


The future of scholarly publishing

In thinking about the future of scholarly publishing – a topic almost as much discussed as the perennially popular ‘death of the academic monograph’ – I found a number of themes jostling for attention, some new, some all-too familiar. What are the challenges and implications of open access?

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10 academic books that changed the world

What is the future of academic publishing? We’re celebrating University Press Week (8-14 November 2015) and Academic Book Week (9-16 November) with a series of blog posts on scholarly publishing from staff and partner presses. Today, we present Oxford’s list of ten academic books that changed the world.

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In defense of myth

I approach myth from the standpoint of theories of myth, or generalizations about the origin, the function, and the subject matter of myth. There are hundreds of theories. They hail from anthropology, sociology, psychology, politics, literature, philosophy, and religious studies.

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Musical Quarterly

Learning to listen

If your experience of school music was anything like mine, you’ll recall those dreaded aural lessons when the teacher put on a recording and instructed you to identify the instruments, to describe the main melody, to spot a key change, perhaps even to name the composer.

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Arabia: ancient history for troubled times

In antiquity, ‘Arabia’ covered a vast area, running from Yemen and Oman to the deserts of Syria and Iraq. Today, much of this region is gripped in political and religious turmoil that shows no signs of abating.

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NASA discovers water on Mars again: take it with a pinch of salt

The discovery of water on Mars has been claimed so often that I’d forgive anyone for being skeptical about the latest announcement. Frozen water, ice, has been proven on Mars in many places, there are lots of ancient canyons hundreds of kilometres long that must have been carved by rivers, and much smaller gullies that are evidently much younger.

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Breaking down barriers

Barriers, like promises and piecrust, are made to be broken. Or broken down, rather. Translators, like teachers, are great breakers-down of barriers, though, like them, they are almost always undervalued. This autumn our minds and our media are full of images of razor-wire fences as refugees, fleeing war zones, try to cross borders legally or illegally in search of a safe haven.

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Word Origins

The B-word and its kin

Not too long ago, I promised to return to the origin of b-d words. Today I’ll deal with Engl. bad and its look-alikes, possibly for the last time—not because everything is now clear (nothing is clear), but because I have said all I could, and even this post originated as an answer to the remarks by our correspondents John Larsson (Denmark) and Olivier van Renswoude (the Netherlands).

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When everywhere is a grave: remembering WWII casualties in Belarus

On 22 June 2015, the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko opened a new memorial complex at the site of the former extermination camp Maly Trostenets near Minsk. Between 1941 and 1944, German occupants and their helpers interned and killed up to 206,500 people in this camp and in the nearby forest of Blagovshchina.

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Wading through an endless field, or, still gleaning

What is the origin of the now popular phrase in the house, as in “Ladies and gentlemen, Bobby Brown is in the house”? I don’t know, but a short explanation should be added to my response. A good deal depends on the meaning of the question “What is the origin of a certain phrase?” If the querist wonders when the phrase surfaced in writing, the date, given our resources, is usually ascertainable.

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Police shootings and the black community

In a recent Huffington Post piece entitled “Police Shootings Are About Class as Well as Race,” Jesse Jackson argued that the issue of police violence specifically, and an unjust and excessive criminal justice system in general, are disproportionately experienced by the poor, irrespective of race.

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Aylan Kurdi: A Dickensian moment

The international response to the photographs of the dead body of three year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, washed ashore on a Turkish beach on 2 September 2015, has prompted intense debate. That debate has been not only about the proper attitude of Britain and other countries to the refugee crisis, but also about the proper place of strong emotions in political life.

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Back to the “stove front”: an oral history project about Cuban housewives

We recently asked you to tell us to send us your reflections, stories, and the difficulties you’ve faced while doing oral history. This week, we bring you another post in this series, focusing on an oral history project from Carmen Doncel and Henry Eric Hernández. We encourage you to to chime into the discussion, comment below or on our Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and G+ pages.

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Kuwait’s war on ISIS and DNA

Kuwait is changing the playing field. In early July, just days after the June 26th deadly Imam Sadiq mosque bombing claimed by ISIS, Kuwait ruled to instate mandatory DNA-testing for all permanent residents. This is the first use of DNA testing at the national-level for security reasons, specifically as a counter-terrorism measure. An initial $400 million dollars is set aside for collecting the DNA profiles of all 1.3 million citizens and 2.9 million foreign residents

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