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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Science & Medicine


Booker T. Washington’s undervalued legacy

When Booker T. Washington died on this day in 1915, he was widely regarded not just as “the most famous black man in the world” but also “the most admired American of his time.” In the one hundred years since his death, he and his legacy have lost much of their luster in the eyes of the public, even though he, no less than Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Martin Luther King, Jr., is one of the foremost figures in the history of the American civil rights movement.

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Junior doctor contracts: should they be challenged?

On Saturday 17th October, 16,000 people marched to protest against the new junior doctor contracts in London for the second time. The feeling at the protest was one of overwhelming solidarity, as people marched with placards of varying degrees of humour. Purposely misspelled placards reading “junior doctors make mistaks” were a popular choice, while many groups gathered under large banners identifying their hospital, offering 30% off.

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Seven ways to start and keep your writing going

Beginnings are tough. But if we’d only get started, our marks and words on the page can bootstrap our next moves. Marks and words out there, on the page, feed what in neuroscience is called our brain’s “perception-action” cycle. Through this built-in and biologically fundamental mechanism, we repeatedly act on the world, and then look to see what our actions have wrought in the world.

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The case for chemistry

What is all around us, terrifies a lot of people, but adds enormously to the quality of life? Answer: chemistry. Almost everything that happens in the world, in transport, throughout agriculture and industry, to the flexing of a muscle and the framing of a thought involves chemical reactions in which one substance changes into another.

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Tracheal Intubation Guidelines

We are used to lines that guide – from those that keep our words straight on the page to those that direct planes down runways or trains along tracks. Moving from lines that guide our direction to guidelines that direct our behaviour, particularly in clinical medicine, is a very exciting time.

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The impact of On the Origin of Species

Charles Darwin was widely known as a travel writer and natural historian in the twenty years before On the Origin of Species appeared in 1859. The Voyage of the Beagle was a great popular success in the 1830s. But the radical theories developed in the Origin had been developed more or less in secret during those intervening twenty years.

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Max Planck: Einstein’s supportive skeptic in 1915

This November marks the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein completing his masterpiece of general relativity, an idea that would lead, one world war later, to his unprecedented worldwide celebrity. In the run-up to what he called “the most valuable discovery of my life,” he worked within a new sort of academic comfort.

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Can flour fortification programs reduce anemia?

Two studies published this year yield conflicting results on whether fortifying flour with essential vitamins and minerals improves anemia prevalence. One study published in the British Journal of Nutrition (BJN) showed that each year of flour fortification was associated with a 2.4% decrease in anemia prevalence among non-pregnant women.

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Debunking ADHD myths: an author Q&A

Psychologist Stephen P. Hinshaw, along with Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and author Katherine Ellison, authors of ADHD: What Everyone Needs to Know, answered a few questions for us in hopes of decluttering some information about ADHD.

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Battin Ethics of Suicide Cover

‘Death with Dignity': is it suicide?

But what’s the right term, really? After all, much of the political disagreement and legal wrangling over this issue is rooted in this fundamental conceptual question, is “physician-assisted suicide” really suicide? Let’s see if we can figure it out.

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Game on – Episode 28 – The Oxford Comment

Listen closely and you’ll hear the squeak of sneakers on AstroTurf, the crack of a batter’s first hit, and the shrill sound of whistles signaling Game on! Yes, it’s that time of year again.

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Charles West and Florence Nightingale: Children’s healthcare in context

At the dawn of the children’s hospital movement in Europe and the West (best epitomised and exemplified by the opening of London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children (GOSH) on 14 February 1852), the plight of sick children was precarious at all levels of society. After a long campaign by Dr Charles West, Great Ormond Street hospital was the first establishment to provide in-patient beds specifically for children in England.

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Neuroscience of Consciousness cover

Can neuroscience explain consciousness?

Long excluded from serious consideration within psychology and the neurosciences, consciousness is back in business. A new journal Neuroscience of Consciousness will catalyse this new understanding by publishing the best new research, review, and opinion on how our “inner universe” comes to be.

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The Angelina Jolie effect

It is hard to quantify the impact of ‘role-model’ celebrities on the acceptance and uptake of genetic testing and bio-literacy, but it is surely significant. Angelina Jolie is an Oscar-winning actress, Brad Pitt’s other half, mother, humanitarian, and now a “DNA celebrity”. She propelled the topic of familial breast cancer, female prophylactic surgery, and DNA testing to the fore.

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Elective Neck Dissection in Early Oral Cancer: Debate Resolved

A debate over whether to remove lymph nodes from the neck during surgical treatment of early oral cancer has gone on for decades. Now findings from a randomized control trial reported last June at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) annual meeting, in Chicago may finally put that controversy to rest.

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Marketing Mozart

If you’re a parent, or soon to be one, you’ll know that the imminent arrival of a newborn generates above all else a mile-long shopping list. Up there with the organic cotton onesies, on many parents’ list is a CD entitled The Mozart Effect.

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