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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Science & Medicine

It’s not just young people who are pre-drinking

Pre-drinking, the act of drinking at home before going out, is an issue of global concern due to its links with greater overall drinking across the night, and increased risk of assaults, injuries, and arrest. Generally people pre-drink due to the high cost of drinks in licensed premises, to socialize with friends, reduce social anxiety before going […]

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Reviewing for scientific journals: A how to

Scientific journals are complex ecosystems, bringing together different actors in what is loosely akin to an inquisitorial court of law. The chief editor is the judge. She will decide whether a manuscript goes out for review and makes the final decision should the paper be peer reviewed. Members of the editorial board are like council, […]

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Beyond open defecation: a free, clean India

The Right to Sanitation in India: Critical Perspectives, edited by Philipe Cullet, Sujith Koonan, and Lovleen Bhullar, represents the first effort to conceptually engage with the right to sanitation and its multiple dimensions in India. We sat down with editor Philipe Cullet to analyse the contributions of the law and policy framework to the realisation of the right to sanitation in India, the place the book holds in the socio-political landscape, and its international and comparative relevance.

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Do we unfairly demonise food processing?

Today, we constantly hear concerns about the dangers of processed food and it is sometimes portrayed as opposite to natural and healthy food. Is this warranted? What does ‘food processing’ even really mean? To a food scientist, food processing is any method used to make food safe to eat, enhance its stability, or change its form.

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The future of humanitarian medicine

Humanitarian medicine aims to provide essential relief to those destabilized by crises. This concept, the humanitarian imperative, expands the principles of humanity to include, as a right, the provision of aid to those suffering the consequences of war, natural disaster, epidemic or endemic diseases, or displacement. Providing assistance to those in crises is a premise as […]

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A 13-year-old scholar shares her research experiences

I noticed that sometimes after using a hand dryer my ears would start ringing. At first I didn’t really pay attention to it, but then I wondered if they were too loud, and that was why my ears were hurting. Also, I noticed that in many cases, when children were in washrooms with hand dryers, […]

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Robot rats are the future of recycling

I just watched WALL-E for the first time in five years or so. It’s the story of a plucky little robot tasked with cleaning up the world by compacting rubbish into blocks and building structures out of the blocks to minimize the amount of land they take up. Of course, he falls in love and saves the […]

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Why academics announce plans for research that might never happen

Why do academic writers announce their plans for further work at the end of their papers in peer reviewed journals? It happens in many disciplines, but here’s an example from an engineering article: Additionally, in our future work, we will extend our model to incorporate more realistic physical effects . . . We will expand the detection […]

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How quantitative thinking shaped our worldview

Over the past couple of months or so, I’ve had a few opportunities to speak with individuals and groups about “us” — who we are and how we came to be ourselves. By “us,” I do not mean self-reflection and the introspection of following self-help conventions; rather, I mean the “us” to be our worldview: our thinking, acting, and doing.

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How microwaves changed the course of the Battle of the Atlantic

Sir Robert Watson Watt is credited as the inventor of radar. In Britain radar was known as RDF (radio direction finding). The way that radar works is that pulses of microwave radiation of controlled frequency and polarisation are emitted from a transmitter. Some of these microwaves reach an object (an aircraft or submarine for example) directly […]

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From the farm to rocket road: one engineer’s story

Retired engineer Henry Pohl can vividly recall his first encounter with a rocket. During the early 1950s, the Army drafted him and shipped him from Texas to the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. “That dadgum thing looked pretty simple,” he says of the rocket engine. It didn’t look much bigger than the tractor engine back […]

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How austerity politics hurts prisoners

The Battle of Dunkirk–the 1940 allied evacuation of 338,226 Belgian, British, and French troops from the beaches of Northern France–has been continually accentuated as a critical moment of the World War II. In “a miracle of deliverance,” as Winston Churchill, the then-prime Minister called it, hundreds of thousands of soldiers came together in a resourceful feeling of togetherness. Today, Dunkirk remains a symbol of determination against adversity.

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Standing in Galileo’s shadow: Why Thomas Harriot should take his place in the scientific hall of fame

The enigmatic Elizabethan Thomas Harriot never published his scientific work, so it’s no wonder that few people have heard of him. His manuscripts were lost for centuries, and it’s only in the past few decades that scholars have managed to trawl through the thousands of quill-penned pages he left behind. What they found is astonishing—a glimpse into one of the best scientific minds of his day, at a time when modern science was struggling to emerge from its medieval cocoon.

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Connecting performance art and environmentalism

For many of us, the reality of global warming and environmental crisis induces an overwhelming sense of hopelessness because there seems to be a lack of real solutions for ecological catastrophes. The looming sense of crisis is the reason why people came out in droves to the Derwent River on an overcast day in June 2014 to participate in Washing the River, artist Yin Xiuzhen’s performance event in Hobart, Tasmania.
Audience members took brushes and mops to engage in a ceremonial act, taking part in the symbolic cleansing of a monumental stack of 162 frozen blocks of dark brown ice made from the water of the Derwent River.

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#MeToo and Mental Health: Gender Parity in the Field of Psychiatry

Psychiatry is not the only space in which women are silenced or burdened, but as a discipline it’s one lens through which we can analyse a larger phenomenon. Now more than ever, it’s essential to discuss, in real time, women’s experiences as health professionals and as patients in mental health services.

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Mad Pride and the end of mental illness

When we think of mental illness we’re likely to recall experiences, behaviours, and psychological states that are bad for the individual: a person with severe depression loses all interest in life; another with anxiety might not be able to leave the house; auditory hallucinations can be terrifying; paranoia can make social interaction impossible; and delusions take the person away from a shared reality.

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