Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Science & Medicine

Maths can help you thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic

When Isaac Newton practiced social distancing during the Great Plague that hit London in 1665, he was not expected to transition from face-to-face work with scientist colleagues to a patchwork of conference calls and email. With no children underfoot who needed care at home, he concentrated on developing early calculus ideas. With no exposure to a […]

Read More

Why vaccines should be compulsory

Imagine we develop a vaccine against the coronavirus (COVID-19). Suppose the vaccine has some very small chance of some serious side effects, for instance seizures. However, this vaccine can save millions of lives globally, in the same way as other vaccines do. You are the prime minister and you have to decide whether to make […]

Read More

The surprising scientific value of national bias

Emotions seem by their very nature to defy scientific analysis. Private and evanescent, and yet powerful and determining, feelings resist systematic observation and measurement. We are lucky to catch a glimpse in a facial expression or inflection of speech. The emotions of animals are all the more difficult. Without words to communicate what might be […]

Read More

Re-reading Camus’s The Plague in pandemic times

Sometime in the 1940s in the sleepy colonial city of Oran, in French occupied Algeria, there was an outbreak of plague. First rats died, then people. Within days, the entire city was quarantined: it was impossible to get out, and no one could get in. This is the fictional setting for Albert Camus’s second most famous novel, The Plague (1947). And yes, there are some similarities to our current situation with the coronavirus.  First, […]

Read More

How to rate and rank potential doctoral students

Graduate education, particularly the training of doctoral students, plays crucial role in the progress of society. Around 1,500 of the country’s 4,500 or so universities award doctoral degrees. In 2018 according to the Survey of Earned Doctorates 55,185 students were doctorate recipients in the United States. To match potential graduate students and graduate programs needs the […]

Read More

A guide to parent self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic

As school closures and quarantines take place across the globe, the overwhelming anxiety is palpable in the newfound realities of a pandemic. Trips to the grocery store are now strategized, as shoppers face empty shelves and shortages of household staples. This will undoubtably continue as anxiety thrives on uncertainty increasing stress and driving us to […]

Read More

Seven classics for comfort reading [reading list]

The impact of the COVID-19 can be felt in all areas of our lives, with many staying at home for the next few weeks. Perhaps this is an opportunity to finally start your copy of War & Peace that’s been on the to-be-read pile for years or you find yourself revisiting old friends in Jane Austen’s world. […]

Read More

The story of COVID-19, by the numbers

The COVID-19 pandemic was announced on 11 March 2020 by the World Health Organization, marking a turning point for the public health systems serving the health of constituent populations across the globe. This declaration moment is important for narrative on COVID-19 because it is the point at which it is accepted that the virus is not […]

Read More

How olive oil promotes brain health

Diets and superfoods are all the rage. From acai berries to the Zone diet, many a dietary trend has come along promising a range of benefits, such as weight loss, heart health, and improved cognition. But the science behind these claims is often sketchy at best. One dietary regime that has stood the test of […]

Read More

How work conditions shape healthcare

A few hours before he died, my patient, a 21-year-old man (a boy, really) who was undergoing treatment for a blood cancer came to my ward from the emergency department where he had presented with fever. His parents came with him. The emergency clinicians had begun the right protocol to address his fever. My duties, […]

Read More

How religion affects global pandemics

People sometimes see religion as an unwelcome infection affecting the secular politics of international relations. Such attitudes easily present themselves in consideration of terrorism and violence. Religion is seen to distort and hamper the healthy peaceful progress of secular politics, operating as an outside pathogen that inflames tensions and challenges already present in global affairs. Religion […]

Read More

How strategists are improving team decision-making processes

How companies and teams make decisions can be very challenging. Poor or ill-structured decision-making processes can make the organization less successful and create destructive conflicts in decision-making teams. But there are a few strategies companies can try that help organizations make big decisions in a better way. People operate in complex and dynamic environments, making […]

Read More

Seven books on the fascinating human brain [reading list]

The human brain is often described as the most complex object in the known universe – we know so much, and yet so little, about the way it works. It’s no wonder then that the study of brain today encompasses an enormous range of topics, from abstract understanding of consciousness to microscopic exploration of billions of neurons. […]

Read More

How air pollution may lead to Alzheimer’s disease

Air pollution harms billions of people worldwide. Pollutants are produced from all types of combustion, including motor vehicles, power plants, residential wood burning, and forest fires so they are found everywhere. One of the most dangerous of these, fine particulate matter, is 20 to 30 times smaller than a strand of human hair. Their tiny […]

Read More

Lessons for the coronavirus from the 1899 Honolulu plague

Public health officials all over the United States—indeed globally—are trying to decide how to deal with the world’s coronavirus pandemic.   They know the coronavirus originated in China, and they know they can identify it with certainty.  But they do not know what might kill it, and they have no cure for anyone who contracts […]

Read More