Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The presence of the past: selective national narratives and international encounters in university classrooms

The question of how to remember past events such as World War II has long become official business. Governments, intent on sustaining unifying national narratives, therefore choose what and how the past should be remembered and told, for example through teaching history at secondary schools and memorials/museums. For how states choose to remember tells us something important about how they see themselves.

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Opening the door for the next Ramanujan

It is still possible to learn mathematics to a high standard at a British university but there is no doubt that the fun and satisfaction the subject affords to those who naturally enjoy it has taken a hit. Students are constantly reminded about the lifelong debts they are incurring and how they need to be thoroughly aware of the demands of their future employers. The fretting over this within universities is relentless.

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Diverse books in school libraries

Diversity continues to be a huge topic in the media. Each year seems to spark new debates about everything from the racial makeup of award nominee lists, to the people who are allowed into different countries. The wave of popularity surrounding this subject impacts upon every sphere of life and culture, including books and libraries.

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On the physicality of racism

When you talk about how the young boys that I grew up around walked through the world, when you talk about the fact that my brother had made a decision at 13 that he was going to carry a handgun, when you talk about the fact that that wasn’t even unusual, you are talking about the physical safety, the danger, the very health of the body. Conversations about race are filled with words and euphemisms to describe the impact of racism on people and communities.

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Liar, liar, pants on fire: alternative facts

Oxford lists several definitions of belief, but here is a paraphrase of their meanings: something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion; a religious conviction; trust, faith, or confidence in something or someone. How do truths believed by individuals or groups compare with scientific truths? On the face of it, scientific observations and experiments are backed by physical evidence, repeated in many settings, by many independent observers around the world.

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Transformative social work education: the time is now

In the first week of March, hundreds of social work educators from across the US will come together in New Orleans to discuss the future of social work education at the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors (BPD) conference. It is clear that the stakes for social work education are higher now than ever before. For my students who are working in field placements, there is a growing sense of dissonance.

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Replication in international relations

The integrity of science is threatened in many ways – by direct censorship; by commercial, political, or military secrecy; by various forms of publication bias; by exorbitant journal subscription fees that effectively deny access to the general public; by cheating and falsification of results; and by sloppiness in the research process or the editorial process prior to publication.

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Deconstructing pseudoscience

Can magicians (illusionists) really levitate themselves and others or bend spoons using only the power of their mind? No. Emphatically no. But they surely make it seem as if they can. Enjoy being fooled? Then you’ll love watching really good magic shows that allow people the opportunity to suspend their disbelief momentarily. But don’t let this suspension become permanent.

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On the economics of economists

We economists spend a lot of time writing about the job market. Can the unemployment rate drop any further? Will the number of unemployed people increase when the Fed starts to raise interest rates? And will wages begin to pick up if the unemployment rate does drop?To pursue these questions, economists construct theoretical models of the labor market, gather hiring and wage data from a variety of industries and regions.

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Reimagining equity in public schools

Fifteen years ago bipartisan support for No Child Left Behind (NCLB) served as a watershed moment in federal support for public education in the United States. The law emphasized standardized testing and consequences for states and schools that performed poorly. The law was particularly important because NCLB’s focus on accountability also meant that states and local school districts were required to report on the achievement of different groups of students by race, socio-economic background, and disability.

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Academy schools and the transformation of the English education system

Increasing the quality and quantity of an individual’s education is seen by many as a panacea to many social ills: stagnating wages, increases in inequality, and declines in technological progress might be countered by policies aimed at increasing the skills of those who are in danger of falling behind in the modern labour market.

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Helping students excel with integrity

On 19 October 2016 the International Center for Academic Integrity called for education institutions to join an International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating. Using the hashtags #defeatthecheat and #excelwithintegrity, students and staff were invited to share their declarations of why ‘contract cheating’ (that is, paying someone to do your academic work) is wrong. The idea was to raise awareness – not just within institutions but in the public and legislative domains too.

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Writing for an academic audience

Completing multitudinous years of education presumably encourages people to juxtapose one esoteric word after another in order to fabricate convoluted paragraphs formulated of impressively, extensively elongated and erudite sentences. To put it another way: completing many years of education encourages people to write complex paragraphs full of long sentences composed of long words.

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How to write a good sentence

Some years ago, I sent off a manuscript to an editor. After the usual period of review, the editor sent back a note saying that he liked the work, but suggested that I should make it “less academic.” I reworked a number of things and sent back a revised version with more examples and a lighter tone. A week later, I got a short email back saying “No really, make it less academic.”

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