Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Facing the challenges of serving the public as an academic

What does it mean to be an academic? To be an academic working in environmental law? One part of our multi-faceted role is what I am calling “public service”—trying to make our small portion of the world a slightly better place. Public service is difficult. Its demands, however, are rather similar to those we face […]

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Food labels: Can they help us to pick healthy portions?

From packaged food products on the supermarket shelves to calories listed on menus in fast food outlets, food labels and the nutrition information they contain are all around us. But what effect do these labels have on consumers? Does food marketing influence what you actually eat?

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Ants are picky when using tools for foraging

Tool use, once considered unique to our species, is now known to be widespread in the animal kingdom. It has been reported in most of the major taxonomic groups, with notable exceptions being myriapods, amphibians and reptiles. In insects, one of the best documented examples of tool use is seen in members of the ant […]

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Imagining lost books in the age of Cambridge Analytica

I don’t think it coincidental that, at approximately the same historical moment when online sites and services began (both overtly and covertly) preserving and mining our textual interactions en masse, wider culture evinced a perceptible surge of interest in the lost books of past, pre-digital eras.

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Northeast India: a new literary region for IWE

It’s a young literature – this body of English writings from the eight states of India’s Northeast. Often evaluated in comparison with the rich tradition of Assamese literature (from the largest state in the region and going back several centuries) and overshadowed by the growing dominance of a ‘mainstream India-centred’ Indian writing in English, it began to emerge into the literary-critical scene at the turn of the 20th century, without a splash and with extreme modesty.

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The price of precarious labour in contemporary warfare

One year previously, a British private security company providing services for the US government reached an agreement with the Sierra Leonean government to employ up to 10,000 Sierra Leonean ex-servicemen for security contracting in Iraq.

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Dental students and the smell of fear

Human communication takes many forms, but picturing humans using chemical mechanisms to send messages leaves us skeptical. However, this concept becomes more plausible when we think of communication mediated via pheromones in animals.

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Religion and literature in a secular age

There is a long history of people exploring the relationship between religion and literature. We might go back to sacred texts from different traditions and think, for instance, about why there is such a vast array of literary forms in the Judaeo-Christian Bible.

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