Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The art of microbiology

Sir Alexander Fleming famously wrote that “one sometimes finds what one is not looking for”. The story of Fleming’s serendipitous discovery of penicillin in the 1920s is familiar to most microbiologists. While the Scottish scientist and his family were on vacation, a fungal contaminant spread across – and subsequently killed – a lawn of bacteria growing on agar plates from one of his experiments.

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National Volunteer Month: a reading list

On 20 April 1974, President Richard M. Nixon declared National Volunteer Week, to honor those Americans whose unpaid “efforts most frequently touch the lives of the poor, the young, the aged and the sick, but in the process the lives of all men and women are made richer.” This commemoration has since been extended to a full month to recognize those who offer their time, energy, and skills to their communities.

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Artificial intelligence in oncology

There is no denying the presence of computers in our everyday life, whether it’s through phones, personal virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, or video games. Lately, the interest and development surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) has escalated, and the opportunities to embrace this within the healthcare industry seem to be growing.

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Is there a gender bias in teaching evaluations?

Why are there so few female professors? Despite the fact that the fraction of women enrolling in graduate programs has increased over the last decades, the proportion of women who continue their careers in academia remains low. One explanation that could explain these gender disparities are gender-biased teaching evaluations. Outcomes of teaching evaluations affect hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions.

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Brain tumour awareness: The end counts too

Here in the United Kingdom, we have the worst survival rates for brain cancer in Europe, with just 14% of patients surviving for ten or more years. Whilst prognosis for most other types of cancer has improved, brain tumour survival rates have remained stagnant, with no game-changing new drugs being developed in the last fifty years. As brain tumours progress, the aggressive nature of the disease becomes apparent.

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Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Aftering critical theory: reimagining civil “religion”

Why haven’t the insights of critical theory been more widely incorporated into the work of religious studies scholars in particular, and humanists more generally? Conversely, why have critical theorists missed the cross-cultural patterns of signification that have shaped post-tribal hierarchies for millennia, when they are so adept at finding hidden epistemological linkages within western political hegemonies?

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“Watermelon snow” on glaciers: sustaining life in colour

Glacier surfaces around the world often host active communities of specialized organisms, including annelids in Alaska , insects in the Himalayas, and rotifers in Iceland. But these organisms, like all life, need liquid water in order to survive. The most strikingly visible signs of life on glaciers come from the microbes responsible for “watermelon-snow” – so-called both for its colour, and its smell.

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OUP Philosophy

What is it like for women in philosophy, and in academia as a whole?

During Women’s History Month, the OUP Philosophy team has been celebrating Women in Philosophy throughout history and in the present day. While it is easy for most of us to name male philosophers, it is far more difficult for people to name female philosophers even though their influence has been just as great as their male counterparts.

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You’ve got internet!– connecting rural areas

Twenty years ago, if you wanted internet access in many rural areas of America, you had to plug your computer into a phone line, listen to the dialing sound, and hope for the best. Today many people can easily join the cyber world at reliable speeds that few imagined decades ago. Although the percentage of people with broadband has increased, many in rural communities still lack broadband access and the accompanying benefits.

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Addressing international law in action

The 112th American Society of International Law’s annual meeting (4-7 April 2018) will focus on the constitutive and often contentious nature of ‘International Law in Practice’. Practice not only reifies the law, but how it is understood, applied, and enforced in practice shapes its meaning and impacts the generation of future international rules.

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Celebrating the first women Fellows of the Linnean Society of London

Diversity in science is in the news today as never before, and it is hard to imagine what it might have been like to be a woman scientist in 1900, knocking at the doors of learned societies requesting that women be granted the full advantages of Fellowship. It might seem trivial to us now, but in the past these societies were the primary arena in which discussions took place, contacts were made and science progressed.

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The science behind the frog life cycle [interactive guide]

Most of us remember learning the life cycle of a frog when we were young children, being fascinated by foamy masses of frogspawn, and about how those little black specks would soon be sprouting legs. That was a while ago, though. We think it’s about time that we sat you down for a grown-ups’ lesson on the life cycle of a frog. Frog eggs face a plethora of challenges from the moment they are laid.

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How Trump is making China great again

Over the last year, scholars, pundits, and policymakers interested in China have rhetorically asked whether US President Donald Trump will make President Xi Jinping’s China “great again.” There is now mounting evidence that the answer to that question is “yes.” Since his inauguration, there are a number of ways in which Trump has contributed to China’s rise, and Xi Jinping’s tightening grip on power.

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Acknowledging identity, privilege, and oppression in music therapy

As clinical music therapy professionals who are goal- and solution-oriented, how much time do we spend considering our client’s experience outside the therapy room? How might taking the time to learn about a client’s multifaceted identity affect the therapeutic relationship? Furthermore, how do our own personal identities, beliefs, and experiences affect our relationships with clients? In answering these questions, we begin to scratch the surface of making our practice more intersectional.

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Social media and plastic surgery: quality over quantity

There is no shortage of stress factors in anyone’s daily life, but how does the stress of social media effect plastic surgeons who are required each day to bring their A game to every operative procedure they perform? As initially conceived, social media was intended to connect people globally. But now, it’s the cause of the third leading psychological disorder in the United States—social anxiety disorder.

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How do black holes shape the cosmos?

At the center of every galaxy is a supermassive black hole. Looking at the wider scale, is it possible that these gravity monsters influence the overall structure of our universe? Using a new computer model, astrophysicists have recently calculated the ways in which black holes influence the distribution of dark matter, how heavy elements are produced and distributed throughout the cosmos, and where cosmic magnetic fields originate.

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