Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

How the intention to share photos can undermine enjoyment

Though people both take and share more photos than ever before, we know very little about how different reasons for taking photos impact people’s actual experiences. For instance, when touring a city, some people take photos to share with others (e.g., to post on Facebook), while others take photos for themselves (e.g., to remember an experience later on). Will those who take photos to share enjoy the experience more or less than those who take photos for themselves? How do people’s goals for taking photos impact their enjoyment of photographed experiences?

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Animal of the Month: 11 facts about koalas

Koalas: the adorable fluffy mascots of Australia who seem to cuddle everything in sight. It’s no wonder that tourists flock to visit them, photograph them, and feed them the leaves of their all-time favourite food, eucalyptus. Apart from their tree-hugging habits and rigid diet though, how much do you actually know about them? The koala is part of the marsupial family, which is around 80 million years old.

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Translanguaging and Code-Switching: what’s the difference?

One of the most frequently asked questions after a presentation on Translanguaging has been, what’s the difference between Code-Switching and Translanguaging? In fact, I have had members of the audience and students come up to me with transcripts of speech or writing that involve multiple named languages and ask: “Is this Code-Switching or Translanguaging?”

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Towards a postcolonial nineteenth century

French and Francophone Studies is a vibrant and diverse field of study, in which research on nineteenth century literature, and research from the perspective of postcolonial theory, are thriving—and indeed represent particular areas of growth. What does it mean, then, to argue for a “postcolonial nineteenth century”? It would certainly be misleading to see the two areas as completely divorced or discordant.

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Can electrical stimulation of the brain enhance mind?

It is almost philosophical to think that our mental representations, imagery, reasoning, and reflections are generated by electrical activity of interconnected brain cells. And even more so is to think that these abstract phenomena of the mind could be enhanced by passing electricity through specific cellular networks in the brain. Yet, it turns out these tenets can be subjected to empirical experimentation.

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How do male hummingbird dance moves alter their appearance?

Many animals use colorful ornaments and exaggerated dances or displays to attract mates, such as birds of paradise. Some animals go even further and have colors that can change as they dance, such as in peacocks or morpho butterflies. This special type of color is called iridescence, and its appearance changes based on the angles of observation and illumination.

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Do government officials discriminate?

Suppose you write an email to a school district or a library asking for information about enrolling your child to the school or becoming a library member. Do you expect to receive a reply? And do you expect this reply to be cordial, for instance including some form of salutation? It turns out that the answers to the two questions above depend on what your name is and on what it embodies.

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Social media use and disturbed sleep

Are you spending more and more time consuming social media through your computer, mobile phone, video games, and social media apps? If so, you’re not alone. Data from Pew Research Center has shown that use of social media among adults has grown from 5% in 2005 to 69% in 2018, with almost 90% of 18–29-years-olds indicating use. Using social media of various forms may have some benefits

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Soil protists: a fertile frontier in biology research

For many years, soil has been considered the ultimate frontier to ecological knowledge. Soils serve many ecosystem functions for humans; for example, they provide the basis for most of our nutrition. Yet, the organisms which act as the catalysts for those services—i.e. the soil microbiota—still remain a relatively unexplored field of research.

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Animal of the Month: ten facts about penguins

Penguins are some of the most varied and remarkable creatures on the planet. With 17 extant species’ inhabiting the earth, this bird family contain a vast range of sizes, habitats, skills, and behaviours. This April, to honour our animal of the month, we celebrate 10 amazing facts about the penguin.

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What can brain research offer people who stutter?

There’s something compelling about watching a person who stutters find a way to experience fluent speech. British TV viewers witnessed such a moment on Educating Yorkshire, back in 2013. When teenager Musharaf Asghar  listened to music through headphones during preparations for a speaking exam, he found that his words began to flow. Singers, like Mark Asari who is currently competing on The Voice UK, also demonstrate how using the voice in song, rather than speech, can result in striking fluency.

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We can predict rain but can’t yet predict chronic pain

Accurate weather forecasts allow us to prepare for rain, snow, and temperature changes. We can avoid driving on icy roads, pack an umbrella, or purchase sunblock, depending on what is predicted.  Forecasting also generates information trustworthy enough to evacuate a city at risk from a category 4 hurricane. Meteorology has come a long way; today satellite data inform sophisticated computer weather models. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for forecasting chronic pain. In most cases, health care providers can’t anticipate early or accurately enough which patients might develop long-lasting pain.

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The modern Prometheus: the relevance of Frankenstein 200 years on

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s acclaimed Gothic novel, written when she was just eighteen. The ghoulish tale of monsters—both human and inhuman—continues to captivate readers around the world, but two centuries after Shelley’s pitiably murderous monster was first brought to life, how does the tale speak to the modern age? The answer is that the story remains strikingly relevant to a contemporary readership, through its exploration of scientific advancements and artificial intelligence.

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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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