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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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What the WannaCry attack means for all of us

As the aftershocks of last week’s big “WannaCry” cyberattack reverberate, it’s worth taking a moment to think about what it all means. First, ransomware is a growing menace, and this may be the case that gets it global attention. The idea behind ransomware is simple: no one is willing to pay as much as you for your data. Instead of copying critical data and trying to sell it to others, ransomware authors will simply deny their target access until payment is made.

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Student debt: not just a millennial problem

When I was interviewed on the Kathleen Dunn Show, I was prepared to talk about the health implications of educational debt for students. That changed when a father called in and shared his story about helping his children pay for college. This father wanted to protect his children from debt and was trying to do the “right” thing by his children, and it almost resulted in the loss of his home.

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Learning to read emotions in oral history

The most recent issue of the OHR featured two stories on understanding emotion in oral history interviews. In one piece, Julian Simpson and Stephanie Snow asked what role humor plays in healthcare, and how to locate it in oral history. In another piece, Katie Holmes asks how to locate historical emotion during an interview and how to interpret these feelings.

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Friends with benefits?

Before Theresa May decided to go to the country, the election result many observers of UK politics were most looking forward to was the outcome of ‘super-union’ Unite’s bitter leadership contest between the incumbent, Len McCluskey, and his challenger, Gerard Coyne – a contest which, rightly or wrongly, had been viewed through the prism of its potential impact on the Labour Party.

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Edwin Muir and a story of Europe

While reading recently British Library correspondence files relating to the poet Edwin Muir—the 130th anniversary of whose birth will be on 15 May this year—I was struck, as I have often been, by the important part played in his development as man and poet by his contact with the life of Europe—a continent that is currently high on the agenda of many of us with a possible British Brexit in view.

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Preparing clinical laboratories for future pandemics

The rapid flourishing of the Ebola outbreak in 2014 caught clinical laboratories in the United States off-guard, and exposed a general lack of preparedness to handle collection and testing of samples in patients with such a highly lethal infectious disease. While the outbreak was largely limited to West Africa, fears in the United States became heightened in September of 2014 with the first reported imported case diagnosed in Texas.

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The mixed messages teens hear about sex and how they matter

Although they start having sex at similar ages to teens in many other developed countries, US teens’ rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), pregnancies, abortions, and births are unusually high. Besides high levels of socioeconomic inequality, a major reason is their inconsistent use of contraceptive methods and low uptake of highly effective contraception.

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How does international human rights law apply during armed conflict?

The Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) is the law (by treaty or custom) that regulates the means and methods used in the conduct of armed hostilities. In this video, Daragh Murray, editor of the Practitioners’ Guide to Human Rights Law in Armed Conflict, talks about international human rights law in armed conflict.

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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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Photographer Helen Muspratt through the eyes of her daughter

Helen Muspratt (1905–2001) was a pioneering photographer. Her unique techniques with different forms of exposure made her a driving force in naturalistic portraiture and social documentation. Throughout her illustrious career, Helen photographed the likes of Dorothy Hodgkin, Nobel Prize winning chemist; Roger Fry and Julian Bell of the Bloomsbury Group; painter Paul Nash; journalist Alistair Cooke; and many others.

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The role of women in the life of Frederick Douglass

Although Frederick Douglass captures his journey into freedom and political influence in his autobiographies, he reveals little about his private life. Douglass’s carefully crafted public persona concealed a man whose life was more complicated than he would have liked us to think. Women played key roles in guiding him throughout his turbulent life—from helping him escape slavery to solidifying his role as an abolitionist and suffragist.

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George Washington: the great mind behind early America

Throughout history, George Washington has been highly regarded for his common sense and military fortitude. When it comes to the Founding Fathers, his intellectual pursuits have been overshadowed by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton—who are conventionally considered the great minds of early America. Despite his relative lack of formal education, Washington remained an avid reader throughout his life.

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Godzilla of the Galápagos and other speciation stories

Yet despite their brutish appearance, marine iguanas are extremely placid herbivores, posing a threat only to the algae upon which they feed. We now know that these creatures represent one of the oldest living lineages of the archipelago and as such, their evolution is deeply intertwined with the history of the islands themselves, a discovery foreshadowed by Darwin‘s observation that “They assuredly well become the land they inhabit”.

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Ottonian queenship: powerful women in early medieval Germany

In 2008, archaeologists working on the cathedral at Magdeburg, in eastern Germany, opened an ancient tomb and rediscovered the bones of an Anglo-Saxon princess called Edith. She had died in the year 946, aged only about 30. Her remains were brought across the North Sea for scientific tests which verified the identification via tests on her tooth enamel, indicating that the bones belonged to someone who had grown up drinking water from the chalky landscapes of southern Britain.

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American healthcare: are you an expert? [Quiz]

As technology and education become more broadly accessible, people are being exposed to more information than ever before. It’s easier than ever to choose convenience over reliability or accuracy—to search for symptoms on WebMD instead of asking a doctor, or consult Wikipedia for definitive answers to every question. All this newly accessible yet unreliable information has produced a wave of ill-informed and angry citizens.

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Punishing Peccadilloes? Illicit sex at the early Stuart courts

At the Tudor and early Stuart royal courts, the careers of influential politicians and courtiers often depended on the preferences of the monarchs: being in the king’s good graces often mattered as much or more for advancements than ability and training. The personality and quirks of the rulers affected many aspects of a courtier’s life, including what today might be considered the most private: their sex lives.

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