Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Long, short, and efficient titles for research articles

The title of a research article has an almost impossible remit. As the freely available representative of the work, it needs to accurately capture what was achieved, differentiate it from other works, and, of course, attract the attention of the reader, who might be searching a journal’s contents list or the return from a database query.

Read More

The universality of international law

The 14th Annual Conference of the European Society of International Law will take place at the University of Manchester, from 13th September through 15th September. This is one of the most important events in the international law calendar, attracting a growing network of scholars, researchers, practitioners, and students.

Read More

The flow of physics

Galileo was proud of his parabolic trajectory. In his first years after arriving at the university in Padua, he had worked with marked intensity to understand the mathematical structure of the trajectory, arriving at a definitive understanding of it by 1610—just as he was distracted by his friend Paolo Sarpi who suggested he improve on the crude Dutch telescopes starting to circulate around Venice.

Read More

Hamburger semantics

The students in my class were arguing a question of semantics: is a hamburger a sandwich? One student noted that the menu designer at the restaurant where she worked couldn’t decide if a Chicken Burger should be listed under Hamburgers or Sandwiches.

Read More

How Trump beat Ada’s big data

The Democratic Party’s 2008 presidential primary was supposed to be the coronation of Hillary Clinton. She was the most well-known candidate, had the most support from the party establishment, and had, by far, the most financial resources.

The coronation went off script. Barack Obama, a black man with an unhelpful name, won the Democratic nomination and, then, the presidential election against Republican John McCain because the Obama campaign had a lot more going for it than Obama’s eloquence and charisma.

Read More

Fake news: a philosophical look at biased reasoning [excerpt]

In the search for moral truth, when we learn what is “right,” we in turn learn what is “wrong.” But how can we know whether our conclusions are sound, or the result of biased reasoning? In the following shortened excerpt from On Truth, Simon Blackburn examines how our minds move, and questions whether or not we’re capable of seeking out “truth.”

Read More

How much do you know about opioids? [quiz]

PAINWeek, the largest US pain conference for frontline clinicians with an interest in pain management, takes place this year from 4th September to 8th September. The conference focuses on several different aspects of pain management, and indeed many different methods of pain management exist.

Read More

Remembering Sterling Stuckey, OUP author and scholar on Slave Culture

Many of us at Oxford noted with sadness the death of Sterling Stuckey on August 15th at the age of 86. Stuckey was the author of Slave Culture: Nationalist Theory and the Foundations of Black America, which OUP first published in 1987 and re-issued 25 years later, and which was a foundational text in our understanding of the culture of slavery—its complexity and richness in its defining forms of resistance, resilience, and celebration.

Read More

Etymology gleanings for August 2018

In a jiffy: Stephen Goranson has offered several citations of this idiom (it means “in a trice”), possibly pointing to its origin in sailor slang. English is full of phrases that go back to the language of sailors, some of which, like tell it to the marines, by and large, and the cut of one’s jib (to cite a few), are well-known.

Read More

The dilemma of ‘progress’ in science

Most practicing scientists scarcely harbor any doubts that science makes progress. For, what they see is that despite the many false alleys into which science has strayed across the centuries, despite the waxing and waning of theories and beliefs, the history of science, at least since the ‘early modern period’ (the 16th and 17th centuries) is one of steady accumulation of scientific knowledge. For most scientists this growth of knowledge is progress. Indeed, to deny either the possibility or actuality of progress in science is to deny its raison d’être. 

Read More

Teenage rebellions: families divided by religion in the Reformation

Teenage rebellion is nothing new and religion can be a powerful flashpoint between parents and their children, convinced that the older generation has got it all wrong. As radical Islam attracts teenagers in 21st century Europe, so in early modern England the Reformation produced versions of Protestantism and Catholicism that provided powerful ways for children to reject their parents’ beliefs.

Read More

How the mindful brain copes with rejection

Whether it’s being left out of happy hour plans or being broken up with by a significant other, we can all relate to the pain of social rejection. Such “social pain” is consequential, undermining our physical and mental health. But how can we effectively cope with the distressing experience of being left out or ignored? Mindfulness may be an answer.

Read More

A guide to the APSA 2018 conference

The 114th American Political Science Association Annual Meeting & Exhibition will be held in Boston this year from August 30th – September 2nd. This year’s conference theme “Democracy and Its Discontents,” explores the challenges facing democracy in the U.S. and in emerging democracies around the world. Drop by the OUP booth (#315) to visit with […]

Read More