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Analysis and Comment (43)

You haven’t used ‘stakeholder’ enough. You haven’t used ‘stakeholder’ enough. Professor and student via Tyler Olson/Shutterstock

To write English like a professor, don’t rely on Google translate

Thankfully, nobody speaks academic English as a first language. The English of the university is a very particular form that has specific features and conventions. Sometimes, this is just referred to as…
The hanging of Masha. Bruskina on October 26 1941 was the first of the Nazis' many public executions in occupied Russia. The hanging of Masha. Bruskina on October 26 1941 was the first of the Nazis' many public executions in occupied Russia. http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/masha.html

Academics and ‘barbarians’: why one article aroused Russian ire

It’s not easy for Australians to become famous in Russia. It would seem harder still to become a figure of loathing in Russian print and online media. But Associate Professor Timothy Lynch, who teaches…
It is the role of academic researchers to challenge the relationships between government and corporations that allows society to be damaged – such as in the recent Hazlewood mine fire. It is the role of academic researchers to challenge the relationships between government and corporations that allows society to be damaged – such as in the recent Hazlewood mine fire. AAP

Critical scholarship in a hostile climate: academics and the public

Corporations are involved in every area of our lives. In our education, health, welfare and criminal justice systems, they are ever-present. So obvious is this “fact” of life that it is often only in moments…
Academics may find they are increasingly able to use altmetrics in the place of traditional modes of tracking reach. Academics may find they are increasingly able to use altmetrics in the place of traditional modes of tracking reach. Shutterstock

Are universities turning into giant newsrooms?

Like many of my fellow journalism lecturers, I often get asked for tips on turning academic research into journalism pieces. These requests have been getting more frequent. It’s a compliment, but why is…
Academics are often accused of political bias – but should your nail your political colours to the mast? Academics are often accused of political bias – but should your nail your political colours to the mast? Colour image www.shutterstock.com

Showing your colours: the good and bad of academics joining political parties

I’ve always thought being an academic is like living in the middle of an endless war where the weapon of choice is words. You could say the same of parliament, so it is perhaps surprising that relatively…
Some say the academic book is dead, or at least, dying. But is that true? And is there anything to be done about it? Some say the academic book is dead, or at least, dying. But is that true? And is there anything to be done about it? Book image from www.shutterstock.com

The death of the academic book and the path to Open Access

Is publishing academic books a dying trade? And if so, are free e-books from universities likely to deal the final blow? The future of book publishing in general is hotly contested, but particularly so…
A new academic work which covers all of Australia’s history is a timely addition to Australian historical scholarship. A new academic work which covers all of Australia’s history is a timely addition to Australian historical scholarship. Australia image from www.shutterstock.com

Our past revisited: new Cambridge History of Australia gives us the big picture

This week’s launch of the two-volume Cambridge History of Australia comes just as the Coalition government fires the opening salvo of a new battle in the Australian history wars. Over the past 12 months…
Unfair working conditions are nothing new in academia. Unfair working conditions are nothing new in academia. chancellorgriffin

Zero-hour contracts shame British universities

Further and higher education institutions have a long and ignoble history of employing staff on zero-hour contracts, so figures released last week by the University and College Union come as no surprise…
Which self are you expressing when you vent online? Which self are you expressing when you vent online? west.m

140 thoughtless characters cost dear in academia

The censuring of an academic in the US for sending out an offensive tweet has led many university tweeters to pause for thought. Geoffrey Miller, an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University…
Save Our Souls: students from Damascus University send out a message. Save Our Souls: students from Damascus University send out a message. Freedom House

‘Where we used to go to teach … the armed men take us to torture us’

The Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) helps academics at risk of persecution, discrimination or violence so that they can carry on their work. CARA was established in 1933 by leading British…
There are plenty of myths about open access – are any of them true? There are plenty of myths about open access – are any of them true? Open lock image from www.shutterstock.com

Busting the top five myths about open access publishing

Rather than lock up knowledge in costly journals, increasingly universities and governments are recognising that publicly funded research should be open to all. This past year has seen new open access…
The open education movement seems as though it’s here to stay – but why would anyone give away their work for free? The open education movement seems as though it’s here to stay – but why would anyone give away their work for free? Open book image from www.shutterstock.com

Giving it away for free: sharing really is caring in the open education movement

The New York Times dubbed 2012 the year of the MOOC. And for many, the seemingly unstoppable rise of Massive Open Online Courses – courses which are offered for free by prestigious universities – is where…
A longer academic year would have serious drawbacks for university students and staff. A longer academic year would have serious drawbacks for university students and staff. Academic image from www.shutterstock.com

Idle time? Why we don’t need a longer academic year

This week Coalition MP Alan Tudge wrote a piece in the Australian Financial Review calling for an end to the 26-week academic year. In his article, he said students were spending the remainder of their…
It’s time to move past outdated ideas about porn. It’s time to move past outdated ideas about porn. hansol

Academia needs a porn journal: here’s why

The launch of a new academic journal doesn’t usually grab popular media interest. But the first journal of Porn Studies seems to have bucked the trend. For the most part, media coverage has contained more…
What does your profile picture say about you? What does your profile picture say about you? Academic image from www.shutterstock.com

Posing intellectuals: academic profile pictures reveal more than you think

Just to the left and above this sentence is a picture of me. Like most places on the web where discussion takes place, The Conversation places a profile picture of each author next to their writing. Indeed…
A Palestinian farmer and Israeli soldier clash in an olive grove. Can academics in other countries affect this situation by boycotting one side or the other? A Palestinian farmer and Israeli soldier clash in an olive grove. Can academics in other countries affect this situation by boycotting one side or the other? AAP/Abed Al Hashlamoun

Academics and activism: Stephen Hawking and the Israel boycott

The news that famous physicist Stephen Hawking has decided to join the academic boycott of Israel has attracted some heated commentary. Hawking pulled out of attending an Israeli conference in June, explaining…
The recent cuts to universities are only likely to make the health problem growing in the academic community worse. The recent cuts to universities are only likely to make the health problem growing in the academic community worse. Stressed academic image www.shutterstock.com

Uni cuts will lead to health problems for academics

The consensus on the recent A$2.3 billion funding cuts to the tertiary sector is they will do more harm than good. Plenty of commentators foresee diminishing quality of teaching and research, possible…
What should students really expect after doing a PhD? What should students really expect after doing a PhD? PhD image from www.shutterstock.com

Are PhD graduates expecting too much?

When it comes to PhD graduates, it’s clear that supply now far outstrips demand. It used to be that doing a PhD almost guaranteed you an academic position but now, any guarantees are long gone. My own…
Australian universities need to trim down their bureaucracies. Australian universities need to trim down their bureaucracies. University image from www.shutterstock.com

Reform Australian universities by cutting their bureaucracies

Universities drive a knowledge economy, generate new ideas and teach people how to think critically. Anything other than strong investment in them will likely harm Australia. But as Australian politicians…
The Coalition looks set to only tinker around the edges of higher education policy. The Coalition looks set to only tinker around the edges of higher education policy. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Decoding Tony Abbott’s plans for universities

What should universities expect from a Coalition government if Tony Abbott wins the September election? In his address to the Universities Australia conference in Canberra, the signals were fairly reassuring…
A PhD is never easy but is there a way to make it easier? A PhD is never easy but is there a way to make it easier? Phd graduate image from www.shutterstock.com

A PhD by publication or how I got my doctorate and kept my sanity

Doing a PhD is a difficult business. Long hours, personal stress, institutional pressure to complete on time – and all this for what? Increasingly a PhD alone does not guarantee an academic career. We…
The role of the academic has changed and more and more public intellectuals are becoming famous and engaging with the public. The role of the academic has changed and more and more public intellectuals are becoming famous and engaging with the public. Celebrity image from www.shutterstock.com

The rise of the Super Profs: should we be worried about celebrity academics?

Recently, I looked at a copy of the achingly aspirational male style magazine GQ, and there was an article from its food critic on how to prepare the perfect Bronte pistachio tart. Not having a sweet tooth…
Researchers who have sometimes been waiting years for funding have been left in the lurch by government. Researchers who have sometimes been waiting years for funding have been left in the lurch by government. Research image from www.shutterstock.com

Time to thaw: the human side of the research funding freeze

The Australian Research Council’s confirmation that all funding awards and rounds are currently frozen has caused major concern, if not panic, in academic circles. The Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook…
Online education might not cut it for students who want quality learning and more access to staff. Online education might not cut it for students who want quality learning and more access to staff. Student image from www.shutterstock.com

What students want and how universities are getting it wrong

FUTURE OF HIGHER EDUCATION: We continue our series on the rise of online and blended learning and how free online courses are set to transform the higher education sector. Today, Victoria University’s…
Online education may mean more stress and workload for academics, not less. Online education may mean more stress and workload for academics, not less. Stressed academic image from www.shutterstock.com

Online education at the coalface: what academics need to know

FUTURE OF HIGHER EDUCATION: We continue our series on the rise of online and blended learning and how free online courses are set to transform the higher education sector. Today, ANU’s Rod Lamberts and…
Squeezing a thesis into three minutes sounds impossible. But it’s an important skill to learn. Squeezing a thesis into three minutes sounds impossible. But it’s an important skill to learn. Lecture image from www.shutterstock.com

A thesis in three minutes: making research accessible

Imagine condensing a thesis – which would normally take nine hours to read aloud – into a presentation just three minutes long. Today at the Australian and Trans-Tasman Three Minute Thesis competition…
Using technology to tackle plagiarism is important, but universities need to understand why students do it in the first place. Using technology to tackle plagiarism is important, but universities need to understand why students do it in the first place. Student image from www.shutterstock.com

Carrot or the stick? Technology and university plagiarism

Trying to control and prevent plagiarism is a problem for all universities, and nearly all universities these days use some kind of technology to combat it. But in a recent article on The Conversation…
Academics freedom and university reputations are being tested online. Academics freedom and university reputations are being tested online. Academic image from www.shutterstock.com

Academics behaving badly? Universities and online reputations

Trying to control your reputation online is a bit like trying to clean up wee in a toddler pool. You are much more likely to get your hands dirty than achieve any kind of meaningful damage control. Many…
Despite online courses available for free, university students still want the experience of bricks and mortar campuses. Despite online courses available for free, university students still want the experience of bricks and mortar campuses. University campus image from www.shutterstock.com

MOOCs will mean the death of universities? Not likely

MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are gaining a lot of attention. Some commentators believe that these free internet-delivered courses are the future of university education. Others meanwhile argue…
The pressure on academics is becoming too much, there needs to be cultural change. The pressure on academics is becoming too much, there needs to be cultural change. Stressed image from www.shutterstock.com

Cracks in the ivory tower: is academia’s culture sustainable?

The pressure is on. More and more universities and academics are working in a culture that is untenable and cracks in the ivory tower have already begun to appear. The work environment is now characterised…
Academic writing doesn’t have to be old and dusty. Academic writing doesn’t have to be old and dusty. Wyoming_Jackrabbit

Seven secrets of stylish academic writing

Imagine that the editor of a widely-read magazine or, say, The Conversation has heard about your academic research and invited you to contribute an article. But you only know how to produce stodgy, impersonal…
The traditional academic world has gone, but what has replaced it? The traditional academic world has gone, but what has replaced it? Flickr/Nick in exsilio

What’s up with universities – Whackademia or just grumpy old academics?

When a friend showed me the blurb for Whackademia: an insider’s account of the troubled university, I immediately left the office to buy a copy, solely on the promise in the title. I read it in just two…
Women are equally represented in academia, but most professors are still men. Women are equally represented in academia, but most professors are still men. Flickr/Herkie

Why do female academics give up on becoming professors?

Australian higher education is often seen as a female-friendly industry, with overall numbers of both female students and academic staff outnumbering men. Yet women remain a minority as senior academics…
Congratulations class of 2011, you’ve been given the opportunity to have real-life professors – future classes might not. Congratulations class of 2011, you’ve been given the opportunity to have real-life professors – future classes might not. Flickr/Pauls Creative Cakes

Lost professors: we won’t need academics in 60 years

The University of Melbourne was founded in 1885 with five professors teaching 15 students. In 1952, at the start of the post-war tertiary boom, there were around 3,000 Australian academics teaching 30,000…
Universities are centres of research… but what kind of research? Universities are centres of research… but what kind of research? flickr/pcgn

A question universities need to answer: why do we research?

Fundamentally, there are two big motives for research. On the on hand there is intellectual ambition: the desire to know and understand the word, to appreciate the best that has been said and thought on…
Local history has an important place in Australia. The academic world should get involved. Local history has an important place in Australia. The academic world should get involved. Flickr/Kate's Photo Diary

Academic snobbery: local historians need more support

Local history is one of the most popular forms of history in Australia. Yet there is a yawning gap between the enthusiastic amateur and the academic historian. While some academic historians engage with…
They way we research Asia has been misguided. They way we research Asia has been misguided. Flickr/-AroFarMeR-

Beyond Asian literacy: understanding what makes us the same

Australia desperately needs to invest more on research into Asia if we’re to better understand a part of the world so vital for our future economic prosperity. But not only do we need more research, we…

Collegiality is dead in the new corporatised university

The collaborative spirit once embraced by universities in the pursuit of community service is giving way to confidentiality and secrecy as top-down managerialism takes hold, a conference on higher education…
Maori academics in New Zealand should be wary of talking to the non-Maori media. Maori academics in New Zealand should be wary of talking to the non-Maori media. Flickr/geoftheref

Academic bashing in the media – a first-hand account

Maybe it’s the lot of academics to be misrepresented, but when a single incident can nearly get you sacked it makes you reconsider whether to deal with the media at all. Last year, comments of mine about…
International education might not be as healthy as it seems Tim Ellis/Flickr. International education might not be as healthy as it seems Tim Ellis/Flickr.

Figures for international student enrolments can be misleading

International education has become a vital industry for the Australian economy, in recent years rivalling coal and iron ore as one of our largest export industries. But the way we’re calculating international…
Academics should talk more openly about their research and help influence public policy AAP. Academics should talk more openly about their research and help influence public policy AAP.

Why academics should get involved in public debate

Raymond Da Silva Rosa’s article, also published on The Conversation, kindly refers to my recent piece in the Australian Literary Review, which examined why generally academics exert so little impact on…
Are these the sorts of speakers you go to a university to hear? AAP. Are these the sorts of speakers you go to a university to hear? AAP.

Why academics should steer clear of public debate

The most important issue raised by Lord Monckton’s controversial appearance on two Western Australian campuses is not the limit of free speech or Monckton’s scientific competence. Rather it is whether…

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