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It’s now ok to step out of line. Hopscotch via bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock

Cross-subject research finally gets recognition in the REF

Academics love games. We can’t resist playing them – but the Research Excellence Framework (REF) is our favourite. As the results of the UK’s 2014 assessment of university research are digested, academics…
Not a full picture. Missing puzzle pieces via tadamichi/Shutterstock

Game-playing of the REF makes it an incomplete census

Research assessment is only partly reliable as an indicator of the real quality of the work going on in higher education. It has a dual character. On one hand it is rooted in material facts and objective…
A little bit of impact goes a long way. Chones

The impact of impact on the REF

For the first time, the “impact” of academic research on the wider world has been included in a large-scale assessment of the quality of university research, which has just been published. One-fifth of…
Postdocs do the lion’s share of research, so maybe it’s time we started listening to them. ∞ katherynemily./Flickr

Voices of a generation: young scientists must be seen and heard

Postdoctoral scientists – postdocs – are the engines of biomedical research. As early career researchers, they conduct the most experiments and are responsible for sculpting how we treat disease in decades…
Who’s going to pay for this? image via www.shutterstock.com

Development of new drugs is threatened by budget cuts

Foundation essay: This article is part of a series marking the launch of The Conversation in the US. Our foundation essays are longer than our usual comment and analysis articles and take a wider look…
Participants and guests at a Walk for Breast Cancer decked out in pink. Breast cancer walk image via www.shutterstock.com

Awash in pink, but breast cancer awareness isn’t a cure

This month, we are inundated with pink. By wearing pink ribbons, purchasing pink products, and participating in walks and other collective activities, citizens try to raise awareness of the scourge of…
Conflicting recommendations about flu drugs has made it difficult for doctors to decide whether to prescribe them. Andrew Wales/Flickr

What kind of research can we trust?

Research involving pharmaceutical company input is notoriously compromised. While not all industry ties lead to biased research, and not all biases are a consequence of industry ties, many studies show…
Who owns the university after the crash? simononly

After the crash, who owns the British university in 2014?

By international standards, British universities have extraordinarily high levels of autonomy. They control all of their assets, they employ their own staff, renew their own leadership and governors and…
Ian Macfarlane – here at the Anglo Australian Telescope in April – had science lumped in with his industry ministry. AAP/Alan Porritt

Science and the Coalition: two big policies, one year and no minister

On science and technology, the Abbott government is somewhat of a paradox. On one hand, the government passionately believes that deregulating the university sector is essential. By taking caps off fees…
When money’s tight, there’s no better time for researchers to bust out of the Ivory Tower and actively engage with the public. Nhoj Leunamme == Jhon Emmanuel/Flickr

It’s time to ditch the ‘old academic identity’ to survive funding cuts

Much has already been written about the pressure on the Australian university system due to the federal government’s planned deregulation of fees, course funding cuts and significant research funding cuts…
Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane (right) wants universities to be more supportive of industry, but without significant funding into research and development, that’s a big ask. AAP

Fund R&D, then maybe universities can support industry

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane let his discretion slip this week in a speech to the Queensland Media Club when foreshadowing an upcoming report on research funding and competition. Distancing himself…
Scottish voters are still in the dark about key health and research issues. Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Is Scottish independence bad for your health?

With September 18 drawing nearer, the people of Scotland still lack answers about how independence will affect a number of institutions, policies and their everyday lives. It is crucial to uncover what…
Research is a public good in itself, not only for the benefit of creating jobs and economic prosperity. Flickr/International Institute of Tropical Agriculture

The benefits of research aren’t just economic

Forcing research and innovation to fit corporate needs exclusively sounds like a pretty blunt way to govern how public funds are awarded and used in universities. Granted, in a political environment touting…
Expanding protected areas to safeguard the unique biodiversity, such as these emperor penguins, is just part of the Australian research role in Antarctica. Australian Antarctic Division

Private funding could help Australia’s role in the Antarctic

The Australian government’s blueprint for the Antarctic is due out soon. Given the recent cuts in public funding for science, what hope is there for any extra monies for the polar region. And what should…

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