Scientific language is becoming more informal

Posted in Research on November 9th, 2016 by steve

International“We are not supposed to use first-person pronouns, and contractions aren’t allowed. These rules also discourage unattended anaphoric pronouns and say that split infinitives should be rarely used. And to start a sentence with an initial conjunction is as bad as to include a listing expression, and so on. Exclamation marks are forbidden! …” (more)

[Nature, 8 November]


Why do school-leavers study science?

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on September 29th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“The first thing I do with my incoming first year biotechnology class is to give a lecture on the ’10 types of scientist’. The lecture is based on this study by the Science Council in the UK, a study that was brought to my attention by Julie Dowsett, programme manager with the pioneering Agri-Food Graduate Development Programme based in UCD and UCC …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 29 September]


The Inevitable Evolution of Bad Science

Posted in Research on September 25th, 2016 by steve

USA“Bacteria, animals, languages, cancers: all of these things can evolve, which we know from the work of legions of scientists. You could argue that science itself also evolves. Researchers vary in their methods and attitudes, in ways that affect their success, and they pass those traits to the students they train. Over time, the very culture of science is sculpted by natural selection — and according to Paul Smaldino and Richard McElreath, it is headed in an unenviable direction …” (more)

[Ed Yong, The Atlantic, 21 September]


Science’s 1%: How income inequality is getting worse in research

Posted in Research on September 21st, 2016 by steve

USA“For a portrait of income inequality in science, look no further than the labs of the University of California. Twenty-nine medical researchers there earned more than US$1 million in 2015 and at least ten non-clinical researchers took home more than $400,000 each. Meanwhile, thousands of postdocs at those universities received less than $50,000 …” (more)

[Corie Lok, Nature, 21 September]

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Wanted – a minister for science

Posted in Governance and administration, Research on May 26th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – It is hugely disappointing that our new Government will contain neither a minister nor a junior minister with a recognised responsibility for science. There is barely a mention of science in the new programme for government and no mention at all of the vaunted Innovation 2020 strategy for developing the sector …” (more)

[Kevin Mitchell, Irish Times, 26 May]

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The Stem obsession does a disservice to arts and humanities

Posted in Research on March 1st, 2016 by steve

Ireland“There seems to be an obsession that in order to survive the global war on talent our graduates must be herded in ever-greater numbers towards science, technology, engineering and maths subjects. The irony is that neglecting the arts and humanities will put us on a dangerously narrow path for the future …” (more)

[Jane Ohlmeyer, Irish Times, 1 March]

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Humanities and science: an unequal competition?

Posted in Governance and administration on March 1st, 2016 by steve

Scotland“Over recent years the debates on higher education funding have addressed not just whether that funding is sufficient, but also increasingly how it should be distributed. In this context the growing volume of science funding, often linked to economic development priorities, has sometimes raised the issue of whether science and engineering have got a better deal than the humanities, the arts and the social sciences …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 1 March]

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One in six Irish teens ‘low performers’ at maths

Posted in Teaching on February 11th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“One in six Irish students are classified as ‘low performers’ in maths, according to an international report. The study, published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Wednesday, found 17% of students in Ireland struggle with basic maths, 10% are below par in reading, and 11% are low performers in science …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 10 February]

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‘There’s an image problem’: the drive to attract girls to Stem

Posted in Governance and administration on February 9th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“In Ireland only a quarter of people working in science, technology, engineering and maths are women, and now female role models are being enlisted to buck stereotypes of Stem as a male area …” (more)

[Nora-Ide McAuliffe, Irish Times, 9 February]

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Is Trinity Failing to Bridge the Gap Between the Arts and the Sciences?

Posted in Governance and administration on January 9th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“In August, The University Times reported that in 2015, Trinity’s engineering, maths and science courses saw significant rises both in the number of applications and the points required, with Engineering with Management seeing a rise of 45 points to 505, while MSISS rising 40 points to 555 …” (more)

[John Bethell, University Times, 8 January]

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Unthinkable: Is science being skewed by a gender bias?

Posted in Governance and administration on November 23rd, 2015 by steve

Ireland“The status of women in science is distorting not just academia but knowledge itself, says Helen de Cruz. It has been a sobering time lately for men who are being collectively accused of unconscious gender bias. The representation of women on ballot papers, in theatre programmes and on the airwaves is under scrutiny like never before, and it’s only right that this column join in that process of self-examination …” (more)

[Joe Humphreys, Irish Times, 22 November]

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What is the impact of publicly funded science research?

Posted in Research on October 16th, 2015 by steve

“Well, we don’Irelandt know … BUT we are going to try to shed some light on it. A debate, a colloquium, a discussion. A group of local and international analysts, funders and policymakers will discuss this on 13 November 2015, RCPI Dublin …” (more)

[Brian M Lucey, 16 October]

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Rote learning is failing science students

Posted in Teaching on October 13th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“One of the strongest predictors of a science student’s academic performance is their level of engagement with their learning. There is considerable published evidence showing how inquiry-based, student- centred teaching can create and sustain engaged students who are motivated to learn. All levels of our education system should reflect this …” (more)

[Shane Bergin, Irish Times, 12 October]

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Collapsing Ivory Towers? A hyperlink analysis of the German academic blogosphere

Posted in Research on September 29th, 2015 by steve

Germany“In a substantial analysis of over 500 German-speaking science blogs, Jonas Kaiser and Benedikt Fecher look at what hyperlinks are used within prominent science blogs to investigate how scientists link to each other and outside sources. Using visualisation and mapping software, their results show how science blogs form new networks beyond traditional disciplines and interact with the wider general blogosphere …” (more)

[Impact of Social Sciences, 29 September]

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Raising maths and science standards

Posted in Teaching on September 5th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“Peter Cheney assesses Ireland’s latest OECD rankings and how improvements can be achieved. One in seven Irish students fail to gain basic skills in maths and science, according to a new OECD report. However, the Project Maths initiative appears to be improving standards and helping to turn around Ireland’s performance …” (more)

[eolas Magazine, 4 September]

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‘We’re still not doing enough to encourage women into science’

Posted in Teaching on August 12th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“Originally from Limerick, Dr Caitriona Jackman is forging a stellar career as one of the UK’s top planetary scientists. But, she says she’s angry that we’re missing out on potential talent by telling girls science is not for them …” (more)

[Joe O’Shea, Independent, 12 August]

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Science and engineering

Posted in Governance and administration on August 7th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – What a depressingly outdated concept of the balance between science and engineering presented in the letter by Prof John Kelly (August 6th). Throughout the leading academic centres in the US, science and engineering are interwoven, particularly in the pursuit of advances relevant to human health …” (more)

[Letters from Garret FitzGerald and Cormac O’Raifeartaigh, Irish Times, 7 August]

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Demand for engineering and technology degrees grows

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on July 11th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“College applicants are opting in greater numbers for engineering and technology degrees but science courses are waning in popularity, latest figures show. The Central Applications Office (CAO) has received lists of preferred honours bachelor (level 8) degree choices from 70,006 Leaving Certificate candidates, mature students, and others for the coming academic year — 4% more than this time last year …” (more)

[Niall Murray, Irish Examiner, 11 July]

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Maths And Science Skills Of Irish Students

Posted in Teaching on June 29th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“The OECD Universal Basic Skills report (2015) compares the maths and science abilities of 15-year-old students in seventy-six countries. This note examines Ireland’s performance relative to other high-income OECD countries. Ireland’s performance is above average but significantly behind the top performing countries …” (more)

[Colm Farrell,, 29 June]

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Something has gone very wrong with science

Posted in Research on June 19th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“The1960 Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine, Peter Medawar, famously remarked in 1983: ‘In terms of fulfilment of declared intentions, science is incomparably the most successful enterprise that human beings have ever engaged upon’ …” (more)

[William Reville, Irish Times, 18 June]