Friday, 11 December 2015

It pays to fund PhDs

Recent research has shown the “complex ways” in which investments in research contribute to economic activity. The Times Higher Education reports on a US study which used "hard data" to show the economic benefit of providing research funding for science PhD students. Researchers found that recipients of doctorates in all science fields disproportionately gained placements in large and high-wage private businesses, as well as additional business characteristics associated with high productivity. Read more by clicking on the link below. If you are experiencing any difficulties accessing the article, either sign up for a free subscription with the journal or access it through the Library database Nexus UK.
Science research

PhDs pay

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

University careers marked by 'precariousness & uncertainty'

The Times Higher Education today reports on recent research which claims that university careers are marked by 'precariousness and uncertainty' and that even academics in ‘safe’ positions are feeling insecure. Barbara Read, reader in education at the University of Glasgow, claims that there has been a notable increase in the ‘casualization’ of labour within academia which has not only badly affected support and administrative staff, but has led to a steady rise in the number of fixed-term, insecure and ‘flexible’ job positions for academic staff. Read more by following the link below. Sign up for a free subscription with THE or check the library website for access to the Nexus UK database for more articles.

Olivia Vivian on balance beam, Commonwealth Games, 2014

University careers precarious

Monday, 30 November 2015

Will video kill the lecturing star?

The Guardian today reports on the flipped classroom approach, in which lectures are viewed at home and class time is used for discussion, project work and other practical exercises. The article argues that ‘flipping’ your classroom gives students the chance to apply ideas rather than simply absorbing them and reports that in their research they received overwhelmingly positive feedback from students about the approach and the use of new technology. The article includes some tips on how to flip! Read more by following the link below.

Will video kill the lecturing star?

An obsession with metrics?

An article in The Guardian today reports that universities’ growing addiction to tracking progress will destroy the very things they are supposed to nurture and make academics into data drones. The author argues that metrics are not about the individual student, or teacher, but are about making educators accountable. Furthermore, the author insists that creativity, love of knowledge and thirst for discovery are things that universities should teach, incentivise and promulgate but they are not easily measured. Interestingly there is also an article today in the Times Higher Education which reports on metrics and the process of peer review but this article argues that they can help determine attention and impact. Read more at the second link below.

Read more by following the link below.

An obsession with metrics?

Don't throw out the baby with the metrics bathwater! TLE

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

What exactly is a professor?

In the Times Higher Education today James Derounian writes that a professorship is widely seen as the pinnacle of achievement for staff in higher education, but what  – in 2015 – should a professor be? Broadly speaking (and with many caveats around the differences between countries and cultures), professors teach students at a high level, they conduct research and they publish scholarly works. In a world of mass migration, climate change, poverty and war should we expect more? Read more of this article by clicking on the link below. If you have access problems you can either sign up directly with the journal or view content through the Nexus UK database available on the DIT library website.

What is a professor?

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Reviewing peer review

There has been regular debate recently in the media about the process of peer review in academia. While it is agreed the process is at the heart of scholarly communication, some are unhappy about the integrity of the system. The Guardian reports on new research which sets out to explore where peer review falls short of expectations and the reality of the process. Follow the link below to read this article and others on the same subject.

Work being marked

Reviewing Peer Review - link

Academic writing skills

These pages from the library at the University of Leeds offer some help and guidance to those seeking to improve their academic writing. The guides aim to deconstruct the process of writing academically and introduce methods you can use to improve your academic writing style. Additionally there are sections on planning, structuring and proofreading your work and further links to referencing and critical thinking. Follow the link below.

Academic writing

Academic writing skills...

Friday, 13 November 2015

Learning through failure - can we teach children to be smarter?

According to an article in the Irish Times this week, nurturing a ‘growth mindset’ in the classroom, where effort and persistence are valued, has dramatic effects. Children adapt better to challenges, seek strategies to improve performance and show higher attainment levels. This theory was first posited by psychology researcher Carol Dweck, now at Stanford University. The author of the article discusses how after an opportunity to put the theory to test in her school classroom, it profoundly transformed her approach to teaching. Read more below.

Children at Holy Trinity National School did a workshop on the physical changes in the brain when a new skill or knowledge is mastered, which neuroscientists call “neuroplasticity”. The fixed mindset sees intelligence as unchanging from cradle to grave; the growth mindset sees intelligence as a malleable attribute that can grow through effort and persistence

Learning through failure - link to Irish Times

Thursday, 12 November 2015

What is the future of the academic book?

In an age of vocal campaigns for open access publishing and continuing digital upheaval the British Library and the Arts and Humanities Research Council launched a campaign last year to determine the future of academic books. In a new book due for publication this week, experts, including publishers, librarians and academics debate how scholarly publishing is going to have to change. Read more by clicking on the link below to the THE.

Open book, bookshelf and e-book reader
Click here for The Academic Book...

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Student Hub launched in Irish Times

The Irish Times launched a new Student Hub website this week with the aim of providing students – no matter what institution they attend – with an opportunity to engage with each other and to stay informed of what’s going on in each other’s colleges. Student Hub will carry news relating to on-campus developments and issues facing students today, as well as developments on the arts, music, health and political fronts.

The Student Hub: The platform will feature articles written by students and Irish Times writers.

Read more below.

Irish Times Student Hub

Are you a conference troll?

Presenting a paper at a conference is a scary enough prospect for most academics – so why do some members of the audience persist in making things worse by trying to catch them out with difficult questions, condescending statements and thinly veiled attempts to show off superior knowledge? If you're one of those people who hope the fire alarm will go off just as your presentation ends and the questions start, then this Guardian article is for you, offering some practical advice on dealing with difficult questions but also reminding others that questions should be about personal and collective development, not scoring points.


Read more by clicking on the link below.

Conference trolls at the Guardian..

Monday, 9 November 2015

Crowdsourcing for peer review… has launched a community review facility called PaperRank.  This is a recommendation based ranking system, with researchers recommending papers to other researchers.  The rating is influenced by the reputation of the recommending scholar, based in part, on their PaperRank. Ratings will be much quicker than the traditional peer review process, taking weeks instead of months.

However, whether this method could replace traditional peer review remains to be seen.  With some commentators already pointing to potential flaws in the system….

University reform in the UK....

Universities in the UK appear to be in line for a new raft of reforms.  In addition to a new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), changes to funding and management structures are also looming. Mike Boxell, writing in the Guardian, asks if the green paper addresses some of the most important issues in HE today, such as improving the quality of teaching, getting the balance right between research and teaching and widening access for students from all backgrounds.

Will these changes improve the student experience or their job prospects?

Monday, 2 November 2015

Student satisfaction and the Teaching Excellence Framework

The Guardian reports today on the debate surrounding the UK government's proposed new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). Countless surveys have indicated a growing dissatisfaction among students who feel they are not getting value for money while the universities minister Jo Johnson has said the quality of teaching in higher education is “lamentable”. While some universities have welcomed this new emphasis on teaching - especially those fed up with league tables that focus heavily on research, others are unsure how the government's new criteria for measuring good quality teaching will work. Read more by clicking on the link below.

Teaching Excellence Framework

Using analytical tools to measure quality of academic staff

At a recent JISC conference in the UK, the University of Edinburgh announced that it was developing tools to monitor academics’ performance in areas such as assessment and feedback. The event heard how digital applications are increasingly being used to collate data which may help identify students who are struggling and need support. Edinburgh's Chief Information Officer and Librarian also confirmed that this is “only half the story”, noting that analytical tools could also be used to “measure the quality” of academic staff, particularly in relation to the quality and timeliness of assessment and feedback. Read more from the Times Higher Education at the link below. This journal may also be accessed from the Nexus UK database available on the library website.

Digital Big Brother

Monday, 19 October 2015

Humanities research: groundbreaking, life-changing and ignored!

The recent cull of subjects from the humanities and social sciences in Japan has sent shivers down the spine of many academics but has also provoked debate in Japan and further afield. The Guardian today asks why, when Humanities scholars are making strides in sectors from sustainability to robotics, there are so few people aware of their work? The article argues that Humanities scholars need to engage in more public scholarship. The THE also reports today on how expertise in humanities-related subjects is increasingly vital in today’s high-tech economy. While companies like Facebook and Twitter owe their success to expertise in the humanities as much as technology, it is argued that not enough university courses connect the skills and content learned by students to a business context. Read more by clicking on the links below to both the Guardian and THE articles.

Philosopher Don Howard worked with computer scientists on the ethics of ‘human-robot interaction’.

Guardian: Humanities research..

THE: Overhaul for the Humanities

Friday, 16 October 2015

Share your ideas with the Guardian Higher Education Network

The Guardian Higher Education Network wants to hear your ideas about life in universities and offer some tips on how to write a successful piece for the community. Click on the link below to contribute your insider experience.

We want to hear your ideas about life in universities.

Share your ideas with the Guardian

Stand by the book!

Frank Furedi writing in the THE today, argues that is time for academics to re-affirm the value of reading in higher education. While many influential voices – educators and literary theorists among them – have become deeply ambivalent about its value and cultural status Furedi believes that reading must retain its foundational status in higher education. For readers, what matters is not simply what a book says but also what it means.

Media of Power of Reading

Read more by clicking on the link below. If you can't see the article you may sign up directly with the journal or access it from the database Nexus UK available on the library website.

Stand by the book!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Engaging with sullen students

In this article in the Times Higher Education academics offer advice on how to turn glum students into enthusiastic ones. Eight academics talk about their experiences and share some teaching tips. Read more below by clicking on the link.

Emotive faces drawn on lecture hall chairs

Engaging with sullen students

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Research-led or teaching-led?

The idea that there is a tension between research and teaching in higher education is nothing new but the rhetoric of some politicians and commentators around the proposed UK Teaching Excellence Framework (Tef) seems to suggest that all institutions are emphatically one or the other. Writing in the Guardian Higher Education network today, Paul Boyle argues that good universities have always recognised that excellent teaching is supported and informed by excellent research – and that the two go hand in hand. Read more of this interesting article below.

Research-led v Teaching-led

Trinity College Library to enter technological age

One hundred and fifty years after the Long Room opened at Trinity College Dublin, the Irish Times today reports on the College's new strategic vision to create “the 21st-century library for the future”. Included in the plan are proposals for 'some decluttering and relocating of exhibitions; greater integration of new technology; and creating a different learning experience for students including collaborative and entrepreneurial zones'. As College Librarian and Archivist Ms Helen Shenton says: “As the very concept of what a library is blurs and morphs, the boundaries between a 24 hour bookstore and coffee shop, a pop-up learning commons, a data visualisation lab, a social collaboratory and a library are melding.” Read more below. The Irish Times may also be accessed from the list of databases on the DIT library home page.

The Long Room Library, Trinity College Dublin.

Link to Irish Times article

TCD Strategy

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Once students went to university for education, now it's an 'experience'!

Writing in the Guardian Higher Education today Peter Scott argues that while students once went to university to get a higher education, now they go to be given an 'experience' by that university. He goes on to suggest that this increasing focus on customer service must raise the question of who takes the blame when students feel entitled to succeed? Read more of this interesting article by clicking on the link below.

The student experience..

Monday, 5 October 2015

Books are better than screens!

An education conference at the weekend was told that students should not be using laptops and tablets in the classroom. Tom Butler, professor in business information systems at University College Cork, told the conference that research indicates that traditional methods of learning through reading and writing on paper-based media provide superior learning outcomes for students at all levels. He also warned that negative effects of information and communications technology use include sleep deprivation, distraction and multi-tasking, all of which directly impact on learning. Click on the link below to read more in the Irish Times.

The Irish Times may also be accessed through the list of databases on the library website.

Books are better than screens..

Thursday, 1 October 2015

The thesis whisperer: research resources

For those of you pursuing a doctorate or research project, the website below may prove to be a useful resource. The site contains a lot of information ranging from writing the thesis, preparing for the viva, advice about the relationship with your supervisor, to book reviews and writing groups. Some of the posts are a bit indulgent but there are some useful articles here too.

The thesis whisperer

The teaching glass ceiling

In a sector that is 62% female, women teachers believe that they have to fight to make their arguments for equality heard. The Guardian today reports on the dearth of women in senior positions within the teaching profession. Read more at the link below.

The teaching glass ceiling

Is PowerPoint killing critical thought?

A recent article in the Guardian Higher Education Network argues that PowerPoint is not only boring students to death, but it is also, through the bullet point-ization of information, making us stupid and irresponsible. According to Andrew Smyth when faced with a procession of slides, we switch off because nothing is being asked of us. Read his argument and responses to it by clicking on the link below.

Is PowerPoint killing critical thought?

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Irish universities are top with international students

According to the results of a Europe-wide survey reported in the Times Higher Education today, international students are happiest in Ireland. Ireland's universities topped the StudyPortals International Student Satisfaction Awards with an average rating of just over 9 out of 10. Among the Irish institutions singled out for praise is Maynooth University, one of five universities across Europe to receive an outstanding rating from the organisation based on student responses. Read more at the link below. If you have difficulty accessing this article you can either sign up for a free 5 article access with the journal directly, or go into the DIT library website and log into the NEXIS UK database for access.

Irish universities are top with international students

Friday, 18 September 2015

Do academics need to be managed?

An anonymous academic writing recently in the Guardian Higher Education Network argues that it is time for academics to accept that they need to be managed. They contend that when management ask academics about their research, they are accused of ‘neo-liberalised surveillance’. The writer acknowledges that intelligent people must be allowed the freedom to think but they must also recognise education’s social role requires organisation and management. Read more by clicking on the link below.

Do academics need to be managed?

Thursday, 17 September 2015

OECD Report links computer use with poor performance

The Irish Times Education today reports on new research questioning the value of computer use in schools. According to a leading educationalist, the OECD report should not deter the Government from boosting its investment in classroom technology. Prof Mark Brown director of the National Institute for Digital Learning at Dublin City University, said he agreed with the view of the OECD that 'the problems and ills of education are not solved through technology' but he warned against the study feeding into 'a moral panic about the use of technology in our schools'.

See below for a link to the OECD report and also a link to the article in the Irish Times. If you are unable to see the article, please access the Irish Times by title through the list of databases on the library website.

Irish Times Education

OECD report on technology

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

10 steps to PhD failure

Writing in the Times Higher Education recently, Kevin Haggerty and Aaron Doyle offer tips on making postgraduate study even tougher (which students could use to avoid pitfalls if they prefer). The extract is taken from the book '57 ways to screw up in grad school' written by the same authors.

If you have difficulty accessing this article you can either sign up for a free 5 article access with the journal directly, or go into the DIT library website and log into the NEXIS UK database for access.

PhD students: tips

'Lamentable teaching' damaging higher education

The UK universities minister has warned vice chancellors that bad teaching is damaging the reputation of British higher education. Jo Johnson's speech signalled the government’s determination to use its new teaching excellence framework (TEF) to make universities more responsive to students, and he upbraided colleges for the “highly variable” quality of undergraduate teaching. Johnson argued that even the best universities had allowed teaching to become a “poor cousin” to research, because their place on international league tables and funding income relied on scholarly research output. Read the article and some of the responses to his comments by clicking on the link below to the Guardian Higher Education Network

Lamentable teaching in HE

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Flexible working for women - is it holding back careers?

The Times Higher Education today asks if flexible work arrangements are holding back women's careers in higher education. The way universities perceive and handle flexible hours is an area for improvement, says a joint report by employers and unions. In the report which was published last week, the New Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff’s working group on gender pay says there is a “misperception of the value of flexible workers” at some institutions that meant that “some individuals…could be seen as less promotable because they work flexibly”. Read more by clicking on the link below.

Flexible working arrangements

Teaching Excellence Framework for the UK?

The Times Higher Education reports today that plans for a new teaching excellence framework for the UK could “root out bad teaching” and provide “incentives to make good teaching even better”. While some education experts believe that it is difficult to define quality in higher education others believe that if such a framework works for research, why not for teaching? Read more below by clicking on the link.

If you have problems accessing the article you can either sign up for a free 5 article access with the magazine directly, or go into the DIT library website and log into the NEXIS UK database for access.

Teaching Framework for the UK

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Myths about women in higher education

In the Guardian this week Sue Shepherd claims that it is not the lack of ambition which is keeping women from the top jobs in universities but the universities themselves who are keeping a lid on female promotion. Her doctoral research in this area appears to bust some of the myths surrounding the appointment of women pro-vice chancellors. Read more below.

Women in higher education

Inspiring the next generation of engineers

Dr Hugh Hunt, this year's recipient of the Royal Academy of Engineering Rooke Award, speaks in the Guardian about how engineering in general is hiding in plain sight and how it is time to celebrate the diversity and importance of engineering and inspire a new generation of engineers. He asks that government and funding bodies not only recognise the importance of public engagement but that universities find a way to support it. Read more by clicking on the link below. This week also marks the UK's National Women in Engineering Day so if you want to test your knowledge about women in engineering click the second link below to attempt the quiz. Good luck!

Inspiring a new generation of engineers..


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Yes, you shall go to the conference!

Read Nicholas Rowe's amusing Cinderella story for early career academics published in the Guardian Higher Education Network today. Rowe tells the story of an adjunct professor who is hoping to be taken seriously as an academic and the hurdles she faces along the way. Click below to access the article.

A Cinderella Story..

Friday, 12 June 2015

Take heed doctoral students!

The Guardian today reports on the world's oldest doctoral student whose original thesis for her PhD was denied under the Nazis in 1938 because her mother was Jewish. After passing an oral exam nearly eight decades later, Ingeborg Syllm-Rapoport was awarded her doctorate at the age of 102. Read more by clicking on the link below.  

World's oldest doctoral student

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Uncovering hidden research data

The Guardian Higher Education Network asks today what would happen if academics could join the dots between the huge number of research articles that have been published digitally? Academics argue there are links waiting to be discovered that could help us tackle the most pressing questions facing society, in areas ranging from healthcare to the humanities. Publishers are resisting a change to copyright law that would allow academics to digitally mine published research. This issue sits within a wider debate about open access, and how to deliver the principle of making taxpayer-funded research results more available to the rest of society. Libraries argue that they are best placed to provide this service but they have been met with fierce resistance from commercial publishers. Join the debate by clicking on the link below.

Uncovering hidden research data

Monday, 8 June 2015

Dissatisfied students want more contact time with lecturers

The Guardian today reports on a survey of more than 15,000 full-time UK undergraduates which found that on average students spent more time studying independently than they did with teaching staff, leaving some feeling unsatisfied with their experience of university.Students who get limited contact time with university staff are less likely to enjoy the student experience – and those who don’t work hard enough don’t have a good time either. When asked which experience and skills staff should have, students listed teaching qualifications and industry experience as priorities. The survey is also reviewed in more detail in the Times Higher Education. Read more by clicking on the links below.

Guardian: Dissatisfied students....

THE: Student survey

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

A catalogue of irritants at the British Library

An amusing and light-hearted look from the Guardian at some of the minor irritants facing library patrons in the British Library's reading rooms - from much too polite library signage, to unwashed academics and chattering students on social media. The author's suggestions on how to deal with some of the issues are currently being considered for Bolton Street library!

Catalogue of irritants

Higher Education: Academics versus administrators

Is there a way for the two tribes in universities to rub along? A harmonious university, with good working relations between academic and administrative staff is more likely to be an effective university. So says Simeon Underwood in the Times Higher Education today. On the other side is Laurie Taylor arguing that administrators need to present themselves as support staff and not try to occupy the stage themselves. Read more by clicking on the link below.

If you have problems accessing the article you can either sign up for a free 5 article access with the magazine directly, or go into the DIT library website and log into the NEXIS UK database for access.

Academics versus administrators

Friday, 29 May 2015

We need to talk....about the future of Irish third level education!

An opinion piece by Patrick Clancy in the Irish Times this week claims that while the higher education system has become a pivotal institution in contemporary Irish society, there is a failure to develop any serious discourse about higher education policy in Ireland, no vibrant research community studying the sector and a reliance on overseas ‘experts’. Although the achievements of Irish higher education over recent decades have been impressive the financial sustainability of the system may present the most immediate threat to the system. To read more from the Irish Times click on the link below or borrow the book which is now available for lending in the LTT collection in Bolton Street library.

The future of third level..

Gender inequality ‘a systemic issue for Irish higher education’

The Higher Education Authority is to appoint a panel of Irish and international experts to review gender equality in Ireland’s third-level institutions. The review is to be published within a year, and comes following controversy surrounding the appointments process at NUI Galway and wider concerns over gender imbalance in senior academic posts. Figures published by the HEA last December showed only 19 per cent of university professors are women. In institutions of technology, women make up 45 per cent of academic staff but just 29 per cent of senior academic staff. Follow the link below to the Irish Times to read more.

HEA announce review of gender equality policies

Irish Academic to lead Oxford University

Both the Irish Times and the Guardian today reveal that Waterford-born academic Prof Louise Richardson is set to become the first woman to lead the University of Oxford. She previously had filled an historic role at St Andrews where she was not only the first female vice-chancellor in 600 years but also the first Roman Catholic. In a statement, Prof Richardson said of her nomination: “Oxford is one of the world’s great universities. I feel enormously privileged to be given the opportunity to lead this remarkable institution during an exciting time for higher education". Read more by clicking on the link below.

Irish Academic to lead Oxford

Friday, 22 May 2015

Research jobs in academia....

A recent survey by the Guardian reports that 65% of university staff in the UK think it has become harder to get a research post in higher education.  These results follow on from a survey carried out in 2009 by Vitae, which states that only 23% of PhD students living in the UK obtained a research post within a year of their graduation.

How do those statistics differ for graduates looking outside academia? If you would like to find out more you could join the live-chat session by following the link below.

This article by Rebecca Ratcliffe in the Guardian introduces a topic for a live-chat session that takes place today Friday 22nd May between 12-2pm.

Details of proposed panelist and possible topics for discussion.

Graduate Research Opportunities in DIT

Dublin Institute of Technology is holding an information evening for graduates who are interested in gaining MPhil or PhD.

The event takes place on Tuesday, 26th May, 2015, from 4-6pm. In the Courtyard, DIT Aungier Street, Dublin 2

Please register online at

Please contact the Graduate Research School  for further information.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Blurred lines: Plagiarism - the last taboo?

In a world of Wikipedia it's never been easier to plagiarise, but as Jonathan Wolf from the Guardian points out many people contribute to an academic paper and not many are credited. In the words of Pharrell Williams, there are blurred lines. Although crude plagiarism is easily detected, more subtle unacknowledged influence remains. Do we always remember where our ideas come from? Read more of this article and others like it by clicking on the link below.

Academic plagiarism: the last taboo...

Monday, 18 May 2015

Academics under pressure to bump up grades

A recent survey of university staff by The Guardian claims that almost half of academics have experienced pressure in the last three years to bump up student grades or stop students failing. Many academics say teaching reforms are damaging the quality of education and making their workloads unmanageable. Click on the link below to read more.

Academics under pressure to bump up grades

Supportive or pushy? Helping children revise.

This article in the Guardian today looks at how parents can support young people through revision season without controlling them. Advice includes open communication over scheduling and offering a guiding hand rather than trying to steer directly.This article links to others on exam revision tips for students. Click below for more.

Supporting children revise

Redressing the gender imbalance in academia

In this Times Higher Education (THE) article the authors explore the causes of and solutions to the dearth of women at the top of UK academia. They argue that universities need to do more to take advantage of the huge female talent pool and get women into leadership positions while also taking on board the evidence suggesting that women have different preferences than men. They conclude that carrying on as we are isn't good for equity or efficiency – so universities need to be open to fresh and unusual ideas. A separate article in the THE this week explains why McMaster University has decided to address the pay imbalance by giving its female academics a pay rise. Read these thought provoking articles by clicking on the link below.

For those of you experiencing difficulty accessing these articles you can either sign up for a free 5 article access with the magazine directly, or go into the DIT library website and log into the NEXIS UK database for access.

Redressing the gender imbalance

Friday, 15 May 2015

The war on rote learning doesn't add up.

Writing in the Irish Times this week Ted Hurley asks, can you teach skills without facts? For students to apply their skills to knowledge outside their experience he argues that we have to teach that knowledge and encourage problem-solving ability based on facts. He goes on to claim that many modern education systems, prominent educationalists and some government agencies fail to recognise that critical thinking processes such as reasoning and problem-solving are intimately dependent on factual memory stored in long-term memory. Read more at the link below.

War on rote learning

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Is there a link between classroom internet & higher test scores?

The Irish Times today reports on recent research carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) which appears to show a link between classroom internet access and much higher test scores. Primary school children who used the internet in the classroom had significantly higher mathematics and reading scores on average than peers who had no online access. While the researchers could not be certain that internet use caused the higher scores they did identify a strong relationship. Read more by clicking on the link below.

Link between high scores & classroom internet 

Discount universities? The precarious life of Irish academics.

An article in the Irish Times today highlights serious concerns about Irish universities and what they say is the increasingly precarious nature of academic work. Concern is growing about exploitative employment practices at Irish third-level colleges, and the impact on learning. Three academics share their stories. Follow the link below to read more.

Discount universities: Irish academics

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Encouraging women into engineering. A new 'A-level' for the UK?

According to a leading figure in UK industry, a dedicated A-level could go some way to redressing the gender imbalance in UK engineering. Dr Rhys Morgan, director of education at the Royal Academy of Engineering, speaking in the International Business Times, says changing people's perceptions of the industry needs to start at pre-school level and continue – for both sexes – through to further education and beyond. Read this article and more about women in engineering by clicking on the link below.

Encouraging women into engineering

Doctoral students considered 'business critical'.

The stereotypical image many of us have of the PhD student as a lone genius with narrow specialised knowledge and little real world experience has been challenged by recent research commissioned by the UK Independent newspaper. The study shows that when these doctoral graduates enter work not only are they considered “business critical” by many employers, but they encourage and support their colleagues to think more creatively, achieve more and innovate better. The article concludes that these highly skilled PhDs make an essential contribution to the wider economy and society. Follow the link below to more articles in the postgraduate education supplement.

Doctoral students business critical

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Thinking of applying for research funds?

Applying for funding or grants can be a difficult process.  Completing forms, detailing budgets and highlighting potential successful outcomes can be a painstaking process. There are many excellent books on the subject, but Helen Lock has published some useful tips to get you started.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Are university rankings undermining access policies?

Speaking in Dublin this week at the Times Higher Education summit for universities aged under 50 years, third-level analysts warned that university league tables were incentivising higher education institutions to chase international talent at the expense of local students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Delegates heard how universities faced a choice between chasing narrow performance indicators or 'being a responsible institution which has a moral obligation to allow people succeed'. Click on the link below for more. 

Should Googling be allowed in exams?

After the chief executive of the OCR (awarding body for exams in the UK) suggested that Google searches should be allowed during secondary level exams, debate has ensued as to whether this is further evidence of dumbing down or if indeed Google assisted exams are a vital skill. To follow the debate and read the commentary click on the link below.

Googling - a vital skill or dumbing down?

Thursday, 30 April 2015


SEDA is the professional association for staff and educational developers in the UK, promoting innovation and good practice in higher education. Their website is worth a visit for information on all upcoming publications and events and particularly for their blog on many learning and teaching matters. Graham Gibbs is currently publishing an idea a week from his '53 powerful ideas all teachers should know about' on the blog in the hope that it will stimulate debate and discussion. Click on the link below to access the blog.

SEDA blog 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Will anti-plagiarism software stem the tide of pay as-you-go-essays?

The Irish Times has found evidence that Irish students are using websites such as and to purchase essays. Joe Humprheys and Michael O’Brien of the Irish Times write that it is now possible to purchase high quality essays at a cost of €50.00 per hour.

Universities across the state are adopting new software to detect plagiarism in an effort to stop the practice.

Time to review peer review...

For many students and researchers peer reviewed material is usually a good indication of the quality and credibility of a piece of research. However, the area of peer review has become less clear over recent years, with revelations of flawed, incorrect or even falsified data being published. 
A recent debate between Richard Smith, former editor of the BMJ (1991-2004), and Georgia Mace, lecturer in Biodiversity and Ecosystems at UCL discussed the pros and cons of pre-publication peer review.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Research Workshops at DCU

This May sees the 8th Qualitative Research Summer School at the School of Nursing in DCU. Classes on offer include a workshop on Narrative Analysis facilitated by Catherine Kohler Riessman and an introduction to Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. A full programme of what's available may be accessed from the link below.

Research Workshops at DCU

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Ireland and Open Access

A recent case study of Open Access in Ireland (produced by a European funded project) found that significant progress has been made in delivering Open Access using institutional and national policies and strategies. However the report concludes that some concerns remain over the sustainability of Open Access and scholarly communications. Read more by following the link below.

Link to: Ireland's Open Access

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Sharing Higher Education Resources Openly

Public funds could be used more efficiently and effectively in higher education if the academy were to adopt a more open and sharing culture, according to an article today in the Times Higher Education Supplement. At the recent Open Educational Resources conference, speakers called for all publicly funded resources to be openly licensed by default, allowing for free access and reuse. Read more below by clicking on the link.

Link to Sharing Higher Education Resources

A Mother and a Researcher

In the Guardian Higher Education Network's Academics Anonymous section today, a recent mother discusses how becoming a parent has invigorated her drive and ambition to succeed with her PhD. She discusses the difficulties of returning to the academic environment as a new parent and argues that universities need to start valuing women as productive workers. The article links to other recent articles on women in academia. Follow the link below to read more.

Link to..Being a mother and a researcher

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A brief history of journal publishing...

With the ever increasing subscription costs of academic journals, Aileen Fyfe from THES, looks back at the history of journal publishing.  From a time when journals were subsidised by the membership fees of various learned societies to the multi-million pound industry it is today, she examines their origins, purpose and early funding models.

Fyfe isn’t suggesting a return to subsidised publishing by these societies, but reminds us that the purpose of a journal is to disseminate information and that learned societies need to balance that against the drive for profits.

What’s in a grade?

Current third level students are frequently supplied with an assessment rubric for their module assignment.  They are given the specifications of what they are expected to include in order to achieve a certain grade. However, recent research conducted at the University of Hong Kong, by David Carless, questions whether or not this feedback is beneficial to students.
Carless found that students were sometimes confused by the language used in the criteria, or in some cases, believed that teachers considered other “hidden” criteria when assessing their work.
Carless found a number of ways of increasing the relevance of feedback to students such as involving them in developing the assessment criteria…

What's in a grade?

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Is the pen mightier than the laptop?

An article in the Irish Times today looks at the use of laptops in the classroom and asks are expensive technological devices really the best educational aides for students? The author points to recent research which appears to show that those students using pen and paper for note taking have a stronger conceptual understanding of material presented to them than those using laptops. Follow the link below to read more. (The book mentioned in the article - The organised mind by Daniel Levitin - is on order for the Learning, Teaching & Technology collection).

Link to: Is the pen mightier than the laptop?

Are lectures the best way to teach students?

In the Guardian Higher Education Network today academics debate whether or not lectures are the best way to teach students. Increasingly lectures are poorly attended and are slated as boring. Follow the link below to join the debate.

Link to debate on the scrapping of lectures

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The life of a researcher

The Irish Times takes a look at the life of a PhD researcher in Trinity College over the course of a week. Follow the link below to see how he spends his time.

A week in the life of.....

Monday, 23 March 2015

Ireland's Research Policy under fire

In the Irish Times today Mike Jennings, general secretary of the Irish Federation of University Teachers, claims that Ireland's national research policy runs counter to EU proposals and in addition, seeks to diminish the status and morale of researchers. He writes that the vast majority of the estimated 5,000 full-time researchers attached to Irish higher-education institutions work on externally funded and temporary, insecure contracts. Click on the link below to read more.

Click here for Ireland's Research Policy

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Book review: How to write a thesis

This soon to be published (and on order for the Learning & Teaching collection in Bolton Street) first English translation of a 1977 book, written by Umberto Eco, is reviewed in the THE. Although the guide was written some time ago, the author of the review believes that it gets right to the heart of the virtues that make a scholar. As the book suggests, even eminent scholars need to explore new ideas and keep abreast of research. Follow the link below to read the article.

Umberto Eco's 'How to write a thesis': a review

Friday, 13 March 2015

World Reputation Rankings

The survey, conducted by Times Higher Education (THE) and administered by Elsevier, asked participants to select a maximum of 10 institutions in their field of expertise.  The questionnaire was sent to "experienced and published scholars" only, and they received 9,794 valid responses.

There are no surprises in the top ten...

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Will the proposed development of Technological Universities (TU) risk the creation of a three tier education system within the third level sector?

Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin of Athlone Institute of Technology, talks to Joe Humphreys about the proposed formation of TUs.  Prof Ó Catháin states that initial comments on the new organisation focused on the money saving aspects of such developments without considering the funding needed for the mergers.

In a bid to avoid a three tier system, Institutes of Technology Ireland is in talks with the Dublin Institute of Technology about creating a group which would work at policy level and advocate for both entities.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Postgraduates looking at the world in new ways.

This special section in the Irish Times today looks at postgraduate options in 2015 including the benefits and pleasures of postgraduate research and whether the attainment of an advanced degree increases the employability of graduates. Some of the most popular courses in Irish universities and Institutes of Technology are listed alongside profiles of current postgraduate students. Click on the link below to view.

Link to Postgraduate Options

Monday, 9 March 2015

Mental Health Issues in Academia

A recent Guardian blog on mental health issues in academia received an unprecedented response pointing to a high level of distress among academics. A series of articles on the Higher Education Network looks at incidents of staff battling anxiety and isolation, and also of similar incidents experienced by students. Join the discussion by clicking on the link below.

Mental Health Issues in Academia

Friday, 6 March 2015

The idea of a university!

Increasingly the idea of a university as a place where students learn to think is being viewed as an idealised and indulgent notion. The Guardian Higher Education editorial today questions whether a university should be more than a place to check off a list of professional competences. Join the debate by clicking on the link below.

Link to....The idea of a university!

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Feminism at university...

Gender imbalance or gender bias within the academy is a common thread among commentators in the field of higher education.  Much of that comment is dedicated to efforts to reducing such bias, and sometimes focuses on successful initiatives that actively campaign to redress the balance.
One such group is Oxford's women in the humanities.

However, Natalya Din-Kariuki, writing in the Guardian, points out that some women, already facing challenges because of their race or sexuality can be further disadvantaged by their omission from these groups...

Feminist academics take note: women are not all white and straight

Friday, 27 February 2015

Is where you publish more important than what you write?

The latest Business Schools’ Academic Journal Guide for 2015 has been published.  The guide reviews 1,401 business journals on the basis of citation scores and a form of peer review.  Journals can achieve a top rating of 4*, meaning most “journal of distinction”, to the lowest rating of 1, meaning “recognised, but more modest standard”.

According to THE, the guide can help scholars select the best journals to publish in, while also helping deans and heads of department to measure performance.  However, there have been some complaints by scholars that this type of ranking emphasises assessment based on where they publish and not what they publish…

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Dispelling the myths around university teaching…

The Times Higher Education takes a humorous look at some of the myths surrounding university teaching.  From the idealised Hollywood version of the inspirational teacher who miraculously transforms lives, to the much rumoured death of the university lecture.

Paul Ashwin provides a useful counterpoint to banish these myths, including the most popular myth 
of all; that students just ain't what they used to be.

Monday, 23 February 2015

A rebrand for engineering?

In the Guardian Higher Education Network today, the author claims that engineering needs a makeover to attract new students. They argue that outreach in schools and lowering fees is not working and a major rebrand of engineering should be considered to reveal how exciting and valuable a subject it really is. Click the link below to read further and to see similar articles.

A rebrand for engineering?

Research or Teaching?

Writing in the Times Higher Education, David Oldfield controversially argues that in the arts and humanities, public funding should be spent on teaching as opposed to research. He further comments that engaging teaching should be the priority and a lecturer's research should not be considered more important than a student's education. Join the debate by clicking the link below.

Research or Teaching in the Arts & Humanities?

Saturday, 21 February 2015

The impact of impact!

The inclusion of a formal assessment of the impact of academic research last year in the UK Research Exercise Framework (REF) was highly controversial at the time, but the recently released results have been largely well received. Assessment was made on a case study basis and since the annual research budget would partially ride on the outcome, a lot of academics were extremely nervous. According to the head of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, results confirm that academic work makes a vast contribution to society. Read more by clicking on the link to the THE below.

The impact of impact: click here for article

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Digital skills crisis looming!

A recent report by the House of Lords in the UK warns of a digital skills shortage and claims that universities are not doing enough to address the crisis. The report urges universities to provide shorter and more flexible courses, and to foster stronger links with industry and digital organisations in order to address future needs. Click below to access the article in the Times Higher Education (THE).

 THE article: Digital skills crisis

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Supporting overwhelmed students

Recent research at Liverpool John Moores University has shown that a third of undergraduates in second year experience a slump in their progress and often struggle to meet the academic demands of their course. The 'sophomore slump' is widely recognised by academics in the US. Some prominent academics in the UK discuss this in the Guardian Higher Education Network and suggest that universities should think carefully about the support on offer. Follow the link below to the article.

Click here for Disengaged students 

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Is it time to move on from the PDF?

Would a more interactive document type help researchers to synthesise information and create new knowledge?

Does a lack of interactivity render the PDF extinct? The article by Ijad Madisch in the Guardian says that it is time to move to a more updated publishing format that will encourage feedback and foster communications between researchers.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Encouraging use of Wikipedia....

With the University of California, Berkeley hiring a Wikipedian in residence, should we be encouraging students to use Wikipedia more in their studies?
Chris Parr, writing in the THE reports that a survey recently conducted in 2 Australian universities says perhaps we should. The study found that although 9 out of 10 students used Wikipedia only 65% found it useful, and while it is widely used it isn't valued.

The study supports the opinion that in the face of such popularity it is pointless to try to reduce or ban the use of Wikis, but suggests that academics should consider ways of using it as part of teaching to help students to become more discerning and critical in their use of information.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Closing the gender gap in science

This article in the Irish Times draws on recent HEA figures to ask why they show a drop in the number of female new entrants to science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) courses at university. With female role models more visible than ever, girls are still not being attracted to a career in these areas and the phenomenon is not just an Irish one. Read more here as experts debate the reasons for this imbalance and discuss ways to challenge the stereotypes.

Link to Irish Times article

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Freedom of speech…

You might think that freedom of speech, debate and protest are all part of a good liberal university education, but according to a recent study conducted by Spiked, that may not always be the case.
The study indicated that even some of the top ranked universities in the UK don’t always promote or protect these liberal values.  However Louise Tickle of the Guardian highlights some possible flaws in the criteria used by Spiked in its ranking….

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Bullying in academia

A recent survey by the Guardian Higher Education Network on bullying in the academic workplace 'should give the entire sector cause to worry about the competence and style of leaders and managers in the sector' according to Gus John. View the survey findings in full from the link below or read some of the other articles or interviews with staff in this focus on bullying.

Link to articles on bullying

Monday, 26 January 2015

What makes a global top 10 university?

Rankings are a significant although relatively recent fixture of the higher education landscape. They have become part of the reputation and brand image of universities helping them to attract students, staff and research funding. But why do some universities make the global top 10 rankings and others don't? And why do US universities feature so highly? Sean Coughlan, the BBC education correspondent, examines the issues. Follow the link below.

Link to: What makes a global top 10....

Thursday, 22 January 2015

PhD Students: what to do when you don't work well with your supervisor!

Gina Wisker offers some valuable advice on negotiating the often tricky relationship some PhD students have with their supervisor. The author has written many books on this subject and on postgraduate research and supervision in general many of which may be found in the Learning, Teaching and Technology collection in Bolton Street library.

PhD Student / Supervisor Relationship

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Voices of academics in Irish Higher Education

This All Ireland Society for Higher Education (AISHE) research report on teaching and learning in Irish higher education was published early 2014 but there remains a lot of interest in this area so I have flagged it up here for those who may have missed it first time around. The survey 'The voice of Irish academics: towards a professional development strategy', explored the views of academic staff across eight higher education institutions in the greater Dublin region on a number of aspects of their work.

AISHE Report

Monday, 12 January 2015

What graduates did next!

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) recently published their findings on where the class of 2013 ended up 9 months after graduating. The report entitled 'What do graduates do: An Analysis of the Universities and Colleges of Education First Destination of Graduates Survey 2014' is available on the HEA website or click on the link below.

Advantages of being a mature student at university

An article in the Irish Times today suggests that mature students richly enhance the learning experience and bring a range of life skills to their entire class at university level which hugely benefits and supports their younger classmates. Figures from the Higher Education Authority reveal that 10,000 students in full-time education in Ireland are over 30.

Access this article here: Advantages of being a mature student

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Academic writing and getting published

Top journal editors and authors offer some advice on how to overcome writer's block, write an interesting article and get accepted for publication. This article and others on the Guardian Education Network are helpful for those trying to write for publication. Follow the link below for the article. Furthermore, why not pop into the library at Bolton Street to access the extensive range of books on academic writing and publishing available in the Learning, Teaching and Technology (LTT) collection.

Academic writing and publishing: Guardian Education Network

Preparing for your PhD viva

This article offers some useful tips on the next intellectual hurdle after handing in your thesis - the viva. There is helpful and relevant advice from senior academics and well known authors such as Rowena Murray and Gina Wisker. Click on the link below to see how best to prepare.

Guardian Education Network: Your PhD viva