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