All posts by Arran Frood

Arran is currently a Freelance journalist for New Scientist, Nature, BBC Online, Focus, Euroscientist.com, The Lancet, The Independent, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, Youris.com, The Khaleej Times, Nature Medicine, Chemistry & Industry. He also has experience with Nature Publishing Group and Science Photo Library and also works as a Digital Content Producer at BBSRC.

Top Trumped: what does the US election mean for science and Europe?

Donald Trump’s imminent arrival at the White House has blown a cold wind through the scientific community. In this article, Arran Frood, investigates the likely impact the Trump presidency could have on research in Europe. He also explores how a likely change in science policy in the US may result in a shift of the centre of gravity of research, particularly in certain disciplines. Finally, there could be some consequences for the mobility and career of scientists themselves. Read more [...]
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Sweet tooth: countering one of our most lethal addictions

Sugar is one of the next targets of health policy makers in Europe. It features as one of the ingredients in the latest food reformulation roadmap, just published by the European Commission. This ingredient has crept up in European diets unprecedented levels. As a result it could have serious consequences for the heath of European citizens, reflected in the increase of diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Today, sugar has become very political. And the debate rages on between those concerned for public health and those in favour of preserving consumer choice, avoiding nanny states interventions and protecting the food industry's market share. Read more [...]
This post was viewed 774 times.

Policy matters: transparency is rarely a bad thing

Transparency is relevant to every policy areas, from how scientific advice is used--or whether it is used at all--to how research impact is defined. The trouble is that most policy processes are not clearly outlined. Find out more, in this insightful piece, about the policy areas which have a bearing on research activity, whose transparency has yet to be improved. Like in all discussions of this nature, it is also essential to remember the role played by human nature is ensuring transparency. Read more [...]
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The brave new worlds of crowdfunding science

Crowdfunding is on the rise. And experience shows that it may not coexist independently of more traditional funding mechanism. Rather, crowdfunding could soon be one more feature among the many combinations of funding sources sought to do research. But there is plenty of details to iron out before scientists can make the most of crowdfunding. Read more [...]
This post was viewed 417 times.

The virtual road to recovering trust in academic publishing

The ongoing opposition between the scientific community and science publishers is evolving. The latter have tarnished their reputation on the count of greed and inability to give back to the community. Now, however, grassroots innovators and legacy publishers have started to develop tech-centric solutions to better serve the community. These could soon make a noticeable difference to the scientific process itself and bring tangible benefits to scientists. Time will tell whether the tide will turn and trust between the protagonists will return. Read more [...]
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Death in academia and the mis-measurement of science

Working in academia is not what it used to be. At least, when it comes to evaluation of work performance. Heightened and underhand pressure on academic performance, has led to the tragic death, last year, of an eminent professor from Imperial College, London, UK. Other academics across Europe have suffered the same fate, albeit these have only been documented anecdotally and did not receive the broader coverage English speaking publications affords. This raises questions concerning the pressures academics come under from academic institutions. These are run like businesses and are looking for unrealistic benchmarks, when it comes to research evaluation. Read more [...]
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The chief is dead: what next for science policy advice in Europe?

Was the recently scraped role of European chief scientific adviser (CSA) position, held by Anne Glover, doomed to fail from the outset? Clearly it was a role that was under resourced and not clearly defined, at no fault of Glover’s, who was clearly full of the right stuff coming from the post of chief scientist in Scotland. And what role did the lobbying by a coalition of NGOs—including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth—who called for the post to be scrapped? Without an easily identifiable and contactable figurehead, the exact mechanisms by which science policy-makers use evidence – or not – remain as mysterious and opaque as ever. The debate goes further than the question of whether Europe needs a single science advisor or a series of science advisors for every single discipline. It raises the question as to how in concrete terms the evidence-base can weave its way more systematically through the policy-making process. Read more [...]
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Research funding: Science in the firing line as Europe fails to pay

As the three-week conciliation period on the EU 2015 budget started on 28th October 2014, research in Europe is facing a funding crisis. And this time, the harbingers of doom are not grumbling scientists, gloomy economists or critical journalists, but powerful voices within the European Commission (EC) itself. Read more [...]
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Do European countries need a Chief Scientific Adviser?

Health, transport, science and security: these are the areas of government where the mantra of 'evidence-based policy making' is repeated across departments. Especially for science, one would think that each European member State would have an easily identifiable individual that can provide independent, trusted advice to leaders on controversial topics such as shale gas or genetically modified crops. Read more [...]
This post was viewed 165 times.

From fraudsters to fudgers: research integrity is on trial

Bad behaviour is omnipresent in science. It encompasses everything from outright scientific fraud, such as falsifying data, to other misconducts like cherry-picking data, favourable-looking images and graphs, and drawing conclusions that are not backed up by the actual facts. Overall, it matters more serious than keeping a sloppy lab notebook that no-one else can follow. This raises the deeper question: what drives scientists to behave in such a way? Read more [...]
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Inflation on the price of knowledge: French universities boycott journals

How much is too much? For all the talk that the publishers of major journals such as Science, Nature and the Lancet are charging too much for their wares, it seems a limit has been reached. French universities, in particular, have had enough and are just saying “non!” and cancelling their journal subscriptions. Is this the wake-up call the big publishers need? Should other universities follow suit, researchers organise a wider boycott, or is there another way to make the journal oligarchs realise that enough is enough? Read more [...]
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