Now is the time for Social Democracy: here’s how Labour can achieve it

 

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Kevin Hickson

On his return from the Labour Party Conference, Kevin Hickson, author of Rebuilding Social Democracy: core principles for the Left, calls for Social Democracy and presents his ideas on how this should be brought about.

Following his decisive second mandate in less than 12 months, Jeremy Corbyn called on the Labour Party to unite. Without unity the party has no prospect of power. Divided parties always lose elections and the Conservatives have united very quickly after the EU referendum and change of Prime Minister.

Corbyn’s calls for unity seem short-lived, however, with reports of more conflict at the party’s National Executive Committee over the weekend, including the changes that were made at the last minute to Clive Lewis’ speech by Corbyn’s communications chief, Seamus Milne, over the renewal of Trident.

The truce was barely holding up and conference hadn’t even finished!

It is in this context that Rebuilding Social Democracy is published… apparently inauspicious timing, but the need has never been greater.

“Social Democracy is needed in modern Britain and the only adequate vehicle for its implementation is the Labour Party.”

Continue reading ‘Now is the time for Social Democracy: here’s how Labour can achieve it’

The crisis in the family courts should mean we re-think and change our approach to child protection

 

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Image: Jonathan Cohen

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Court, made a speech earlier this week highlighting the crisis in family courts due to rising numbers of cases and lack of resources.

In an article published in Families, Relationships and Societies, Brid Featherstone, Anna Gupta, Kate Morris and Joanne Warner feed in to current debates by laying out a social model of child protection.

Here, authors Brid Featherstone, Anna Gupta and Kate Morris highlight the relevance of their key points in the article. ‘Let’s stop feeding the risk monster: Towards a social model of ‘child protection’ is currently free to download here.

 

We welcome the speech by Lord Justice Munby expressing concern about the rise in care cases and the opportunity it offers for a debate about what is happening in relation not only to care proceedings but also child protection investigations.

Alongside other researchers in the UK and internationally we have been asking for some time now whether attention is being focused on the right things in the right way if we want to protect children and ensure their welfare and identity needs are protected throughout their lives.

More investigations do not mean more support

A growing body of research across countries with similar systems (e.g. US, UK, Australia and Canada) suggests that there has been a considerable increase in the numbers of families experiencing investigations for suspected abuse in the last decades. However, the vast majority of such investigations do not appear to uncover actual abuse and/or result in help being offered to families. Continue reading ‘The crisis in the family courts should mean we re-think and change our approach to child protection’

Peer review: part of the job? #RecognizeReview #PeerRevWk16

As you are no doubt aware it’s Peer Review week (19 – 25 September 2016) this week. Peer reviewing is something that is so important to us at Policy Press both in terms of helping us in commissioning and shaping our books and our journal content and ensuring that we continue to meet the highest possible standards in publishing quality research.

In today’s guest blog Evidence and Policy Associate Editor Kathryn Oliver shares her thoughts on the importance of peer review and why being a peer reviewer is central to her practice as an academic…

Kathryn Oliver

Kathryn Oliver

I’ve been part of an academic community for 15 years now – and in that time have learned from many hundreds, if not thousands of colleagues, both in person and in print.

Reading and writing together is how most scholars interact, and what helps science of all kinds advance. Writing and publishing papers is what supports academic and research careers – and it’s all totally dependent on peer review.

Much has been written about academic publishing models. Some call for open source publishing; others for post-publication review; still others for journal boycotts, especially after corruption scandals. But the quality of our work is best assessed by our peers – like democracy, it’s the least worst system.

“I’ve often fantasised about a system where academic journals pay peer reviewers for the work they do…”

I’ve peer reviewed grants applications, REF submissions, PhD applications and papers. I was lucky enough to receive a thorough training in critical appraisal which meant I had the skills to assess the quality of work through a relatively structured process. I’ve often fantasised about a system where academic journals pay peer reviewers for the work they do, but for now, all this work is, apparently, unpaid. It is true it’s not in my job description.

So why do peer review?

I choose to see peer review as part of my scholarly duties. And more than duties – it’s a way of keeping in touch with my academic community, and giving something back to all those editors, readers and reviewers who have helped me learn how to write more succinctly, more accurately, less boringly.

We all know the pain of getting back the dreaded peer review comments, and of course there are good and bad reviewers out there, but a good review helps you develop as a writer and as a researcher; points you to literature which is relevant and useful; saves you from unnecessary duplication of work and introduces you to new method and theories.

At its most positive, peer review is a constant learning process, not a battle. At the very least, reviewers help to maintain high scholarly standards, and advance academic debates in your field.

These days I review about a paper a month – it takes me an hour or so to read the paper, make notes, and a few minutes to write up my report for the editors and the authors. Some colleagues do more, some do less.

“…apart from building up your brownie points, I often find it an interesting and positive experience myself”

There’s no doubt that it is another task for already busy academics, and many simply don’t respond to requests (despite still publishing themselves). But the recent suggestion to rank reviewers by a journal seems a little extreme. I think the Carrot of Good Karma is incentive enough.

I now sit on the editorial board of Evidence and Policy, and am responsible for co-ordinating peer review requests, and making editorial decisions based on reviewer recommendations. Every time I invite a reviewer I wish we had some way of rewarding their time – but for now, gratitude will have to do. And, as I say, we all rely on others to review our work – apart from building up your brownie points, I often find it an interesting and positive experience myself.

Dos and don’ts

  • 1) If you’ve never done a peer review before, get in touch with editors or register online with journals – you can be often be selected through your personal keywords. Ask more experienced colleagues or supervisors if they will pass on the next relevant request they get to you. The first few I did took 6, 8 hours – I’ve learned what to look for now. Practice helps!
  • 2) Always read the journal scope and guidelines – remember that while you are making ((hopefully constructive) comments for the author(s), you are also mainly helping an editor to make a decision about whether a paper should be published in that particular journal. I usually write a 2-3 sentence note to the editor explaining my recommendation, and raising the key editorial decisions to be made. We can’t all be experts in every journal, but making it clear to the editor what needs to be judged is a big help.
  • 3) If you have questions about the paper, or the process, or if you just want an extension – get in touch with the editor. Most would much rather have a brief email exchange than wait for weeks for you to respond with a half-hearted effort
  • 4) Be firm, be fair, and imagine you’re on the receiving end. It’s a process, not a judgement.
  • 5) Finally, don’t accept all requests. I take the most relevant where I think I really have something to say. Pass the others on, or tell the editor where to look – we’re always grateful for anyone who saves us a few minutes googling for alternatives.

If you enjoyed this you may also like…..

 

#RecognizeReview #PeerRevWk16

If you want to find out more about Peer Review week including this year’s theme, Recognition for Review, check out the Peer Review website here.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Valuing peer review for books #RecognizeReview

It’s Peer Review Week (19 – 25 September) this week which we think is something to celebrate as the activity of peer reviewing is central to our commitment to publishing books and journal content that meets the highest possible standards of academic rigour.

Senior Commissioning Editor Victoria Pittman explains why peer review is such an essential part of our process and what exactly that entails within Policy Press…

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Victoria Pittman, Senior Commissioning Editor

As a university press with high quality standards and a commitment to ensuring our books are the best they can be, there is no doubt that peer review will always be an essential component of our editorial process.

We review all of our book proposals as well as the full drafts of manuscripts prior to the production stage.

The proposal review stage allows us to interact with experts in the area and provide the author of the proposal with valuable feedback to help shape the project. The reviews include comments on the scope of the proposed book, its structure, intended audience and its place in the existing literature.

Reviewers are asked to consider whether improvements could be made and ultimately whether or not they would support publication and consider buying the book.

Differences of opinion

On average we collate 3‐5 proposal reviews in order to give authors enough feedback to work with and so that we can take account of potential differences of opinion. In most cases the process runs very smoothly and it is an effective way of helping us to decide what to publish and to help authors develop their proposals.

The typescript review stage provides us and the author with feedback on the full text of the book. The comments can relate to the overall coherence of the book, whether it lives up to the proposal, and how the author might improve it when making their final revisions. It is a really valuable part of the process and I am confident that it contributes to the quality of our publications.

Grateful

We are incredibly lucky to receive feedback from people who give up their limited free time to help us and we are very grateful for this. For the peer reviewers, commenting on proposals can be a good way of staying on top of the work being published in their field and we also offer remuneration in the form of books or a payment for their time.

Without them we would not be able to produce the same standard of publications so we would like to take this opportunity to offer our thanks to everyone who has ever reviewed material for us. Please keep helping us publish great books which make a difference!

#RecognizeReview #PeerRevWk16

If you want to find out more about Peer Review week including this year’s theme, Recognition for Review, which explores all aspects of how those participating in review activity – in publishing, grant review, conference submissions, promotion and tenure, and more – should be recognized for their contribution, check out the Peer Review website here.

Is it time to rethink concentrated poverty, the service hub and the sink estate?

In today’s guest blog author and academic Geoffrey DeVerteuil shares his views on the importance and value of inner city communities and the attendant support organisations around them as a positive force for transformation…

Geoffrey DeVerteuil

Geoffrey DeVerteuil

There has been a longstanding tendency in the popular imagination that condemns the spatial concentration of poverty and its attendant landscapes and services.

In the US, this has been particularly dominated by the African-American ghetto and its hyper-segregation of poor Blacks to inner-city neighbourhoods, leading to failed lives, institutions and places.

In the UK, where poverty and race are less concentrated, fears have been stoked in the wake of the 2001 unrest in northern cities and the 2005 terrorist attacks, producing reports (Cantle, Philipps) that ultimately warned about the over-concentration of poor minorities, that in effect Muslims in particular were creating ‘parallel societies’ not so far removed from the American context.

Scatter the poor

Continue reading ‘Is it time to rethink concentrated poverty, the service hub and the sink estate?’

Is access to information a basic human right?

Authors Jessie Daniels and Polly Thistlethwaite believe that information should not be locked up in the proverbial academic ivory tower which is why as of today we are making a chapter free each month from their new book Being a scholar in a digital era.

In today’s guest post Jessie explains why she and Polly are so passionate about open access to information…

Daniels_headshot2When a new and frightening epidemic known as ‘AIDS’ was devastating a generation in the 1980s, the response from elected officials and government agencies was appallingly slow or non-existent.

Also in short supply was information about potentially life-saving drugs and clinical trials. Research published about HIV/AIDS was not available to the general public, but locked behind paywalls in academic libraries and databases.

It was through the confluence of her training as a research librarian and her activism in the fight against AIDS, that my co-author, Polly Thistlethwaite, learned that access to information is a basic human right.

As a research librarian, she could invite guests without university affiliations into her workplace to allow them access to print journals, books, and research databases that were only available at that time, pre-Internet, inside library buildings. Continue reading ‘Is access to information a basic human right?’

Age-blaming and the EU Referendum

In today’s guest blog, author Caroline Lodge looks behind the post-Brexit headline ‘age-blaming’ to reveal a different and more nuanced story behind voter choices…

Caroline Lodge

Caroline Lodge

Age-blaming is the practice of blaming older people for social, economic and political problems.

In popular discourse the problem of the old is that they take up too many resources, take more than their fair share of benefits, block beds in hospital, wont move out of their large houses and are responsible for taking Britain out of the EU. This post explores what lies behind the age-blaming that followed the EU referendum result. Continue reading ‘Age-blaming and the EU Referendum’


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