New academic year, new policy engaged you!

by Sarah Foxen

As the new academic year kicks off, I wonder if you’ve planned any ‘new year’s resolutions’. Perhaps you’re going to try a different approach to doing your teaching prep or find a new way of conducting data collection? Or perhaps you’re considering taking steps to have more impact with your work?

If it’s the latter of these, then you should know that engaging with the UK Parliament can be a great way to achieve policy impact. I’d like to share some of the benefits of engaging with Parliament through research – and share some practical ideas on how to do so. Continue reading

Taking time out to go Scroll Free

by Yvonne Kelly

This week marks the start of the Royal Society for Public Health’s Scroll Free September campaign, encouraging people to take a break from social media.

In 2015, in some of the first research to examine the potential harms of excessive screen time and social media use, we found that children who were heavy users of screen-based media were less happy and had more social and emotional problems than their peers who used it moderately. Children who used social media sites for chatting were also less likely to be happy and more likely to have problems than their peers who did not.

More recently, our work on the trends for boys’ and girls’ social media use showed that 10 year-old girls who spent an hour or more on a school day chatting online had considerably more social and emotional problems by age 15 than girls of the same age who spent less or no time on social media. The number of problems they faced also increased as they got older, which was not the case for boys. The research was based on the experiences of 10,000 10-15 year-olds in the Understanding Society study. Continue reading

Collaboration and coincidence

by Alex Hulkes

History has been described as ‘just one damn thing after another’. Data on the other hand is often ‘lots of damn things all at the same time’. This blog highlights not one but two new damn things appearing on the ESRC website at the same time, each containing many sub-damn things all of which happened at the same time, or nearly so. Continue reading

Explaining the facts

by Tom Chivers

Recently, I was lucky enough to win the ‘Explaining the facts’ category in the Royal Statistical Society’s Statistical Excellence in Journalism awards. In my brief acceptance speech, I used a quote I half-remembered. I don’t know who said it, but it goes something like this: if you want to fool people, the easiest way to do it is to never teach them what a denominator is. As a journalist, one who’s interested in science and facts and numbers, I think it is something to remember at all times. Continue reading

‘Better informed?’ the impact of the Brexit debate on voters’ attitudes towards the EU

by John Curtice and Sarah Tipping

Do voters know what they are doing? This is a question that is often asked about referendums, not least by those who doubt voters’ ability to grapple with major issues of policy.

Since the EU referendum it has, perhaps, been regarded as a particularly pressing question by some on the Remain side. For example, the charge that many Leave voters were ill-versed in the economic consequences of leaving the EU not be explicit in analysis that has suggested that Leave voting areas were more likely to suffer economically from Brexit, but it is certainly implied. Continue reading