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By Charis Palmer, The Conversation

Crowdsourcing competitions, popular with companies seeking to tap into groups of knowledge, are often diminished by malicious behaviour, according to a new study.

The research, published today in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, found the opennesss of crowdsourced competitions, particularly those with a “winner takes all” prize, made them vulnerable to attack.

By Oliver Griffith, University of Sydney

Have you ever wondered why we give birth to live young rather than lay eggs? Scientists have pondered this for a long time and answers have come from an unlikely source: some of Australia’s lizards and snakes!

In research published this month in the American Naturalist, my colleagues and I at the University of Sydney studied reptile pregnancy to identify the factors necessary for a placenta to evolve.

Although most reptiles lay eggs, live birth has evolved many times in the group of reptiles that includes lizards and snakes.

By Chris Cocking, University of Brighton

The town of Ferguson, Missouri has now seen ten days of almost nightly disorder following the shooting of black teenager Michael Brown by the police. The decision to bring in the National Guard has not quelled the disorder and in fact may be aggravating the situation.

By Jason Potts, RMIT University

Do the words we use to speak of economic matters, matter? I believe they do, but not by the propagation of textbookish jargon. Rather, the main way they matter is in shaping public ethics.

Economics has been a technical field of studies for a few centuries now and is replete with textbooks full of ideas expressed in precise and often mathematical language, passed down through a priestly class of scholars.

By Ladan Cockshut, Durham University

A few days ago, I was an astrophysicist and contributed to a research project by organizing sunspot images in order of complexity. After I’d had enough of that, I became a biochemist and worked late into the night on a project creating synthetic RNA.

Actually, I am not a scientist. Before yesterday I hadn’t really studied sunspots and I am still not entirely sure what RNA does. And yet, I was welcomed by the research team. It turns out they didn’t care about my lack of scientific knowledge. What they needed were my visual and gaming skills.

By Mark Beeson, Murdoch University

Like him or loathe him, the late Samuel Huntington was one of the towering figures in political science and international relations. Even those who disagreed with his ideas were forced to engage with them. He helped shape a number of key debates about areas as diverse as civil-military relations, political order, institutional development and the spread of democracy.

But if there is one ‘big idea’ for which he is likely to be remembered more than any other it is the now infamous claim that the future was going to be defined by a looming ‘clash of civilizations’.