Alas, poor Yorick

July 29, 2010

We are writing to express our disappointment at Times Higher Education's decision to publish the article titled "Brussels cash comes at a terrible price" by Yorick Wilks (1 July). The article, which is largely based on unsubstantiated anecdote, seems to us to be inappropriate for a high-quality magazine.

Wilks' allegations of corruption and cronyism on the part of the European Commission certainly do not accord with our experience. We have spent a number of years working with the Commission on the evaluation of European Union research funding bids and have found the evaluations to be rigorous and fair.

Furthermore, Wilks does not provide an analysis of systemic flaws, nor any concrete ideas on how the European system could be improved.

We accept Wilks' assertion that scientific research cannot always be laid out in advance. However, a work plan can be generated at the start of a project and maintained throughout - in fact, with cross-European projects this is a necessity and we can find nothing flawed in the approach.

We would urge THE to consider the potential reputational damage done by such poor journalism and to demand greater responsibility and less bias from your guest contributors in the future.

James J. Browne and Stefan Decker, National University of Ireland, Galway.

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