Beware old slackers 2

December 1, 2006

Much as I agree with Tim Birkhead's description of the possible problems for universities recruiting young prima donna researchers who see teaching as a chore that is beneath them, I felt he could also have mentioned the problem of senior academics who continue to live in the past.

I'm sure many people can identify indolent colleagues who seem to have a paltry research output, take little part in administration and avoid all but the lightest of teaching duties. UniversitiesJappear to be powerless to deal with those who seem immune to normative pressures from their colleagues to contribute. The result is an underclass of committed academics who take up the slack created by freeloaders, often at the expense of their research career.

Unfortunately, I don't believe that universities have yet grasped the importance ofJencouraging contribution through rewarding teaching and administration and unions don't seem to appreciate the damage caused by their inability to be critical of members who damage the careers of their colleagues through inactivity.

Magnus L. Johnson.
Head, Centre for Coastal Studies.
Hull University.

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