Evidence, not assertion 2

December 10, 2009

In the powerful revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Novello Theatre, one word between Brick and Big Daddy signals the turning point in the drama: "mendacity".

Throughout the 3 December issue of Times Higher Education, one word rang loud and clear: hypocrisy. Again and again, the great and the good insisted that they did not want "their" research judged by its impact ("Thousands of academics call for impact to be axed"). But researchers in the same issue expressed their aim to influence policy and thought on climate change, wellbeing, mobility and population change, rape narratives, even cosmology and carols. They all want to make their mark, but isn't "impact" another word for making a mark?

There is a simple test for researchers' real aims. All my fellow journal editors will know our own authors, but could insist that between now and 2013 all papers be published anonymously and non-attributably. The future knowledge base would be maintained, with key words to link areas for development.

Perhaps we might hear contributors rejoice that "a thing of beauty is a joy forever", but perhaps we'd hear a collective shriek of "but how will I get credit for my world-changing research?", or (to paraphrase John Keats), "my own achievements must 'never pass into nothingness!'?"

Woody Caan, Anglia Ruskin University.

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