Exhilarating, not the pits

July 9, 2009

Of the two academics you quote in "Sandpits bring out worst in infantilised researchers" (2 July), the first, Thomas Docherty, hasn't been to one; the second, an unnamed researcher, apparently hasn't either, instead reporting what some bloke told him at a conference.

Come on, Times Higher Education, you can do better than this. It can't be that hard to find one or two participants from the 25 sandpits we've already seen who are prepared to talk on the record.

The piece is depressing in its use of the pejorative trope "reality TV" without justifying it. And what on earth is wrong with the word "sandpit"? The key to creativity is working with people outside your own discipline and intellectual comfort zone, so the analogy with play is apt. To be brought together with 30 very smart people and asked to think about big research questions is exhilarating, not infantilising.

Alan Winfield, Associate dean, faculty of environment and technology, University of the West of England.

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