Misshapen and incapable

November 3, 2011

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council claims to have consulted the scientific community regarding its "shaping capability" policy aimed at maintaining the UK's global research standing ("EPSRC won't shelve 'shaping capabilities' - but will consult more", www.timeshighereducation.co.uk, 28 October). The community disagrees.

The Royal Society stepped in to ask the EPSRC to pause the programme, but we read that the learned societies are "on board" with it and the mood music is much better. However, most scientists I meet are apoplectic.

We've had disallowed resubmissions, the selective blacklisting of failed applicants and the nonchalant introduction of shaping capability. Now from 15 November, peer review is to be tampered with. "National importance will become a primary assessment criterion alongside research quality," the council states. I wonder which scientists sat around a table and said, "yes, go with that"? Obviously, it's much better for the EPSRC to get scientists to score "national importance" than for it to be charged with violating the Haldane principle.

The council's latest action will further disenfranchise the scientific community and have an immediate negative impact on UK science.

David O'Hagan, School of Chemistry, University of St Andrews

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns