Research realities

November 9, 2006

Why is it that no one seems prepared to challenge the quantity and quality of research funded in the UK?

Bar that done in elite institutions, most research has little impact on the progress of human knowledge or, apparently, on the ability of academics to critique their own disciplines. It is also my experience as an academic, publications editor and referee that many researchers are not very scholarly. Perhaps the real purpose of most research is to further academics' careers.

All universities should be developing deep scholarly approaches to learning, teaching and inquiry. At the moment, the emphasis on research and its funding is undermining this primary purpose. Instead, we get the irrationalities of the research assessment exercise, the squalid mercenariness, excessive managerialism and uncritical academics and students so often complained of in The Times Higher .

And even Paul Ramsden, chief executive of the Higher Education Academy, buys into the "researchers make better teachers" myth. He should know better.

Chris O'Hagan

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