Sighs of the times

July 31, 2014

As the author of two books forthcoming in the Warwick Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities series, I can confirm – as stated in the article “Writers’ block: description of an academic struggle” (News, 24 July) – that the suspended University of Warwick professor Thomas Docherty was indeed prevented from writing the prefaces, which has led to months of delay in publishing the books.

Never underestimate the petty-minded vindictiveness that university authorities are capable of, or their contempt for academic freedom.

John Jervis
University of Kent


Insubordination and undermining authority, the accusations levelled against Thomas Docherty (“Sighs matter: academic accused of insubordination”, News, 24 July), are terms you might expect in a rigid, hierarchical system such as the army, not in a university.

I would be concerned if my head of department thought I should be subordinate to him just by virtue of his position. We don’t agree on all issues, but he has my respect because he has earned it by showing dedication in doing a difficult job well. A leader won’t be undermined by a single sarcastic critic unless that critic has the sympathy of others.

Dorothy Bishop


Thomas Docherty is accused of sighing, displaying negative body language, being ironic and challenging the authority of his head of department. In the name of corporate efficiency, I suggest that university managers across the land club together, hire a few football stadiums, and try all of us in one go.

Neil Badmington


I note that a University of Warwick professor has been accused of sighing and making ironic comments, among other issues. No doubt this particular case will be determined on its merits, but I do feel that there is a serious decline in academic disciplinary processes. Whatever happened to gross moral turpitude?

Keith Flett

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

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

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham