'Sloppy' PhD should be revoked 2

February 23, 2007

In its "right to reply", Birmingham University said it had "absolute confidence that the award of doctorate, after rigorous and scrupulous external examination, was fully merited".

In which case, the university should be able to explain why, according to its own reviewer, Charlotte Exon's thesis should be accompanied by "an extremely detailed errata slip". It will also be able to justify its support for the thesis despite its reviewer's reservation that he is "not entirely sure that they [Exon's mistakes] can be resolved with the thesis in its current state".

Having confessed his own lack of qualification to assess Exon's statistics for her emigre study, the "independent" reviewer also expresses doubt whether the statistics were marked by anybody qualified to do so, yet still insists "I am very appreciative that she has chosen this methodology".

But Jane Hutton, The Times Higher 's independent scrutineer, unambiguously declared Exon's statistics false and misleading. How did they remain undetected by Birmingham's "rigorous and scrupulous" examination process?

Adrian Randall, the dean of arts at Birmingham, in his final ruling expressed agreement with the reviewer's decision not to become "embroiled" with the statistics. But neither he nor the reviewer has explained how statistics based on faulty method and seriously faulty data still get the endorsement of Birmingham's quality assurance.

Peter Ohlson.
Stepson of Rudolf Schwarz

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