How big is your impact?

July 30, 2009

Speculation that a Poppleton sociology don had secured a top mark in the new measurement of research impact has been dashed by a spokesperson for the Economic and Social Research Council.

The story began when Doctor C.T.W. Catchpole of the Department of Sociology published the results of a three-year research project into domesticity and happiness that proved conclusively that those who smoked up to 20 cigarettes a day, drank twice the recommended level of alcohol a week, and watched more than 100 hours of trashy television per month, were nearly three and a half times happier than those who followed government health guidelines, read good books and regularly visited the theatre.

According to Doctor Catchpole, this research more than met the ESRC's new insistence upon the relevance of impact. It was featured in more than 50 television and radio programmes, received two miles of newsprint coverage, and led to a statistically measurable increase in smoking, drinking and television slumping.

But an ESRC spokesperson insisted that Doctor Catchpole had created what he called 'the wrong kind of impact'. 'In general', he went on, 'the ESRC measures impact by the extent to which research findings agree with assumptions which have already been made by policy makers. In this respect, Doctor Catchpole has failed to make any impact whatsoever'.

Doctor Catchpole was unavailable for comment but a colleague said that he was still reeling under the impact of his loss of impact.

Let them eat biscuits

Following the news that the University and College Union would look into the use of graduation ceremonies as a way of fundraising, Poppleton University has rushed to defend its £150 Executive Graduation Package.

This provides parents and friends of graduands with a seat in the first three rows of the ceremony, post-conferment strawberries and cream in a private executive tent, an audience with the vice-chancellor, a chance to be photographed holding the ceremonial mace and free transport by luxury A1 mini-cabs to and from Poppleton railway station.

"This is not about money-making," declared Jamie Targett, our thrusting Director of Corporate Affairs. "It's about choice. About whether as a parent you'd prefer to pay a small premium to enjoy the best that Poppleton can offer on graduation day, or whether you'd prefer to stint on what will probably be the most special day in your children's lives."

Targett dismissed the suggestion that the meaning of the graduation ceremony was subverted by the hostess selling of university scarves, T-shirts, ties and fridge magnets during the Chancellor's address on the importance of spiritual values.

Course closure

Poppleton has announced that its current BSc course in Astrology will be axed.

Ms Janet Fluellen, our Director of Curriculum Development, denied, however, that the course was being closed because its contents were considered too speculative. "In fact," she told reporters, "its reliance upon configuring the role of the moon in Jupiter ensured a far more accurate prediction of the current financial turbulence than that provided by our own heavily over-resourced Economics Department."

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Next week's course on Slowing Down the Ageing Process will not now be given by Doctor C.D. Gumpertz but by his charming widow. All are invited.

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