I'll never forget what's-his-name

May 30, 2013

Professor Rooney tackles the categorical imperative

Members of our university have enthusiastically joined in the new Times Higher Education online game of discovering celebrity names among members of staff.

But whereas many of the names cited in last week’s Scholarly Web column - Mark E. Smith, Keith Richards, Andrew Marr and Maggie Smith - are associated with one or other form of show business, the roll call of the famous at Poppleton turns out to be considerably more eclectic.

We can boast a Dr Boris Karloff, currently working as a laboratory demonstrator in the Department of Experimental Neuroscience, and a Professor Wayne Rooney, who handles the Kantian component of our philosophy degree, but we must turn to management for the most resonant namechecks.

It is here that we find our affable Head of Staff Restructuring, Tomás “Tom” Torquemada, our highly personable Risk Assessment Officer, Bernard “Bernie” Madoff, and, of course, our ever popular Head of Town-Gown Relationships, Ivan IV of Russia.

Not everyone at Poppleton, however, is willing to enter into the spirit of the game. Indeed, the entire enterprise has been described as “a dangerously immature way of avoiding the harsh realities of contemporary higher education” by our current Head of Environmental Studies, Rupert Bear.


‘Dear John. About your article’

Hot on the heels of last week’s revelations from Adrian Furnham, professor of psychology at University College London, about the arbitrariness of editorial decision-making on academic journals, comes news that one of our own academic editors has been asked to stand down in the wake of complaints from a scholar who had submitted an MS for publication.

According to our investigative reporter Keith Ponting (30), the complaints have been lodged against Professor Lapping, head of our Department of Media and Cultural Studies, who currently edits four major journals: The British Journal of Media Studies, The Journal of British Media Studies, The Media Journal of British Studies and The British Journal of British Media Journal Studies.

It appears that, in acknowledging the submission of an article for publication in one of these journals, Professor Lapping accidentally included in his reply what was apparently a personal checklist of reasons for rejection, which he employs in his editorial decision-making. It included the following considerations:

  1. Never heard of the author.
  2. Never heard of their university.
  3. On the lengthy side of things.
  4. On the skimpy side of things.
  5. Not one of my own articles is cited.
  6. Haven’t we had enough Bourdieu to last a lifetime?
  7. The Abstract is too abstract.
  8. The Conclusion is too inconclusive.
  9. Borderline. Keep in desk drawer for a few months.
  10. Send it to good old Jeff at UCL suggesting a Reject.

Professor Lapping has rejected suggestions that this list suggests a degree of arbitrariness. “There is nothing at all arbitrary about any of these criteria,” he told Mr Ponting. “Indeed, it is ironic that I should be so accused. After all, I drew up the checklist specifically to counter earlier and equally malevolent suggestions that I decided upon which articles to send out to referees by throwing a handful of submissions into the air and choosing those that landed face down.”


Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

To mark the beginning of the finals marking period, next week’s seminar will be devoted to a discussion of the newly discovered psychiatric condition, pre-traumatic stress disorder. Everybody welcome.


Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

  • Boats docked in Port Hercule, Monaco

Richard Murphy praises a bold effort to halt tax-dodging by the 1 per cent

It’s a question with no easy answer, finds James Derounian

  • James Fryer illustration (19 November 2015)

With no time for proper peer review and with grade inflation inevitable, one academic felt compelled to resign

  • Worker checks thin-film silicon solar module, Truebbach

Asia doubles representation while European countries face varied performance

  • Man and woman dancing wearing stilts

Study argues that, while Oxford and Cambridge stand apart, rest of mission group does not live up to ‘elite’ tag