Laurie Taylor column

July 13, 2001

More and more academics are being declared research inactive in the RAE for strategic reasons - THES, July 6 .

Yes, Doctor Cosgrove, do come in. How's the psychology research coming along? You're busy in the animal laboratory, aren't you?

That's right. Previous experimenters have discovered physiological correlates of such emotions as fear and anger in experimental animals. I'm extending that work by operationalising jealousy in laboratory rats. A male and a female rat (M1 and F1) are encouraged to mate in a cage. Female rat (F1) is then removed and placed in an adjoining cage where it is mounted by another male (M2) in full view of M1. We then test M1 rats for signs of procedurally related physiological change.

And how long has this work been going on?

Five years. We've had some trouble making M1 rats pay attention to F1 rats...

Yes, yes. What I'm getting at is publications. On the face of it, your work is rather more scientifically valid than most experimental work in this department. But does the world know about it?

There's been a paper in the Australian Journal of Rat Studies and a Research Note in the Proceedings of the Jealousy Society .

Commendable, but hardly enough for these highly competitive times. I'm afraid your news only confirms my decision in the recent RAE round to declare you research inactive.

But I've been working for hours after work every night...

I'm sorry, Doctor Cosgrove. At least there's the consolation of knowing that you'll still need to work for hours every evening in order to cope with your tripled teaching workload.

But what about my rats?

Their treatment will be in line with this university's new compulsory redundancy package. They'll be woken at dawn tomorrow, taken to another place and then expediently sacrificed.


Let's just say rendered "research inactive".

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