Laurie Taylor Column

March 25, 2005

Staff at Brunel University object to being classified as "research inactive" - The Times Higher , March 15 .

Academic assessment

Volume 13. March 2005

There is a growing demand for an objective measure of "research inactivity" (RI) that might replace current subjective determinations.

The procedure described below delivers objective indices of research inactivity that management can confidently use as the basis for staff redeployment or wastage.

Academics believed to be "research inactive" are invited into the laboratory where they are promptly undressed and strapped to the experimental table. Two small electrodes are surgically inserted into the septal region of their hypothalamuses and they are then exposed to a series of research and non-research stimuli. All electrical activity elicited by such stimuli is recorded on the Research Resonance Meter (RRM).

Trial One: Subliminal proper names

- Max Planck, Hilary Swank

- Madonna, Madame Curie

- Albert Einstein, Billy Eckstine

- Isaac Newton, Olivia Newton (John)

- Niels Bohr, Neil Diamond.

Trial Two: Subliminal sentences

- More research is not a good idea when the journals are full of unread articles

- More research might or might not be a good idea

- More research is needed.

Trial Three: Subliminal photographs

- Particle accelerator

- Deckchair

- Superconductive undulator

- Common vibrator

- X-ray generator

- Banana daiquiri

Comparative examination of the electrical activity (flickers) generated by the research-oriented stimuli and the non-research oriented stimuli yields the following RI categories.

5-10 flickers: Research Flaccid (Research interests capable of resuscitation)

Fewer than 5 flickers: Research Inactive (No evidence of research interest)

Not even a flicker: Research Dead (Transfer to teaching only)

Much more research is needed.

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