The hippocampus in the room

May 1, 2014

In what she describes as “a major breakthrough”, our Head of Neuroscience, Dr E. G. Loeb, has discovered empirical proof of the recent contention by Professor Thomas Harrison in Times Higher Education that academics may have internalised the “values” of the research excellence framework to such an extent that the effects are irreversible.

Dr Loeb selected two groups for her study: a group of “teaching only” (TO) academics who were not included in the REF exercise, and a “research active” (RA) group who had made a number of REF submissions.

She then used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) to detect specific between-group differences in the areas of the brain neurologically associated with academic intelligence.

Analysis of the left pre-frontal cortex in the REF submission group showed that the area of genuine academic intelligence had been occluded by a thick tissue composed of three malignant elements: a compulsive necessity to publish the most trivial findings; a pathological readiness to abandon long-term projects for short-term REF gains; and “an entire reticular formation” devoted to the development of false claims about the “impact” of specific pieces of research.

Dr Loeb told The Poppletonian that she had no time to discuss the implications of her work as she had to submit her article on the subject to The British Journal of Half-Baked Neuroscience Findings with Big Popular Impact before next Wednesday morning.


Doctor, I’m in trouble

Our chief medical officer, Dr Mike Bodkin, has declared himself “unhappy” with the “disciplinary exclusiveness” of the Twitter hashtag #LabScars which chronicles the unfortunate human injuries sustained as the result of laboratory accidents.

Although Dr Bodkin admitted to treating cuts and burns that had been incurred in this fashion, he also thought it necessary to chronicle other workplace ailments sustained by academics.

In recent weeks, for example, he had treated several members of the English Department who had been diagnosed as suffering from “the pathetic fallacy” after the dismissal of several of their colleagues for lack of research activity had coincided with a lightning strike on the departmental office.

He also instanced the four members of the Philosophy Department who had complained of suffering from severely “undistributed middles” after being faced with the following set of related propositions:

  • All academics are interested in research
  • I’ve not been asked to contribute to the REF
  • Therefore I’m not an academic.

He had also treated several cases of “occupational pathologies”. These included an experimental psychologist who could no longer eat unless the food was delivered through a chute in the shape of a pellet, and a “very depressed senior lecturer” in the sociology department who had “deconstructed himself to such an extent that he could no longer recognise the name on his own office door”.

(Dr Bodkin is currently on sick leave.)


Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Next week’s session in our Home Economics series is entitled “Making the best use of that 2 per cent salary increase” and will be given by a woman from Poundland.

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Reader's comments (1)

I wonder if Dr E. G. Loeb enjoys a cigarre at the end of his MRI and CT sessions. Regarding his diagnosis of a compulsive necessity to publish the most trivial findings coupled to a pathological readiness to abandon long-term projects for short-term gains see also what contributors from Princeton, University of California, Harvard and the National Cancer Institute of the USA have to say: My own Poppletonian cry is one step bolder: ¡¡End the never-ending competition for peanuts by returning to intramural funding schemes for research institutions!!

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