Misreading the clock

February 5, 1999

As an external member of Cambridge University's promotions committee, I cannot let pass the assertion that we gave only seven minutes on average to the consideration of each candidate (Whistleblower, THES, January 29).

Members of the committee were required "to form their own views", and we were supplied with abundant documentation to help us. The preparation for the five days of meetings took each member many more days of careful reading and reflection, a factor not taken into consideration in the story.It was precisely because our own independently reached opinions so frequently coincided that the committee was able to spend a very great deal more than seven minutes concentrating on borderline cases or on those few applications over which there was initial disagreement.

H. G. M. Williamson

Christ Church, Oxford

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