Missing the target

March 28, 1997

The remarks by Nelson et al on accountability ("Publish and be praised", THES, March 21) were naive in the extreme. They were also out of touch with recent events in this country.

Their scheme for "useful indicators" to assist public understanding in the progress of research and teaching activities fails to grasp the simple point that such procedures themselves generate activities. Institutions would be pouring resources into performing according to the targets set by these procedures.

These procedures involve neither teaching nor research: we are told they will involve "administrators" who have an "organisation" to manage.

I fail to see the connection between better information about management targets and better decision-making as regards teaching and research.

Marilyn Strathern, Department of social anthropology, University of Cambridge

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