Names in lights

September 17, 1999

As one of the "media dons" profiled in previous THES articles, I read with great interest Andrew Oswald's article about university publicity ("Bushels: avoid, lights: turn up", THES, September 3). Although I agree with almost everything he said, the table he used to make his argument has many flaws.

First, it takes no account of misattributed affiliations. Over the past four years I have been attributed as a psychologist from Nottingham University (rather than Nottingham Trent) countless times. This is probably very common in cities where there is more than one university (for example, Sheffield, Liverpool, London, Oxford). There can also be a problem if an academic moves institution. For instance, I left Plymouth University four years ago, but still see cuttings citing me at my old university.

Second, some academics are in the media so often that their university is not even mentioned.

Third, when collaborative research is reported, it is not uncommon for the media to highlight it as coming from what they perceive to be the more prestigious institution because it further legitimises the research. In multi-authored papers, the press often cite only one author (usually the first) who may be at a different institution from co-authors.

Fourth, the number count forwarded by Oswald takes no account of what type of article the university was quoted in (front page story, specialist story in a supplement, letter to the editor, article written by academics themselves and so on). The fact that it came from only one broadsheet also undermines his arguments.

Fifth, the number count takes no account of how many individuals are contributing. It is not uncommon for a few individuals in one university to account for a huge proportion of all publicity. For instance, if three individuals account for 95 per cent of 100 university mentions, does this make the university more high profile than 20 individuals with five mentions each?

Mark Griffiths

Head of psychology

Nottingham Trent University

Please login or register to read this article.

Register to continue

Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Just register and complete your career summary.

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Sponsored