No innocents in the jungle

April 21, 1995

As one of the "innocents" referred to in "innocents in the research jungle" (Brian Everett, THES, March 31), I would like to suggest that the author used the wrong merger of nursing college with university to illustrate his point.

Financial considerations were obviously important to the final arrangements between North Trent College and Sheffield University and superannuation issues muddied the waters for some time. But the mutual benefit to both - the university's research strengths and the college's teaching and education management expertise - was always the driving force. The following illustrates what has been done to ensure no one was innnocent in the jungle.

The university prioritised nursing and midwifery research. Ad hoc committees, comprising university and college staff, were set up to guide developments. One focussed on academic issues, the other on research.

The establishment of senior academic posts in nursing and midwifery, including chairs, were sanctioned. College and university personnel were jointly charged with devising a strategy for the development of nursing and midwifery research. College staff were given observer status, to be followed by full membership, on integration, on key committees in the university at all levels.

The college last year established the postgraduate and research centre, incorporating the teaching development unit. This centre, with partners elsewhere in the university, now holds research and teaching development project contracts in excess of Pounds 120,000 with other bids (circa Pounds 6 million) awaiting results.

Because the majority of college staff already have a masters, support and extra research skills training was provided to enable 23 staff to register for higher degrees. Several of these have sought and found external funding to "buy" some of their contracted teaching time to research. A few have been seconded to full or part-time on to funded research projects as research assistants. Others have reesponsibility for managing externally funded projects. All college staff have had the opportunity to attend workshops on writing for publication and induction seminars on the research assessment exercise.

MARIE ROBERTS-DAVIS

Head, postgraduate and research centre Sub dean postgraduate affairs (nursing and midwifery)

University of Sheffield

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