How unfortunate that the headline and opening paragraph of your article on The Royal Society of Chemistry's report, The Chemistry PhD: the enhancement of its quality, (THES, April 7) chose to be sensational rather than accurate. We hope that those people who read the report will recognise its key messages and seek to implement its recommendations.
According to Sir Rex Richards, who chaired the working party that produced the report, "the research training received by most students in the UK is very good". The report's purpose is to encourage chemistry departments to raise the standards of all PhDs to that of the best.
The society recognises that only by continuing to provide chemists of the highest quality will universities help the UK maintain its strong position in the global and highly competitive chemical and pharmaceutical marketplace. The society has therefore produced a set of guidelines it hopes will generally be adopted, depending on the circumstances of individual chemistry departments.
The report recommends the adoption of best practice by most chemistry departments. The recommendations are not a soft option, but if achieved will be very effective in raising the quality of all PhDs.The society "argued strongly against changes in the structure of the PhD programmes" but recommended "a change in the balance of studies". According to Sir Rex Richards, chemistry departments should not become complacent and think that they are already so good that no change is necessary. "We should remember what happened to some parts of UK industry in the 1960s."
T. D. Inch
The Royal Society of Chemistry