Laurie Taylor – 6 July 2017

The official weekly newsletter of the University of Poppleton. Finem respice!

July 6, 2017
Dr Jazz
Source: Getty

Give me Dr Jazz!

One of Poppleton’s leading social psychologists, Dr Mike Goshworthy, has hit back at the junior researchers from the University of Cambridge who have responded to “the relentless pressure to produce reams of jazzed-up findings” by setting up a campaign called “Bullied into Bad Science”.

Dr Goshworthy, whose own recent research includes the acclaimed discovery of a positive correlation between a fondness for Marmite toast and a predilection for self-abuse, told The Poppletonian that these young researchers “were still clinging to the old-fashioned idea that research should contribute to the sum of human knowledge rather than to the bran tub of public entertainment”.

He suggested that “instead of complaining, these researchers should relish this new opportunity to escape from the old-fashioned constraints of reliability and validity and recognise that, thanks to the auspices of the research excellence framework, academic research has now acquired an exciting new function as a device that allows here-today-and-gone-tomorrow government ministers and acquiescent vice-chancellors to foster meaningless competition between universities”.

Dr Goshworthy said that cynicism about the new face of higher education was deeply rooted. “Why, only the other day, I heard about an admittedly small group of academics who were seriously suggesting that the exciting new teaching excellence framework was not an accurate measure of teaching quality,” he said.

(You can hear Dr Goshworthy talking about his current research on Radio Poppleton’s ever popular Pull The Other One programme on Sunday evening at a quarter past midnight.)

Word in edgeways

New research from the United States published in the journal Social Sciences suggests that female academics are interrupted more in interviews than men. Might this also be the case here in the UK? We sent our intrepid reporter Keith Ponting (30) to put just such a question to one of our few leading female academics, Dr Elizabeth Parteger, reader in the seriously threatened Department of Medieval Studies.

Dr Parteger, taking all things into consideration, what was your overall, and I stress overall, reaction to these new research findings from the US?
In my view, they provided explicit…

And, having full regard to cultural differences and local mores, do you think that rather similar results to these might be found in the UK?
All the evidence suggests that there would be significant…

And, finally, in conclusion, do you have any practical suggestions, any plan of action perhaps, that might possibly do something to remedy this apparent imbalance?
Well, for a start, we might wish to consider…

Thank you so much, Dr Parteger. It’s been a great pleasure.

(NB A full transcript of Keith Ponting’s questions is now available on our website.)

Words of advice

(A deeply patronising statement from our vice-chancellor)

As the vice-chancellor and chief executive of a gold university, it ill behoves me to comment on the behaviour of those formerly distinguished universities that now find themselves demoted to the lower divisions of higher education.

But that said, is it really appropriate for such universities to mount appeals against their teaching excellence framework rating? Might it not be more fitting if such formerly esteemed universities as Liverpool, York, Southampton and Durham (Mrs Dilworth, is this the lot?) ate a large slice of humble pie and, in line with Mr Jo Johnson’s recent remarks, seriously considered whether their new lowly status was thoroughly consonant with their vice-chancellor’s current emolument?

To paraphrase Cicero (Mrs Dilworth – please check), “People in bronze and silver houses should not throw stones.”

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