You couldn't make it up
There was a muted response from our senior management to the recent suggestion from a University of Kent academic that reading novels should be an essential component of all university degrees.
Louise Bimpson, our Corporate Director of Human Resources, said that she “had been made familiar” with Peter Taylor-Gooby’s “somewhat elaborate argument” in Times Higher Education that novels were “thought experiments in living different lives” that offered a “vital training opportunity in an uncertain world”.
However, in her view, Poppleton hardly needed any more exposure to fiction when most of its current students were so thoroughly familiar with the wholly make-believe character of our university prospectus.
Neither did Poppleton academics and administrative staff need to follow Professor Taylor-Gooby’s advice to write their own novels when their imaginations had already been so thoroughly exercised by such important fictional outlets as the research excellence framework and the teaching excellence framework.
(Ms Bimpson is currently reading The 120 Days of Sodom.)
Our very own Dr Mike Goshworthy, one of the first psychologists in the country to demonstrate the positive correlation between inclement weather and the use of galoshes, has reacted forcefully to the suggestion from David Colquhoun, emeritus professor of pharmacology at University College London, that the research excellence framework impact agenda “is responsible for a daily parade of…dodgy psychology on the Today programme”.
Dr Goshworthy told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that anyone who inspected psychological research over the years would recognise that “dodgy psychology” was in no way a contemporary development. Indeed, his own work on the significant relationship between inebriation and falling over had preceded the REF by nearly a decade.
“We must be careful not to demonise dodginess,” said Dr Goshworthy. “Any curb on this type of research would not only eviscerate the Today programme but would also seriously denude our daily newspapers.”
Had he any ongoing dodgy research that might attract media interest?
“I have high hopes for my work on the possible relationship between the consumption of vegetable extract and increased sexual activity.”
“Does the research have a distinct title?”
“Well, we don’t want to be accused of positively courting excessive publicity so we’re simply calling it ‘Marmite makes you hornier’.”
The invisible hand
What is it about women and economics?
That is the question raised by research showing that female economists write research papers that are more readable than those produced by their male counterparts but also papers that take significantly longer to get published than those written by their male colleagues.
Some commentators have suggested that this delay in the publication of such readable papers might be because reviewers inspect papers by women more closely. But Professor Mike “Buffy” Bufton of our Department of Neoliberal Economics has another explanation. In his experience, the publication delay is simply occasioned by the fact that male reviewers are so astonished to discover that the readable and significant paper in front of them has been written by a woman that they need “to sit down for several weeks in order to recover from the shock”.