Friday, 30 August 2013

Open Access: Understanding the New Environment - Free Event, 23 October

As part of international Open Access Week, the University is inviting some key players in the sector to discuss the current state of play. In the sixteen months since Dame Janet Finch published her report on Open Access (OA), policy has moved on quickly: the Government accepted the findings of the Report, and the Research Councils (RCUK) have mandated OA publishing. This event will be a good opportunity to take stock. The programme includes speakers from HEFCE, RCUK, the Open Library for Humanities and the Research Information Network, as well as editors of OA journals.

Not only will there be a chance to hear from these speakers, but to meet others who are finding their way in the new, post-Finch environment.

The event is aimed primarily at academics and academic support staff but all are welcome to attend, both from the University and elsewhere. More detail of the programme, together with the booking form, is available here.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Another Professor Writes

Revd Prof Tutu McGlenn: Clean
Dear Sir

I write in support of Prof (emeritus) Piebald Arbuthnott's admirable clarification on the use of adjectives by the Russell Group and Post-92s.

Prompted by his majestic clarification, I thought it was an apposite moment to raise again a modest proposal that I have, for some time, intended to put to HEFCE. To wit, that, when out in public, all Post-92s be required to wear sackcloth and ring a bell, clearly enunciating in a loud voice the word 'unclean'.

This would not, I believe, be too much additional effort, and would help to establish in the public's mind the clear distinction between proper universities and ex-polys.

I trust you will support me in this.

Yours, etc

Revd Prof Tutu McGlenn

A Professor Writes

Professor (emeritus) Arbuthnott: 'Modern' man.
Dear Sir

I was pleased to read of Alan Bance's disgust at Wendy Piatt's use of the word 'modern' to describe Post-92 universities (letters, 22 August 2013).

Whilst of course I accept that we must all pay lip service to egalitarianism and level playing fields, and that we must pretend to include the former polys in the university fold, Piatt and others should realise that only universities of a certain age have a primary right to all positive adjectives.

Thus, Russell Group universities have sole custody and use of 'modern', 'progressive', 'world-leading', 'clever', 'good-looking', 'popular', 'funny' and 'sexy'.

Post-92s can use 'flea-bitten', 'lacklustre', 'loner', 'weird', 'a bit EMO', 'kept themselves to themselves', and 'I didn't realise they had access to firearms and violent video games'.

I hope that clarifies the issue.


Prof Piebald Arbuthnott (emeritus)

Friday, 16 August 2013

Taking Stock

Summer is traditionally when we have a chance to catch our breath. Many academics have disappeared to finally catch up with their research - or with their home lives.

In Research Services it's a chance to get on with all those jobs we've been putting off all year - the dull but necessary housekeeping ones - but also to look ahead and start planning for the forthcoming year.

For me, I'm taking stock of the Grants Factory and the ECR Network from last year. I've set up a short survey, so if you came along to any of the events, do take a couple of minutes to let me know what you think.

I've already had some responses, and there are some interesting ideas emerging for next year. For instance, should we move away from the more formal events where attendees listen to an experienced speaker, and instead have cohorts of people who help and support each other as they prepare their proposals? Should we make more use of external training providers? Should we continue to facilitate more informal social gatherings in the evening?

I hope to have a draft programme ready next month, in readiness for the new term in October. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts on previous Grants Factories, or ideas for next year, do drop me a line.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

RCUK Scrabble

It's holiday season, even for the good folks at Death Star Avenue. Now read on.

A holiday cottage on the west coast of Wales. Rain is lashing against the windows, and the casements are rattling. It's August. A group of RCUK apparatchiks are huddled around a game of Scrabble. It's clear they're playing an unusual variant of this family favourite in which only acronyms can be used.

There's intense, concentrated silence for some time.

Marjorie (from the EPSRC) puts down a three letter acronym. 

Kevin (from the ESRC): Hey! That's not an acronym!
Marjorie:  DTG? Yes it is. It stands for Doctoral Training Grant.
Emile (from the AHRC), smirking: Ah, no. What you're thinking of is a Block Grant Partnership - a BGP.
Kevin: No! That's a DTC: a Doctoral Training Centre.
Marjoire: You arty farty types! It's actually a Centre for Doctoral Training, a CDT. And anyway, that's a completely different thing. A DTG is an award given out based on the amount of grant income a university gets.
Ferdinand (from the STFC): I think you're all wrong. It's not an acronym at all. It's a 'Quota'.
Emanuele (from the NERC): Guys, guys! Listen, we can't carry on if we can't agree on the right acronyms. We may as well just give up Scrabble!

Stunned silence.

Kevin: Okay, well that just doesn't bear thinking about. If we don't have Acronym Scrabble, what will we do on holiday?

Everyone stares out the window at the rain which, if anything, seems to have got heavier.

Marjorie: I've got an idea. Why don't we compromise, and agree a set of common acronyms? (Points at Scrabble board) And look, it might just work in our favour.
Emile (suspiciously): What do you mean?
Marjorie: Well, see here? If I put down 'DTP' rather than 'DTG' I get an extra point. P is worth 3, G is worth 2.
Kevin: Hmm, that's good...
Marjorie: And Emanuele, it's your go next. If we decide to use 'CDT' rather than 'DTC', you can attach it to my DTP, and hit the Triple Word Score!
Emanuele: Eccellente!
Marjorie: And Ferdinand, whilst 'Q' is a high scoring letter, 'Quota' isn't actually an acronym, so would be ineligible for this game. If you replace it with 'DTP' then you get a chance to score!
Ferdinand: Stellar!
Kevin: Perfect! That means our holidays are saved. But how do we sell it to the sector?
Marjorie: Oh, don't worry about that. We'll issue some kind of blandly worded statement about 'working together', 'sharing best practice', 'evolving our mechanisms' and so forth. Plus if we do it quickly most people will be away anyway, so no one will notice.
All: Hurrah!
Marjorie: Now that's sorted, who's turn is it to make tea?

Everyone quickly looks down and pretends to rearrange their tiles.