I thought I would reblog this because it takes a slightly different view to that taken by others. Admittedly, the view doesn’t seem to be that the restructurings at Queen Mary are a good idea, simply that it is no worse than what happens, typically, to postdocs. I do happen to agree that our assessment of postdocs, and others looking for research appointments, is probably not particularly different to what Queen Mary is now doing to the staff of the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences. The one subtlety, I would argue, is that postdocs who don’t get a new appointment or a Fellowship have not been promised anything and can make informed decisions based on the results of these various applications. Academic staff who are suddenly made redundant later in their career are in a much more difficult position, especially if the reason they are now being made redundant is because they have been essentially forced to do more teaching (or admin) than they had expected and their research had suffered. That’s not to say that the author of this post doesn’t, in some sense, have a valid point.
“… for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)
Queen Mary, fresh from their elevation to the Russell Group, are keen to boost the quality of their research. Their School of Biological and Chemical Sciences have launched a restructuring programme, which will evaluate scientists based on the number and impact factor of their publications, and the amount of their research income. Those who are under-performing are at risk of redundancy.
This move has brought essentially universal condemnation. In particular, see David Colquhoun’s blogpost “Is Queen Mary University of London trying to commit scientific suicide?”. The reliance on impact factors to evaluate scientists’ work feeds into a thorough discussion about their usefulness or otherwise on Stephen Curry’s blog, specifically the post “Sick of Impact Factors”.
Let’s deal with some points straightaway. Yes, the impact factor of a journal is an extremely blunt instrument to…
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