Sunday, 20 March 2011

One day there will be fluffy bunnies everywhere too

Spent the day working, typesetting, and not doing a very good job of copyediting because I began to read those academic pages instead.

After I pressed send on one paper, I saw that I didn't correct the speech marks. Sorry about that. I'd like to think someone else will pick them up, but it's unlikely. The process has cut down on people who take time and trouble. It's not rewarded. Everyone wants fast output and minimum cost, so all down the line people can only glance, say okay, and press send. Whatever state your paper's in then, it goes to the printers and we can all tick the box and say next.

Anyway, I began reading this particular paper (sorry about the capitalisation as well) and I see that the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) will turn into the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

Then I began to feel sorry for you academics. The RAE was a bit crap, like having to weigh your research to measure worthiness, but this one's even worse. I read how you social scientists now have to produce research which is all about 'Maximizing Impact' (and sorry about the s/z inconsistency).

That will totally mess up some of your research won't it? To get the funding in the first place you'll have to pretend that your three-year study into the language used round the office coffee machine is going to 'deliver' immediate benefit to society, government policy, the economy, and maybe bring about world peace as well. Of course it won't. It's just something interesting and people-worthy to do.

But I think that is how things should be. I like to think folks can spend their time footling on stuff that doesn't seem to be of any immediate benefit, value, or even practical purpose. I am raising children that way! I cannot imagine what economic, social or political benefit there is for Squirrel to stitch together 42 plastic bags (which is what she seems to be doing these days all over the front room). But she likes it, and something interesting might come of it yet.

So I wanted to say, sorry about the % per cent confusion and, when I am in charge of academic funding, be assured the system will change. You won't have to spend hours thinking up evidence that will prove how your work delivers maximum economic impact, when we all know studying how old folk talk to their pet budgies is something you wanted to do because you thought it would be interesting and maybe one day help people like your grandma. With the Grit-ESRC* bank, no problem. Have the money, and say hello to gran.

* Economic and Social Research Council. Sorry about that as well.


Kelly said...

Oh Grit, I needed that. I am trapped in editing hell, and, as I said to Bruce earlier today, it is so LONELY! And no one cares but me. And often, I don't care. Often, as you know, I say to myself, why, WHY, exactly did you think this was a good idea? And yet, as you say, something may come of it yet. In fact, this is my version of sewing plastic bags together. Oh, but I found a profoundly cool source of public domain illustrations for the book, from a 19th century book called Chronicle of England, and done by one of the premier children's illustrators of that period. If the gritlets would like to get a sneak preview, they can go here Chronicle of England

sharon said...

Ahhhh . . . the things we do to earn the odd crust!

If Squirrel is using the flimsy type of plastic bag and you possess an iron, I can tell her how to make quite sturdy bags. E-mail for details if wanted ;-)

Big mamma frog said...

I suspect that being a mother is like a lifetime of sewing plastic bags together. Perhaps we hope that at the end of it all we'll have made a parachute...or a shroud...or at least something useful will have come of all our work.

I'm thinking a bouncy castle would be good.

Grit said...

Bravo Kelly! You are right, good things do come, even of sewing plastic bags together!

Hi Sharon! Thanks for the instructions!

Bouncy castle, preferred; shroud, likely.xx