Latest posts

On ending the myth of the Lost Cause

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During Reconstruction, that horrific impoverished period in the US South after the Civil War, the Cult of the Lost Cause (of the Confederacy) took its roots in the minds and attitudes of Southerners and indeed of the nation as a whole. Based in the idea that Southerners were somehow more noble, chivalrous and moral than the Federals in battle, ol Continue reading

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Writer’s Block

Regular readers of my blog will have noticed there has been nothing new to read for a while.  I guess this could be ascribed simply to the familiar problem of writer’s block, but it felt more like a complete loss of mental and creative energy. Whereas I have, over the past nearly seven years, found writing my blogposts a refreshing change from the Continue reading

Posted in Blogging, Communicating Science, email, energy, inbox, Science Culture | Comments Off on Writer’s Block

On the removal of our Southern ‘heritage’

Bye Bye Robert E Lee

In the US South, in various places, confederate statues are being removed. In New Orleans Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, General Beauregard – all these relics of the Confederate past are being transported to a cobweb, pigeon-shit and dust legacy.

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Posted in Civil War Statues, Confederacy, New Orleans, racism | Comments Off on On the removal of our Southern ‘heritage’

Digital skills – how do we …

The concept of digital skills is a bit slippery.  The term has changed its meaning as the digital universe has expanded. Jisc is currently doing some work in this area, led by Caroline Ingram.

I attended an interesting workshop recently to look into the challenges of developing researchers’ digital skills. Continue reading

Posted in digital, Information skills, Research data, roles, skills | Comments Off on Digital skills – how do we …

University rankings are fake news. How do we fix them?

tagThis post is based on a short presentation I gave as part of a panel at a meeting today on Understanding Global University Rankings: Their Data and Influence, organised by HESPA (Higher Education Strategic Planners Association).

HESPA University Rankings Panel - May 2017Yes, it’s a ‘manel’ (from the left: me, Johnny Rich, Rob Carthy). In our defence,  Sally Turnbull, who was chairing, s Continue reading
Posted in metrics, science, Scientific Life, University League Tables, University Rankings | Comments Off on University rankings are fake news. How do we fix them?

The Cathedral on the Marsh

I’ve already shared this on Twitter and Facebook but wanted to post it here as a more permanent record. Two weeks ago i managed to fulfill the ambition, held since I had seen Nic Stacey’s and Jim Al-Khalili’s quite wonderful BBC documentary on thermodynamics, to visit the steam engines at the Crossness sewage pumping station. Thre Continue reading

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Six questions about preprints

2017 is shaping up to be the year that preprints in biomedical sciences go mainstream.

At the beginning of the year MRC and Wellcome Trust both moved to accept preprints in grant applications and scientific reviews. Another major UK biomedical funder is likely to follow suit. In the USA the NIH has recently done the same. Continue reading

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In which we ride the imposter rollercoaster – again

We often think of our personalities and tendencies as being immutable, fixed, typical. But the older I get, the better I know myself.

And what I know is that I’m often no more in control of my perceptions of self than that beetle in my three-year-old’s Pyrex specimen jar, being shaken and examined with a wide blue eye.

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Posted in careers, Research, staring into the abyss, Teaching, The profession of science | Comments Off on In which we ride the imposter rollercoaster – again

European Reflections from Padua

The ERC (European Research Council) last month celebrated its 10th Anniversary. Judging by the speeches and conversations on the day, ranging from  Commissioner Moedas and President Juncker to the ERC’s many grantees, it seems to be widely considered as rapidly to have become a success story and is highly regarded. Its philosophy is simple – and in Continue reading

Posted in Brexit, Elena Piscopia, ERC, Science Culture, Science Funding, William Harvey | Comments Off on European Reflections from Padua

The March for Science: Can and should politics be absent?

eventLogo_MarchForScience

Since the crowning of the current US administration, the scientific community in the US has not only been reeling from the proposed cuts to almost every type of scientific research in this country, but also from the quandary of what to do about it. Scientists have been all over the map, embracing everything from encouraging active scientists to ru Continue reading

Posted in #MarchforScience, education, March for Science, Occam, Research, science, scientists, truth, US | Comments Off on The March for Science: Can and should politics be absent?

Weather with you

I, for one, welcome our robot overlords

Even before we moved to Gravesend, we knew of its “dodgy thermometer” from the weather forecasts on TV and radio. Gravesend was consistently the warmest place in the country, bucking the nation’s trends by a degree Celsius or two.

In our first year here we realized that this was no meteorological fantasy; we soon came to recogniz Continue reading

Posted in code, Friday afternoon, html, Me, met office, personal, weather | Comments Off on Weather with you

Success does not preclude Humanity

Mental health on campus is frequently in the news. It is widespread, as it is within just about every other sector. If you haven’t suffered from a period of depression yourself, it is almost inevitable you know someone who has or who has other mental health issues such as bipolar disorder. Yet those you know about probably only represent the tip of Continue reading

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The March for Science: advocacy masterstroke or PR misfire?

Last night made my way to an upstairs room at The Castle pub near Farringdon to participate in a debate organised by Stempra on the forthcoming March for Science.

March for Science debate
The panel (Photo by Anastasia Stefanidou)

The question before the panel and the assembled audience was whether the call to arms, first issued by scientists in the USA but now heard and a Continue reading

Posted in Science & Politics | Comments Off on The March for Science: advocacy masterstroke or PR misfire?

Making the most of our ASSET’s

When it comes to the reality of what it’s really like for women in academic science, it is always useful to have evidence up one’s sleeve to make a point as well as merely be able to relate anecdotes, personal or otherwise. The recent report on the 2016 ASSET survey  provides just such concrete evidence to bolster arguments around Athena Swan actio Continue reading

Posted in ASSET2016, HeforShe, Hong Kong, SAGE Australia, Science Culture, Sydney, Women in science | Comments Off on Making the most of our ASSET’s

Making the most of our ASSET’s

When it comes to the reality of what it’s really like for women in academic science, it is always useful to have evidence up one’s sleeve to make a point as well as merely be able to relate anecdotes, personal or otherwise. The recent report on the 2016 ASSET survey  provides just such concrete evidence to bolster arguments around Athena Swan actio Continue reading

Posted in ASSET2016, HeforShe, Hong Kong, SAGE Australia, Science Culture, Sydney, Women in science | Comments Off on Making the most of our ASSET’s