Category Archives: Scientific Life

To be or not to be exceptional?

I can’t remember how I came across this video from philosopher Alain de Botton, but I feel seen. Like many academics, I guess, I have always prized scholarly achievement. And of course, within our systems of research assessment, we are … Continue reading

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In defence of the bureaucracy of equality, diversity and inclusion

The UK government’s new policy to reduce bureaucracy in research institutions aims at an easy target. But the bonfire of administration lit by the Prime Minister’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, risks burning down the foundations of much-needed efforts to value … Continue reading

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In our elements

I have been coming to the Lake District on and off for much of my life. It is my favourite corner of England. I first came in 1981 when I was seventeen, as one of half a dozen venture scouts … Continue reading

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The still unsustainable goal of university ranking

The new and improved Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings 2020 were published this week with as much online fanfare as THE could muster. Unfortunately, they are not improved enough. The Impact Rankings score participating universities on how well their … Continue reading

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2019 in 31 photographs

My computer tells me I took over 3,700 photographs in 2019. Yikes! However, I have winnowed them down to just 31, should you care to take a look. I have been fortunate this year to travel far and wide – or … Continue reading

Posted in Scientific Life, Travel | 2 Comments

My carbon bootprint

What was your carbon footprint for 2019? Mine was more of a bootprint, almost entirely because of flying. International travel has long been considered one of the perks of academic life, something that lifted the job out of the ordinary … Continue reading

Posted in Science, Scientific Life, Travel | 10 Comments

Time for reflection

I think of Sunday as the last day of the week, not the first. Today, at the end of a hard week on political and personal fronts (though why the political and personal should be seen as separate I am … Continue reading

Posted in Science, Science & Politics, Scientific Life | 1 Comment

I told myself…

I am on holiday – in Mauritius, a tiny tropical island in the Indian Ocean. And when I go on holiday, I make ridiculous plans.  I told myself I’d start running again. I’d get up early every morning, slip out … Continue reading

Posted in Blogging, Scientific Life | 2 Comments

The unsustainable goal of university ranking

Ranking organisations are seeking to diversify the measures use to evaluate universities. But without addressing the fundamental flaws in their methods, they will crush rather than embrace the rich complexity of our institutions of higher learning When the Times Higher … Continue reading

Posted in Research Assessment, Science & Politics, Scientific Life | 1 Comment

Endings and Beginnings

New Year’s Eve is almost upon us, so here we are again at the close of one long year and the start of another. Personally, it has been a year of endings and beginnings. Readers of this blog would be … Continue reading

Posted in Blogging, Scientific Life | 4 Comments

Ten Years a Blogger

Today is the tenth anniversary of my very first blog post. When I look back at that day in 2008 when I set out my stall on Reciprocal Space it seems a long time ago and a long distance away. … Continue reading

Posted in Blogging, Communication, Scientific Life | 4 Comments

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

This 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). Yes, it’s a ‘manel’ … Continue reading

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