Silly studies


by Rumbold
22nd December, 2008 at 10:19 am    

Every day there seems to be a university-produced, taxpayer-funded report telling us something that we already know, or else something that serves no real purpose (best biscuits to dunk in tea, for example). Now the Sunday Times explains why:

“Another factor in determining the excellence of a particular university department is the number of citations its work receives in academic journals. Here lies a reason for the studies into the apparently obvious: research in America has shown that citations are linked to media coverage.

In 2005 a study by the American Association for the Advancement of Science found that a mention of research in The New York Times would double the number of citations, and coverage on national radio and television could boost the number of references by 1,000%….

Academics understand that gaining publicity for an apparently frivolous piece of research could put them in contact with journalists who will call again when something more serious comes up – and hopefully boost their citations and esteem ratings.”


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  1. Amrit — on 22nd December, 2008 at 11:55 am  

    Interesting – and depressing. This appears to summarise the scrabbling lengths to which we academic-types are pushed in an increasingly anti-intellectual climate.

    Or maybe it’s proof that you’re nothing without media attention these days?

    Choose whichever doom-and-gloom laden interpretation you please. :-D

  2. fug — on 22nd December, 2008 at 12:04 pm  

    i think they are trying to relate sophisticated understanding to something from real life. and the real value lies in the background which you probably will not be able to understand. maybe you just dont have the ‘upstairs’ to comprehend the beneficial links?

    more minds are wasted on keeping capitalism alive, counting beans, destroying people’s honour and lives.

  3. fug — on 22nd December, 2008 at 12:08 pm  

    rumbold, very bad example dude.

    “The research has been funded by the biscuit manufacturer McVitie’s”

  4. Anton Vowl — on 22nd December, 2008 at 12:36 pm  

    Ironic it’s funded by McVitie’s when the chocolate HobNob, oatily delicious as it is, disintegrates fairly rapidly in almost any hot beverage.

  5. MaidMarian — on 22nd December, 2008 at 12:41 pm  

    Well, yes…

    But isn’t this as much a comment on how frivolous and ephemeral journalism has become?

    Are the journos taking down academia or are academics taking down journos? Maybe it’s a bit of both?

    It’s not nice but the stark truth is that high quality but low profile does not seem to cut it anymore.

  6. fug — on 22nd December, 2008 at 1:39 pm  

    public appetite for subgrade material is at an all time high, thats all.
    a university is one of the only places you can wander into and squeeze peoples brains in.

    try that in parliament, a business or a media agency devoted to the ‘peoples right to know’.

  7. Rumbold — on 22nd December, 2008 at 2:05 pm  

    Fugstar:

    “I think they are trying to relate sophisticated understanding to something from real life. and the real value lies in the background which you probably will not be able to understand. maybe you just dont have the ‘upstairs’ to comprehend the beneficial links?”

    I suppose that my lack of cranial capacity prevents me from understanding that it is vitally important to know that romantic comedies do not always mirror real life scenarios. I wallow happy in my ignorance.

  8. persephone — on 22nd December, 2008 at 3:28 pm  

    @ 6 I agree that it is the [mass] public who are driving the level down though editors have a role in what makes the final cut – it is frequently editors who more readily accept & request the basic/frivolous stories

    ” try that in parliament, a business or a media agency devoted to the ‘peoples right to know’.”

    Don’t agree. Have you known a critical mass of individuals from within these orgn’s to say that?

  9. halima — on 22nd December, 2008 at 5:25 pm  

    and if number of media citation is a sign of research quality and worth – well we might as well all write articles on forced marriage , women and Islam. Easiest way to get published in academia or media. I guess i could make a killing being a Muslim woman, too. Why didn’t that occur to me earlier?

  10. MatGB — on 23rd December, 2008 at 6:44 pm  

    And of course there’s the other reason. Something that seems obvious and something everyone knows is frequently correct. But sometimes it isn’t. The world, for example, isn’t flat.

    Science can’t just assume something to be true. Science has to know something to be true. Thus there was recent research published showing that dogs have a sense of fairness, and react badly when they see a different dog being given a better reward for the same task.

    To any dog owner with two dogs, that’s self evident. But apparently scientists didn’t ‘know’ this. Now they do.

    But, y’know, publicity always helps as well…

  11. Sunny — on 23rd December, 2008 at 8:24 pm  

    And of course there’s the other reason. Something that seems obvious and something everyone knows is frequently correct. But sometimes it isn’t. The world, for example, isn’t flat.

    Thanks for saying that Mat, and saving me the time. Obvious point to make.

  12. Rumbold — on 23rd December, 2008 at 8:46 pm  

    MatGB and Sunny:

    I have nothing against testing received wisdom. But what about those pointless studies which add nothing to our understanding?

  13. Leon — on 23rd December, 2008 at 9:41 pm  

    How do you define ‘nothing’, how do you define ‘understanding’, how do you know what recieved wisdom is without testing everything?

  14. Don — on 23rd December, 2008 at 10:28 pm  

    Rumbold,

    The examples given in the linked article didn’t seem egregiously pointless. Sure, we ‘know’ heavy metal headbangers are doing themselves no favours, but is it really pointless to study the mechanics of the damage?

    Bearing in mind the shabbiness of science reporting in the media, do you have a couple of examples of tax-funded silliness you would be prepared to stand behind?

  15. douglas clark — on 23rd December, 2008 at 10:45 pm  

    Rumbold,

    Look,

    All these folk are just trying to win the biggest prize in Science -

    The Ig Nobel. Here is a typical entry:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn10207-ig-nobel-prizes-hail-digital-rectal-massage.html

    Err, who knew? Digital Rectal Massage as a cure for hiccups?

    It might not matter, much, to you, or to me, whether the research is valid or valuable.

    But, this being the season of festive goodwill, it is a reasonable thing to try, ahem, after all other methods of relieving hiccups have failed.

    Well, it’s not for me to say ducky, but for thems that want to try it, what’s the harm?

    (Yikes, I am having a Borris moment. Made up quotes work!)

    The most intractible hiccups, I have found through self experimentation, are brought on by that witchy Advocat shit.

    Rumbold, the boundaries of science are amazing to next, hiccup, next to amazing.

    Who knows what these whacky folk will come up with next?

  16. Refresh — on 23rd December, 2008 at 11:25 pm  

    This made me smile:

    ‘well we might as well all write articles on forced marriage , women and Islam. Easiest way to get published in academia or media.’

    O the careers and blogs that have been launched with just that formulation.

  17. Refresh — on 23rd December, 2008 at 11:43 pm  

    There are substantial issues at stake here.

    Primarily – what purpose education?

    No longer is there even a pretence that education is about broadening ones horizons.

    An excellent example of this type of research (on the surface at least) has to be the Phd on the humble teapot, and why not one pours without spillage. Which, by the way, explains why in the East chai is poured with such flourish.

  18. Rumbold — on 24th December, 2008 at 9:50 am  

    Universities/research bodies have limited resources. Therefore, they cannot investigate everything. Therefore, they must make a conscious decision on what to investigate. So presumably they have to have some critera:

    - Cost and length of study
    - Value of research (i.e. if the hypothesis is proven what will the resarch yield)
    - Likehood of proving said hypothesis

    On that basis then, I see little justification for most of the taxpayer-funded studies indicated (though as Don points out, the headbanging one is a bad example). I suspect that the money could be diverted to genuine scientific research, into diseases and the like. But if the universities are so awash with research money that they can waste it on these studies, perhaps the government should claw some of it back and return it to its rightful owners.

  19. halima — on 24th December, 2008 at 10:52 am  

    I am going to defend universities and an independent research agenda. While biscuits and teacups are not particularly valuable research topics – the independence of universities is. If we are to subject them to popular or goverment pressure they become semi-quangos – and the basis of academic independent is compromised.

    In defence of seemingly obscure doctoral topics, I would add that sometimes the titles are just that: microscopic subject that is supposed to contribute to original resaerch, but always, the topic will be grounded in an assesment of broader social, economic and cultural phenomena. Sure, PhD students could do more than microscopic topics but usually one student over 3-4 years can only do so much – self -financed or through a bursary that will barely be £10, 000 a year.

    The criteria for funding from publically funded research councils are incredibly tough actually.

  20. persephone — on 24th December, 2008 at 11:11 am  

    “The criteria for funding from publically funded research councils are incredibly tough actually.”

    I found writing a funding proposal to a public dept for a public research entity much easier than a pitch for funding in a commercial enterprise. The key to the public proposal was ensuring it was aligned closely to the prevailing political agenda of the day. Plus informally identifying & lobbying a minister with a sympathetic interest. It was also made easier in that, unlike the commercial world, you did not have to identify (and achieve) revenue streams. I once gained an extra 50k that was outside of the budgeted spend for that year for a public entity.

    Halima, if you are saying that it is recently more tougher to gain funding due to the credit crunch I can appreciate that.

  21. persephone — on 24th December, 2008 at 11:19 am  

    Cont’d from @20

    The worrying aspect of how our money is being managed is that once the funding is obtained there was no stringent monitoring or analysis of it meeting core objectives and what output was achieved.

    Yes alot of the people who had worked in the public sector for most of their careers did find it difficult & I always thought some basic business training would have helped. Ths was a few years ago & I hope that the situation has changed.

  22. halima — on 24th December, 2008 at 12:17 pm  

    persephone

    There are a range of public bodies with effective and inffective criteria for funding research. But the suggestion in an earlier post is that they lack effective criteria and investment value. This is simply not the case. But I am talking about academic research bodies – you might be, too. But just to pick one example from the net – the ESRC. To me they’ve always been a body striving for excellence – and not to be diminished. There are others like them – the British Academy etc. It might be stating the obvious, but still worth outlining purpose and their role:

    “The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) aims to provide high quality research on issues of importance to the government, the voluntary and business sectors, the media, and the general public. ESRC is the UK’s leading research funding and training agency addressing economic and social concerns. They have an international reputation both for providing high-quality research on issues of importance to business, the public sector and government and for their commitment to training excellence, which produces world-class social scientists. ”

    I don’t know who would be the equivalent in the commercial sector – but it would be good to compare like with like..

    But most good research bodies will factor in 10% of costs to look at impact, monitoring and evaluation. Not all do this, though.

    Take your point – the public sector could be challenged to prove its value for money and impact and cost-effectiveness. It’s to be expected that the commercial sector is gong to be better at business planning – and not-for-profit can learn more.

  23. AsifB — on 24th December, 2008 at 1:52 pm  

    Obviously some research is more worthwhile than others but its hard to objectively predict what is important when dealing with the unknown…

    On the other hand, this just sounds wrong (and not unlike fat Freddy feeding his cat LSD) :in Australia some scientists proved that bees on cocaine behave like humans on cocaine, http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/dec/23/cocaine-bees-australia-drug-research

    why?

  24. Rumbold — on 24th December, 2008 at 2:24 pm  

    Halima:

    I too want universities rather than central government to decide what to research- but universities should also have to justify the money given to them. Yes, we should conduct experiments of an uncertain nature, but not ones that are patently useless; how did society benefit, for example, from a study about how romantic comedies didn’t reflect real life? How would society ever have benefited?

  25. persephone — on 24th December, 2008 at 4:47 pm  

    Halima @ 22

    “There are others like them – the British Academy etc. It might be stating the obvious, but still worth outlining purpose and their role: ”

    and

    “I don’t know who would be the equivalent in the commercial sector – but it would be good to compare like with like..”

    Forgive my cynicism I have advised & generated ‘mission statements’ (such as the one you kindly provided) but more importantly ensure the implementation & accountability by the specialists responsible (inc research scientists with doctorates in quite obscure fields – an issue in itself..)

    Such statements (because they are meant to project the vision) are so all embracing that one can fudge any results to fit.

    In fact the Brit Academy statement has alot of self publicity – is that its purpose? Also, why is their aim to produce world class scientists – I can see hoards of scientists now queuing up to gain doctorates/comfy research seats & point to the mission statement as their acting within the orgn’s remit.

    I would rather they produced scientists who were accountable for producing world class solutions within cost & within a timeframe and committed to changing (by a quantifiable amount) positive change to social/economic issues.

    I am all for education but tere has to be a measurable benefit

    As to comparisons with the commercial sector, if you meant similar mission/ value/ brand statements, then many abound on their websites.

  26. persephone — on 24th December, 2008 at 4:53 pm  

    “But most good research bodies will factor in 10% of costs to look at impact, monitoring and evaluation. Not all do this, though.”

    Some factor in even more. But what happens if the return on investment is not met?

  27. MatGB — on 24th December, 2008 at 6:16 pm  

    AsifB

    in Australia some scientists proved that bees on cocaine behave like humans on cocaine,

    why?

    Because testing the idea that they might not would teach us about differences in brain chemistry? Because it shows we have things in common even with obscure insects?

    Sometimes, a scientist can set out to research a hypothesis, and attempt to ‘prove’ it. (Proving originally meant test, hence the exception that proves the rule makes a lot more sense if you read proves as test).

    A friend of mine is nearly completing her PhD. From what I can understand (it’s way above my head, I’m a Politics grad), she’s managed to show her hypothesis to be completely wrong. With lots of data showing she was wrong. That’s perfectly valid.

    The results showing X might not have been what they set out to find. And anything that ensures a better body of knowledge is useful for us.

    We as bloggers get picked up if we assert something to be true without linking to a source. Scientists are required to show things to be true.

    The more we’ve tested and found true/false, the better able we are to find things that haven’t been proven yet.

    Someday, all this research will find us a cure for cancer. But no one will know what research will eventually do it.

    Also? PhDs are normally required to be on a topic not already covered, hence PhD students have to do daft stuff within their field as the obvious stuff has been done.

    But just because it’s daft doesn’t mean it isn’t useful.

  28. halima — on 24th December, 2008 at 6:41 pm  

    persephone

    “I would rather they produced scientists who were accountable for producing world class solutions within cost & within a timeframe and committed to changing (by a quantifiable amount) positive change to social/economic issues.

    I am all for education but tere has to be a measurable benefit”

    How do you quantify positive change to social and ecnomic issues? And how can you extrapolate the cause and effect of a research product as opposed to other factors affecting society?

    Sure -there has to be measurable benefit – but if you’ve been involved in drafting mission statesments you will know that there are differences in the social sciences and the physical sciences in terms of measuring impact. That impact can be measured in a number of ways – cost benefit is one, social return is another; and there will be more. I just don’t think that universities and the research regimes you describe are that ineffective. In fact – there are many standpoints in academia that would argue that objective data is impossible to show – that all data is mediated and not showing the truth as such. So positivism and the scientists can show impact because they are looking at quantifiable data – but social scientists are looking at more qualitative data and you can’t compare apples and pears.

    “But most good research bodies will factor in 10% of costs to look at impact, monitoring and evaluation. Not all do this, though.”

    Some factor in even more. But what happens if the return on investment is not met?”

    Then you simply don’t grant an award based on track record – like anything. If they don’t deliver, the answer next time is negative.

    As to why the British Academy would strive to produce world class researchers? I don’t have an issue with that in any way.

  29. halima — on 24th December, 2008 at 6:51 pm  

    “I am all for education but tere has to be a measurable benefit”

    I am all for education. Period. I take it as a fundamental right of everyone. I understand you were not relating the above statement to individual’s and their right to education – but i always start from this persective when education is discussed.

    Rumbold

    Yes, universities should have to justify the money they spend. But universities should not be subject to the same pressures to demonstrate value for money as the commercial sector – universities should be contributing to global public common good – and by their nature, will be different.

  30. halima — on 24th December, 2008 at 6:53 pm  

    ““The research has been funded by the biscuit manufacturer McVitie’s”

    So we are using this ineffective example that is funded by the commercial sector – to undermine public funding for universities?

    Irony.

  31. persephone — on 24th December, 2008 at 11:47 pm  

    Halima @ 30

    This is blatant use of research to publicise mcvities w/t any other purpose. It shows a lack in:

    - mcvities not being able to express the strength of their brand & products

    - research orgn not exercising their stringent crieria in selecting which research to accept – perhaps this reaserch can be explained away in that it meets a catch-all mission statement OR the sponsorship money received is part of their stringent crieria

    Anyhow this is a bad example. I want to write back on the aspects you have raised … if my broadband allows me – very shaky tonite

  32. persephone — on 25th December, 2008 at 12:39 am  

    “How do you quantify positive change to social and ecnomic issues?”

    Should not the self confessed experts be answerable to that, since to quote they are: “the UK’s leading research funding and training agency addressing economic and social concerns”

    If they cannot substantiate that they are ADDRESSING those concerns successfully & to what extent it leads to asking the point of their very existence. Luckily they have no shareholders asking the same questions.

    See also my response to the next question as to quantifying & being measured.

    ” but if you’ve been involved in drafting mission statements you will know that there are differences in the social sciences and the physical sciences in terms of measuring impact.”

    Over the last year I have been working to introduce a CSR strategy within a commercial orgn that provides specialist services to the most vulnerable groups in society – such services are rarely found as the profit margin is so low. I conducted an annual qualititative & quantitative survey to measure the impact. In addition, the industry regulator performs an annual audit to ensure this orgn is meeting the social / economic need to a high standard but low cost. Roughly every 5-6 years the regulator, a public body, produces UK benchmark figures upon which comparisons are made.

    Plus, the BITM (Business in the Community) have established a rating system for measuring an orgn’s business & social economic impact across four areas: Community, Environment, Marketplace & Employment. Currently orgn’s can select to participate but it may become mandatory in the future. And I hope McVities are top of the list.

    Lastly, it is frequently endemic of public bodies & those that are resistant to change to raise issues such as:

    - we are too different for this to apply to us
    - focussing overly on the problems (of change)

    I’ve heard these arguments so many times hence the size of this post.

    This head in the sand stance is a crying shame for the society they are there to represent.

  33. persephone — on 25th December, 2008 at 12:48 am  

    Halima

    ” Then you simply don’t grant an award based on track record – like anything. If they don’t deliver, the answer next time is negative.”

    Does someone measure the extent of this? Is the award granting body itself measured on how many times it awards grants on successful & unsuccessful projects? Plus linked to this how much resource has been lost & gained from such decisions. Such a measure would in itself be educative & of benefit. Thats what I call an education.

    “As to why the British Academy would strive to produce world class researchers? I don’t have an issue with that in any way.”

    I do – what direct benefit does that have for those facing the social /economic concerns they say they address? For e.g. are social groups with concerns saying at night, oh goody ESRC have world class scientists. The USA have leading authorities on health but they still have an obesity problem.

  34. halima — on 25th December, 2008 at 3:41 am  

    Does someone measure the extent of this?

    I imagine that research bodies are scrutinized to see whether they are awarding contracts to organizations that have previously failed to deliver on their objectives.

    Public bodies don’t have share holders as you know but different forms of governance arrangements for their quality assurance.

    It’s great that you are trying to measure the impact of your particular CSR work.

    CSR has a particular history. It’s a movement that’s been introduced within companies, not primarily to show impact for impact’s sake – but because many companies in the past didn’t behave well and were then needing to show how ‘responsible’ they are. There is an assumption that the companies themselves were having a negative impact. CSR might’ve moved onto more positive forms whereby even where there is no negative impact to manage companies want to be greener, more ethical etc.

    Even so , it’s worth asking, for those effective businesses that do undertake what might be termed “corporate social responsibility”, what is actually socially responsible behaviour as opposed to management of corporate image management or other activity aimed predominantly at business benefits? I think the Said business school was going some research on this but i haven’t read the particular article yet.

  35. halima — on 25th December, 2008 at 3:43 am  

    As to the self confessed experts should be better placed to argue how to quantify change in social and economic issues… they might simply say: impact is considered to be a difficult, if not impossible factor to measure. I might agree with them.

    I would argue that nevertheless this be at the heart of any organization’s work – but acknowledge that even with impact experts ( I consider these to be a separate expertise) there are huge differences on how to measure impact. Many argue that impact is necessarily longer term – and therefore doesn’t work to the short term incentives in organizational life cycles. For example , the impact of an educational intervention, i.e. building a school, isn’t about how many kids enroll into school. This would be an outcome. But impact would be the rise of literacy levels in that particular region – and literacy levels take a minimum number of years to bear results.

    I think it’s great that you and your colleagues are raising the game on showing value for money and what the benefits might be. While not trying to use the logic that being different means not to bother with showing impact, I would argue that universities and private companies have different purposes and missions in life – and therefore the driving force on how they measure impact is equally likely to be different.

  36. Sunny — on 25th December, 2008 at 6:02 am  

    On that basis then, I see little justification for most of the taxpayer-funded studies indicated

    Who is to decide what is justified and what isn’t?

    Aren’t you supposed to be a decentraliser? So, presumably, those unis themselves should make the decisions, or do you not trust them to do so adequately? In which case, should politicians decide for them?

  37. Rumbold — on 25th December, 2008 at 10:10 am  

    Sunny:

    I am a decentraliser. But universities should have to justify the way in which they spend taxpayers’ money. I cannot see why this is controversal, unless you think that various organs of the state should just be handed pots of money and told to do whatever they want.

  38. persephone — on 26th December, 2008 at 1:16 pm  

    ” Public bodies don’t have share holders as you know but different forms of governance arrangements for their quality assurance.”

    Hence why I asked in that I found that the governance was a tick box exercise in those environments. See also my later comment on the demise of the CSA.

  39. persephone — on 26th December, 2008 at 1:18 pm  

    ” CSR has a particular history. It’s a movement that’s been introduced within companies, not primarily to show impact for impact’s sake – but because many companies in the past didn’t behave well and were then needing to show how ‘responsible’ they are. There is an assumption that the companies themselves were having a negative impact. CSR might’ve moved onto more positive forms whereby even where there is no negative impact to manage companies want to be greener, more ethical etc. Even so , it’s worth asking, for those effective businesses that do undertake what might be termed “corporate social responsibility”, what is actually socially responsible behaviour as opposed to management of corporate image management or other activity aimed predominantly at business benefits?”

    And that is the populist view. The orgn I worked with had been doing ‘CSR friendly’ activities since the 80′s – long before it became the trend. Yes some companies wrongly shoehorn CSR into their business but there are many who have been quietly doing it – unfortunately that does not make the news as much. Those that were quietly doing it are under pressure (from the marketplace & funnily enough by the public entities) to tangibly show & measure the extent to which they are responsible businesses.

    Not all CSR was introduced or moved on because there was a negative impact. In a lot of cases it was already there but just not tagged as such. The orgn I worked in was in the business of providing services because they wanted to keep providing access to services to vulnerable groups – it would have been easier & more financially lucrative for them to have diversified but that was not part of their brand philosophy.

    (I also question public entities with their negative impact in that they use paper, have PC’s, emit VOC gases, reside in building that are not energy efficient etc but withstand public scrutiny themselves. Some things are called irony others are just hypocrisy.)

  40. persephone — on 26th December, 2008 at 1:21 pm  

    “what is actually socially responsible behaviour as opposed to management of corporate image management or other activity aimed predominantly at business benefits?”

    It is a mistake to separate the two. Part of the brand values should be to be socially and env friendly to ensure longevity. That’s the correct way and not the shoehorning that some companies do which is easily seen through by consumers & hence why it has been given a bad name.

    The other aspect of good CSR is that it has to be sustainable over the long term for private companies (since they don’t benefit from tax payer subsidies). Long term CSR sustainability requires long term Board, financial & time commitments. So for CSR to be sustainable there must be a benefit to the business. If it was detrimental the business would fail.

    Take the example of the CSA which was launched about 10 years ago to meet a social/economic purpose but without benefits back to the organisation – it has now been replaced by another new entity (rather like the rescue packages that private companies are now seeing…) because it was not effective. One wonders why their governance did not identify their situation in those 10 years…. In the private sector it would not have lasted 10 years as an un-effective national service provider plus there would have been more of an outcry at its demise.

    I hate to think of the amount of money that has been wasted over the last 10 years & the number of peoples lives affected by this. But that would be too much like measuring & monitoring the impact of a public entity.

  41. halima — on 26th December, 2008 at 4:32 pm  

    “And that is the populist view.”

    Perse. You obvously have a lot of good experience in this field. However, it’s not a populist view. I took this research question at face value – taken from work carried out by the Said Business School at Oxford which is one of the leading research institutes on CSR in the country – I think , or least on social entrepreneurship.

    Though I suspect you will question the value of them claiming to be a leading centre for research excellence – but i can’t argue with you or anyone on why British Academy or the Said Business Centre claim to be what they are – that would be determined by their competition and peers.

    But take your point that CSR has moved on – and good for us, it has.

    And yes public entities can damage social life and environmental outcomes, but I think on the whole it’s mainly been private companies that have been more culpable.

  42. persephone — on 26th December, 2008 at 5:42 pm  

    Halima

    Thks for responding

    “i can’t argue with you or anyone on why British Academy or the Said Business Centre claim to be what they are – that would be determined by their competition and peers.”

    That places me in an ideal position to determine them :-)

    My main bugbear about academics is where they seek to give a theoretical/desk researched prognosis w/t any practical experience. Because their work is stamped with the aura of a high profile school/academy it is given inordinate airtime & creates a popular view

    ” on the whole it’s mainly been private companies that have been more culpable.”

    On the whole it is public entities that are less transparent & so less accountable. W/t a cogent analysis from both sides how do we know who is more or less culpable?

    And perceptions of culpability can be affected by media focus & level of transparency demanded of an orgn.

    Though I will say that some private industry sectors do create more harm than others eg tobacco sector.

  43. halima — on 26th December, 2008 at 6:25 pm  

    Well Perse .. I don’t have many big bugbears with academics and researchers – they’re supposed to be a little out of sinc with practitioners…

    But universities don’t do a bad job generally- you and others on this site might be a product from it.:-)

  44. persephone — on 27th December, 2008 at 2:08 pm  

    Halima @ 43

    I went to business school where the academics teaching the specialist subjects had an industry background. Hence my bias.

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