I wrote in August 2012
It is time… to intervene and force a change in leadership at Queen Mary. Otherwise, future generations will learn by example that those who disrespect academic integrity are rewarded with university title and published fanfare in the academic press
If scientists knowingly spin an incorrect statement into the title of a paper and present a misleading finding of fact, qualified in footnote with reference to a table, the table showing that title, finding and footnote do not stand to scrutiny, what happens to their reputation?
I ask here again if science and modern university management are presently in conflict. The question follows what Queen Mary management has published in the University’s website:
QMUL has been ranked 9th among multi-faculty institutions in the UK, according to tables published today in the Times Higher Education*.* QMUL is ranked 11th overall, and 9th if specialist institutions are removed, as is traditional.
At first glance there is no major problem, apart from the traditional spin and the failure to acknowledge that the Universities of Edinburgh and Bristol have also been ranked jointly 11th (3.18). This also demonstrates their superiority to the Universities of Sheffield, York and Bath (3.17) and “trashing” Manchester to 17th position (a mere 3.16). However, the Principal of Queen Mary (to whom I was referring in my opening quote) set a Performance Indicator and Target – to be in the top 10 Universities in the ranking listed above. Council holds the Principal to account and will consider whether Queen Mary improved its prior ranking amongst UK Universities following the brutal restructurings where dismissals for decimal points have occurred.
As is traditional in football rankings, when two teams have the same number of points their order is determined by their score-balance of goals. Following an analogous methodology, the ranking order in the table above has taken into account QMUL’s research power (sic) and positions the University exactly where it was before, #13 by GPA (just count). That QMUL maintained its position is also clear by the Ranking of Universities as published in the Guardian. Here there is no controversy and QMUL ranks at the exact same position it did in 2008: #20 by Research Power.
Is the University trying to commit scientific suicide? Does Simon Gaskell care? “Simon Gaskel makes a cock-up”.
Given the decline in academic standards, expectations of how the University would be ranked had dropped considerably. Finding out that in two tables where comparative data exist the University maintained its position gives reason to rejoice. However, when a University management sets metrics-based targets and dismisses academics who don’t meet thresholds (ignoring their overall performance, their prior contracts, agreements and service) it follows that the managers’ own accountability should follow the same numerical rules. I have written before that Queen Mary managers claim that they pass thresholds which they don’t. Is Queen Mary’s Principal now doing the same? The answer to this question should be established. Sir Nicholas Montagu was asked who holds a university board to account? “The board holds itself to account” was his reply. Let us observe what Queen Mary Council’s reaction will be.