Tag: REF

A visit to the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Last week I visited colleagues that continue to work at my former department. I and others had our affiliations severed following the restructuring of SBCS in 2012. My trip coincided with the publication of the names of individuals (and their contributed papers) representing SBCS in a major UK government evaluation, known as the REF. It is therefore unsurprising that conversations centred, amongst other things, to an evaluation of the REF outcomes for the department and the effects the restructuring had on its performance. Some of the comments I heard are difficult to transmit without placing valued colleagues or myself at risk of further reprisals. In this category I place important matters such as the wellbeing (health) of friends who have been put under “performance management” or subjective views on the dramatic shift in what is being valued and rewarded within the restructured department.


pythonesque success

Hell, everyone should be extremely pleased (I hope that you are)
cause we has done incredibly well!
While accepting (in the next little while) a diverse way of presenting
what the Ref has set in display
let us congratulate ourselves for none the less & none the more
¡the Queen is ninth in the (w)hole!

Such concentration of expertise once existed,
its random slaughter offset by poaching
when vanity management prevailed, slackers weeded out
and now Biology ranks 23rd, likely the UK department most renown!
as we savoured the mindless managerial rampage spread
and while nobody expected the holy Spaniards in their bed
the inquisitor appeased himself in the mirror: “How does the Head of School fair?”
“Incredibly well.” Time to open the champagne!

Only please, when setting targets for the new year,
bear in mind that they should be absolutely clear
for the goal has been – do not forget the rallying cry –
to be in the top five, or perhaps the top ten.
Looking for a new VP, then, to start, once again,
Dante’s ecliptical danse until the end.


Innocent spin inviting a laugh or public display of dishonesty?

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:


Jeremy Kilburn quits Queen Mary

In 2007, I started on my first independent position in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary University of London. Two years later Sir Nicholas Montagu was appointed Chairman of Council and Simon Gaskell was appointed Principal of the University. They formulated a strategic plan with the explicit aim to rank QMUL in the UK’s top-ten list according to the Government’s Research Excellence Framework assessment.Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 8.21.30 AM


Preparing for the big day

REF probably means little or nothing to scientists around the world, unless they work in Britain. This is the final week, prior to the preliminary announcements of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) “assessment outcomes”, which “will inform the selective allocation of research funding” and “provide benchmarking information and establish reputational yardsticks“. Are you REFable or a REFugee? asks THE editor John Gill. He would probably classify me to the latter category 🙂 Yet, Lord Stern of Brent, President of the British Academy and Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society have raised questions:

Has what was designed as an instrument of quality assessment become an institution that risks stifling the excellence it was intended to foster?