Friday, 6 May 2011


Ok, I have to admit it. I am feeling exceedingly proud of myself. I have just returned from a grant panel in Madrid (where, unlike in the UK, they are sufficiently enlightened to have some really excellent fellowship schemes for junior and not-so-junior researchers). The source of my pride? My linguistic prowess - I navigated the committee in spontaneous spoken Spanish (if I could have come up with a fourth word starting 'sp..' I would have done ...oh... sparkling, spectacular, and spellbinding come to mind also, but only to mind: I neither sparkled nor spellbound. And most likely I was indeed a spectacle). So Spanglish ruled the day. And beer the night.

All the (spanish) talk of junior researchers, and their future careers, prompted me to think, and not for the first time, that what was once called the Research Assessment Exercise, and is now called the Research Excellence Framework, is an even bigger threat to British Science than the British Government and the cuts that they are inflicting on our science. Actually, it's not even about science. It's about academic research more generally. The REF is stifling the academic system, like the virulent weed absorbing all the light, oxygen, and nutrients in my pond. But I shall leave these thoughts for another time and another post.