Stand up for research!

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Calling all academics: stand up for research and sign the University and College Union’s (UCU) petition against the current Research Excellence Framework (REF) proposal, which is an attack on fundamental research in the UK. According to this proposal, 25% of the assessment of a given research output would be based on its perceived ‘economic and social impact.’ Why is this important? Because this assessment will affect the amount of research funding granted to the particular university.

More than 16,000 academics have signed the petition as of today, including six Nobel laureates and 2,500 professors. However, time is running out, as the consultation process ends on 16 December. Read Sally Hunt’s article (general secretary of UCU) on why this REF proposal is the “worst of all worlds.”

A quote from Michael Polanyi on the Stalinist disdain for ‘pure research’ would also seem appropriate here:

I first met questions of philosophy when I came up against the Soviet ideology under Stalin which denied justification to the pursuit of science. I remember a conversation I had with Bukharin in Moscow in 1935. Though he was heading towards his fall and execution three years later, he was still a leading theoretician of the Communist party. When I asked him about the pursuit of pure science in Soviet Russia, he said that pure science was a morbid symptom of a class society: under socialism the conception of science pursued for its own sake would disappear, for the interests of scientists would spontaneously turn to problems of the current Five-Year Plan. (p. 3)

[Michael Polanyi (1966) The Tacit Dimension. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul]

Finally, listen to the words of 2009 Chemistry Nobel prizewinner Venki Ramakrishnan (one of the signatories) on his views on the relationship between basic research and applied research (comment starts at 5:15) [hat tip to The Nature Blog]:

stand up for research and sign the UCU’s petition against the current Research Excellence Framework (REF) proposal, which is an attack on fundamental research in the UK.

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One Response to “Stand up for research!”

  1. Inscribing Einstein « ANTHEM Says:

    […] ANTHEM The Actor-Network Theory – Heidegger Meeting « Stand up for research! […]

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