Monday, 24 October 2016

The REF Song

With apologies and acknowledgements to Morecambe and Wise
To the tune of "Bring me Sunshine..."

Bring me papers in your file,
Bring me impact all the while,
In this world, where we live, there should be more four star prose,
So much dross you can send, to each brand new online journal,
Make me happy, through the years,
Never share your, rejection fears,
Let your Facebook friends cite you, so that you can cite them back,
Bring me output, bring me funding...or Get the sack!

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at

Sunday, 23 October 2016


CITESTORE© is a MUST HAVE for all budding academics.  This simple app (not available in iStore or Andoid formats) is based on academic discipline specific REF approved and star graded journal articles.
Picture by patrisu at
  1. CITEES upload their publication details
  2. THE CITESTORE© APP allocates a score to each item based on:
    - Journal ranking / Conference standing
    - Popularity of discipline
    - Authors' home institution
    - A magic number that only the app knows©
  3. CITEES agree NOT to make their work available on other so called research sites for 6 months after publication
  4. CITERS use keywords to search for concepts / ideas to CITE in their own papers
  5. And now here's the UNIQUE part....

    © based on their CITATION activity.
    THEN redeem CITEPOINTS© by being favoured by those they CITE

    © can be earned and redeemed as follows:

Nobel prizewinner Bob Dylan considers the App "a crock of cite" (possibly misheard).

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Gold, Silver and....why did you bother turning up at all?

Teaching is (obviously) like an event at the Olympics.

Picture by lekkyjustdoit at

...So, it's only right to award GOLD, SILVER and BRONZE medals to recognise teaching achievement - isn't it?

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Pale Ale and Library books - there's just no demand for them...

"You're the fifteenth person who has asked for Whitbread* Pale Ale today - there's just no demand for it!!"

Today's HE students are demanding - and why not?  They (laregly) pay high fees for a programme of study that should lead to the award of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree - an entry ticket to graduate jobs that will help to pay back the student loans incurred.

So what do they demand?

  • Well informed, enthusiastic, capable teachers (note I did not use the term "lecturers");
  • Decent internet connectivity in buildings and wi-fi everywhere;
  • Teaching rooms that are fit for purpose in the 21st Century;
  • Lecture materials and support both on and off-line;
  • Lecture Capture of all teaching sessions (just in case);
  • Library access 24/7 and enough books for everyone...
the list goes on.

So Universities are caught in a market situation described by, amongst others, Economist Burton Weisbrod (strangely translates as Whit(e) Bread) in the 1960's  - potentially infinite demand by individuals who may or may not end up "consuming" the product or service but do have the capacity to do so - most often because the product or service in question is a "public good" provided comunally on which individuals can call (such as the NHS or Police).

Of course, planning, tracking previous behaviour and pilot experiments are all deployed by Universities to try to estimate actual demand.  But, research that shows that only 15% of students actually watch Lecture Captured lectures does not mean that it should not be available to 100% of students.  The fact that nobody visited the library at 11pm at a weekend reflected more about the doors being closed and the lights off than option demand.  Today's students are often fully functioning at 2 or 3 in the morning when all lecturing folks are tucked up in bed!

And top all that by the fact that failure to meet such high expectations leads to dissatisfaction (and University Quality is measured by student satisfaction) and you have a fine old mess.

Answers to this conumdrum on a postcard please...

*Also Whitbread no longer make it - but that would spoil a good line with facts!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

School Anthem

Help save our latest Dean,
Support our pressured Dean,
Please help the Dean,
Send him good REF impact,
TEF gold and Lectures packed,
Knowing he could be sacked,
Please help the Dean.

Picture by stockimages at

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

New NSS questions revealed

After years of NSS ( National Student Survey) manipulation by Universities in the UK whereby every institution can claim to be at the top of the league table for something...

ABC University, first in the West Country for communication changes to the course and teaching effectively. "Clearly the Air Raid Siren and Butlintz style Tannoy system installed on campus was well worth it" said Vice Chancellor Arthur Turnip.

XYZ University, first in the East Midlands for Universities beginning with X. "The University has always been alphabetically challenged, but the NSS gives a huge boost to our marketing efforts" said Principal, President and Leader for Life Zoe Z Zhou.

 ...FIVE new statements are added to the survey for final year students for 2017.  The motivation, I am sure, is to allow many more Universities to head up the tables in a marketing hyped league of their own:

Here's a sneaky preview of some of the questions that didn't make the final cut:

  1. My Halls food was different shades of goop
  2. My Vice Chancellor Photo-Bombed student events
  3. The culture on my course allowed me to stay in bed until noon every day
  4. Lecturers spoon-fed me the answers to exams

 to answer use a 0 - 5 Likert range to indicate satisfaction: