Friday, 18 August 2017

'The Productive Researcher' by Prof Mark Reed: a Review

Prof Mark Reed
One of the most common reasons that academics give for not applying for grants is a lack of time. Buffeted and battered between the thousand competing demands of modern academia, grant writing always seems to come a poor 562nd.

And yet some manage it. It’s this mystery that Prof Mark Reed sought to resolve in his new book, The Productive Researcher. To do so, he ‘reached out to the world’s most productive researchers...and asked them how they did what they do. Their answers and the answers that emerged from my reading, both confirmed and extended my thinking.’

At this point I can picture many of you arching an eyebrow and imagining that the answer lies with teams of postdocs and some very understanding spouses. But for Reed it’s both far simpler and far harder. For him it is, as it was for TS Eliot in ‘Little Gidding’, ‘a condition of complete simplicity (costing not less than everything).’

Because the productive researcher needs to strip everything back to their prime motivating force. Why did they started in academia in the first place? It is only ‘by understanding why - really why - you are a researcher [that] you can become increasingly aware of the motives that lie behind your motives.’  And only when you understand these can you start to properly prioritise your workload.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Deconstructing the Research England Logo

Research England, the erstwhile research-focused element of Hefce, will soon join the seven research councils and Innovate UK to be the ninth pillar of UK Research and Innovation

It will be a key part of the higher education landscape, guiding the REF and distributing the block grant that results from it, whilst looking nervously (or should that be defensively?) sideways at its sister councils to make sure the dual support mechanism is still, well, dual.

We're all still trying to work out what it will mean for us, and are jumping on every nanogram of news that limps our way, tearing its entrails out and desperately reading them for signs of the future.

Imagine our excitement, then, when a positive behemoth of news lumbered into view with the unveiling of Research England's logo. Now you might not think that that would warrant much, but Fundermentals is nothing if not a past master at deconstructing logos. Remember this? And this? And even this?

So what are we to make of this?