This morning, Margaret and I are relishing the prospect of a few days off the road. We are temporarily established in the rectory in New Haven, with an affectionate 90-pound chocolate lab and our standard-issue 10-pound bichon; we have very few specific dates-and-obligations; we will take our time, reflect, catch up on writing assignments, plan courses, and mostly just breathe and restore some of the strength that the past weeks’ frazzling has leeched out of us.
So this week is a foretaste of actually living somewhere, but this link gives a foretaste of what may lie in store for my academic labors in the U.K. I can see many, many problems with the idea that “impact” can be assigned a quantitative value and compared across disciplines, although since my own work has built-in accounts for real-world behavior and influences I may be able to make a stronger case than might a specialist in Anglo-Saxon literature. Evaluating research for its real-world effects, though, and comparing a sociologist’s studies of police behaviour (that “u” is practise for my future) (so is the “s” in “practise”) to a theologian’s exploration of Newman’s writings as an Anglican — that just doesn’t make much sense. Hey, and will there be penalties for deleterious real-world effects, as when a political scientist or economist persuades policy-makers to pursue a course that turns out to be harmful? “Chicago-school economists obliged to give back millions in research grants due to recession,” or something like that?

2 thoughts on “Foretaste

  1. That’s a guy from the HEFCE where the last letter stands for England.
    Glasgow is in Scotland. May be different.

  2. Well, HEFCE is the funding council for England, SHEFC is the funding council for Scotland. But the REF will be for research across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so we’re all in the same boat with that.

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