[Humanist] 24.628 more than the cuts

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sun Jan 2 10:39:03 CET 2011

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 628.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Sat, 1 Jan 2011 17:42:55 +0000
        From: D.Allington <d.allington at open.ac.uk>
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 24.619 more than the cuts
        In-Reply-To: <20101228080637.7D9ABC6732 at woodward.joyent.us>

   Date: Mon, 27 Dec 2010 16:47:53 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: more dangerous than the cuts

   ...But let me ask again: would it not be wise to
   consider ways of working and problems on which to work that do not depend
   on large-scale institutional support? ...

I absolutely agree - it WOULD be wise. Most of the research I personally want to do is very cheap and could probably be done even more cheaply; all I really need from my institution is time (and a fast internet connection). But then comes the snag. Increasingly, our employers are taking the position that if we want time to research, then we must bring in external funding. And by external funding, they don't mean a few thousand pounds here and there, they mean big bucks. In order to get that sort of money, one needs to dream up something to spend it on.

I had been expecting UK research council budgets to be wiped out, so that government-provided teaching income would become proportionately more important to our employers, perhaps bringing this particular insanity to an end (whilst creating a host of other problems - but that's another story). In fact, the opposite has happened: research council budgets have been cut, but by nothing like as much as the teaching grant. Moreover, at least one research council has announced that it will be doubling the minimum threshold for research grants. The pressure, in other words, is not towards the wise option, but towards more and more expensive research.

This is not to say that I don't think it's worth discussing how to do research more cheaply. Just that I think that we have to recognise that no-one's going to thank us for it!

Happy New Year,


Dr Daniel Allington
Lecturer in English Language Studies and Applied Linguistics
Centre for Language and Communication
The Open University
+44 (0) 1908 332 914


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