The Best Country to Work in Academia is . . .

The culture of a university is intimately linked to the culture of the society within which it operates and is embedded. Universities are shaped heavily by the norms and values most salient to the host country. Thus, if a nation values freedom and openness, its universities similarly tend to be free and open. Where aContinue reading “The Best Country to Work in Academia is . . .”

Who’s Responsible for Rising Research KPIs in Academia? We All Are.

We often blame university managements for imposing ever more unattainable research KPIs on us, year on year. Although it is undeniable that publication standards and the amount of grant money that we are expected to bring in have risen—nay, skyrocketed—over the years, I’m not convinced that nefarious academic administrators are always to blame. If youContinue reading “Who’s Responsible for Rising Research KPIs in Academia? We All Are.”

Academia Has a Free Speech Problem

I am shocked by the growing number of academics, among them many of my friends, perfectly willing to burn books. They don’t even try to hide it anymore because support for censorship these days attracts a chorus of applause from fellow book burners. “THOSE ARE THE WRONG IDEAS,” they scream. “THEY ARE BEYOND DISCUSSION,” theyContinue reading “Academia Has a Free Speech Problem”

Perverse Research Incentives and the Wuhan “Lab Leak” Theory

Academics with no research funding desperately want to have research funding. Academics with research funding desperately want to have more research funding. The amount of grant money that scientists bring in is slowly overtaking peer reviewed output as the most important research KPI, at least in the world’s top universities. If funding dries up, careers,Continue reading “Perverse Research Incentives and the Wuhan “Lab Leak” Theory”

A Story of Academic Mobbing

Editorial Note: The author of this submission to Dire Ed wishes to remain anonymous. The article was sent to me anonymously and so I am unable to independently verify its contents. I believe the author’s narrative to be genuine and so am publishing it as is. –Andrew R. Timming, Editor-in-Chief I was a victim ofContinue reading “A Story of Academic Mobbing”

Look After Yourself, Because Few Others Will

I hope it hasn’t escaped your attention that it’s mental health awareness week. Truth be told, I’m a bit torn about allocating a single week per year to encourage reflection on mental health. Shouldn’t we be doing that every week? Or even every day? But at the same time, perhaps an occasional reminder to lookContinue reading “Look After Yourself, Because Few Others Will”

Surviving the Twitter Mob

Did you know that Karl Marx was a staunch advocate of free trade? Don’t believe me? Well, it’s true. In 1848, in front of a large crowd, Marx delivered a speech that ended with this: “But, in general, the protective system of our day is conservative, while the free trade system is destructive. It breaksContinue reading “Surviving the Twitter Mob”

Teach Students What They Need to Know, Not What They Want to Know

Students are not customers. Higher education is not a product to be consumed. If students were simply consumers, then universities would need to cater to their every want. Indeed, some do, but a parochial focus on giving students exactly what they want is not in the long-term best interests of the graduates, nor of theContinue reading “Teach Students What They Need to Know, Not What They Want to Know”

Why Everyone Needs a Mentor

Are you seeking a promotion? For most early career researchers, the first step is to look at the promotions process to get an understanding of the criteria. Once you have a look, you’ll see that the criteria are elusive by design. What does it mean to be a “world-leading” researcher? How can you define aContinue reading “Why Everyone Needs a Mentor”