DC's Improbable Science

Truth, falsehood and evidence: investigations of dubious and dishonest science

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Entries Tagged as 'Academia'

Hotshot. A supplement scam with a difference?

October 25th, 2016 · 6 Comments

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The "supplement" industry is a scam that dwarfs all other forms of alternative medicine. Sales are worth over $100 billion a year, a staggering sum. But the claims they make are largely untrue: plain fraudulent. Although the industry’s advertisements like to claim "naturalness". in fact most of the synthetic vitamins are manufactured by […]

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Tags: Academia · supplements

Stefan Grimm (1963 – 2014). A memorial to a victim of managerialism

September 24th, 2015 · 7 Comments

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Today, 25 September, is the first anniversary of the needless death of Stefan Grimm. This post is intended as a memorial.
He should be remembered, in the hope that some good can come from his death.

On 1 December 2014, I published the last email from Stefan Grimm, under the title “Publish and perish […]

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Tags: Academia · business · corporate · corruption · Imperial · metrics

There are powerful currents whipping up the metric tide. The HEFCE metrics report

July 9th, 2015 · 3 Comments

This is very quick synopsis of the 500 pages of a report on the use of metrics in the assessment of research. It’s by far the most thorough bit of work I’ve seen on the topic. It was written by a group, chaired by James Wilsdon, to investigate the possible role of metrics […]

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Tags: Academia · HEFCE

The death of Stefan Grimm was “needless”. And Imperial has done nothing to prevent it happening again

April 9th, 2015 · 9 Comments

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The last email of Stefan Grimm, and its follow-up post, has been read over 195,000 times now.
After Grimm’s death, Imperial announced that it would investigate itself The report is now available.

Performance Management: Review of policies, procedures and support available to staff
Following the tragic death of a member of the College’s staff community, […]

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Tags: Academia · Imperial

The University of Warwick brings itself into disrepute -four times. Watch your tone of voice.

April 8th, 2015 · 3 Comments

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The University of Warwick seems determined to wrest the title of worst employer from Imperial College London and Queen Mary College London. In little over a year, Warwick has had four lots of disastrous publicity, all self-inflicted.

First came the affair of Thomas Docherty.
Thomas Docherty
Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Thomas Docherty […]

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Tags: Academia

Herbs get the push: no statutory regulation for western herbalists or Traditional Chinese Medicine

March 30th, 2015 · 9 Comments

It makes a nice change to be able to compliment an official government report.

Ever since the House of Lords report in 2000, the government has been vacillating about what should be done about herbalists. At the moment both western herbalists and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) are essentially unregulated. Many (but not all) herbalists have been […]

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Tags: Academia · Chinese medicine · Harry Cayton · Health Professions Council · herbal medicine · herbalism · Michael Driscoll · Middlesex university · Pittilo · Prince Charles · Professional Standards Authority · University of Westminster

What to do about research assessment (the REF)?
A proposal for two-stage university education

February 1st, 2015 · 9 Comments

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DOI: 10.15200/winn.142809.94999
The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the latest in a series of 6-yearly attempts to assess the quality of research in UK universities. It’s used to decide how to allocate about £1.6 billion per year of taxpayers’ money, the so-called "quality-related" (QR) allocation.

It could have been done a lot worse. […]

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Tags: Academia · Education · Universities

Some experiences of life at Imperial College London. An external inquiry is needed after the death of Stefan Grimm

December 23rd, 2014 · 13 Comments

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The tragedy of the apparent suicide of Stefan Grimm is now known worldwide. His last email has been read by more than 160,000 people from over 200 countries. This post gathers together some of the reactions to his death. It’s a Christmas card for the people who are responsible.

Alice Gast (president)

James Stirling (provost)

Dermot […]

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Tags: Academia · Imperial

Publish and perish at Imperial College London: the death of Stefan Grimm

December 1st, 2014 · 51 Comments

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This week’s Times Higher Education carried a report of the death, at age 51, of Professor Stefan Grimm: Imperial College London to ‘review procedures’ after death of academic. He was professor of toxicology in the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial.

Now Stefan Grimm is dead. Despite having a good publication record, he failed to […]

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Tags: Academia · bullying · Human resources · Imperial

Two more cases of hype in glamour journals: magnets, cocoa and memory

November 2nd, 2014 · 5 Comments

In the course of thinking about metrics, I keep coming across cases of over-promoted research. An early case was “Why honey isn’t a wonder cough cure: more academic spin“. More recently, I noticed these examples.
“Effect of Vitamin E and Memantine on Functional Decline in Alzheimer Disease".(Spoiler -very little), published in the Journal of the […]

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Tags: Academia · altmetrics · Alzheimer's · Bad journalism · badscience · false discovery rate · Journalism · public engagement · Public relations · Public understanding · publishing · randomisation · randomization · RCT · science · science communication

Should metrics be used to assess research performance? A submission to HEFCE

June 18th, 2014 · 13 Comments

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The Higher Education Funding Council England (HEFCE) gives money to universities. The allocation that a university gets depends strongly on the periodical assessments of the quality of their research. Enormous amounts if time, energy and money go into preparing submissions for these assessments, and the assessment procedure distorts the behaviour of universities in […]

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Tags: Academia · metrics · Research Councils · Research Funding

Bad financial management at Kings College London means VC Rick Trainor is firing 120 scientists

June 7th, 2014 · 19 Comments

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Stop press. Financial report casts doubt on Trainor’s claims
Science has a big problem. Most jobs are desperately insecure. It’s hard to do long term thorough work when you don’t know whether you’ll be able to pay your mortgage in a year’s time. The appalling career structure for young scientists has been the subject […]

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Tags: Academia · assessment · HEFCE · management bollocks · managerialism · metrics · Rick Trainor · science · UUK

Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: a review

April 16th, 2014 · 5 Comments

This is a web version of a review of Peter Gotzsche’s book. It appeared in the April 2014 Healthwatch Newsletter. Read the whole newsletter. It has lots of good stuff. Their newsletters are here. Healthwatch has been exposing quackery since 1989. Their very first newsletter is still relevant.

Most new drugs and vaccines […]

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Tags: Academia · badscience · Big Pharma · blogosphere

La Trobe University (Melbourne) takes money to promote quackery

February 5th, 2014 · No Comments

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This post is the original version of a post by Michael Vagg. It was posted at the Conversation but taken down within hours, on legal advice. Sadly, the Conversation has a track record for pusillanimous behaviour of this sort. It took minutes before the cached version reappeared on freezepage.com. I’m reposting it from […]

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Tags: Academia

Why you should ignore altmetrics and other bibliometric nightmares

January 16th, 2014 · 20 Comments

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This discussion seemed to be of sufficient general interest that we submitted is as a feature to eLife, because this journal is one of the best steps into the future of scientific publishing. Sadly the features editor thought that " too much of the article is taken up with detailed criticisms […]

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Tags: Academia · altmetrics · bibliometrics · open access · peer review · Public relations · publishing