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Battling the bureaucracy hydra

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Science  29 Jan 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6272, pp. 530
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6272.530

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  • RE: 'Battling the bureaucracy hydra', Jörgen Johansson
    • Jennifer Gabrys, Principal Investigator of Citizen Sense (ERC StG 313347), Reader, Goldsmiths, University of London

    In a caricature of the increasing administrative burdens placed on academics in the UK, one recent blog post suggested that in addition to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), there might also be an Administration Excellence Framework (AEF) and a Free Time Excellence Framework (FTEF), so that every moment of an academic’s life might be accounted for. While higher education has no doubt become more and more subject to auditing and accounting exercises, Jörgen Johansson’s lament about the complex bureaucracy encountered while running a European Research Council-funded project is, in my experience, off the mark.

    In his list of bureaucratic obstacles encountered, including signing contracts together with writing financial and scientific reports, Johansson suggests he was regularly derailed from undertaking his research. But his narrative potentially reveals less an issue with the ERC as such, and more a problem with the differing levels of experience that universities might be able to offer in supporting ERC projects. Research funding is increasingly concentrated within a few large institutions that have considerable infrastructure and expertise in gaining and running large research projects. In this context, rather than deride the ERC it seems imperative for researchers and smaller institutions to share best practice and experience so as to ensure the widest possible participation in ERC projects.

    Johansson notes...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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