Friday, 23 September 2011

Secrets of the Bourne Graph revealed

Revealed, the in depth analytical algorithum used by EPSRC in its 'shaping capability' exercise.


Thursday, 22 September 2011

Pause and Reconsider

The situation with the EPSRC has reached crisis point as the heads of the Royal Society, Royal Society of Chemistry, Institute of Physics and many more learned societies write to David Delpy, the EPSRC Chief Executive, and tell him to 'pause and reconsider' his disastrous 'shaping capability' exercise.

Maths Join the Fight

The Bourne Incredulity

One of the prime tools used by EPSRC in its 'shaping capability' exersice is the 'Bourne Graph'. This plots the 'Quality' of a subject against its 'Importance'. Despite several FoI requests, EPSRC have yet to divulge how either importance or quality have been determined. If one didn't know better you may be forgiven for thinking it had been thought up on the back of a fag packet over a pint in the pub after work.

Monday, 19 September 2011

A Response from David Willetts to our Letter of 10th Aug.

As you can read a disappointing initial response from the Minister. However, we shall redouble our efforts in an attempt to make him see the harm that EPSRC policies will cause to fundamental UK scientific research.

Friday, 16 September 2011

RSC is still too detached from its members

I would like to respond to the comments of Peter Gallagher, Press Officer at the Royal Society of Chemistry which recently appeared in Research Fortnight ( ). 

The RSC was exceedingly slow to register its dismay at the EPSRC’s announcement on the 20th July and question the processes used by the EPSRC in coming to its decision. While the Institute of Physics responded on 21st July, it took the RSC until 22nd Aug to issue a similar statement. I believe that this statement was then only issued after I wrote to the President, Prof. David Phillips, both privately and publically expressing my disgust. I am aware that at least one other RSC member has met with Prof. Phillips expressing the same views as I did in my open letter ( I did leave a comment condemning the RSC’s pre- 22nd Aug stance on MyRSC and have been very vocal on twitter, along with a number of other RSC members. Talk of mass resignations was circulating amongst the members I was in contact with, however, this has been avoided (for the time being) as the RSC firmed up its opposition the EPSRC’s policies in its letter of 22nd Aug. 

My letter of 10th Aug to Rt. Hon. David Willetts, MP, Minister of State for Science and Universities ( was sent to every chemistry department in the UK. Over 100 chemists signed that letter and many more contacted me with statements of support; only one person wrote to me to ‘urge caution’.

The signatories of the letter realise that in the current climate cuts are inevitable. However, our argument is that reductions should not be targeted on a particular discipline. Rather the budget (of whatever size) should be used to support the best proposals, as determined by expert peer review. I believe that all chemists regardless of sub-discipline would support that, and so should the RSC. It is imperative that the RSC realise we are not simply complaining about a cut specific to organic synthesis, we are very concerned about a cut to chemistry and the manner in which the decision to cut was arrived at. We would be as vocal if it was any branch of chemistry being cut in this manner. Personally, I firmly believe that the RSC is here to defend chemists (who are after all its members) and chemistry in the UK. Statements like this most recent one and those before 22nd Aug do not do that. I would welcome a dialog with the RSC to co-ordinate a way forward with regard to the EPSRC’s policies. However, despite being a member for nearly 20 years ‘my organisation’ seems intent not to listen.