November 14, 2006

Research Assessment

"... a peanut for a brain but a surprisingly astute memory"It is a tricky week in the Department of ECT as we are seeking to renew our status as an ECTRC funded Extremely Clever Research Centre (Warwick ECRC).
Those of you familiar with our work will be excused for believing that this would be a straightforward rubber-stamping exercise, possibly involving a particularly inspired choice of cakes and fancies with the coffee presented to the assessment panel but this is not proving to be the case. All of our recent research programmes have been scrutinised for their contribution to Extremely Clever Science.
Initially, the panel seemed to be impressed by the developments made to the Mk IV Electrotinklertron – a unique machine that flashes lights and goes “ping” in a very satisfying manner. Of course, we could not make the most of all of the recent modifications; notably, the fact that the machine is now capable of determining for itself when funding officials are within range and increasing its display accordingly, automatically going into standby mode as soon as they disappear around the corner. This contributes nicely to our “renewable and sustainable technologies” initiative but may be regarded as purely mercenary by the gnomes with the cheque-book.
Of course we had to downplay our project on “The Fundamental Interconnectedness of All Things and their Influence on the Space-Time Continuum”, as this was tragically curtailed when it was discovered that the team’s calculator did not have a square-root button and at the time there were insufficient funds to re-equip.
A major complication is the inclusion on the assessment panel of my arch-nemesis, Prof. Quintin Thudpucker, lately of the Newport Pagnel College Department of Slightly Confusing Problems (university status applied for, but don’t hold your breath). This idiot (and I have the experimental data to justify my choice of noun) is not an impartial judge of my group’s merits: this goes back to 1998, when I black-balled his application to join the Golly Club. The man has a peanut for a brain, but a surprisingly astute memory and I would not put it past the weasely little half-wit to bear a grudge after all this time.
Naturally, I shall keep you informed in due course as to how the assessment review proceeds…....
Edwin M. Bambleweeny (Prof.)

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