Tuesday, 28 August 2007

The research period

Ruth Scurr, affiliated lecturer in the politics department, Cambridge University, and fellow of and director of studies at Gonville and Caius College writes in the THES about the impossible clash between the 14-week research period and the school summer holidays.

'Because I have small children whose school holidays fall inside the designated research period, I find myself pencilling in their play dates, day trips, sleepovers and so on, under the austere heading (of research period). While childless colleagues book themselves into tranquil libraries up and down the country, teasing out the nuances of little-known manuscripts, accumulating the raw material for another research-assessment-exercisable book, I am fraught beside the paddling pool, lucky if I've read the newspaper.'

She also states that although the University of Cambridge offer a playscheme the success of this provision is very much dependent on the child's attitude.

'When it comes to filling our RAE entry forms, the first question should be: Have you reproduced in the past seven years? If answering yes (male or female, since this is as a much a problem for fathers as for mothers) you should turn in a different coloured form where your research output can be measured talking into account the obvious fact that you have not, since the birth of your baby, spent 14 uninterrupted weeks in the library during the designated "research period"'.

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