Last week began with a double header of our Remuneration Committee and the October Council meeting, the latter attended for a while by Minister of Universities and Science David Willetts. We have moved to an annual cycle of ‘themed’ Council meetings, and this time is was the turn of ‘developing impact’. A detailed multi-part presentation was accompanied by an excellent discussion of what the fostering of world-leading UK Bioscience can do for the Sustainable Bioeconomy.
I then enjoyed one of my periodic ‘University’ visits, this time to the University of Southampton, where as well as touring some impressive labs in a new (2010) interdisciplinary Life Sciences building, I enjoyed a range of very interesting presentations from some of our BBSRC grantholders.
From there I went to Cambridge for the first of our five ‘BBSRC Conversation’ or ‘Roadshow’ events. This provided an excellent opportunity to exchange views with the community, and to acquire thinking on present activities and future directions. One recognition of note was the comparative lack of incentive for academics to behave as good citizens by refereeing well; this is something where we need to help redefine cultural norms. There is a twitter page for the ‘roadshows’, with the hashtag #BBSRCroad. As part of this series of consultations, we shall shortly be announcing a website on which we shall solicit electronic input, aimed in particular at the mid-term refresh of our Strategic Plan.
While in Cambridge, I also had a very useful meeting with David Cleevely, Founding Director of the Centre for Science and Policy. Among other discussions, ‘real’ economics figured largely, a subject on which I now intend to become more professionally informed. My attention was subsequently drawn to a famous 1983 paper by Leamer, entitled “Let’s take the con out of econometrics”, and a follow-up (PDF) from 2010.
Last week, the Trustees of the Governing Body of The Genome Analysis Centre announced that Prof. Jane Rogers will be stepping down at the end of the year after a very successful 5 years in which she established TGAC on a firm footing. I would like to take the opportunity to thank Jane enormously for her tremendous work during this time, and to wish her the very best for the future.
We were also pleased to welcome Prof. Melanie Welham for her first week as BBSRC Director of Science.
I enjoyed a very thoughtful blog of a conversation with Tim O’Reilly covering Open Access and the true economic value of various aspects of the web (also, importantly, distinguishing value creation from value extraction).
I have for some time held the view (see e.g. this blog) that “a well-written review that synthesises a large body of existing facts to create new knowledge or hypotheses is often of considerably greater value than most contributions to the scientific literature that really just add further primary facts”. I was pleased to see that Nature last week published a note from me on this very topic.
The digital world is simultaneously wonderful and challenging. Last week, I complained about the spam from predatory publishers and the like. This week, it is probably useful to draw attention to a Guardian piece about the need to make the multitude of passwords we all have to use just a little bit harder to crack.
- Kell, D. B. (2012) Reviews turn facts into understanding. Nature 490, 37
- Leamer, E. E. (1983) Let’s take the con out of econometrics. Amer Econ Rev 73, 31-43
- Angrist, J. & Pischke, J.-S. (2010) The credibility revolution in empirical economics: how better research design is taking the con out of econometrics. NBER Working paper 15794. Full free text
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18 February 2013
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15 October 2012
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