Chief Scientist’s surprise

A week in the job and Alan Finkel has not called for more public money plus Deakin U’s tram talks

Super stringed cyclist

Runner,vice chancellor, cyclist, banjoist, Andy Vann from CSU is a renaissance bloke but just now he’s on his bike, training for a 380k Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour charity ride for the Royal Far West country kids cause. Here’s hoping nobody suggests a (shudder) banjo concert to follow.

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Finkel’s work-plan

After a week at work new chief scientist Alan Finkel chose Fran Kelly’s Radio National breakfast programme to make his media debut yesterday where he was asked, what a surprise, about nuclear and alternative energy. Later in the day Dr Finkel set out what he would be doing to implement the National Innovation and Science Agenda; “chairing the expert group to map long-term research infrastructure needs; contributing to the review of the Research and Development Tax Incentive; and serving as deputy chair of Science and Innovation Australia.” That will keep him busy, but not a word about being spruiker in chief for the science community. CMM suspects that the emphasis on getting on with the job instead of calling for ever-more public money will put noses out of joint, but given Dr Finkel is an entrepreneur as well as a scientist the lab lobby will just have to live with it.

Mission impossible

Private education and training council chief Rod Camm on ASQA’s suggestion for training reform in the security industry (as in bouncers, not the bourse), yesterday; “the solution is to standardise licensing and qualifications arrangements but as so many in the sector can attest solving world poverty might be easier.”

Campus Morning Mail

Listen up

The ever-innovative marketers at Deakin U are promoting “tram talks, ” short lectures by academics, which demonstrate the range and social relevance of the university’s research. The programme is not as innovative as it sounds; the lectures are delivered via app rather than tram-travelling lecturers. As such it does not compare to Uni Sydney’s Raising the Bar, where your actual academics delivered ticketed lectures in inner-city watering holes last October, (CMM September 30). Even so, Deakin’s is a low-cost way of building the university rep as relevant to Melbourne life, although with a big skew to blokes the marketers may want to look at the gender split of lecturers.

But they would say that, wouldn’t they!

“The Department of Education is delighted to have Tony Cook as our a/g secretary, the tweet poobah announced yesterday. “Pleased to take on the role of acting secretary of such a great department!, he tweeted back. Mr Cook takes over from Lisa Paul who finished on Friday. A teacher by training, Mr Cook is a veteran of Victoria and Commonwealth public services.

Big break for CRCs

The first post Miles review round of Cooperative Research Centre grants opened yesterday, including the new CRC Project category. CRCs continue to focus on longer-term industry led research while the new project category is meant to cover shorter projects involving small and medium enterprises. However both programmes will favour projects that link to the government’s five industry growth centres (advanced manufacturing, food and agribusiness, medical technologies, oil, gas, energy and mining equipment) and cover the Commonwealth’s nine science priority areas, food, soil and water, transport, cyber security, energy, resources, manufacturing, environmental change and health, adopted last April, (CMM April 14).

This is bad news for social science and health based CRCs. CMM suspects there will be no more programmes of the Young and Well CRC kind. But it’s great for applied science at the sharp end of the economy where most CRCs work.

After a terrible trot, with successive budget cuts and talk of the programme being for the chop things started improving for CRCs last May. First the Miles review endorsed the model CMM May 20) and then the government adopted the innovation agenda, which certainly suits the CRC approach and now the promised funding round is on.

Yesterday CRC Association chief Tony Peacock was less enthusiastic than euphoric.

“You know how you are meant to come back refreshed and with a new outlook after a gap year? That’s what the new CRC Programme feels like. The CRCs still have the key ingredients for success – enough time, enough money and the industrial drive – but with the emphasis on industry leadership notched up a level. The CRC-Ps are very exciting and should allow a whole new raft of people to participate in the programme. With simplified administration (and at first glance it looks to me like the department have got it right), I think the CRC Programme is going to be a major contributor to the National Innovation and Science Agenda.”

Cross comrades

Former head of Monash Gippsland (now part of Fed U) and Monash Malaysia, Robin Pollard is the new VC of New Zealand’s Lincoln University. The university announced his appointment on Friday, but not before the Tertiary Education Union claimed the university announced the decision before negotiations with management on a process for the appointment were complete.

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Hardbacks backed

A major new UK report for open access HASS collection Oapen on monograph publishing finds academics in the humanities and social sciences really like books, as in print on paper bound between boards, seeing them as the best way to distribute long-form scholarship years in the research and writing. And there is criticism of the idea of open access lists published by e academic presses which would be funded by universities – it seems that book publishers are seen to add value (design, distribution and so on) in ways journal publishers don’t. But it also appears that in HASS proper people prefer print.

“Change must happen slowly, be carefully evaluated and ensure it does not undermine the existing strengths of monograph publishing. Books play an important and complex role in scholarly communications in the humanities and social sciences, and within the various economies of prestige that underpin academic careers, institutions,

publishers and societies,” the report states.

If change happens at all. Last year’s Crossick Report on the same subject for the Higher Education Funding Council for England concluded; “I have been struck by the strength of feeling about monographs within much of the arts, humanities and social sciences. … This wide community is not opposed to the principle of open access for monographs, but is concerned that moves towards open access should be sensitive to the need to protect what is important about the monograph as it exists today and as it has developed over a century or more of research activity and writing.” (CMM January 23 2015)

CMM suspects the people consulted for both reports do not pay for expensive short-run monographs themselves.

ANU Dec 15 4

 

Know something the world needs to know? Anonymity guaranteed but lots of questions asked, stephen4@hotkey.net.au