plus Alan Finkel should lead the march for science

Fact or falafel: TAFE’s smart brand build

and Front-runners: Australia’s top exercise academics

Rain stops play

At UNSW the Village Green sport oval was only fit for aquatic games early yesterday. But not to worry, its also a basin, intended to hold rainwater while it sinks into the university’s aquifer. If there is a global ranking for university water storage UNSW surely rates strong.

Big chief for science march

March for Science planning is discretely underway with events in all capitals, plus Townsville scheduled for April 22, the same day as the event in Washington DC. Supporters yesterday were quick to point to Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s statement on Tuesday that “science is under attack” by the Trump Administration as demonstrating the need for scientists to stand up.

Good-oh, but there should be more to the march than denouncing The Donald. The organising site sets out four messages for the day; “stable science funding policy,” “publicly funded scientists must be free to openly communicate their research, data and interpretations of their work,” “public policy should be guided by evidence-based scientific research, local scientific knowledge, and mainstream scientific consensus” and “initiatives to promote broad public knowledge and discussion of scientific work.”

Hard to argue with any of it and the event will have credibility if senior scientists turn out or speak-up on the day to defend science – like, well what about Dr Finkel?

App of the (yester) Day

At the University of Tasmania PhD researcher Gemma Mitchell wants to know if Pokémon GO has changed attitudes to exercise as part of her study of apps and exercise. Surveys are here and here. She might have trouble with sample size for the GO survey, where CMM lives was infested with players last year but no longer.

More please

On Sky News yesterday Health Minister Greg Hunt named medical research as one of the four pillars of his portfolio (Medicare, hospital funding and mental health are the other three). This pleased the Association of Medical Research Institutes no end, calling the minister’s remark “immensely reassuring.” But it will not necessarily extend Mr Hunt’s political life expectancy. Short of a cure for death the entire federal budget could be spent on medical research and there would still be lobbies warning that people are dying and more money is needed.

Natural PR selection

Sunday is Darwin Day, the 208th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the University of Sydney is celebrating a campus connection – a flea which the great man took from an armadillo in Argentina and is now preserved in the university’s Macleay Collection. A manuscript collection it isn’t but you promote what you’ve got.

Pitching to peer reviewers

Australian business academics do not have a great rep for publishing in the prestige international journals. That might be because in the last edition of Australian Research Council’s Excellence for Research in Australia only the universities of Melbourne, NSW and Queensland rated “well above world standard” while 19 were below it. This should ensure brisk sales of a new international guide for bizoids, Timothy Clark et al. (eds) How to get published in the best management journals which includes no less than 32 essays of advice. But demonstrating the problem, just one is by a local. Professor Bill Hartley from the University of Melbourne writes on publishing human resources management research.

No country for old economists

One idea that does not get much of a run in business journals (above) is writing well – but it would surely help, as famous economist W Brian Arthur  discovered when he got Cormac McCarthy to edit his famous article on how first mover advantage can create increasing returns. “The word got back to my editor at Harvard Business Review. She called me up in a slight panic and says ‘I heard your article’s getting completely rewritten.’ And I said, ‘Yeah!’ She says, ‘By Cormac McCarthy? What did he do to it?’ And I said, ‘Oh, well, you know, pretty much what you’d expect. It now starts out with two guys on horseback in Texas, and they go off and discover increasing returns.’ And for a couple of seconds she was aghast.” (Thanks to Tim Kastelle via Twitter for the link).

Quinlivan on watch

Notre Dame adjunct professor Julie Quinlivan is the new director of theProfessional Services Review, which reports to the health minister and investigates doctors inappropriately providing services and prescribing drugs via Medibank and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Intellectual athletes

Thanks to a learned reader for pointing CMM to the top 25 sports science influencers, as selected by Anita Hobson Powell, CEO of Exercise and Sports Science Australia. Some 17 have a university or research institute affiliation, in her order; Aaron Coutts (UTS), Allan Hahn (Queensland Academy of Sport), Brendan Joss (UWA and Murdoch universities), Chris Askew (University of Sunshine Coast), Chris Gore (Australian Institute of Sport), Chris Tzarimas (UNSW), David Bishop (Victoria U), Lainie Cameron (Uni of the Sunshine Coast), Marg Torode (Charles Sturt U), Jeff Coombes (University of Queensland), John Bloomfield (UWA), Kade Davison (Uni South Australia), Ian Gillam (National Institute of Integrative Medicine), Simon Rosenbaum ( George Institute), Steve Selig (Deakin U), Rob Newton (Edith Cowan U), Tony Parker (QUT).

TAFE brand rebuild

Western Sydney Institute of TAFE has a new social media campaign with comedian Rob Shehadie, asking people whether common assumptions about the training system are “fact or falafel.” “Is TAFE just for tradies?,” “do university graduates get jobs quicker?” “TAFE is only for those who can’t get into uni.” Good stuff, but the questions show how far the TAFE brand rebuild has to go,