March 3rd, 2014

(no subject)

Читаю в журнале anaris об аресте kototuj. Ужас.
Пацифистов и противников войны бросают в тюрьму. Мог ли Ельцин и Собчак такое представить, прeемничка?

(no subject)

Индиец разослал вторую серию письма о том, что не нужно измерять научные достижения объемом получаемых грантов (как это принято в США):

Dear CEAS colleagues,

Many of you approached me privately to convey your support for the e-mail sent last week -- I thank all of them for encouraging me as well as provide some valuable insights on how to fix the current weaknesses in the system. To be fair, I did receive one e-mail challenging my position -- I respect the opinion of that colleague as well, but do not fully agree with that point of view. In this present e-mail, I am going to suggest some remedies based on some of your suggestions/opinions as well as my ideas.

1) Dwindling number of professors doing serious theoretical/analytical work:

Some colleagues have remarked that theoretical and analytical work is indeed being done along with the experimental and numerical work while the departments are getting more grants compared to the previous years. I agree that our average grant size is much larger than in the past, as well as we have more shinier and better-looking labs than before, but I respectfully disagree about the quality of theoretical work -- I am convinced that it is going down. Good theoretical/analytical work marked by attention to details and mathematical thoroughness is not that easy to accomplish. (To give some examples of such work, I am attaching some papers of this category from my area of porous media--please take a look.) Too much emphasis on getting research grants creates professors who are constantly focused on writing grant proposals and searching funding opportunities. In that case, where is the time to do some serious study to learn about theoretical/analytical work done, and hence apply to in one's own work?

Surprisingly, this was not the situation in the American engineering schools a few decades -- professors used to produce much higher quality of work, and were paragons of scholarship and learning. Professors writing books and publishing important papers were indeed promoted. But somehow down the line, our focus has changed and we have become more more money minded. Now the system is loaded against people who are doing this type of serious work. In the present situation, the US university is beginning to resemble a car dealership where professors are more like car salesmen -- more money one brings in by having more sales, more commission one gets. Now the professors hardly study any new area deeply enough in order to write some good mathematically or theoretically insightful work. They are mostly doing experimental work; even if some doing some theoretical/numerical analysis along with it, they often use the same old, repetitive ideas to churn out papers in hundreds. Proliferation of engineering journals has helped the situation as well -- one can always find the journals for the work one is doing. (As long as people are reading it and citing the work (i.e., the journal has an impact factor!), the publication in such journals is acceptable.)

Remedy for UWM:

CEAS departments should aim to provide a certain ratio of theoretically and analytically strong professors. For example, one can aspire to have a mix of 30% theoretical professors to 70% 'regular' professors in any department. The idea is that the former will bring in some intellectual gravitas to the department and will help build the intellectual strength of the department by offering theoretically strong courses. But the regular professors manning the departments should be 'deconditioned' -- they should be trained to respect the theoretical strengths of such individuals and paucity/smallness of research grants should be used against them to prevent their tenure and promotion.
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