Thursday, 20 June 2019

University news pages

As any fule kno I probably spend more time than I ought to retweeting links to interesting stories - principally though not exclusively ones based on classical and early medieval history.

I actually started doing this years ago purely for my own benefit - in the days before pocket - as a way of saving the url's of articles I wanted to read later. Oddly, some people found what I was tweeting interesting, and started following me, so even though pocket is now a feature of the information landscape I've kept on tweeting.

But sometimes I find an article that is sketchy and unsatisfactory in some way and I try and track down a better version, again really for my own benefit, but if someone finds it useful, well why not ?

If the article refers to a specific researcher at a university I usually try searching that university's news pages as that is where I kind of expect the original press release to be.

Except sometimes it's not.

Sometimes a university's news site is more about how well the rugby team did, or what the vice chancellor had for lunch than the actual outcomes of research, and even more worrying, sometimes all the news is hidden behind scads of marketing information aimed at attracting students (and bring their fee money of course) at a particular university.

And while research ratings are important, they're only one part of the university ranking game, and some university marketing/press departments  seem to be more interested in marketing than communicating.

I promise not to rant on about the actual irrelevance of  university rankings to student outcomes, but given that much university research, especially in the humanities, is funded with public money, I would have thought that communicating the results of the publicly funded research was an important part of the function of university press offices, rather than inviting people. the public, who paid for the work, to have to play a game of guess the url to find the university's research news site ...

(... and of course this has to be done manually, surprisingly a lot of institutions no longer provide an RSS feed)