Personal Views

A betrayal

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.7011.1032 (Published 14 October 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1032
  1. Neville W Goodman, consultant senior lecturer in anaesthesia
  1. Bristol

    It is, of course, a betrayal. With the background of a DPhil in respiratory physiology and after 15 years in academic medicine, I intend moving to an NHS consultant post. Everybody has their price. Mine is not monetary but professional; I can no longer do the job I became a seniorlecturer to do. You are either a pragmatist or you have principles. Pragmatism is becoming the only god in academia, but if principles are jettisoned in academia where else can they possibly survive?

    My formative experience of research was in Oxford at the end of the heady decade of the 1960s. Even then, money was beginning to matter. The year before my physiology finals the physiology department had 12 Medical Research Council scholarships to offer. In 1969 mine was one of only six. It gave me an appreciation of time and thought, a doctoral thesis, and a clutch of papers--some still being cited years later.

    I returned to academia in 1980, this time to clinical anaesthesia. But what started as a subtle change at the end of the 1980s has become an irresistible force: accountability is king. Selectivity exercises judged on quality of output are one thing, but the everyday pressures on academics within our universities are now more basic: they are financial. Academics who cannot attract money …

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