News & Views Index
December 2004



Misuse of Public Relations Departments to Hype Science is Contagious.    (27/12/04)

    TFW reported last week that a piece by Peter Pockley in Australasian Science has taken CSIRO's Chief Executive, Geoffrey Garrett and his 'communicators' to task for extensive use of hyperbolic spin. The disease, however, isn't confined to CSIRO or Australia. [More]


US President George Bush Receives Some Gratuitous Advice From FAS.    (27/12/04)

      Early this month the The US Federation of American Scientists offered the Bush administration free advice on how to improve its decision making. [More]


The Following Item is Reprinted From    (27/12/04)

    Nature's Ten most popular stories in 2004. [More]


CSIRO Chief of the Division of Industrial Physics Says Physicists Thin on the Ground, Barely Anyone Left to Hire.    (23/12/04)

    Gerry Haddad, CSIRO's Chief of Industrial Physics in the Jan/Feb 2005 issue of Australasian Science under the headline Physics is Floundering writes, "Physics in Australia has been in bad shape for as long as I can remember Ė and thatís nearly 40 years. Whatís scary is that itís getting worse. [More]


The NYT Headline Reads "U.S. Slips in Attracting the World's Best Students". Is Australia Gaining from the US Loss?    (22/12/04)

    The 1,700 word feature article by Sam Dillon in the December 21st New York Times is just the latest critique of the falling applications for graduate and postgraduate places at US universities following the terrorist demolition of the World Trade Center's two main towers on September 11, 2001. [More]


Development of a Research Quality Framework for Publicly Funded Research Gets its Expert Advisory Group.    (21/12/04)

    Last May when Backing Australia's Ability II was announced the Coalition Government committed itself to developing a framework on which to base the quality of publicly funded research. Part of the commitment was to bring together a group to undertake "wide-ranging consultations, release an issues paper and hold a major stakeholder forum." [More]


The Spins the Thing Whereby He'll Catch the Makings of the  Ring?    (21/12/04)

    The doyen of Australian science writers, Peter Pockley, has had CSIRO in his sights for a couple of years now, or more particularly CEO, Geoffrey Garrett and his managerial appointees. [More]


Rationalising Responsibility for Higher Education in Australia.    (20/12/04)

    Shortly after the re-election of the Federal Coalition the Minister for Education, Science and Training, Brendan Nelson, announced that he would look into the feasibility of removing full responsibility for the publicly funded universities to the Commonwealth Government. Today Dr Nelson took the first concrete step toward publicly examining the matter by promulgating an 8,900 word "Issues Paper", Rationalising Responsibility for Higher Education in Australia to be followed in February by a more extensive discussion paper. [More]


ANU Gets Most of Its Supplement.    (20/12/04)

    A press release at the end of last week didn't make it into the weekend papers but the news brought some holiday cheer to the Australian National University. At the beginning of October TFW reported: ANU's $22.5m loss may be payback. [More]


A Resident of Surrey Hills, Victoria Makes a Case for University Research in 270 Words.    (16/12/04)

    John Legge is associate professor (adjunct) at La Trobe University's Graduate School of Management. In a succinct letter to the Australian Financial Review, written as a private citizen, he makes his case why calling a teaching only tertiary institution a university is nonsense. Perhaps Brendan Nelson, the Federal Minister for Education, Science and Training, can pen a cogent 270 word rebuttal? [More]


Shades of the Bush Administration?    (15/12/04)

    Over the past couple of years the administration of US President George W Bush has accumulated a well earned reputation for politicising science. Now, whether in emulation or not the Minister for Education, Science and Training, Brendan Nelson, and to whom the Australian Research Council (ARC) is responsible has overridden the assessment of ARC peer reviewers and canned several approved research grants. [More]


And He Wonders Why He's Not Taken at His Word.    (15/12/04)

    A study released yesterday by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement details the performance of year 4 and year 8 students in mathematics and science. Below we quote excerpts from the Minister for Education, Science and Training Brendan Nelson's media release followed by a write-up in today's Age. [More]


Times Higher Education Supplement Ranks Science Excellence of World's Universities.    (14/12/04)

    Not content to assign an overall ranking to the world's universities The Times Higher Education Supplement interrogated 1300 world academics in 88 countries to get their opinions of the world's best universities as regards the institutions' science. [More]


Physics Here and There and Medical Research.    (13/12/04)

    The current Federal Minister for Health and Aging, Tony Abbott, earlier this month released the 200 page final report, Sustaining the Virtuous Cycle For a Healthy, Competitive Australia: Investment Review of Health and Medical Research. [More]


"Where Are All Our Number Crunchers?"    (11/12/04)

    That's the headline question the Australian Broadcasting Company's News in Science asked rhetorically a couple of days ago. [More]


Will the Minister's Review of the Indexation of University Grants be a Clayton's Review? -- At Least it Ought to be Cheap.    (10/12/04)

    In order to bring the Senate around so that Brendan Nelson's, higher education reform package would get passed, he promised that the government would undertake a review of the current mechanisms of indexation in regard to Commonwealth funding of Australia's universities. [More]


Australia Supported Total Cloning Ban at U N.    (09/12/04)
Last week The Scientist ran an article headed: Aussie backflip on cloning -- Gov't support for UN cloning ban surprises scientists ahead of a national legislative review. [More]


The US Science Budget Evokes the Interest of the New York Times.    (07/12/04)

    On Sunday Thomas Friedman wrote in The New York Times, "If President Bush is looking for a legacy [to leave Americans], I have just the one for him - a national science project that would be our generation's moon shot..." [More]


Group of Eight Forcefully Voices its Opinion on the Payment of Student Services Fees.    (05/12/04)

    A media release from the Group of Eight has made it abundantly clear that it considers the Government's projected interference with regard to the methodology used to determine the setting or use of student service fees unwelcome, and unwarranted. [More]


Merit-Based Research Funding -- EU Science, Education, and Industry Ministers Vote Yes-23, No-2.    (03/12/04)

    In Brussels last week a meeting of the European Union's (E.U.'s) science, education, and industry ministers voted 23 to 2 for the creation of a European Research Council (ERC). [More]


Nelson Announces Appointment of New Science Advisor.    (02/12/04)

    The Minister for Education, Science and Training, Brendan Nelson, has announced that Jade Sharples is to be the replacement for Thomas Barlow who resigned from the post in October as Science and Research Advisor. [More]


Threatened Closure of  University of Exeter Departments Raises Ire of Students and Nobel Laureate.    (02/12/04)

    The threatened termination of a number of departments by the UK University of Exeter, including chemistry, music and Italian, engendered the outrage not only of the student body but also Nobelist Harry Kroto. [More]


DEST Undertakes the Setting Up of a "Research Quality Framework".    (01/12/04)

    In May of this year the Prime Minister, John Howard, promised that his government would "establish Quality and Accessibility Frameworks for Publicly Funded Research." Now the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) has released a three page document it titles Research Quality Framework - Consultation Discussion Starter. [More]