Two cultures: "them and us" in the academic world

Ralph Kenna

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    Impact of academic research onto the non-academic world is of increasing importance as authorities seek return on public investment. Impact opens new opportunities for what are known as "professional services": as scientometrical tools bestow some with confidence they can quantify quality, the impact agenda brings lay measurements to evaluation of research. This paper is partly inspired by the famous "two cultures" discussion instigated by C.P. Snow over 60 years ago. He saw a chasm between different academic disciplines and I see a chasm between academics and professional services, bound into contact through competing targets. This paper draws on my personal experience and experiences recounted to me by colleagues in different universities in the UK. It is aimed at igniting discussions amongst people interested in improving the academic world and it is intended in a spirit of collaboration and constructiveness. As a professional services colleague said, what I have to say "needs to be said". It is my pleasure to submit this paper to the Festschrift devoted to the 60th birthday of a renowned physicist, my good friend and colleague Ihor Mryglod. Ihor's role as leader of the Institute for Condensed Matter Physics in Lviv has been essential to generating some of the impact described in this paper and forms a key element of the story I wish to tell.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-20
    Number of pages20
    JournalCondensed Matter Physics
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2020

    Bibliographical note

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    • Impact
    • REF
    • Research evaluation
    • Scientometrics
    • Statistical physics
    • Thermodynamics
    • Two cultures

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Condensed Matter Physics
    • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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