Merit by Association

I use university rankings as a quide to overall performance, but I think that the individual scholar is the driving force behind new ideas. I have never been a fan of “merit by association”. It always comes down to imagination and careful scholarship. That can take place in a dustbin. In my experience a large number of academics were given tenure because they were favoured by a head of department. At the EDCL I would say that 70% were appointed in this way (Autobiography Volume Two). There was no competition at all. As a result they stayed in a comfortable job for life, as long as they dared not to think too originally. That kind of closed shop is no good for anyone. Of course there are some good scholars who are also academics.

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