Thursday, 31 March 2011

Are Friends Electr(on)ic?

The MRC has announced that it will be using the Joint Electronic Submission System (JeS) from now on. The other Research Councils have been using it for some time. Medical researchers may be unsure whether to break out the champagne or the black crepe. Whilst the MRC's own EAA system was far from perfect, JeS does have a habit of bewildering and confusing newcomers. All those sections! All those attachments! Do get in touch if you want a quick tour through the system. Once you get used to it the advantages do begin to become apparent, such as the facility for sharing your application with others.

Incidentally, I was interested to read about Impact in the MRC's announcement. Some of you will remember that the MRC was, at best, agnostic about the merits of predicting the impact of its research. Indeed, one very senior MRC officer once described impact to me as 'bullsh*t'. To them, the impact of their funded research was part of their raison d'etre, and having to explain it beforehand was almost demeaning.

Well, now that they're part of the JeS congregation they have to sing from the same hymn sheet, however much the words stick in their throats. In somewhat cool terms they describe themselves as being part of 'an RCUK project' that would 'encourage researchers to be actively involved in thinking about who could benefit from their research.' Makes the whole impact agenda sound a little like an intriguing play thing, a tentative pilot project that probably won't come to anything. Not the hoop-jumping administrative behemoth it's been for the rest of us for the last couple of years.

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