Science: Life & Health Sciences at the University of Liverpool

The Story:

Administration at the U.K.’s University of Liverpool has targeted many members of the faculty, especially those teaching and researching biology and medicine, as “redundant,” an academic way of saying that their jobs are being cut. Specifically, 47 faculty members were said to be redundant, although the University was not transparent about how they had selected the 47 they did.

“Citation metrics” (counts of how often these scholars’ papers are published in peer reviewed journals and how often their papers are cited in the papers of others working in the same field) seem to have played a part.


Britain of course has a distinguished history as a center of biomedicine. It was the home of Edward Jenner, Robert Liston, James Young Simpson, etc. The urgency of further work in addressing questions of health and sickness has not lessened over time. So (it is natural to ask) why the intention of making a lot of job cuts precisely in the Health and Life Sciences (HLS) department of a distinguished university? The threatened faculty have been effective in kicking up expressions of outrage from well beyond their own ranks.

Strange New Worlds:

The kickback has had some effect: the list of targeted faculty members has been reduced from 47 to 21. But controversy continues. Those 21 still seem to have been chosen through citation metrics and crude grant-capture statistics, and those strike many as inherently untrustworthy standards in the context of the sciences.

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