There’s a delightful piece in the latest Science (Daniel S. Greenberg (2007) On the Road to Academic Greatness--A Parable, Science 317: 1328-9) charting the recent history of the University of Avarice and the remarkable role played by U Av’s President, Grant Swinger, in its meteoric rise. Readers (of Science, not this blog) with long memories will recall Swinger’s previous exploits at the Center for the Absorption of Federal Funds, also chronicled by Greenberg, who seems to enjoy unparalleled access to Dr Swinger.

I can’t begin to give a flavour of the piece, and merely urge you to seek it out, but two meta-things about it fascinate me.

First, was it really necessary for Science to point out that “This Policy Forum is a work of fiction; none of the descriptions of people or organizations or the quotations from media outlets are real.”? I would have thought that anyone capable of reading Science would be in no doubt about that.

Secondly, will the item itself be freely available? Swinger’s oft-repeated technique in defense of non-transparency is to withhold disclosure “in compliance with privacy regulations and the need to protect proprietary information”. And the University of Chicago Press reserves all rights in the work from which the article is excerpted, Greenberg’s new book Science for Sale: The Perils, Rewards, and Delusions of Campus Capitalism. At this precise moment, I have no way of knowing, but given Science’s general policy on access, I’m not optimistic. But it would be a fine irony if Swinger’s latest exploits stayed hidden behind a pay-wall.

Come to think of it, the fineness of the irony might be a reason for the fictional disclaimer.

p.s. Dan is an old friend. Not that this could possibly influence my views.

p.p.s. I just checked; the piece is protected. For shame!

p.p.p.s 2021-09-06: Oh the joys of bad people on the internet, sharing things they oughtn’t.

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