A couple of years ago I decided to start blogging. Foolishly I started two blogs at once. Each of them had quite a specific task.
First, I wanted to use the blog Russell Dean to promote a positive image of university management. I think that the concept of a university as a place where researchers teach and teachers research is truly wonderful. I would argue that a good university can deliver better education and better research than other kinds of institution. I would also argue that to do so requires really good management. Unfortunately, even the best-intentioned management actions in universities tend to elicit an unhealthy, counterproductive cynicism in academics. Russell Dean would, I thought, dispel that cynicism and promote a climate of trust in Universities throughout the land.
After I started writing the blog I realised that my position as a member of the senior management of a particular university generated constraints and expectations that made it difficult to treat topics in the way that I wanted. For this reason I have decided to stop blogging as Russell Dean and I will use this blog instead to promote mutual trust between university managers and those whom they manage. However I am also prepared for the possibility that the optimal climate of mutual trust may not come to pass until my views on universities and how they should be managed gain universal acceptance. In the meantime I will take down the Russell Dean pages and recycle anything I think might be useful into the archives of this site.
My second blog had a simpler purpose. Jacqueline Aldridge and I wanted to support and supplement our book, The Research Funding Toolkit. The intention was that the blog would be a source of good advice about how to write research grant applications and become a kind of online grant-writing workshop. That blog has been much easier to write but it is now getting a bit messy. I have decided to switch all of my blogging to this site and to repost relevant posts on researchfundingtoolkit.org.
I will also use this blog to write about anything I think might be interesting or useful. WordPress is an example. This is a WordPress website, which I have produced myself. WordPress is a great system for anyone setting up a blog or a set of web pages and it is free. However, a great deal of what is written to help people like me do things with WordPress is either intimidating or confusing or both. If I can use this blog to post something more helpful I will.
In sum, I am bringing together the two blogs I started and I hope to create something a bit more sustainable, more readable and more useful.