It’s a PhD Jim, but not as we know it…
A story in today’s WalesOnline, originally published in the Western Mail, inspired me to add a short item to this blog.
Mark Brake is a writer and broadcaster and Professor of Science Communication at the University of Glamorgan. According to the Western Mail, in May 2006 he completed a detailed tender for the Swindon-based RCPO – a professional procurement unit that works with seven of Britain’s research councils. Allegedly, in the 26-page document, Professor Brake claimed to hold a doctorate with the title Astrophysics: Chemical Evolution of the Galaxies, awarded by University College Cardiff, the name held by Cardiff University until 1988. He never wrote such a thesis and holds no such degree.
The article goes on to say that the application was successful, and the University of Glamorgan was awarded £285,264 for a six-month Researchers in Residence project. Surprisingly, although the University of Glamorgan has not disputed the facts in the article, it has failed to return the money.
You will find no mention of this episode on Professor Brake’s Wikipedia page, the content of which appears nevertheless to be hotly disputed.
Professor Brake, a self-styled “astrobiologist”, declined to comment on the article, but a comment on the WalesOnline site says it all:
It’s a PhD Jim……..but not as we know it………..
POSTSCRIPT 20th October 2009
The WalesOnline story has now been amended to state that the application was not successful. I am therefore happy to retract my criticism of the University of Glamorgan for failing to return the money, and accept that they never received it.
The rest of the story remains in place.
Moreover, here is the relevant part of page 19 of the 26-page document that was submitted to the RCPO. Apologies for the slightly wonky result of the scanning. It’s not ambiguous, and I have no reason to believe that it is a forgery. Had Mark Brake been awarded a PhD then a copy of the thesis would be in the Cardiff University library (which it isn’t) and the National Library of Wales (which it isn’t). Either this document is a forgery or Professor Brake did indeed falsely represent his qualifications in the application.