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Dark day at ANU – disappears up own rectum

By johnboy - 18 March 2009 34

The world has a new contender for most incomprehensible and jargon laden sentence ever published:

    Work continues on the proposal to reconceptualise the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)

One would think the rest of the article might shed more light, but one would be sorely disappointed:

    Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Mandy Thomas is heading a working party to oversee the development of the ‘New IAS’ and welcomes input from all staff into the development process. Further information on the proposal can be found at [unavailable to the public] and comments can be emailed to



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Dark day at ANU – disappears up own rectum
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astrojax 7:51 pm 19 Mar 09

maybe it is integrating the vertical commitments to align with the horizontal cross-cutting thematics of a university which is assimilating the ecology of its redevelopment with the nascent potentiality in harmonisation of existing resources. so, we’ll pocket that will we and extemporise on the imperatives of funding for the moment, shall we?

GB 6:00 pm 19 Mar 09

I’d be interested to hear from anyone inside ANU who can throw more light on what direction people are suggesting. Is there talk of making the IAS more about visiting scholars, or independent research, or fundamental research? Or is it just about finding how to arrange the horizontal IAS structure with the vertical ‘college’ one.

DoogieH maybe?

GB 12:29 pm 19 Mar 09

Wanky schmanky.

p1 said :

Ok, so it’s not jargon so much as a needlessly confusing and totally wanky name then?

Well, perhaps more like “its a name that things like this have been given since about the 1930s, so let’s use that name to avoid confusion and perhaps gain some cred from existing institutions with similar names”. The ANU Institute of Advanced Studies was formed when the University was founded, by the Australian National University Act 1946.

“Section 7 of the Act outlines the organisation of ANU in that it was to be divided into two groups: the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) and the Faculties. In Section 8 of the Act the structure of the IAS is further defined with institutes to be devoted to medical science (to be known as the John CurtinSchool of Medical Research), the physical sciences, the social sciences, Pacific studies and such other fields of learning as the Council determines. The establishment of the Faculties, as required under the Act, did not take place until 1960 when the CUC was amalgamated with the IAS. The eventual result was to create a university with two parts: the Institute of Advanced Studies, comprising the research schools with research and graduate training responsibilities; and the School of General Studies (now known as The Faculties) comprising faculties with undergraduate and graduate teaching and research responsibilities.”

See, for example, a few among many from around the world:

“The Institute for Advanced Study is one of the world’s leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. The Institute exists to encourage and support fundamental research in the sciences and humanities – the original, often speculative, thinking that produces advances in knowledge that change the way we understand the world. “

” The Institute of Advanced Studies enhances the research profile of the University through the fostering of cross-disciplinary activities.”

“By establishing an international institute for postgraduate courses and theoretical and empirical research programmes it was intended to overcome the post-war anti-intellectual attitude and the dreary status of Austrian universities.”

“The Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS) of Jerusalem is a national science institution devoted to academic research.”

“The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies is a statutory corporation established in 1940 under the Institute for Advanced Studies Act of that year. It is a publicly-funded independent centre for research in basic disciplines. “

“The Institute provides to scholars and scientists of the University of Bologna the instruments and the means to bring to Bologna visiting professors and junior scientists to contribute to the circulation of new ideas and exchange of information. “


I think you need to reconceptualise your core frameworks. You’re clearly not leveraging core competencies going forward. You need to take it offline, think outside the box, be pro-active in assessing the strategic fit of the value added issues — then you will empower yourself, be able to fast track your mindset, remain client focussed, and cascade results-driven envisionment to establish a ballpark game plan. In the 24/7 win-win situation, if you’re joining the team, we can touch base to better align your processes and wetware to achieve the mission. Don’t be afraid to run your ideas up the flag pole, but ensure you and your team are rowing together, singing from the same song sheet and dancing to the same tune.

p1 10:23 am 19 Mar 09

And “Institute of Advanced Studies” isn’t jargon any more than “The-Riotact” or “Ainslie shops” is.

Ok, so it’s not jargon so much as a needlessly confusing and totally wanky name then?

neanderthalsis 9:16 am 19 Mar 09

My new favourite phrase comes from Lawrence Springborg in the QLD election campaign:

“I’m looking at front-ending jobs in the state and making positions denecessary.”

I’m still pondering the possible meanings and connotations of denecessary.

random 8:31 pm 18 Mar 09

For those that don’t know (apparently everyone in this thread), the Institute for Advanced Studies is the name used to collectively refer to the ANU’s various research schools (RSSS, RSPAS, RSPhysSE, etc.). It’s capitalised for a reason – it’s not jargon, that’s what they’re called when considered together.

The “reconceptualise” part is that the vice-chancellor has floated the idea of redefining the IAS to refer to a group of high-performing academics (and changing resource allocations accordingly). If it sounds vague it’s because none of the details have been worked out.

Trunking symbols 3:55 pm 18 Mar 09

No, you’ve got it all wrong. The reconceptualisation was done in order to avoid future compartmentalisation. Everybody knows that!

GB 3:47 pm 18 Mar 09

Pretty straightforward sentence there. It has one word – reconceptualise – which some people think of as jargon, but its meaning is completely obvious in this context. Maybe they should have said “re-think the business model for” or “come up with a new way of thinking about”.

And “Institute of Advanced Studies” isn’t jargon any more than “The-Riotact” or “Ainslie shops” is.

Minor journalistic activity with a WKSE reveals: “The proposal is set against a background of identifying how to enhance the University’s research performance and accentuating the value of the unique contribution ANU can make to the national research agenda. The proposal is to reconceptualise how the IAS supports excellent researchers at ANU and how to link that to a suitable focus (with adequate flexibility) so that the infrastructure supporting our researchers remains world-class.”

Ie, sounds like they are wanting to not just twiddle around the edges, or re-name things, or sack people; but rather to actually re-assess and possibly change the way it is thought of, and the structures that creates.

Now it may be that this is just a smokescreen for something else, and the result might still end up being pointless. But the sentence describing the process is completely comprehensible, and doesn’t even rate as jargon, let alone “most incomprehensible and jargon laden sentence ever published”. Its not even “going forward”, for goodness sake.

So, is there a real story here? If not, “Dark day at Riotact – disappears up own rectum” might be a better heading.

smee 3:34 pm 18 Mar 09


Furry Jesus 3:25 pm 18 Mar 09

anatoli said :

For those that don’t know (apparently everyone in this thread), the Institute for Advanced Studies is the name used to collectively refer to the ANU’s various research schools (RSSS, RSPAS, RSPhysSE, etc.)… that’s what they’re called when considered together.

If that’s true, then ‘Institute for Advanced Studies’ is the longest collective noun I’ve ever come across. There must be something pithier.

Fill in the blank: a …….. of Research Schools

smee 2:58 pm 18 Mar 09

I thought the Institute for Advanced Studies was those two guys on late night TV who play the piano with their hands in the air?

Mr Evil 2:26 pm 18 Mar 09

So long as they don’t have any “aspiration targets”, then I’m happy.

Clown Killer 2:15 pm 18 Mar 09

Perhaps they’re going to scope a raft of proposals covering yet to be identified objectives over the near to medium term which they can then pro-actively workshop with key stakeholders before bedding down a core suite of achievable outcomes in time to meet established fiscal timelines for the incomming financial year.

If they get that right they can move onto lining all their ducks up in a row and singing from the same song sheet …

Danman 2:00 pm 18 Mar 09

Nothing like the APS for verbal masturbation.

It was the first time I heard the term “roll out” that was not in reference to urban installation of data cable.

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