Today on Retraction Watch

“This page has a redirect loop”


Is this some subtle dig to the funding hamster wheel?

The endless application, turned down, re-application of promotion panels?

Journal hopping in an attempt to find a home for a crap student project so that you can tell your boss at annual review that you published something this year?

The curious feeling of your mind snapping during a four hour staff meeting marathon?

Dear reader, answers on a postcard. I promise not to redirect you.


The quest for the perfect quest bar….

I’m curious.

Given the sheer volume of spam I get from people apparently searching for Quest Bars, I have to wonder….

What are these Quest Bars, and should I find it ironic that so many people are in search of them?

TV license payers fill pension hole at BBC

I may be a little late in finding this out but, here is a potential way to fill the pension deficit in the USS pension scheme at UK universities…if it is good for the goose (how I fondly refer to my VC)


BBC to pump £740m of licence fee payers’ cash into pension scheme deficit



The BBC has decided not to ask its long-serving staff – who, in common with much of the public sector, enjoy guaranteed pension benefits when they retire – for any additional contributions

The BBC is to pump £740million of licence fee payers’ cash into its pension scheme, to try and close a funding deficit that has nearly doubled over the last three years.

According to a new valuation, the deficit in the BBC pension fund – ie, the value of its assets minus its projected liabilities to retiring staff – has grown from £1.1billion in 2010 to £2billion in 2013.

However the BBC has decided not to ask its long-serving staff – who, in common with much of the public sector, enjoy guaranteed pension benefits when they retire – for any additional contributions.

As a result, licence-fee payers will be expected to foot the entire bill, at an additional cost of £365million over the next four years.

The amount that the BBC pays to its pension fund over the next four years will increase from an already-agreed £375million to £740million.

That averages out at £185million per year – or roughly twice the annual budget of Radio 4.

It also means that every licence fee payer will be paying roughly £7.36 a year, out of an annual licence fee of £145.50, solely to pay down the BBC’s pension deficit.

The decision to force licence-fee payers to pay the entire increase in the pension fund deficit has been made by BBC management, led by the director-general Tony Hall, and agreed with BBC pension fund trustees.

It has not been publicised to licence-fee payers, instead being announced by email to BBC staff who are members of the pension scheme.

While costing licence-fee payers dearly, it will ward off any conflict with the unions who represent BBC staff – principally the National Union of Journalists and Bectu.

In 2010, the BBC suffered industrial action, including strikes, when it asked staff to accept lower benefits and higher contributions to help pay down the deficit.

The supervisory BBC Trust, led by chairman Lord Patten, has not yet made any comment on the decision.

The BBC Trust is tasked by the BBC’s royal charter with ensuring that the BBC provides value-for-money for licence-fee payers.


Why should you pay for Sherlock twice?

I was thinking about this, and its one of the biggest con jobs around today.

In the UK, you pay your TV licensing fees, that covers sponsorship of the BBC and allows them to produce content for you to watch on your TV, as well as being the law.

The BBC also releases its most popular shows on DVDs. And, if you’ve ever bought Sherlock, Spooks or This Life, you’ll now how ludicrously expensive they are for what you get. Seriously, £25 for three episodes of Sherlock? If you want to know why people illegally download, I give you Exhibit A, m’lord. 24 episodes of a US network show will cost you around £25; three episodes of a BBC series will cost you the same.

Likewise, does the BBC have any right to automatically delete your iPlayer downloads after a certain period? You’ve paid for them already.

But, if you actually think about it, YOU’VE already paid for it once already when you paid your license fee. Why should you have to pay a further £25 to get it again? Shouldn’t all BBC content be free to TV license payers?

So, get down to your local HMV or supermarket and nick a copy. I’ll be your character witness when you get caught.