Story of phasm 04

Making a Name for Myself

Thus 2003 begun badly. Having escaped destitution in Cardiff I now found myself trapped and cheated on the Yorkshire moors with no choice but to make the best of a bad situation. I convinced myself that despite all the drawbacks the project was only a six month affair, it was similarly my specialisation and it afforded me the opportunity to make a name for myself. This last point was what I needed to concentrate on. Still it was dire.

Having encountered the numerous drawbacks of the previous day I was during the course of that first week to experience more. The first was the discovery that STC did not subscribe to bibliographical services, about the only search facility they used was Google. The second was that they actually had no in house library or reference material to support the project. In essence they had provided me with nothing more than an empty cold office.

Once again my own resources were needed to fill this gap and I resorted to contacting a friend in academia and borrowing his passwords for the bibliographical services I needed. I then set about researching and downloading all the easily available material, copying it onto floppy discs on one computer and then manually transferring it to my own. However much of the resources I needed were not available electronically. It is often the case one can grab the abstract but for the full text one needs to refer to the actual hard copy print of the journal.

As STC had no library I was going to have to use another, the most extensive and best option was the one at Reading. So I agreed with STC that they cover my travel expenses, I would arrange my own accommodation, and I would spend a few days getting the necessary material.

Data reconnaissance is quite an intensive and extensive exercise; particularly when you are using one computer to grab material you intend to read on another; so I was kept busy for two days. It would have been three but on the third day there was a problem; the Internet was down, a state it remained in for the rest of the week. No-one quite understood why and it was only when the service provider was contacted did the reason transpire: we or rather my recent activity had exceeded the bandwidth allocation and the ISP had cut us off…

Then there were the two co-authors, Sam Brown and Phil Wallace of Enviros. They had not been present at the interview and had they been I would definitely have turned the post down. Here, in Phil Wallace was a greedy ambitious man who gave the impression that he regularly prayed upon and stole the work of others.

Had I not already arranged to travel to Reading then it’s possible that I would have walked out at that point, however I managed to refrain and so lasted nearly a month before the final straw came and I walked out…..

So March began with frantic telephone exchanges between STC and myself. I continued to work on the project at home and whilst I considered offering to complete the project as a self employed consultant I proposed instead the following resolution: that I work from home.

However despite this the problems continued and I became increasingly aware over the course of the project that my initial concerns about Phil Wallace and Sam Brown were well grounded. Both were out of their depth scientifically and failed to grasp some rather basic facts. They were equally lazy and failed to make any tangible contribution until the very end. They had both hoped that I would write sufficient and broad enough for them to simply crib from my work. They even expected me to write an introduction without them having made a submission and I became increasingly concerned that they planned to derogate, non-attribute or worse falsely attribute my work.

I searched a little on my legal rights and was horrified to learn that under British law I could as an employee lose my right to attribution. In fact the British system treated authors desperately and the only way to satisfactorily protect yourself here was to be self employed. It began to dawn that despite my best efforts the only way to keep my work was to change my relationship with STC.

As I didn’t want STC to know that it was for Moral Right issues I advised them that for tax reasons I needed to complete the project as a self employed consultant. There was admittedly only one month remaining and whilst they did not like the proposal I advised that given my circumstances the alternative was to resign immediately and leave the project unfinished. AS I had withheld crucial parts STC had little choice but to agree. So on paper at least I had protected myself and my moral right to be associated with my work.

next: story of phasm 05

Free Cultural Works (CC-BY-NC-SA) Malcolm McEwen 2011

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