Today in Crucial Academic Research

From a study published in BMJ, “The case of the disappearing teaspoons: longitudinal cohort study of the displacement of teaspoons in an Australian research institute.” According to the paper:

56 (80%) of the 70 teaspoons disappeared during the study. The half life of the teaspoons was 81 days. The half life of teaspoons in communal tearooms (42 days) was significantly shorter than for those in rooms associated with particular research groups (77 days). The rate of loss was not influenced by the teaspoons’ value. The incidence of teaspoon loss over the period of observation was 360.62 per 100 teaspoon years. At this rate, an estimated 250 teaspoons would need to be purchased annually to maintain a practical institute-wide population of 70 teaspoons.

Pods

In conclusion:

The high level of dissatisfaction with teaspoon coverage identified in our follow-up survey shows that teaspoons are an essential part of office life. Simultaneously, the rapid rate of teaspoon loss shows that their availability (and therefore office life) is under constant assault. Teaspoon displacement and loss leads to the use of forks, knives, and staplers to measure out coffee and sugar, inevitably causing a reduction in employee satisfaction; in addition, large amounts of time may be wasted searching for teaspoons, both factors leading to decreased employee efficiency. The cost of maintaining a workable teaspoon population, estimated at nearly $A100 a year for the study setting alone, must also be considered. We recommend that new institutes design their facilities so that programme linked tearooms predominate over communal tearooms and that existing institutes consider renovations to reduce the risk of teaspoon loss. We also advise that buying teaspoons of higher quality has no economic benefit. Finally, we suggest that the development of effective control measures against the loss of teaspoons should be a priority on national research agendas.

I’m pretty sure they’re kidding.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer