Letter to Oxford college

Letter to the Principal of an Oxford college on not being shortlisted for a Junior Research Fellowship

Thank you for notifying me that I have not been shortlisted for the Junior Research Fellowship in Psychology. However, you have made a mistake.

It is practically certain that I could do the job better than any candidate that you may prefer to me. Unfortunately there is no way I can convince you of that unless you provide me with a set of undergraduates to teach, matched for ability, so as to compare my performance in terms of their results with that of any person to whom you may prefer to give the Fellowship. And even then, you could maintain that he might be better than I was at administration, and I could not disprove that unless you let me have the complete job for at least a term.

The fact that you had a very strong entry for this Fellowship does not affect my conviction that I could almost certainly do this job better than those who have been shortlisted could. I have known many Professors and Fellows in various subjects, and in almost every case knew that I could do their job better than they were doing it, although it was pointless my applying for similar appointments, since I had no paper qualification or official past experience.

You see the position of a person who is wrongfully exiled from an academic career is very terrible. When I apply for positions, all that is taken into account is evidence of past performance in official capacities of a kind which I have had no opportunity of providing.

I should also be very grateful if you would let me come to see you to explain my position, to make it more likely that you will remember me if a suitable appointment arises.