The academic cult of form filling

10 Mar

The following whimsical form arises from the realisation that increasingly academic life is taken up with form filling – often for internal institutional purposes. It is not clear that such form filling leads to better professional performance. I have written formally on technocracy and peace building (Cooperation and Conflict 47:3) and will gladly send anyone interested a pdf copy ( The following is a hopefully diverting take on the culture of bureaucracy and arose from my own desire to send my own forms to those who compel me to fill out their forms: fighting admin with admin. Specifically, can the form senders help me prioritise how important their form is? The intention of this blogpost is not meant to offend anyone – our administrative colleagues usually work under extreme pressure. It is, instead, to get us to think about our own complicity in the culture of technocracy that does not obviously enhance teaching, research and thinking.

Feel free to use the form within your own institution.

Colleague Rational Administrative Prioritisation form (CRAP1)  

  1. Title of form you are requesting me to complete (information in Section 1 will be put in the public domain)                                                                                               Number

Please note: This form cannot be processed with the Number. To access your Number, think of one between 1 and 100. Divide it by three.

  1. Purpose of the form you are asking me to complete (Information in Section 2 may be put in the public domain, but no one will care)
Form Requester Details
Contact Details: T:                     E:
Research Group/Institute:
Is your office in a basement? YES       NO                   (delete one)
Date request issued (Please do NOT use the Gregorian calendar): Last possible date of submission. Really, the last possible moment:
Form Management System (FMS) Number: Number of cats in the requester’s household:
Person this form is being requested from
Have you ever met this person in real life? YES     NO                     (delete one using a green pen)
Contact Details: T:                                      E:
Likelihood s/he cares
  1. Form Prioritisation
Please circle one as necessary:   Not even slightly urgent   No one will die whether or not you fill in the form
  1. Form Importance
Please circle as many as are applicable:   Utterly pointless* *That’s it: utterly pointless is the only possible category
  1. The Business Case for Completing the Form


Please outline why the form is of commercial benefit for the person to complete it (1 word max)


  1. 6. Form Filling Work Plan
Please detail the key activities and projected form filling work plan including timeline. How many person hours is the form completer expected to take to complete the form (sanity breaks should be included)? Please note if the form can be filled in while watching television, listening to the radio, or thinking about revenge issues.
Please summarise the expected outputs and impact of the form (17,000 words max)
  1. Form Budget

  Please contact your mother for assistance with the preparation of the budget. A costing report should be submitted with this form. All costs must be listed in the currency pertaining when King John was on the throne.   (i) Total Form Costs  

Fund Heading Item (in Latin please) Costs (*)
Directly Incurred Non-Staff costs
Encounters with wild animals
Other (please be vague)
Requested form filler in Contribution (A)  
Parental contribution (B)  
Total Direct (invoiceable) External Partner Contribution(s) (C)  
Total Project Costs at 100% (D)  
  1. Submission
Form Issuer Declaration By submitting this form, I realise that I really don’t have much of a life:
(Print name) (Sign here) (Date)


Declaration by random person walking out side your office
(Print name) (Sign here) (Date)
Statement of support to include: ·       A count of how many toes you have ·       How the activity contributes to the University strategy for impact in the galaxy and beyond  

  Completed forms should be submitted with: Tree bark Facial hair from a hipster   Electronic submissions are not acceptable as that would be too easy for you.   Once completed, all sections of this form, except sections 6 and 7, should be tied to a tree.                


One Response to “The academic cult of form filling”

  1. David Roberts 10/03/2015 at 9:05 pm #

    I’m sorry Roger, this is just ridiculous. You’ve just gone too damn far with this one. The form is far too short and far too simple to reflect the reality of academic bureaucracy today. You must therefore attend Staff Heightened Intensity Training (SHIT) development. Please fill in the attached 19 forms using only the language of Christ, to be submitted no later than 3 weeks ago. None of the forms are saveable and all must be completed on one go.

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