Season’s Greetings from the Impact Blog! We wish our readers a restful holiday ahead of next year’s research-filled excitement. In 2014 the blog featured a range of evidence-based analysis and fresh perspectives on academic impact, from low citation rates in the humanities to reports of economists accepting sex in exchange for co-authorship. In case you missed them the first time around, here are six favourites chosen by the editorial team to browse over the holiday.
The lack of reward mechanisms for public scholarship severely limits the future of public engagement in the academy.
Scholars are increasingly expected to consider the wider public in their teaching and research activities, but with little to negative promotion incentive. In fact, finds Christopher Meyers, much of what academics do does not fit into the standard boxes of teaching, scholarship and service. Perhaps it’s time to replace these categories with a single holistic and qualitative standard: High quality teacher-scholars, wherein all of one’s professional activities are judged per their contribution to the academy’s mission of educating, advancing ideas, creating an intellectual environment, and bettering the lives of others.
Scientific Misbehavior in Economics: Unacceptable research practice linked to perceived pressure to publish.
Upholding research integrity depends on our ability to understand the extent of misconduct. Sarah Necker describes her landmark study on economists’ research norms and practices. Fabrication, falsification and plagiarism are widely considered to be unjustifiable, but misbehaviour is still prevalent. For example, 1-3% of economists surveyed admit that they have accepted or offered gifts, money, or sex in exchange for co-authorship, data, or promotion. Economists’ perceived pressure to publish is found to be positively related to their admission of being involved in several rejected research practices.
Under the rouse of rigour and seriousness, professional norms in academia often preclude kindness. Jason Laker looks at the issue systemically in an effort to uncover why being kind and supportive to each other should be seen as surprising. He wonders how much of this contemptuous rhetoric is authentic, or rather, a performance used to socialize academics as a signal of legitimacy. He argues this incivility blights the profession and serves those who are looking to dismantle the academic purpose.
It is widely accepted that academic papers are rarely cited or even read. But what kind of data lies behind these assertions? Dahlia Remler takes a look at the academic research on citation practices and finds that whilst it is clear citation rates are low, much confusion remains over precise figures and methods for determining accurate citation analysis. In her investigation, Remler wonders whether academics are able to answer these key questions. But expert evaluation has indeed correctly discredited the overblown claim resulting from embellished journalism.
The Web of Science and its corresponding Journal Impact Factor are inadequate for an understanding of the impact of scholarly work from developing regions, argues Juan Pablo Alperin. Alternative metrics offer the opportunity to redirect incentive structures towards problems that contribute to development, or at least to local priorities. But the altmetrics community needs to actively engage with scholars from developing regions to ensure the new metrics do not continue to cater to well-known and well-established networks.
Why Inaccessibility? Despite progressive tone, attacks on academics’ lack of clarity can be profoundly regressive.
It has become popular to denounce academic writing as elitist and unhelpful. Eric Detweiler argues that inaccessibility may be a more complex issue. “Inaccessible” writing may be the result of an author trying to do things with language that conventional, “clear” uses of language cannot. Furthermore, these critiques are often launched at marginalised fields that are writing in non-standard ways in an attempt to critique staunch elitism. Academics tossing blame at each other can be part of the problem rather than the solution.