Image credit: Milena Kremakova
This series is made up of posts developed from the Accelerated Academy series of conferences. Contributions, compiled below, come from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives and explore the history, development, and structure of audit cultures in higher education, digitally mediated measurement, and the quantification of scholarship. This series is coordinated by Mark Carrigan (@) and Filip Vostal (@). Videocasts of the conference can be found on the Sociological Review blog.
The Accelerated Academy
Now a symptom of that which it sought to critique? A critical reflection on the Accelerated Academy project
Following the fourth event in the series, Mark Carrigan and Filip Vostal consider the Accelerated Academy project as a whole and how useful and productive it remains; reflecting on its evolution, diversity of perspectives, and whether the concept’s success in becoming an “academic ear worm” has inadvertently brought about an unwelcome reductionism.
Our recent conference in Prague was the fourth event in […]
Despite becoming increasingly institutionalised, there remains a lack of discourse about research metrics among much of academia
The active use of metrics in everyday research activities suggests academics have accepted them as standards of evaluation, that they are “thinking with indicators”. Yet when asked, many academics profess concern about the limitations of evaluative metrics and the extent of their use. Why is there such a discrepancy between principle and practices pertaining to metrics? Lai Ma suggests […]
How are academic lives sustained? Gender and the ethics of care in the neoliberal accelerated academy
Intensifying work demands under “new managerial” practices are changing academics’ experiences. In this environment, how are academic lives sustained? Which model of science are we engaging in? And what part does gender play? Ester Conesa explores how existing gender biases in the academy are exacerbated by caring work – still mostly taken on by women – not being properly […]
In Accelerating Academia: The Changing Structure of Academic Time, Filip Vostal examines how speed has become a key pressure within higher education through interviews with twenty academics based in the UK. While the empirical research could be broader, Luke Martell highly recommends the book for offering considered, inquiring reflections on the structures that are contributing to the acceleration of academic life.
This review originally appeared on LSE Review […]
Much of academia has become increasingly influenced by metrics and a set of metrical practices. However, few have totally understood the massive wave of conflicting rules and guidelines that are necessary in order to stabilise these metrical practices. Peter Dahler-Larsen, using examples from his own experiences in Denmark, explains how these multiple, cross-cutting rules have created a disturbing ambiguity […]
More work is required to make academic “timescapes” worth inhabiting and to open up space for creative work
Is the problem with contemporary academia really one of constant acceleration? Ulrike Felt argues that focusing too much on acceleration overlooks a more complex phenomenon at work. What is needed is careful investigation of “time generators”, the key sites in academia that create binding temporal requirements and regulations. Many of academia’s recent reforms – to funding structures, assessment exercises, […]
Advancing to the next level: the quantified self and the gamification of academic research through social networks
Measurement of performance using digital tools is now commonplace, even in institutional activities such as academic research. The phenomenon of the “quantified self” is particularly evident in academic social networks. Björn Hammarfelt, Sarah de Rijcke, Alex Rushforth, Iris Wallenburg and Roland Bal argue that ResearchGate and similar services represent a “gamification” of research, drawing on features usually associated with online […]
In the context of Trumpism and the victory of fast emotions over the slower pace of reasoning and education, Dick Pels hails the unique perspective encouraged by science; the ability to slow down, freeze-frame, and dissect things, liberated from the demands of urgency, immediacy and publicity. However, this should not detract from the existence of temporal diversity within academic […]
Writing is crucial to an academic’s role of producing, shaping and distributing knowledge. However, academic writing itself is increasingly being shaped by the contemporary university’s managerial practices and evaluation frameworks. Sharon McCulloch describes how her research on academics’ writing practices has revealed tensions around the ways in which managerial practices interact with academics’ individual career goals, disciplinary values and […]
It’s time to teach — but which time is it? Tracing academic practices through more appropriate time metrics.
Academics may be well aware of mounting time pressures but is standard clock-time useful for understanding academic work? Alexander Mitterle, Carsten Würmann, and Roland Bloch look at how teaching is understood in relation to time in German universities. They report how the SWS, a figure related to an individual course frame, can be understood as a quantifiable time classification, but one […]
Ruth Müller draws attention to the social and epistemic effects of a culture of speed in academia. Her research looks at how this wider culture has produced in particular two modes of being and relating for researchers: anticipatory acceleration and latent individualization. These modes could have significant effects on the type of research questions explored and on scientific networks […]
What makes research excellent? Digging into the measures aimed at quantifying and promoting research excellence.
“Research excellence” is a tricky concept in theory and arguably trickier to capture in practice. Toni Pustovrh shares findings from a recent study which looks at how research is currently quantified and evaluated in Slovenia. In-depth interviews with scientists reveal a variety of views on the concept and the current mechanisms in place. The analysis suggests that neither a predominantly peer-review based […]
Metrics in academia are often an opaque mess, filled with biases and ill-judged assumptions that are used in overly deterministic ways. By getting involved with their design, academics can productively push metrics in a more transparent direction. Chris Elsden, Sebastian Mellor and Rob Comber introduce an example of designing metrics within their own institution. Using the metric of grant income, their tool ResViz […]
There are two contrasting temporal logics in academia that shape the ways in which research is understood: project time and process time. Oili-Helena Ylijoki explores the differences between the two. On one hand, there is the tightly scheduled, linear, decontextualized, predictable and compressed project time, and on the other, there is the unbounded, multi-directional, context-dependent, emergent and timeless process time. Due to […]
Academics generally recognise that the scholarly publishing business model is flawed, the impact factor does not point to quality, and open access is a good idea. And yet, academics continue to submit their work to the same for-profit journals. Philip Moriarty looks at what is keeping academics from practicing what they preach. Despite many efforts to counter the perception, journal ‘branding’ […]
Accounting for Impact? How the Impact Factor is shaping research and what this means for knowledge production.
Why does the impact factor continue to play such a consequential role in academia? Alex Rushforth and Sarah de Rijcke look at how considerations of the metric enter in from early stages of research planning to the later stages of publication. Even with initiatives against the use of impact factors, scientists themselves will likely err on the side of caution and continue […]
Mathematicians against the clock: Accelerated work and accelerated careers in the Neoliberal University
Even though we grapple with different scientific questions, academics in different disciplines all face the same ongoing challenges with academic acceleration. Dr Milena Kremakova argues mathematics as a discipline is an excellent test case for understanding recent transformations in academia — and a cautionary tale for the social sciences and humanities. The main problem is that technocratic time of the neoliberal […]
Ancient Cultures of Conceit Reloaded? A comparative look at the rise of metrics in higher education.
When considering the power of metrics and audit culture in higher education, are we at risk of romanticising the past? Have academics ever really worked in an environment free from ‘measurement’? Roger Burrows draws on his own recollection of the 1986 Research Selectivity Exercise (RSE), scholarly work on academic labour and fictional portrayals of academic life, which all demonstrate the substantial expansion of the role […]