Is social sciences and humanities scholarship well served by the current and nascent academic reward mechanisms? And if not, where our options and power lie to change this for the better? Recognized as crucial for the future well-being and flourishing of humanistic scholarship, such questions have been repeatedly raised and discussed on DARIAH Open both in opinion pieces, in declaring commitments or policy reflections. In support of the ongoing European research assessment reform, we are extending this ongoing thread of discussion and invite expert perspectives from the social sciences and humanities fields to further explore the issues and opportunities our research domain face in the brave new world of research assessment. We hope in this way to spark a discussion in the arts and humanities on what we can hope to gain, and what opportunities we have to move forward.
In the first post of the series, Dr. Samuel Moore, Scholarly Communication Specialist at Cambridge University Library, and Research Associate at Homerton College, Cambridge invites us to take a step back from the actual performance indicators and revisit the research assessment discourse in the contrasting lights of the realities of the academic job market versus the unconditionality imperative of humanistic scholarship. His thoughts deeply resonate with the #IchBinHanna movement and other initiatives who, above any other kinds of reforms, call for improving the labor conditions in academia.
Graduate students are excessively optimistic about both the state of the academic job market in their field and their likelihood to publish their research in top journals, according to a new study led by University of Massachusetts Amherst economist Ina Ganguli.
Using a survey of 1330 chemistry doctoral students and tracking the participants’ jobs and publications for more than four years, Ganguli and her co-authors found that while two-thirds of their study’s respondents rated their chance of publishing as lead author in the journals Nature, Science and Cell by the end of their doctoral studies as above 10% – and sometimes much higher – less than 1% of respondents actually managed to do so four years later.
“ACRL’s Research and Scholarly Environment Committee is planning a topical issue of College & Research Libraries (C&RL) around new research on how the academic and research library workforce has accelerated change in the scholarly communications environment. We are particularly interested in articles on recent research that advances the three priority areas established in ACRL’s 2019 report Open and Equitable Scholarly Communications: Creating a More Inclusive Future (available for download or purchase): people, content, and systems. In that report, the first section on people addresses embracing diversity and inclusion, improving the working lives of people engaged in scholarly communications, and increasing awareness concerning creators’ rights. The second section, content, acknowledges the opportunity for greater inclusion and openness by rethinking what scholarship “counts” and creating more representative and open collections. The third section on systems identifies several avenues to explore: supporting sustainable technological infrastructure, creating systems that permit more access to more people, building mission-aligned organizational and financial systems, and advancing innovation in academic libraries. To learn more about the report, view a recorded webinar from when it was first released. For this C&RL topical issue, the research may use any investigative methods appropriate to addressing the research question(s). These include but are not limited to: standard quantitative and qualitative approaches, as well as critical evaluations, case studies, reflective essays, and (auto)ethnography. Articles resulting from collaborative research involving librarians and other higher education stakeholders, such as institutional researchers, faculty, administration, students, or community partners are particularly welcome. Given the focus of Open and Equitable Scholarly Communications on valuing different ways of knowing, the committee particularly welcomes adventurous scholarship, and we encourage work on issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion as they relate to academic libraries and scholarly communication. Proposals Proposals should be a maximum of 750 words. They should clearly outline the methodology and findings of the research, as well as its relevance to this topical issue, specifically its connection to the ACRL report Open and Equitable Scholarly Communications: Creating a More Inclusive Future, as described above. Prospective authors should submit a proposal by 5 p.m. Central on Monday, October 3, 2022, for open peer review. Submit via C&RL’s submission system (login required) and please note in your cover page that your submission is a proposal for the Open and Equitable Scholarly Communications topical issue….”
Corina MacDonald (2022) Imagining networked scholarly communication: self-archiving, academic labour, and the early internet, Internet Histories, DOI: 10.1080/24701475.2022.2103987
This essay explores the emergence of self-archiving practices in the 1990s as a form of academic labour that is intimately tied to the popularisation of the Internet. It argues that self-archiving is part of a sociotechnical imaginary of networked scholarly communication that has helped to shape understandings of digital scholarship and dissemination over the past three decades. Focussing on influential texts written by open access archivangelist Stevan Harnad in 1990 and 1994, the essay analyzes the language and discursive strategies used to promote self-archiving as form of collective scholarly exchange. Through these writings, Harnad helped to articulate scholars to the Internet as a medium of publication, with impacts still seen today in policy discussions around open access and the public good that shape relations of knowledge production under contemporary forms of capitalism.
“Metadata as Knowledge,” is a special issue of KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies that takes up the critical relationship between metadata and knowledge. The issue includes articles and project reports that address metadata, hidden knowledge, and labour; standards versus expression; knowledge sharing and reuse of metadata; forays into open and shared knowledge; linked data, metadata translation, and discovery; and machine learning and knowledge graphs. Although rarely an object of notice or scrutiny by its users, metadata governs the circulation of information and has the power to name, broadcast, normalize, oppress, and exclude. As the contributions to this issue demonstrate, metadata is knowledge, and metadata creators, systems, and practices must contend with how metadata means.
(Source: Editors’ introduction – Allison-Cassin, Stacy, and Dean Seeman. 2022. Metadata as Knowledge. KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies 6(3). https://doi.org/10.18357/kula.244 )
“Underpinning all these approaches to assessment reform is the brutally competitive nature of marketised higher education and the fact that precarious and exploited labour props up so much of what the university does. To this extent, open science is primarily a labour issue, not an epistemological one, although it is rarely approached by policymakers in this way. Knowledge production does not benefit from precarity or poor working conditions, not least due to the way they turn researchers into individuals competing with one another at every turn for scarce resources. If open science is to have any meaning, then, it must be grounded in a politics that is emancipatory from capital and the problems of researchers being oriented around capital at every point….
This, I argue, is what research assessment reform should be based on: building the capacity to explore and imagine different ways of producing knowledge, not simply reworking incentives towards open publishing, etc. In many ways, this means leaving behind assessment and replacing it with capacity building (as we’ve argued for in a different context elsewhere) or something altogether detached from the assessment of individual ‘performance’….”