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16 SEPTEMBER 2013

Rank Irrelevance : How Academia Lost Its Way

"It is impossible to abandon rankings outright, since the impulse to grade things seems hard–wired into human nature. Rankings also serve an important bureaucratic purpose. University administrators crave simple metrics of performance, which help guide decisions on where to invest scarce resources. They steer students and their parents toward some institutions and away from others. Finally, they help government and philanthropists make decisions about where to award lucrative grants and donations. In other words, rankings save work, eliminating the time–consuming tasks of reading of book manuscripts or carefully learning about the substance of academic fields.

The ease of using them explains, in part, why university rankings are such big business. Today, there is a veritable cottage industry for them. They run the gamut from the simple U.S. News & World Report to the NRC approach. University rankings have also gone global: foreign scholars, new private companies such as Quacquarelli Symonds, and long–standing publications such as The Times Higher Education Supplement have all entered the rankings market to tell professors where they sit in the global intellectual pecking order. ...

stakeholders within and outside academia should take all rankings with a grain of salt. Even the most sophisticated ones have flaws and biases, and capture only indirectly and poorly important things such as creative thinking and exciting teaching. Rankings of all kinds should be downgraded in university decision–making. Of course, this means that university faculty and administrators will have to put in the hard work of familiarizing themselves with the substance of the academic fields they oversee. But doing so will ultimately produce better scholarship that also speaks to audiences outside university walls."

(Peter Campbell and Michael C. Desch, 16 September 2013, Council on Foreign Relations, Inc.)

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TAGS

academia • academic fields • bureaucratic purpose • contribution to societycultural impactdemonstrable valuediverse metrics • grant money • lecturersnarrow measuresnew measurement frontier • pecking order • performance metricsperformativitypublic value • Quacquarelli Symonds • ranking • rankings • rankings market • significancestakeholdersTimes Higher Education Supplement • university academics • university administrators • university decision-making • university faculty • university rankings

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
15 JUNE 2012

Managing interdisciplinarity: a discussion of the contextual review in design research

"Although the debate about disciplinary status has not interrupted the production of innovative design research, as a relatively recent member of academia's 'tribes and territories' (Becher 1989) design is still establishing its disciplinary characteristics as a general research field and a set of specialist sub–fields. There is, for instance, some debate about whether design scholarship should include creative practice and reflection (for a sample of contrasting positions see Bayazit 2004; Downton 2001; Durling 2002; Roth 1999). Since a majority of design issues originate in everyday life individual design research questions are unlikely to fit specific disciplinary boundaries, the idea that design research definitively engages with multiple fields and literatures being widely acknowledged (Poggenpohl et al 2004). These considerations have contributed to the debate as to whether design research should conform to established models from the sciences and humanities or develop its own integral approaches. We suggest, however, that a greater focus on design's applied nature and inherent interdisciplinarity could profitably overtake the quest for disciplinary clarity."

(Carolyn Barnes and Gavin Melles, 2007)

1). Proceedings of 'Emerging Trends in Design Research', the International Association of Societies of Design Research (IASDR) Conference, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, 12–15 November 2007

TAGS

academiaacademic disciplines • applied design research • applied nature of design • applied research • Barbel Tress • Carolyn Barnes • contextual frameworks • contextual review • contextualised application • creative practice and reflection • cross-disciplinary • David Durling • design issuesdesign research • design research questions • design scholarshipdisciplinary boundaries • disciplinary characteristics • disciplinary clarity • disciplinary status • Ernest Boyer • established models • everyday life • Gary Fry • Gavin Melles • general research field • Gunther Tress • higher education • Hilla Becher • IASDR • industry-oriented knowledge • innovative design research • intellectual challenge • interdisciplinarityinterdisciplinary knowledgeInternational Association of Societies of Design Researchknowledgeknowledge production • methods and principles • Mode 1Mode 2 • Mode 2 knowledge production • multifaceted social situations • multiple fields • multiple research fields • narrative case studies • Nigan Bayazit • non-disciplinary knowledge • orthodox disciplinary knowledge • Peter Downton • Praima Chayutsahakij • professional doctorate • reflexive knowledge • researchresearch students • research supervisors • review of literatureRichard Buchanansciences and humanities • set of specialist sub-fields • Sharon Poggenpohl • situated knowledge • sources of knowledge • Susan Roth • Swinburne University of Technology • tribes and territories • vocational foundations

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
03 MAY 2012

Knowledge Unlatched: a new academic publishing business model

"The Problem: specialist books in the Humanities and Social Sciences (including but not exclusively monographs) are under threat due to spiralling prices and reduced library funds.

Access is restricted: while academics could choose to bypass existing publishers and just post content on the Web, the general consensus within academia is that they would prefer to have their books professionally published.

Only a few hundred copies make it into the eight to twelve thousand research universities, and very few teaching universities have access to these materials. For many individuals private purchase is beyond their reach.

A Possible Solution: cover the costs of creating the first digital copy through a library consortium and make the titles open access. Publishers would continue to generate additional revenues from the sale of print, ePub and PDFs in bespoke formats."

(Frances Pinter, 2011)

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TAGS

2011academiaacademic journals • academic publishing • academics • bespoke format • Bloomsbury Academicbookcontent on the webdigital convergencedigital copyeconomic changeepub • Frances Pinter • groupon • humanities and social sciences • journal subscription • knowledge access • knowledge economy • Knowledge Unlatched • library consortium • long form • long form publication • longform • longform publication • media landscape • monograph • new business modelsnew digital distribution networksold mediaopen accessPDFpeer review • professionally published • publicationpublisherpublishingpublishing model • reduced library funds • research universities • sale of printscholarly journals • specialist books • spiralling prices • teaching universities

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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