Blogs > Liberty and Power > Academic Star Chambers

Oct 11, 2009 3:06 pm

Academic Star Chambers

Business-style quantification of academic performance is now so thoroughly in place that we can scarcely remember a time when the" citation index" and"impact score" were not part of our discourse.

It only amazes me how completely faculties have been bamboozled into adopting the administrative mindset: if it cannot be counted, it simply doesn't count.

At my institution, where I serve on the Tenure and Promotion Committee, the review committee members are only given the files a week or so before meeting. Suffice to say there is no time to read, let alone carefully consider, the contributions of someone to a field of study. So what do we do?

We pull up impact scores and assess the rating of different journals, issue by issue, to see if the contributions is"worth" anything. It takes a few minutes. Then we move on to the next file.

I am virtually alone on the committee in explicitly rejecting this approach, since, if numbers are allowed to do the talking, then the review process simply becomes an exercise in clerical number-crunching. Why not just have a secretary compile the statisticis?

The alternative, of course, would be to allow review committees an opportunity to read and assess their colleagues' work based on intellectual criteria. Heaven forbid!

I can only say how grateful I am that I received tenure and promotion to full professor before the business-school mindset completely corrupted the system and turned us all into shills for the administrative elite.

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