Redefining Scholarship in an Era of Change

Decades ago, PhDs were given our sparsely, faculty were seen as isolated figures in their white towers of academia and journals were published on paper. Some of those things have changed. PhDs are still given our sparingly, but it is something that is more attainable to many (or at least to some) and faculty are still diong their research. However, the research being done by faculty is not purely being published injournals being printed on paper. There are definite changes happening! Many of the researchers are involved in varying types of research that don't fit into the traditional view of research as defined decades ago.


Definitions from decades ago should not be kept purely for the sake of keeping a rigid structure in place that can be understood. Honestly, for a new generation of up and coming scholars, it can't.  APA updates different aspects of their formatting to move away from the age of typewriters... sometimes. They aren't perfect, but with APA 7, there iis no need to have two spaces after each sentence. And that's how it was with APA 5, too, which is primarily what I used in my undergraduate work.


Looking at expectations of professors, though, these expectations have not changed much. If anything, it is easier for professors to publish and so they are expected to do so more quickly than in decades past. These traditional views mean taht we are still judging faculty for their number of articles that have been published in a peer review process, and through a specific ways through which they can serve their communities. And these things are no longer quite as accurate as they once were.


And yet, as we keep these structures in place, like the requirements for rank and tenure, we are prescribing for aspiring professors what it is they should be doing. We are potentially taking them away from the things that they should be doing in order to fulfill an obligation that makes it so that they are "checking boxes'' instead of doing research and taking on projects that can help to expand the knowledge in the field and make it so that these understandings, updates and aids are helpful to those in the field. And that is how faculty can make the biggest impact - by working with those in the field and doing iterations of their projects. And yet, that kind of work, when done, does not help the aspiring professor to meet the requirements for tenure.


So, perhaps the requirements need to bere-examined. These requirements are a stretch for many and not in how quickly they need to be publishing. That is a good stretch! But taking an aspiring professor away from  their desired work and drive to make changes in the world merely for the sake of meeting a job's (seemingly)  arbitrary requirements is harming not only that person by pulling them away form their research agenda and what drove them to the field, it hurts those who could be helped by that person who could learn from and work with those who those professionals.

Comments

  1. I had similar thoughts in one of my blog posts about how academia seems to be sticking with an antiquated system. I think you are right about re-examining the requirements. One thing I didn't write about was how I feel about gate-keeping. I actually like it. I like peer review. I like expertise. But I think we are replacing quality gate-keeping with quantity metrics. I think your sense of "harm" is probably true. I have lived around academics my whole life and tenure is a grueling process that seems like hazing in some contexts.

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