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Excellence is Bullshit

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One variant of the "Excellence is Bullshit" talk about evaluation, rankings etc. Builds on "Excellence R Us" Moore et al Palgrave Communications, 2017

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Excellence is Bullshit

  1. 1. Excellence is Bullshit: Rethinking Research Evaluation for a Networked World @cameronneylon http://orcid.org/0000-0002-0068-716X
  2. 2. “[The purpose of bullshit] is to impress the listener and the reader with words that communicate that […]something is being or has been done, words that are neither true nor false, and so obscure the facts of the matter being discussed” Harry Frankfurt
  3. 3. “[The purpose of bullshit] is to impress the listener and the reader with words that communicate that […]something is being or has been done, words that are neither true nor false, and so obscure the facts of the matter being discussed” Wikipedia
  4. 4. “[The purpose of bullshit] is to impress the listener and the reader with words that communicate that […]something is being or has been done, words that are neither true nor false, and so obscure the facts of the matter being discussed” Wikipedia
  5. 5. “[The purpose of bullshit] is to impress the listener and the reader with words that communicate that […]something is being or has been done, words that are neither true nor false, and so obscure the facts of the matter being discussed” Wikipedia
  6. 6. “[The purpose of bullshit] is to impress the listener and the reader with words that communicate that […]something is being or has been done, words that are neither true nor false, and so obscure the facts of the matter being discussed” Wikipedia
  7. 7. “[The purpose of bullshit] is to impress the listener and the reader with words that communicate that […]something is being or has been done, words that are neither true nor false, and so obscure the facts of the matter that should be discussed”
  8. 8. My work is excellent…
  9. 9. This talk is excellent…
  10. 10. “[…a] commitment to excellence and advancement on merit”
  11. 11. “[…a] commitment to excellence and advancement on merit” University College London
  12. 12. “[…a] commitment to excellence and advancement on merit” University College London
  13. 13. What do we mean when we use the word… “excellence”?
  14. 14. Pursuit of excellence: We strive for excellence, seeking to apply the highest standards to benefit… University of Queensland
  15. 15. The university pursues academic excellence through the creation, preservation… University of San Diego
  16. 16. …to strive for excellence and distinction… Curtin University
  17. 17. We prize excellence Cape Peninsula University of Technology
  18. 18. We demand excellence University of Westminster
  19. 19. …with world- class excellence across all of its departments Princeton
  20. 20. As a world-leading centre of academic excellence we aim… University of Edinburgh
  21. 21. The university counts the diversity of its community as […] integral to its mission of excellence, and it is committed to diversity and inclusiveness in both educational… University of Maryland
  22. 22. “[…a] commitment to excellence and advancement on merit… Fairness and equality… Diversity University College London
  23. 23. excellence in…?
  24. 24. excellence in professionally relevant teaching University of Westminster
  25. 25. excellence in research and education Indiana University
  26. 26. excellence in research, education and knowledge exchange Strathclyde University
  27. 27. excellence in teaching, research, and public engagement Cornell University
  28. 28. …a center of excellence for cultural, athletic and other events University of Toledo
  29. 29. …internationally recognized excellence in information technology services and infrastructure. Indiana University
  30. 30. What do we mean when we use the word… “excellence”?
  31. 31. How can we determine or measure… “excellence”?
  32. 32. We prize academic excellence at UC Davis. More than 500 of our faculty have earned prestigious [..] honors[..] rank[ings]. UC Davis
  33. 33. Pursuing excellence means being satisfied with no less than the highest goals we can envision. University of Missouri
  34. 34. Pursuing excellence involves being informed by regional, national and global standards, as well as our personal expectations. University of Missouri
  35. 35. “excellence” is the holy grail of academic life Michèle Lamont How Professors Think
  36. 36. excellence is produced and defined in a multitude of sites and by an array of actors Michèle Lamont How Professors Think
  37. 37. excellence is produced and defined in a multitude of sites and by an array of actors Michèle Lamont How Professors Think
  38. 38. excellence is produced and defined in a multitude of sites and by an array of actors Michèle Lamont How Professors Think
  39. 39. excellence is produced and defined in a multitude of sites and by an array of actors Michèle Lamont How Professors Think
  40. 40. “excellence” tells us nothing about how important the science is and everything about who decides. Jack Stilgoe Against Excellence
  41. 41. Using the word excellence is a way of avoiding a difficult conversation
  42. 42. Using the word excellence is a way of saying something is being or has been done
  43. 43. Using the word excellence is a way of using words that are neither true nor false
  44. 44. Using the word excellence is a way of obscuring the facts of the matter that should be discussed
  45. 45. Using the word excellence is a way of bullshitting ourselves
  46. 46. Using the word excellence is a way of avoiding talking about values
  47. 47. Impact Research Economic Cultural Education Health Environment
  48. 48. Impact Research Economic Cultural Education Health Environment excellence
  49. 49. Impact Research Economic Cultural Education Health Environment
  50. 50. Impact Research Economic Cultural Education Health Environment impact
  51. 51. Impact Research Economic Cultural Education Health Environment quality
  52. 52. Impact Research Economic Cultural Education Health Environment innovation
  53. 53. Impact Research Economic Cultural Education Health Environment
  54. 54. Impact Research Economic Cultural Education Health Environment
  55. 55. Impact Research Economic Cultural Education Health Environment
  56. 56. Impact Research Economic Cultural Education Health Environment
  57. 57. Impact evaluation
  58. 58. …what we may be doing […] when we make [a] value judgement of a […] work... Barbara Herrnstein Smith Contingencies of Value
  59. 59. …articulating an estimate of how well that work will serve implicitly defined functions… Barbara Herrnstein Smith Contingencies of Value
  60. 60. …for an implicitly defined audience… Barbara Herrnstein Smith Contingencies of Value
  61. 61. …experiencing the work under implicitly defined conditions… Barbara Herrnstein Smith Contingencies of Value
  62. 62. …the work of evaluation is to make these implicit factors explicit.
  63. 63. Impact Research Economic Cultural Education Health Environment
  64. 64. Impact There is some good news…
  65. 65. http://www.flickr.com/photos/verzo/8020565592/ CC  BY
  66. 66. https://www.flickr.com/photos/see-­‐through-­‐the-­‐eye-­‐of-­‐g/5392290809  CC  BY
  67. 67. https://www.flickr.com/photos/jenny-­‐pics/3239638494  CC  BY
  68. 68. Citation
  69. 69. Bookmark Citation
  70. 70. Bookmark Citation Social  media conversation
  71. 71. Bookmark Citation Previous   co-­‐authorship Conference co-­‐attendance Social  media conversation
  72. 72. Impact There is some bad news…
  73. 73. Impact “excellence” becomes a performance
  74. 74. Impact …performance of “excellence”
  75. 75. Impact …in the place of excellent performance
  76. 76. “[…a] commitment to excellence and advancement on merit… Fairness and equality… Diversity University College London
  77. 77. Impact Change the narrative…
  78. 78. Impact “soundness”
  79. 79. Impact “practice”
  80. 80. “social practice” Impact
  81. 81. Impact Answers are easy…
  82. 82. Impact …it’s the questions that are hard
  83. 83. Impact How do we evaluate whether we are “achieving maximum positive social, environmental and economic benefit”?
  84. 84. Impact How do we evaluate whether we are “[d]eveloping future generations of leaders in scholarship, research, the learned professions, the public sector, business and innovation”?
  85. 85. Impact How do we hold ourselves to values of “fairness and equality, diversity, collegiality and community-building, inclusiveness, openness, ethically acceptable standards of conduct…”
  86. 86. @cameronneylon http://orcid.org/0000-0002-0068-716X Slides: https://t.co/vNkQ9ZMhwm

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