The Newsletter 57 Summer 2011

Opinion: On academia and sea elephants

Martin Marchman AndersenXavier LandesMorten Ebbe Juul Nielsen

The social benefits expected from academia are generally identified as belonging to three broad categories: research, education and contribution to wider society. Universities and higher education institutions are meant to operate within these fields. However, evaluating the current state of academia according to these criteria reveals a somewhat disturbing phenomenon. It seems that an increased pressure to produce peer-reviewed articles creates an unbalanced emphasis on the research criterion at the expense of the other two. More fatally, the pressure to produce articles has turned academia into a rat race; the fundamental structure of academic behaviour has been changed, resulting in a self-defeating and counter-productive pattern.

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