Professor Jo Ann Oravec of the Information Technology and Supply Chain Management Department at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater has published the following peer-reviewed articles this spring. Professor Oravec is currently serving as a member of the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies.
“The ‘Dark Side’ of Academics? Emerging Issues in the Gaming and Manipulation of Metrics in Higher Education” in the “Review of Higher Education” (Johns Hopkins University Press) and “Academic Metrics and the Community Engagement of Tertiary Education Institutions: Emerging Issues in Gaming, Manipulation, and Trust.” in “Tertiary Education and Management” (Taylor & Francis). The second article adopts a community engagement perspective on comparable issues.
“The ‘Dark Side’ of Academics? Emerging Issues in the Gaming and Manipulation of Metrics in Higher Education” is a dramatic expansion of the use of metrics in higher education institutions worldwide has brought with it gaming and manipulation practices designed to enhance artificially both individual and institutional reputation, including coercive citation, forced joint authorship, ghostwriting, H-index manipulation, and many others. This article maps assortments of these emerging practices from a social action system perspective and analyzes their linkages with the norms and processes that support academic celebrity and stardom. It also analyzes the commentary of members of the academic community (along with some journalists and public figures) as to the impacts the normalizations of some gaming and manipulation practices are having on the academic identities of those associated with higher education as well as on the character of academic systems. It analyzes with a social system approach some recently-proposed strategies for containing the proliferations of these practices as well as for mitigating their negative aspects (such as misallocation of time and other resources). It also discusses strategies toward making the evaluations of the intellectual production of faculty and staff more sensitive and nuanced processes rather than mechanical procedures that can be readily gamed.