Toward a values-aligned Academy – A conversation with Rebecca Kennison, Simone Sacchi, and Chris Long
Join us for a reflection on the work that went into the HuMetricsHSS white paper “Walking the Talk: Toward a Values-Aligned Academy,” assessing from interviews the reappointment, promotion, and tenure (RPT) processes in 14 research universities mostly in the Midwest of the USA.
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Join us for a reflection on the work that went into the HuMetricsHSS white paper “Walking the Talk: Toward a Values-Aligned Academy,” assessing from interviews the reappointment, promotion, and tenure (RPT) processes in 10 research universities in the Midwest of the USA.
At Access 2 Perspectives, we provide novel insights into the communication and management of Research. Our goal is to equip researchers with the skills and enthusiasm they need to pursue a successful and joyful career.
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Walking the Talk: Toward a Values-Aligned Academy is the culmination of 18 months of research interviews across the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA). Conducted by the HuMetricsHSS Initiative as an extension of their previous work on values-enacted scholarly practice, the interviews focused on current systems of evaluation within BTAA institutions, the potential problems and inequalities of those processes, the kinds of scholarly work that could be better recognized and rewarded, and the contexts and pressures evaluators are under, including, as the process progressed, the onset and ongoing conditions of COVID-19. The interviews focused primarily on the reappointment, promotion, and tenure (RPT) process. Interviewees outlined a number of issues to be addressed, including toxicity in evaluation, scholars’ increased alienation from the work they are passionate about, and a high-level virtue-signaling of values by institutions without the infrastructure or resources to support the enactment of those values. Based on these conversations, this white paper offers a set of recommendations for making wide-scale change to address systematic injustice, erasure, and devaluation of academic labor in order to strengthen the positive public impact of scholarship.humetricshss.org/walking-the-talk/
References and Appendices:
- REFERENCES, DOI: https://doi.org/10.17613/96g4-5556
- APPENDIX A: Research Interview Script, DOI: https://doi.org/10.17613/s981-cw90
- APPENDIX B: Research Participant Information and Consent Form, DOI: https://doi.org/10.17613/m0yj-2g40
- APPENDIX C: Faculty Reporting Systems, DOI: https://doi.org/10.17613/z918-1f97
- APPENDIX D: Interview Demographics, DOI: https://doi.org/10.17613/wapf-bn53
- APPENDIX E: Big Ten Academic Alliance Values, DOI: https://doi.org/10.17613/zwnt-z225
- APPENDIX F: Charting Pathways of Intellectual Leadership, DOI: https://doi.org/10.17613/fwn0-h738
- APPENDIX G: Faculty Annual Review Forms, DOI: https://doi.org/10.17613/w69a-3094
- APPENDIX H: Appointment, Reappointment, Tenure, and Promotion Recommendations, DOI: https://doi.org/10.17613/tajj-yg52
Jo: You’re listening to Access 2 Perspectives Conversations. My name is Jo Havemann, and today I’m here with three other people, namely Rebecca Kennington, Simona Saki, and Chris Long. Welcome.
Guests: Thank you.
Jo: Thanks very much for joining me. It’s been a couple of weeks ago that you, together with a bigger group of people, published a white paper on open access in the open, like from an open Science perspective and interrogated around community needs and perspectives. Basically, for today’s topic, would you, Simone, maybe start by sharing with us the scope of the white paper, the intentions and motivations behind and how the group of contributors and authors came together?
Simona: I’m Simona Saki. I’m the open science librarian at the European University Institute, and I think that just a little bit of history of how we came together first might make sense in order to provide some context for the white paper the Humetrics HSS initiative studied in 2016, I think as an informal group of people that got together to sort of investigate ways to reshape a little bit assessment in the humanities and social science. At least that was the initial goal, to sort of try to understand how to remediate a bit the biases in the way scholars in the humanities and social science were assessed, how their scholarly work was valued, and so on. So we came together, and this became something which we called Humetrics HSS, which originally stands for Human Metrics in the Humanities and Social Sciences. And after a few years of working together, this white paper came about as the result of an intensive study, qualitative study. And I think that maybe Rebecca and Chris can take up a little bit of the methodology of how we did it and what is the main purpose and what ended up being.
Jo: Yes, thank you for framing your positioning. And maybe Chris and Rebecca or Rebecca first, if you share with us also where you currently work or what your affiliation is in context of the white paper and also with other projects that you’ve done related to this work.
Rebecca: Yeah. Thanks. So I’m Rebecca Kennington. I’m the executive director of Ken Consultants, which is a nonprofit consultancy that works with higher education to try to transform everything. So a goal we all have in common. And I have the pleasure of working with the other members of the Humetrics team on really focusing on that. And to Simone’s introduction in terms of the methodology, I was part of the team, along with Chris and Bonnie Thornton Dill and Penny Weber, and then the rest of the team, to come up with a methodology that would really work for all of us. We interviewed 123 members of the Big Ten Academic Alliance. Maybe Chris will explain a little bit about what that is, but it’s a group of research intensive universities in the United States, and we talked to a variety of people. So Deans and faculty affairs, vice presidents and people who oversee research assessment, librarians, and any number of people to really try to understand the problems that they were encountering and the challenges that they were encountering, particularly in thinking about a Values Enacted Academy. So that was what we were really focused on. And open access is part of that. Openness is one of the values that we have as a core value for our group, but along with several others. And again, maybe I’ll give Chris an opportunity to talk a bit about that framework of methodology. Thank you.
Jo: Thank you. Yeah. Chris, also, welcome to you as well. So what’s your affiliation and also, what’s the context with them?
Chris: Well, thank you, Jo. It’s really a pleasure to be with you and in conversation with my colleagues here in a public forum. I’m Chris Long. I’m the Dean of the College of Arts and Letters and the Dean of the Honors College at Michigan State University. And one of the things that we have been intentional about since we started, as Simone said in 2016, is trying to live our values out in everything we do. And one of the things that we want to make sure we do is name the colleagues who have been part of this. And I know Rebecca has started doing a little bit of that. So I did want to name the teammates that we have here when we started in 2016, Stacey Conkel was a member of the team, and in the interim, she has sort of stepped into her own outside of working directly with Humetrics. But we have Penny Weber, Bonnie Russell, Bonnie Thorton Dill, Simona, Jason Rhodey, Rebecca, myself, and Nikki Agate as well. So those are the sort of the team members. And one of the things you’ll see at the beginning of our white paper is an attempt to write each other into the paper as an intentional effort to think about what the meaning of authorship might be in a Values Enacted Academy when everything we do is co authored to some degree, whether that be through conceptualizing frameworks, to thinking about the methodology, to reviewing work, to editing it, copy editing it, gathering the references, reviewing it. So one of the things that we’ve been committed to in the project is to expand our understanding of scholarship from a very narrow set of limited indicators that are often focused on individuals, as if we acted in isolation from one another, and to extend our vision of scholarship to recognize the embedded network of relationships in which we always find ourselves. And that really enhanced and enriched the work. One of the things that happened in that initial institution conversation in the triangle SCI conversation was that we originally thought we were going to just transform indicators and metrics. We came up with this idea that we would reverse engineer things. Right now, we value what we measure. What we wanted to do was measure what we value. What we learned over the course of the years is that the conversation around identifying your values with your colleagues and then intentionally finding ways to put those values into practice through your scholarship, through your teaching, through your community engagement is the real challenge. And that has the capacity to transform the higher education endeavor by aligning the things we say we care about with how we actually interact with one another. And that’s really at the heart of what we discovered in this white paper, which is that there is a great deal of desire for change in higher education. We encountered so many people who said, yeah, it’s broken. We don’t measure scholarship in an effective way, but how to fix it is a different question. And that’s sort of some of the recommendations we have in the white paper are all about that.
Simona: And I think that related to what Chris just said. We realized early on that there was no solution that would fit or fix actually all the context and situations. So instead of we started by crafting a set of values for the humanities and the social Sciences, and we ended up sort of like making it something that was not worth the effort at the end because we realized that it was much more important to sort of like create a framework that would allow individuals and groups of people at the level of College, institution or just a lab to really clearly try to identify their own values with respect to what they care about in terms of research on the scholarly life. So I think that the sort of contextual aspect of working with the values is essential to our work. And this came up in the white paper as well.
Rebecca: Sure. One of the things that I think is really important about what we’re saying here as well is the intentionality at every level of the work that’s being done. So we like to talk a bit about what we call microtransactions. Jason Rhodey came up with this term, but microtransactions, which are everything that we do together and within our daily life and not just our scholarly life, although we focus on that, but just really having intentionality in bringing values to everything that we do and really interrogating what that looks like is crucial to the work that we’re doing. And again, that is reflected in this piece, but also in everything that we try to do collectively with each other and outside and in these conversations and so on.
Jo: Could we briefly talk about the groups of people that you also mentioned? So there are various stakeholders in academia and scholarly knowledge dissemination from knowledge acquisition being the researchers primarily, but also other stakeholders. So were you targeting a specific stakeholder group within the scholarly system or explicitly trying to balance and level across all stakeholders. And I’m also asking if the response is different and from different stakeholder groups, and then also in the light of the values that were expressed or addressed in the conversations or through the survey. Chris, would you like to start?
Chris: Sure. Yeah. We have a great one of the awesome things about the white paper are the appendices and a big shout out to Bonnie Russell, who did a lot of work with some of the graphics around them. We have an appendix around that indicates all the different stakeholders, the different institutions and the different groups that we had. The Mellon foundation funded this research, and we agreed with them that we wanted to focus on one specific subgroup of the US academic environment or higher education environment. So given that Bonnie Thornton Dill is the Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland, and I’m the Dean at Michigan State, it made some sense to focus on the Big Ten Academic Alliance, which is a group of 14 universities, most of them public. But Northwestern is a private institution, and we really tried to engage stakeholders from administration, from the faculty, faculty, shared governance, faculty, Senate, from librarians, and sorted to get a broad sense of the swath of the issue. We did focus on the promotion and ten year process, so that was also part of the agreement with the Mellon Foundation. What we found, of course, is a lot of really important things to think about and learn about with respect to how faculty who are in tenure stream positions are privileged in certain ways and how so much of the work that our non tenure system colleagues are doing remain invisible to the systems of evaluation. And that work is marginalized, really, in ways that undermine the integrity of what we’re doing in higher education. So part of what we’re learning in this process is how can we think more holistically about the endeavor that we’re undertaking in higher education so that everyone, regardless of appointment type in terms of their status and their role in the institution, can participate in academic life in a robust and meaningful way?
Jo: Thank you. Simona, could you talk a little bit about the values that were highlighted through the white paper and also maybe values that you assume would be important for various stakeholders or the target group is one, and whether any unanticipated or surprising responses and what was seen as a value?
Simona: Well, I think that the perspective of the white paper was actually to capture real life experience and expectations and issues from these groups of people from the Victorian Academic Alliance universities. And therefore, the way the interviews were shaped and the way the outcome of the white paper in some way is shaped is actually in sort of a distillation of what came from them as of course, as a limited pool of sample. Let me use the terminal being between quotes. But I think that it was, with the numbers of interviews that were actually concluded, well enough samples to understand what are the main and core issues that possibly need to be tackled. And I think that the white paper, even in the executive summary, there are some core recommendations that we sort of, like prepared as sort of a reflection upon the answer that we got and the values themselves. As I said, we are not really concentrating now on defining values for others. It’s more about making them empower people to reflect upon their own values. And I think that the recommendations from the white paper really function in this way. So there are suggestions, augmented suggestions to take up certain specific activities with yourself, actually with your groups, within your organization or within your Department. And that’s how we actually operate it there. But I think that maybe Rebecca can add something more there.
Jo: Yeah. Thank you. I just wanted to add, when I’m asking about the values like it’s so often referenced, like, oh, we should go back to our values, and then a few values are being mentioned, like transparency, rigorous research, research integrity. And now how can these values be served? And I think any human being or scientist can align with values. But why is it so important to remind ourselves of values that we naturally comply with? Rebecca?
Rebecca: So one of the pieces of this work that is really important and going back to the appendices that it ends up in the appendix, is we looked at the value statements that were presented by the Big Ten Academic Alliance universities within documents that they’ve put out strategic plans or other documents that outlined what they consider to be their own values and dug those out and then put that in a grid form to see that there are some there are a long list of values that universities say that they care about. One of the things that we’re interested in looking at is what the gap is between the values that universities say that they care about and the actual work that’s being done at the University. So one of the things that every single University that we talked to says that diversity is a crucial important value, that they hold, what they mean by that and how it’s being expressed and in what ways. Diversity of what and by whom. Inclusion, as we know, is also a problematic term because who gets to be included and by whom. And so taking a look at those things and interrogating that, and then as you pointed out in your question, Jo, about how these values go across disciplines and into individuals, I think there’s a lot of similarity. This is what we’re actually hearing back to what Simona was talking about as well. What we heard was actually much more consistent across all the 123 people that we talked to than we did inconsistency. With that said, there were some people who were very keen on using the traditional metrics that we have in place in order to understand what’s going on at their University and benchmarking against other universities. And all this work that we know happens throughout the Academy and everywhere, I think everywhere in the Academy is very much focused on that kind of metrics question. But what we also heard even within those interviews among people who were very passionate about those benchmarks and metrics and so on was an understanding that the individual was really important and the work that was being done at the individual level was really important. And really how can you create success for people, which is something that was at the heart of everything. So I’ve wandered off a bit from how I started there. But going back to the range of values and again, this goes back to the intentionality. I think we all know there are kinds of values that we have in place, but then there are some things that we also like to point out. The values are not always positive. We think of values as very positive things. But people did mention some values that might not be so positive. If I could put it that way. Whether you think competition is a positive or negative, for example, some competition got raised as a value that some people have. So I don’t know what that is.
Jo: I personally feel that some people might see competition as a source for success or in the academic context, rather innovation. Competition is a necessity for innovation and I personally don’t believe in that. But maybe that’s how they wanted to frame that positively. There are actually 108 values mentioned in Appendix E. Thanks, Chris, for pointing that out. Just to mention a few responsibility, openness, competitiveness, as we just said, practicality, cooperation, reliability, humility, open process, reciprocity, equality, caring, aspiration just randomly reading from the list, acceptance, empowering others, stewardship, attunement, that’s a term I’m not as familiar with as a nonnative English speaker. As you can imagine, holism, yeah. And the list goes on. So just to give our listeners a concept of what we are talking about and you might have had some of these words in mind. Now, Chris, why are we talking about this, about values in the light of really changing the system in a way? Because it was mentioned that art is commonly accepted within academia. There’s a frequent narrative of a broken system. So are values being compromised by the broken system, how is it that the values get compromised and how can we fix that? Quick fix, please.
Chris: I appreciate that question. It’s a big one, but it really gets to the heart of the Humetrics initiative. You mentioned, Jo, a kind of conflict, or at least one approach to academics and to knowledge creation. It goes back to ancient Greek thinking, at least that it’s kind of an agonistic practice. You just bring ideas together, clash and combat and all this war, metaphors, very much of a competitive attitude, and then the truth will sort of come out of that. And I think what we’re arguing for is that the approach to knowledge creation, to teaching, to academic life is ultimately impoverished. It’s ultimately rooted in a kind of metaphor that’s destructive. And I think what we’re trying to open up is a space for the intentional practice of values and acumen. And what we mean by that is taking the time to think carefully about the things that you care most deeply about and then finding ways with your colleagues to put the values that give meaning to your life into practice in the way you undertake your work as an academic. And what we’re experiencing right now across higher education, and I don’t think it’s unique. It’s not unique to the United States. I hear it in conversations with colleagues across the globe. The price many people are paying for entrance into higher education and into the Academy is a compromise of their values. We say the number one value in the Big Ten Academic Alliance value statements that we found is diversity. And yet we heard over and over again from chief diversity officers in our interviews, from colleagues doing work that is engaged with Indigenous communities or minoritized communities that they’re having to do extra work, they’re having to create spend energy to create the space where this work is recognized, where the contours of it are appreciated, and where the complexity and the time it takes to build the trust to do the work with integrity is not being captured by the system. So we say we care about diversity, but the structures pull us away from practices of diversity that would enrich our scholarship, enrich our teaching, and enrich our lives together. So that’s why we have a toxic culture in higher education. I think that’s probably why we have a toxic culture more broadly and alienation from our own values. And the Humetrics initiative with many, many other colleagues across the globe who are really working intentionally into this space, are trying to undertake an intervention that is not to overlay another set of metrics, another set of indicators, but actually to do the hard work of identifying the values we care most deeply about. And then this is the critical part, intentionally putting them into practice together and holding ourselves accountable to the things we say we care most deeply about. It really is in those conversations about okay, you say you care about transdisciplinary knowledge. Well, why does the system for promotion in tenure focus largely on disciplines and disciplinary ways of knowing? That’s just not how it should function if you really mean what you say you care about.
Rebecca: Another thing that we really heard a lot was about the importance of community engaged work and that this is a priority for universities everywhere. But the concept of helicopter researchers is not unique to the global south. It happens everywhere in communities all around communities just outside of the universities that have always felt like people would come in, do their research, and then leave them there, as opposed to building the community relationships that are needed to have truly community engaged work. And that, again, was a theme that we heard across all of our interviews, the importance of community engaged work. And yet the time frame that people are given in order to do their work, that doesn’t allow for building those communities and really becoming engaged and really becoming part of those communities, and that there’s a conflict between, again, the values of the University and that the researchers themselves have to do that real deep community engagement to really have the community as their participants. And I’ve been to several symposia lately where people have been talking about trust in science. And at core of putting together the trust in science is that community engaged aspect. But you have to be part, again, part of the community. And this takes time. It takes years to become part of a community. And within the Academy, we don’t allow for that when what you’re needing to do is publish frequently and so on, that there’s not that time that can go in there. And so that’s, again, one of those really core things that is in conflict between what the University says that it wants, what the researchers actually really want, and then how the system works against that by not allowing for that time and effort and the real human parts of the research to come to the fore.
Jo: Yeah. Now that we outlined the difficulties and the challenges and also the scope, I would like to ask maybe again, difficult question in the sense of whether there are any specific barriers that respondents to the interviews could point towards that can then be targeted and addressed in a solution oriented manner to dismantle those areas and change them towards an improved system? Like we mentioned already, the publication pressure away from matrices. But I mean, quality measurement needs to happen somehow. So where there are already ideas that were outlined and maybe in some institutions already in our departments, at least already in practice, that could solve the issue and be pragmatic with resources for others to adopt. Chris.
Chris: Yeah. So a couple of things. So we have a list of recommendations in the white paper that people can look at. One of the things that is practical just for a practical example, as you’re asking for, to follow up on Rebecca’s example of community engagement work, how do you know and make legible the work that goes into that? We have a recommendation based actually on a center that’s happening at the University of Minnesota, where they have a community engaged research center, where they invite colleagues who are pulling their dossier together. If they have community engaged research, they can submit their dossier to this committee. And that committee will write a letter about the community engaged work, almost a kind of peer review. It’s external to the person’s Department, but it’s written by people who have expertise in this kind of scholarship. So that can be part of the review dossier. That’s a kind of relatively simple structure to implement at the University level that would give the richness and the texture of community engaged research credibility and legibility to those evaluating the work. That’s a kind of institutional piece. The other thing that I would say is Humetrics initiative is really committed to rethinking the meaning of quality itself and connecting what we think of as quality with the intentional enactment of values. And so finding ways to make your values legible to those evaluating your work and then how you put that into practice. Openness is a perfect example. Jo, you were bringing that up earlier in the conversation. If you care about openness, if that’s a core value of yours, and in many institutions in the Big ten public research institutions, making ideas public as a core value, then you should be able to show how many of your publications, for example, have been published in open access format. That would be one way of enacting that commitment to openness. And so then, of course, you begin to nurture that community of open access research and make the research more public. And it has a kind of accumulative effect. So there are sort of structural things that we can do. But then there are very personal things. Just if you care about diversity, who are you citing in your work? What work are you reading? Have you done an audit of your own bibliographies in your own education? What’s exciting is that it can work on a very personal level and in certain things that can be done just by deciding to do it. And then there are these bigger structural issues that we have to address that take a little more time.
Jo: Yes, Simona, also to this, I’d like to ask you as another nonnative English Speaker in this round, how do you see the language as a barrier in the current publishing system and our opportunities for multilingualism. But also I really wanted your address to add to what Christian said. Please go ahead.
Simona: No, sure. Well, just a couple of additions to what Chris just said, because I think that you mentioned the barriers at the very beginning of your question. And I think the matrixation of the Academy is definitely one of the major barriers because of course, it seems that everybody reports with somebody else and there’s an issue of scale in trying to figure out what performance means, what is going well, and what is not going well. And especially when you think about big institutions with thousands of people in various roles working towards the major goal of the institution itself, measuring something in a quantitative way seems to be the only possible way to proceed because it’s the only way to scale at least in a traditional mindset. But I think that the issue is even more at the root of this is actually the idea that you don’t have time to think differently. And that’s why we put emphasis. And actually that’s the way we also try to run our own workshops. And I think that Nikki Nika Gate and Jason Rodney would run many of them. Even add more to that. But the general idea is just to let people have time to think and reflect on what Chris said, called microtransactions. It’s all the things and Rebecca as well, all the things that come to your everyday work as a scholar and how those things that might feel as natural as possible to you. But when you put intentionality in thinking about them, you can find a lot of beats and pieces or practical aspects that you can actually sort of change slightly in order to embed one of your values in the way you work. The citation example is a good one. It’s also when you’re creating a syllabus, for example, thinking about the values of diversity, thinking about the values of openness as well, just to pick the two that were mentioned before. So there are a lot of micro transactions there that really can trigger a change. Going back to the idea of language, that’s a big problem that would deserve an entire podcast on its own. It’s a bit better, that’s for sure. The English language is recognized worldwide as the kind of only language to some extent that would feed R one institution’s kind of research and the scholarly communication around different languages. It’s an enormous challenge for everybody who’s not working either necessarily, or because they are actually talking about aspects of life that are not easily translatable in English. It’s very difficult. It’s very difficult for them because if you think about the metrixation of scholarly communication, it’s also about the selection of what counts in terms of scholarly communication values. And all of them are in English. There’s no way around it, at least for the time being. So it’s a really big issue, and I think one that needs to be tackled. And I’m sure that if we look at South American research, for example, there’s a big push for the Latin languages to become fully fledged languages in scholarly communication. Even if we are not there. There’s a big push for that to happen.
Jo: Yeah. Multilingualism is also one of my favorite topics, and I’m investigating with several working groups on how we can facilitate multilingualism and research and scholarship as a whole. And yes, it deserves its own episode for sure. So you’re welcome to join back for another one on that topic in particular.
Okay. So pointing out again the stakeholders funders, publishers, researchers, and librarians, I would like for each of us because it’s four and it’s four of us to say one or two or three things each of these cycle group could provide to dismantle the barriers that we hear and talk about, and so far you’re free to pick. So we have founders, publishers, researchers, and librarians. It’s probably more, but it’s focused on these four. Rebecca, which one would you pick and what are the one or three recommendations we would have for them to focus on?
Rebecca: I would take publishers, but since Simona has to go in like 1 minute, maybe he could go first and take something other than publishers.
Simona: Okay, I think I can go first. I’ll pick librarians because it’s sort of my personal perspective as well that I have many recommendations. I think that in general, I think is important for librarians to shape their work in a way that would support those values, which doesn’t mean only being supportive to researchers. It’s in their own activities as librarians to work along the values that they care about. I’m thinking of openness, for sure. I’m an open science librarian, and I think that supporting research transparency is the best possible way. I think that there’s a role for libraries to become trainers in a lot of aspects that are sometimes taken for granted by the research community but not made explicitly. Therefore, you might find situations where there is a lack of expertise in certain areas. I’m thinking of, as I said, all the practical aspects of research transparency going from open science practice in the workflow, research data management to anything that is study preregistration in the social Sciences. Anything that would elevate research in terms of being open and transparent is something that might become very natural for librarians to take up. So that’s kind of my own perspective and advice. Thank you.
Jo: And Rebecca, publishers.
Rebecca: So publishers have a huge role to play in terms of everything that, you know, the traditional output on which metrics are based are publishing outputs, whether that’s books or articles or so on. But I was involved in a project a couple of years ago looking at publication ethics in philosophy in particular, but generally recognizable across the board, where we identified that the most important thing that publishers could do is to reinforce the standards of the values that they again need.
So publishers can really focus people’s efforts on being intentional about the values that they’re bringing to bear to their work. So just using citation practice as an example, most publishers do not actually ask the question or how to have reviewers ask the question, why have you, as the author, cited the people that you’ve cited? Why have you not cited certain people? What is your process that you went through in your citation practice? And if they would just ask that question, they would have a very different kind of response and answer. I think to really think about the diversity within their citation practice, that’s a simple thing that publishers could easily do, but nobody does that. Hardly anybody does that. The number one thing that we did see that people did in the publishers offer was about how to use their open access fund, but that’s their own personal professional aspect to try to clarify and segue into funders here probably. But try to clarify if you’re being funded, how you would then proceed in an open access world. But that’s quite different from openness as a value there. So there are numerous things that publishers could do to really help authors and reviewers and editors think about values within the system that right now is just completely lacking. So that would be what I would like to see.
Jo: Thank you. Now we still have researchers and funders on the list, Chris.
Chris: All right. I’ll take a look at Funders, but I actually want to say a broad point about all of these, because the points that we were making earlier really apply to every category that you’ve emphasized here, Jo, which is review the values you care most deeply about and imagine what the world would look like if you put those values into intentional practice in every decision you make, every policy you adopt, every structure you develop, every aspect of every process that you’re involved in, every engagement that you have with your colleagues. So thinking about that with regard to, say, funders means considering the mission of your organization as a funding organization and how you’re actually putting those values into practice, not just in terms of what you fund, but how you go about making decisions about what you fund. So, for example, if you really think and believe, which I do, that these grand challenges that we’re facing are only going to be addressed with multidisciplinary approaches that bring the humanities and the Sciences and the social Sciences and the arts together in a meaningful way. You need to have processes that allow all of those voices to be part of the projects, and that when you review the project, the voices with expertise in those areas are at the table and can bring their conceptions to bear. We have a lot of work to do around with respect to particularly, I think, funding in the Sciences, where the money is wagging the dog of research. We’re researching certain areas that we think will be profitable in the end and not necessarily the research that will impact the broadest swath of the global community or in specific kinds of specific communities that were certain research is really needed to address health issues that are there, for example, that there’s not going to be a huge amount of profit potentially made. But it’s very important for these certain communities that this research be done. So I think, again, it’s the same strategy. Put your values into intentional practice in everything you do and hold yourself accountable to the things that you think are giving life and meaning to your work.
Jo: Which brings me to also addressing researchers in my courses, when I ask, for the most part, early career researchers, why are we talking about science communication? Why are we talking here in this workshop about scientific writing? Then upsettingly to me, some of the people in the course reply, well, I have to publish to graduate. That’s why I’m here. Okay. But why are you a researcher in the first place? And how do you think what you accumulate as knowledge will ever find its way to other stakeholders of society or the general public or anyone to read? This is what I want to convey in my courses. So I’d like for researchers to reconnect with why they made a decision to become a scientist in the first place. And that I think will naturally bring to life again the values that we all comply with. And then in connection to what all of you just said, bring the stakeholders together, reminding them also of humanly intrinsic value systems, to create knowledge, to disseminate knowledge, to create a better world, rather unfortunately, our generations messed up pretty much. And I also believe that we have grand challenges and researchers have a big role to play in solving these, and we still can for sure.
The ecosystem is fascinating, a system in itself and has a great survival mode. The question is how much sacrifice are we willing to convey along the way? And I think we can limit that with the help of research across disciplines. Okay. That could be mine. Like everybody’s statements now, could already be the concluding remarks. But is there anything else you would like to get off your chest? Rebecca? Chris? Rebecca?
Chris: Well, I was going to say a word or two, Jo, about what you just said about nature and the ecosystem of nature, because I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of scholarship and the nature of how we practice scholarship. It is so ensconced in a certain kind of conception of Liberal subjectivity, certainly in the United States and I think in the Western Hemisphere, and that conception of subjectivity, with its sort of emphasis on the atomic individual that’s autonomous and independent and somehow separated from the rest of nature, is causing us to engage in scholarly practices that are impoverished because we’re not taking advantage of and really living into the network of connections that shape who we are as thinking beings. And so what we really need is a scholarly ecosystem that does some more justice to the natural ecosystem in which we inhabit and that sustains us. It sustains human life. It sustains natural life. And if we don’t find ways to recognize how we are co authoring the work, for example, together, how we are shaped by the environment that give us life, and how the responses that we make, whether it be through our research, not just being extractive but actually being reciprocal and engaged and based on trust and based on real learning, if we don’t learn how to do that very quickly, and if we don’t teach our institutions how to recognize that much more complex and richer way of doing scholarship with one another and with the natural world, we will continue to erode our relationships with each other and with the world that sustains us.
Jo: Thank you. Rebecca, any concluding remarks to add to that?
Rebecca: I couldn’t say it more eloquently than Chris did so I’m just going to leave it there. I think that was really a beautiful contemplation as well as an intuitive Monday morning here thinking about how to interact with all kinds of ecosystems but it has been really great having this connection conversation this morning. I’m feeling very energized myself. Thank you.
Jo: Thank you. A beautiful wrap up indeed. And as a biologist, I can totally relate. Nature really plays a perfect template or provides the perfect template for any system as humans can create and reshape and dismantle and reconstruct in a better way. So let’s get to work with your pointed recommendations in the white paper and mention the title again. The white paper is also available in the show notes and in the associated blog post. So it’s open access in the open community needs and perspectives and I’m looking forward to continuation of this work in whichever constellation and we hear from all of you yeah, anytime soon. Thanks for being here. Chris: Thanks, Jo
Rebecca: Thank you. Bye.