LRDG - Designing the academic self, workshop 4 of 4 - Cultures of counting: metrics through a critical lens

Date: 24 May 2016 Time: 1.00 pm - 3.00 pm

Venue: Lancaster University, Charles Carter, A15

The fourth and final workshop in the Designing the Academic Self series is by Professor James Wilsdon of the University of Sheffield and Professor Paul Ashwin of Lancaster University, entitled: Cultures of counting: metrics through a critical lens.

Cultures of counting: metrics through a critical lens

James Wilsdon (University of Sheffield) and Paul Ashwin (Lancaster University)

Metrics evoke a mixed reaction across the higher education community. A commitment to using data to inform decisions makes some enthusiastic about the prospect of granular, real-time analysis of our activities. Yet we only have to look at the blunt use of metrics such as 
journal impact factors, h-indices and grant income targets, to be reminded 
of the pitfalls. Some of the most precious qualities of academic culture
 resist simple quantification, and individual indicators often struggle to do justice to the richness and plurality of our work. 

Across both research and teaching, metrics are receiving greater emphasis from policymakers and managers. The November 2015 HE green paper outlines a new regulatory architecture, including the replacement of HEFCE with a new Office for Students, and the introduction of a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). Metrics are portrayed as crucial to the TEF, albeit with some scope for expert judgement alongside, and there are now fierce arguments raging across the sector about whether we need a TEF at all, and if so, how it should be designed, and what mix of quantitative indicators it should employ.

Metrics hold real power: they are constitutive of values, identities and livelihoods. How to exercise that power to more positive ends was the focus of The Metric Tide, a recent UK review of the role of metrics in research management and assessment. The Metric Tide sets out a framework for responsible metrics, and makes a series of recommendations for researchers, university managers, funders, policymakers and publishers. 

In this seminar, James Wilsdon, who chaired The Metric Tide, will outline its main findings, and reflect on ongoing efforts to influence debates about UK research policy and funding, including over the design of the next Research Excellence Framework (REF), which is currently the focus of a further review by Lord Stern.

Paul Ashwin, in the context of the proposed TEF, will examine the challenges of developing measures of teaching quality that do not simply reflect institutional prestige.

 Both speakers will consider what a culture of ‘responsible metrics’ might look like for research and teaching, and the opportunities and obstacles to achieving this.

James Wilsdon is professor of research policy at the University of Sheffield, and was chair of the UK’s Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management. He is now chairing a European Commission expert group on the future of altmetrics.

Paul Ashwin is professor of higher education at the Lancaster University and a co-investigator in the ESRC/HEFCE funded Centre for Global Higher Education.

This series of workshops is run in conjunction with the ESRC-funded Academics Writing project and the Northwest Doctoral Training Center. You are welcome to attend any of the sessions, and don't need to come to all four. The workshops are free and open to doctoral students, staff and researchers from Lancaster, Liverpool, and Manchester Universities. Please register your attendance via Eventbrite. See Academics Writing or contact Sharon McCulloch s.mcculloch@lancaster.ac.uk for more information. 

 

Event website: http://literacy.lancs.ac.uk/lrdg/index.htm

Contact:

Who can attend: Anyone

 

Further information

Associated staff: Sharon McCulloch

Organising departments and research centres: Educational Research, Lancaster Literacy Research Centre, Linguistics and English Language

Keywords: Academic cultures, Higher education HE, Higher education policy, Managerialism

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