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You may, as you wish, directly address the questions presented here, or send in a text responding to one or some of them (or taking up some other issue that seems to you relevant). Whichever way, we would be grateful if you could keep your answers to a maximum of 10 pp. (1.5 spaced, 12-point type). Please use the author-date in-text citation system for any references in the format [Smith 2002: 12], i.e. author/date (no comma) in square brackets, appending a list of ‘References’ at the end with full publication details: Author: e.g. Smith M. A.; Article title: e.g. ‘Visual Anthropology’; Journal title: e.g. Ethnology. 2002. No. 3. Pp. 14–19; or alternatively, Author: e.g. Smith M. A.; Book title: e.g. Visual Anthropology. Place: Publisher, date, pages: e.g. London: Anvil Press, 2002. 356 pp. Please send replies by 31 May 2020 to forum.for.anthropology()gmail.com, with a copy to catriona.kelly()new.ox.ac.uk; your email address should be included in any attached file. We hope that the discussion will appear in September 2020.
Forum 46: Current Tendencies in Academic Landscape
The situation in scholarship, with scholarship, around scholarship is constantly changing. Some think all changes are for the worse and that the past was the Golden Age of science and scholarship; others think that Golden Age lies ahead of us; still others claim that there is no such thing as a Golden Age anyway. The real issue is, however, not about attitudes: it is impossible to assess any overall process or changes in all branches of scholarship, because the picture can be very different in different academic fields, or countries, or even universities.
The aim of this ‘Forum’ is to discuss a number of changes that we all have witnessed recently and to collect opinions on whether these changes are positive for the humanities and social sciences as disciplines and for scholars themselves: anthropologists, students of folklore, cultural historians… We don’t want to suggest that the list is complete, because we don’t want to limit the fields we hope to collect opinions from.
The editorial board of Forum for Anthropology and Culture would like to ask you the following questions:
1. Changes in academic institutions
In Russia, scholars are accustomed to the idea that science ‘is done’ in serious and stable organisations, universities, or research institutions. Recently, however, we have seen a number of tendencies that may signal overall changes in academic institutionalisation. The concept of a permanent contract is gradually being completely eroded. In the institutions of the Academy of Sciences, only people of advanced age now have permanent contracts. One can get promotion only if one agrees to a temporary contract – as has already become a norm in many universities. Research work has shifted more and more to the project grant model, and it is increasingly hard to get an individual research grant. It is hard to adjust a research project to an existing research department, so research groups are formed ad hoc, and when the grant is over, they are dismissed and reassembled for new projects. Today, the central requirement of academic success is mobility What are the consequences of this ‘stop-start funding’ for research, teaching, museum work? What should a modern research center look like? Does the concept ‘scientific school’ retain any meaning in this situation?
2. What happens with academic work and its results?
It is common knowledge that many grants require a commitment to publish regularly in peer-reviewed journals that are included in Web of Science, Scopus, or other databases. With a large-scale project, the research group usually just about has time to collect the data and produce the required publications, but the lion’s share of the data that they have collected remains unprocessed and unpublished because of the stop-start funding system: the grant period has finished, a new grant is in progress, and that also requires data collection and publications... and so on. The collected materials forever remain in private archives and never reach the reader. (The latter doesn’t necessarily follow, because it’s possible to make research available online).
What are your views on the impact of these funding conditions? Are these time constraints detrimental to research productivity in an overall sense, or do the requirement for a higher pace of work, smaller-scale and more frequent publications, and faster changes of research themes, on the contrary, contribute to the accumulation of knowledge? Are there other recent changes of the same kind on which you wish to comment?
3. Assessment of research results
In the past, the quality of the research produced by university research departments were assessed by committees that included, as a rule, colleagues from other universities / departments. Today, the emphasis is more on formal indicators and indices. What do you think about these and other ways of assessing the results of research? Can you offer a better system?
If the situation is different in your country or university, you are welcome to share your experience of recent changes in the process of research and the assessment of its results.
Thank you very much!
 See a recent publication on ‘intellectual corporations’ that are replacing traditional academic institutions: <http://www.ng.ru/science/2020-04-21/9_7849_institutes.html?fbclid=IwAR2apOig09K8y1jYdnA1xGBYBeEHhtTgT089L6YX-N9UhfbOnll3-FcjEvM>.
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