Rethinking humane indicators of excellence in the humanities and social sciences

Day: October 10, 2016

Scales of Measurement and the Public Good

Scales of Measurement and the Public Good

Today is the first day of the Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute, where I am part of a team that’s focusing on HuMetrics: Building Humane Metrics for the Humanities. We have each agreed to quickly blog some thoughts as part of our process; warning: what follows […]

The Value of Openness

The Value of Openness

Day 1 of the Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute is underway, and our HuMetrics: Building Humane Metrics for the Humanities team (Nicky Agate, Simone Sacchi, Christopher Long, Stacy Konkiel, Jason Rhody, and me) is already hard at work. We began by putting aside (for the moment) […]

First Day at #TriangleSCI Working with the #HuMetrics Team

First Day at #TriangleSCI Working with the #HuMetrics Team

First day at #TriangleSCI working with the #HuMetrics team. It is quite amazing what can happen when you put together in a room people from faculty administration, granting agencies, and societies with scholarly communication, information science, and metrics experts  —  without the constraints of their everyday working environment and with the freedom (and time) to brainstorm.

Today we have been shaping our work on #HuMetrics with an approach that sets values for scholarly excellence (in the “doing good” sense of excellence) at the core: metrics will follow from an analysis of how values shall shape scholarly practices and not the other way around  —  e.g., if “openness” and “transparency” and “collaboration” are some of those values, metrics should encourage and drive scholarly practices toward embracing these values, and scholars rewarded accordingly for both the processes and outputs of their scholarship.

This “reverse-engineering” approach sounds very much like a social experiment: how can we develop a framework for humanities scholarship (and the various actors in the system) such that practices, outputs, and metrics are value-driven? How can we make the framework actionable? What kind of infrastructure would be needed to support such a framework? Well, we are not there yet, but we still have three days… Reality check tomorrow afternoon.

Follow team #HuMetrics as we wrestle with humanities metrics. We are Christopher Long, Rebecca Kennison, Stacy Konkiel, Simone Sacchi, Jason Rhody, and Nicky Agate, and we’ll be writing here all week.

HuMetrics Values

HuMetrics Values

Today is the first day of the Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute, where I’m heading up a team that’s focusing on HuMetrics: Building Humane Metrics for the Humanities. Our team has focused a lot on the importance of working out loud, of process over product, and […]

Enriching vs. Corrosive Values in Academia

Enriching vs. Corrosive Values in Academia

As part of the TriangleSCI HuMetrics working group, I spent the better part of this afternoon brainstorming and debating academic values, products, processes, and metrics in an attempt to lay a foundation for this week’s attempt at articulating “humane metrics” for the humanities. As our […]

From Metrics to Values

From Metrics to Values

Recognizing that metrics drive practices in the academy (and elsewhere), we on the HuMetrics: Building a Humane Metrics for the Humanities team at this year’s Triangle Scholarly Communications Institute decided to approach our work by thinking first about the values that inform enriching scholarship.

This approach is consistent with the work we are doing at Michigan State University about how the mission of the university can be translated into institutional habits that inform our research and pedagogical practices.

The gesture to “habits” here harkens back to the ancient Greek idea that character expresses itself the things we do each day and the ways we do them. For Aristotle, a habit is a hexis, an active condition of the soul cultivated intentionally over the course of a life to empower us to live well.

Intentionally cultivating habits of enriching scholarship ought to empower us to create better  —  that is more just, equitable, and (yes, Jason Rhody) excellent scholarly communities.

Turning our attention first to the values we’d like to cultivate in and through our scholarly practices before thinking about how we might measure high-quality scholarship should enable us to identify measurable indicators of the quality of the sort of scholarship we would like to advance.

To do this, of course, requires us to think first about the values we care about and how those values are put into practice. We spent a good period of time today considering values, practices, products, and metrics as we attempted to lay out for ourselves the sorts of values and practices we associate with scholarship that enriches the world we share.

This post, and those of my teammates — Nicky Agate, Jason Rhody, Rebecca Kennison, Stacy Konkiel, Simone Sacchi — are designed to put one of the things we value into practice, namely, public reflection on emerging scholarship. So rather than simply reflecting in private here at the Rizzo Conference Center in Chapel Hill, we agreed to write reflectively on our work as it unfolds. This is more than a simple exercise, in my view, but rather, an important ay to undertake the scholarship itself.

If metrics determine practice, perhaps practice can help shape our thinking about metrics. How might we measure the sort of open, public, generous, engaged, sound, just, and engaging scholarship to which we aspire?

Follow team #HuMetrics as we wrestle with humanities metrics. We are Christopher Long, Rebecca Kennison, Stacy Konkiel, Simone Sacchi, Jason Rhody, and Nicky Agate, and we’ll be writing here all week.