Rethinking humane indicators of excellence in the humanities and social sciences

Tag: values

HuMetricsHSS Workshop: Valuing the Syllabus as Scholarship

HuMetricsHSS Workshop: Valuing the Syllabus as Scholarship

A goal of the HuMetricsHSS research project is to understand and promote a more holistic and accurate means of evaluating scholarly work in the humanities and social sciences, including the work of doing research, teaching, and mentoring. HuMetricsHSS is creating use cases for applying values-based […]

HASTAC 2017

HASTAC 2017

Hacking evaluation: towards values-based professional advancement practices for the digital humanities Presenter: Stacy Konkiel Digital humanities scholars face a hard, continued socio-technical problem: though the results of their research are often web-native, interactive, and iterative (think: websites, exhibits, datasets, and more), their careers are often […]

HuMetricsHSS Workshop: The Value of Values

HuMetricsHSS Workshop: The Value of Values

This 2.5-day intensive workshop at Michigan State University will bring approximately 25 humanities and social science (HSS) scholars and administrators at all levels and from all types of institutions into conversation with each other and with the project team. Working groups will focus on each of the proposed five values (Equity, Openness, Collegiality, Quality, Community) as they might relate to practices in academic HSS disciplines; the intention is not simply to reaffirm the values of the framework, but to interrogate, challenge, and revise them.

See the Workshop Agenda.

On Living Our Values While Under Stress (and Preparing for Workshop One)

On Living Our Values While Under Stress (and Preparing for Workshop One)

The real work of the HuMetricsHSS initiative begins in Michigan this week, when an insightful group of thinkers—faculty members of all ranks, teaching in any number of HSS disciplines at all kinds of institutions, along with administrators, graduate students, university publishers, and librarians—has agreed to come together to rip apart, interrogate, and rebuild that values framework, to come to a consensus on the values we share as a larger group.

If you’re wondering if the HumetricsHSS workshop is for you, the answer is yes!

If you’re wondering if the HumetricsHSS workshop is for you, the answer is yes!

This October, the HuMetricsHSS team is excited to bring together a diverse group of scholars, teachers, administrators, and students from a wide range of institutions for a topic that we believe will transform academia. Over the course of a two-day workshop, we’ll interrogate, brainstorm, break apart, […]

Triangle and Beyond

Triangle and Beyond

humanities values infographic
Our very early, very alpha, proposed first draft of a set of guiding values for evaluation in HSS work.

When we first introduced the work of the HuMetrics group to the other TriangleSCI teams last October, we met with some resistance. Much like peer groups in the run-up to an election, we had become used to having our own ideas reflected and amplified internally. Four days of intensive brainstorming had inoculated us to the controversial and slightly scary nature of much of what we’re trying to do, and when we chose to present an extreme example of the potential application of the HuMetrics framework (“What if we took a values-based approach to assessing the quality of academic mentoring?”) we — understandably, in retrospect — got significant pushback. What we thought we were proposing was a way to recognize and reward the often hidden labor of peer and student mentoring by paying attention to the ways in which mentoring can embody not only the core values we propose (equity, openness, collegiality, quality, and community) but also many of the values we had grouped under those core values — transparency, empathy, accountability, candor, engagement, and respect. What our audience heard us propose, however, was something altogether different:  a neoliberal performance metrics that would measure and assess the quality of time and interpersonal interactions tied to HR and promotion and tenure decisions.

What this made us realize was that while we had brainstormed in constant cognizance of our aim — “nurturing fulfilling scholarly lives” — other people were and would be coming to the project with very real concerns about the potential abuse of any kind of metrics in an increasingly quantified academy and would have very legitimate fears of the additional work it might take to interrogate the whole gamut of scholarly practices with an eye to ameliorating the lived experience of academe. To begin our discussion of values-based metrics with mentoring was to take things many steps too far, to move much too rapidly from an idea to the further reaches of its potential implementation. When, the following day, we demonstrated how one might apply our proposed values framework to a syllabus, the project’s decidedly un-neoliberal aims were understood and appreciated much more quickly.

It was a hard lesson, but an important one. We understand now that to bring about substantial culture change in scholarly practice, we need to start by demonstrating how one might use a values framework to interrogate the more tangible products of that practice: articles and monographs, sure, but also digital projects, syllabi, annotations, and peer review. How might academic culture change if we paid attention to equity, openness, collegiality, quality, and community in the process of creating these products as well as in the final products themselves?

During our time at TriangleSCI 2016, the HuMetrics team made a commitment to continue the work we began, and we have been fortunate enough to do so with the support of our respective institutions (without speaking for them of course). With a Social Science Research Council (SSRC) staff member on the team, however, we realized quickly that limiting our work to the humanities without taking the social sciences into account was, in a way, reinforcing an artificial and often institutionally imposed divide between two fields of research that have much more in common than not. Both humanists and social scientists face many of the same problems when it comes to showcasing the value of our work or in fighting to combat predatory publishing practices and corrosive academic behavior. By bringing the two fields together, we believe we’ll be able to make an even stronger case for a values-based framework on which to base assessments of excellence.

A schedule of regular biweekly brainstorming meetings, two in-person meetings at the SSRC offices in New York, and several intense bouts of co-writing and peer editing (minimally interrupted by transatlantic moves, promotions, presidential elections, and small and not-so-small children) have resulted in a close-knit team that’s excited to extend the HuMetricsHSS project beyond internal brainstorming and establish a proof of concept that might actually change things for the better.

The Syllabus as Scholarship

The Syllabus as Scholarship

“A critical component of our emerging #Humetrics conversation at Triangle SCI involves finding ways to expose, highlight, and recognize the important scholarship that goes into the all-too-hidden work of peer review, syllabus development, conference organizing, mentoring, etc. Our current metrics fail to capture what is […]

Nurturing Fulfilling Scholarly Lives

Nurturing Fulfilling Scholarly Lives

In Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, there is a famous passage in which he reminds us that “to be happy takes a complete lifetime; for one swallow does not make a spring, nor does one fine day; and similarly one day or a brief period of happiness […]

The Excellences of Scholarship: Collegiality

The Excellences of Scholarship: Collegiality

We began the day with a walk.

The morning was cool and fresh, and the grounds around the DuBoise House at the Rizzo Center offered the six of us on the #HuMetrics team at the TriangleSCI the peace and space we needed to think out loud together and to chart a plan for the day.

That plan involved the attempt to map the values we’d identified yesterday as endemic to enriching scholarship onto practices that embody those values.

Along the way, however, we came to a small, dormant fountain and, quite naturally, we stood together in a circle around it, talking, working through the questions that were perplexing us, and learning more about what each of us valued.

I pause here again at the end of the day to bring my mind back to those moments of community building around the fountain because it marks an important moment in the cultivation of scholarship: the thickening of collegiality.

When we created the Public Philosophy Journal, we sought to put the Collegiality Index at the center of an ecosystem of scholarly communication and community. And while we continue to work toward that goal, the conversations we’ve had here at #TriangleSCI around the question of more humane humanities metrics has led to a deepening of my thinking about collegiality.

In the context of the Public Philosophy Journal, we identified three dimensions of thick collegiality:

  1. Hermeneutic Empathy: the ability to accurately describe what animates the scholarship under review;
  2. Hermeneutic Generosity: the willingness to invest expertise, experience, insight, and ideas to improving the scholarship under review;
  3. Hermeneutic Transformation: the ability to engage the community in ways that enrich the scholarship we are producing together.

In our attempts today to articulate the excellences of enriching scholarship, we developed a compelling list: Equity (by Rebecca Kennison), Openness (by Simone Sacchi), Collegiality, Quality (by Jason Rhody), Community (by Nicky Agate). In addition, Stacy Konkiel considered broader questions of influence versus impact.

Collegiality

Under the value of collegiality, we included: ethical imagination, kindness, generosity, empathy, and self-care.

Ethical imagination is central to the scholarly endeavor, but it’s a difficult habit to articulate, let alone to cultivate. Empathy is a necessary but not sufficient condition for ethical imagination. The ability to put oneself in the position of another is a question of empathy; the ability to imagine one’s way into the perspective of another in order then to create new, more just, and enriching modes of interaction and community is a question of ethical imagination.

Ethical imagination is a condition for the possibility of collegiality, which itself involves much more than civility. The capacity to imagine more just forms of community connects ethical imagination with the value of equity we identified as an excellence of enriching scholarship.

We determined the value of collegiality in term of generosity in order to emphasize the way it refuses to be constrained within a quid pro quo economy. Further, in emphasizing the notion of generosity, we follow Kathleen Fitzpatrick in amplifying the importance of listening.

As we begin to consider how these values are put into practice and how those practices produce outputs that can be measured, it will be important for us to recall our early morning walk, and the circle of conversation around the fountain that has shaped the generous, caring, candid, and enriching community of scholarship that informs our work.

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.

On Quality

On Quality

Today is the second full 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 […]


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