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Updated — March 22, 2021

The transformative power of values-enacted scholarship

Journal articles  For:Research institutes

In this article, Nicky Agate and co-authors use the work of the HuMetricsHSS Initiative to argue that the current system of research assessment relies on too limited a set of metrics to appropriately reward the full breadth of scholarly work performed by researchers. To address this inconsistency, the authors propose a values-enacted approach (e.g., aligning values with reward systems to recognize the vital processes that enrich the production of knowledge) “has the capacity to reshape the culture of higher education.”

The authors discuss two ways in which traditional bibliometrics and alternative metrics (altmetrics) have negatively impacted research culture:

  • Incentivizing behaviors and activities that are ill-matched to the values of research, discouraging scholars from activities like mentoring, community-engaged participatory research, and collaborative interdisciplinary researcher
  • Fostering an academic culture that is dominated by concern with individual distinction that drives constant competition within a prestige economy.

To address these issues, the authors the recommend:

  • Intentionally turning away from current perceptions of “excellence.” “A first step in preparing the ground for new and deeper roots of scholarly excellence is to realign the systems of evaluation with an explicit understanding of the values that shape scholarship of the highest quality. In valuing what can be easily measured, metrics distort what we most deeply value.”
  • Developing a values framework. The authors discuss research assessment reform initiatives that may serve as valuable resources in the development of a values framework of research assessment such as DORA, the UK’s Responsible Metrics Initiative, and the Leiden Manifesto.
  • Move toward a taxonomy of values-enacted indicators that more appropriately reflect quality and impact. The authors discuss the potential types of values-enacted indicators: expanded scope and deepened focus indicators, vicarious indicators, and values-driven quantification indicators.

Agate N, Kennison R, Konkiel S, Long CP, Rhody J, Sacchi S, Weber P (2020). The transformative power of values-enacted scholarship. doi: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-020-00647-z