Academic Freedom, Impact Agenda, and Pressures to Publish: Understanding the Driving Forces in Higher Education
- academic freedom
- Knowledge Mobilization
- publish or perish culture
- Higher Education
Academic freedom is critical for the sound production of new knowledge. However, the growing emphasis that research funders have placed on the societal impact of research has concerned some scholars about academic freedom. These concerns can be about pressures to research with immediate applications, scientific impartiality and the funding for fundamental research. However, we argue that these concerns can also relate to the ever-growing pressure to publish, experienced by most academics (the so-called publish or perish culture). For this purpose, we first investigated the justification for academic freedom and the function it is supposed to perform. Our analysis then examined the relationship between academic freedom and the impact agenda with a focus on societal impact, knowledge mobilization and accountability. Finally, this discussion paper highlighted the effects of the publish or perish culture in academia as they contradict the shared values of academic freedom and the impact agenda. Ultimately, these effects pose a serious threat to academic freedom by questioning its underlying justification and function. We conclude that addressing the effects of the publish or perish culture has more urgency and significance for academics in order to protect academic freedom.
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Academic freedom is critical for advancing science and benefiting society with new knowledge. The understanding from this discussion paper will suggest a new perspective for researchers and research institutions to maintain and defend academic freedom.