An Open Letter to Elon Musk: Buy the Academic Publishers

Dear Mr Musk, I see you’ve been on a spending spree lately. I splurged the other day and bought myself some new socks. You bought Twitter for $44B USD. You’re a businessman and I’m sure you expect to make a profit from this purchase. But I also think—correct me if I’m wrong—that you’re prepared toContinue reading “An Open Letter to Elon Musk: Buy the Academic Publishers”

Market Orientation: The Key to Survival in Academia

Academia is like Highlander. A competitive version of Highlander. Researchers fiercely compete with each other for who will have the most publications. There can be only one. Publications are the only currency in academia. Hence, the infamous saying: Publish or perish. There are adverse effects in every domain where one key performance indicator dominates allContinue reading “Market Orientation: The Key to Survival in Academia”

Why Can’t We Celebrate Women’s Success in Higher Education?

We live in a culture that celebrates victimhood and feeds on a narrative of oppression. Earlier this week we “celebrated” International Women’s Day. I was thumbing my way through Twitter and came across a post from an anonymous account commenting to the effect that universities have “systematically” failed women. Have they? In response to thisContinue reading “Why Can’t We Celebrate Women’s Success in Higher Education?”

Networking in Academia: How to Reach Out to “Big Names”

I mentor several early career researchers (ECRs). One question I often receive from ECRs is how they should go about building their academic networks. This is such an important question and can mean the difference between success and failure in academia. Obviously, COVID-19 has dramatically weakened our ability to network. Since conferences have gone online,Continue reading “Networking in Academia: How to Reach Out to “Big Names””

Lessons from the Universities Superannuation Scheme Debacle

The Universities Superannuation Scheme, commonly referred to as the USS, is the retirement pension for UK academics employed in pre-1992 universities. Full disclosure: I am a member of this pension scheme. Although I currently live in Australia and therefore no longer pay into it, I spent several years in UK higher ed contributing to theContinue reading “Lessons from the Universities Superannuation Scheme Debacle”

What If We Were All Adjunct (Sessional) Professors?

The composition of the academic labor market has changed profoundly over the last few decades. Gone are the days when most professors were employed on tenure-track or tenured lines. Today, the vast majority of university courses, at least in the United States and increasingly elsewhere, are taught by adjunct professors with no job security. TheContinue reading “What If We Were All Adjunct (Sessional) Professors?”

Why Academics Have Far Less Bargaining Power Today than Before COVID-19

COVID-19 ushered in a revolution of epic proportions in higher education. In one masterful stroke, universities have orchestrated a seismic shift so ground-breaking that the academic employment relationship as we know it—I mean, as we knew it—will never be the same again. I say “masterful” because we have been somehow made to be complicit inContinue reading “Why Academics Have Far Less Bargaining Power Today than Before COVID-19”

Should We Sign Peer Reviews?

The peer review system is so broken, it’s hard to even know where to start. Maybe it’s similar to Churchill’s views on democracy: peer review is the worst system of evaluating the quality of a manuscript, except for every other system of evaluation. But maybe—in fact, certainly—it has room for improvement. Revolutionary improvement would requireContinue reading “Should We Sign Peer Reviews?”

The Problem with Peer Review: Creativity is Punished and Conformity Rewarded

Getting a paper accepted for publication these days is so formulaic. If you adhere to the formula, you are rewarded. If you deviate from the formula, you are punished. We have internalized, either explicitly or implicitly, the normative structure of academic research. This wouldn’t be problematic if the normative structure were useful and value-adding. Unfortunately,Continue reading “The Problem with Peer Review: Creativity is Punished and Conformity Rewarded”

How to Avoid the Co-Author from Hell

Co-authorship is a curious phenomenon. When it goes right, it goes very right: the final product is by far superior to what you could have produced on your own. But when it goes wrong, it goes very wrong: you end up with something much worse than what you might have written one your own. ButContinue reading “How to Avoid the Co-Author from Hell”