Special Issue "Research ‘Values’ in the Humanities: Funding Policies, Evaluation and Cultural Resources"

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A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2014)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Aggregate Prof. Dr. Cinzia Ferrini (Website)

Department of Humanities, University of Trieste, Androna Campo Marzio 10, 34125 – Trieste, Italy
Phone: +39 349 3996168
Fax: +39 040 5584439
Interests: classical german philosophy; kant and the empirical sciences; phenomenological reason; hegel’s logic and philosophy of nature; skepticism; ancient metaphysics in the history of modern thought; hegel and antigone

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

New-style universities, shaped by the reforms to tertiary education, which have taken place in all Europe during the last decade, have set new targets for the academic humanities.

These changes were initiated to overcome the humanists’ ivory-tower syndrome, counteract the parasitism of some researchers (who are state employees), and force humanities faculties to be better suited for effectiveness in the world. However, such reforms have also raised a widespread “litany of discontents”.

The scientific community is increasingly critical of the “perpetuum mobiles of evaluations” and of the strategies used to allocate available research funds. However, in no other research area is the situation so dramatic as to threaten the very existence of traditional fields of study (i.e., palaeography, theoretical philosophy) as in the humanities.

Against the background of the so-called ‘mass university’ and the consequent selective allocation of state research funds to universities, humanists express concerns about the link between funding and ‘performance’, where performance is misunderstood in terms of evaluating research only in regard to the name of the publisher, the number of citations, the influence of the journal, and whether a publication is international or national. Moreover, papers written by non-Anglophone scholars from institutions outside the Anglophone world have significantly less chance of being accepted. Other areas of concern involve the public sector’s funding orientation that only bigger projects have a great impact factor, undermining the support to individual initiative also in the humanities; the adjustment of the research topics to panelists’ classifications, selection based on the ability to deliver usable results quickly, and the closing of university programmes on the basis of the number of students and exams. These problems are just a few example of numerous complaints.

This Special Issue of Humanities addresses this constellation of problems within the framework of and against the background of Academia Europaea’s mission, focus, and position, in view of the need to overcome complaints, explore new models and forms of research projects and communications, and to reassess and reinforce international standards of quality for the humanistic studies.

Aggregate Prof. Dr. Cinzia Ferrini
Guest Editor

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. For the first couple of issues the Article Processing Charge (APC) will be waived for well-prepared manuscripts. English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.

References:

Armstrong, John. “Reformation and Renaissance: New Life for the Humanities”. Griffith REVIEW, no. 31, Autumn 2011, 6–29.

Brennan, John. “Is There a Future for Higher Education Institutions in the Knowledge Society?” European Review 20, no. 2 (2012): 195–202.

Diversification of Higher Education and the Academic Profession (Papers from the Hercules Symposium, Turin-Italy, 2009), special issue of the European Review, supplement 1, vol. 18, May 2010.

Fortunati, Leopoldina, Svend Erik Larsen, and Julia Stamm. “Introduction to the Focus ‘Knowledge Management in Contemporary Europe’.” European Review 20, no. 2 (2012): 149–52.

Ginsberg, Benjamin. The Fall of the Faculty. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Head, Simon. “The Grim Threat to British Universities.” The New York Review of Books, 13 January 2011. https://www.readability.com/articles/n9pjbxmz.

Mathiasen, Helle. “Time to Rethink the Concepts of Knowledge Dissemination and Transfer in the Educational System? A Systems Theoretical Perspective.” European Review 20, no. 2 (2012): 153–63.

Maxwell, N. How Universities Can Help Create a Wiser World: The Urgent Need for an Academic Revolution, 1st ed. Imprint Academic: Exeter, 2014.

Pautasso, Marco, and Cesare Pautasso. “Peer Reviewing Interdisciplinary Papers”. European Review 18, no. 2 (2010): 227–37.

Schekman, Randy. “How journals like Nature, Cell and Science are damaging science.” The Guardian, 9 December 2013. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/09/how-journals-nature-science-cell-damage-science.

Thomas, Keith. “Universities under Attack.” London Review of Books 33, no. 24 (2011): 9–10. http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n24/keith-thomas/universities-under-attack.

Watson, Don. “Comment: A New Dusk.” The Monthly (Australia), August 2012. http://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2012/august/1345613277/don-watson/comment-new-dusk.

“Mentors, mates or metrics: what are the alternatives to peer review?” EuroScientist, 29 January 2014. http://euroscientist.com/2014/01/mentors-mates-or-metrics-what-are-the-alternatives-to-peer-review/#S0.

“Evaluation: dogma of excellence replaced by scientific diversity.” EuroScientist, 29 January 2014. http://euroscientist.com/2014/01/evaluation-dogma-of-excellence-replaced-by-scientific-diversity/#sthash.mtoMy6WG.dpuf.

Selected works of Prof. Dr. Jürgen Mittelstraß, University of Constance:

The Future of the University, European Review 18 (2010), Supplement No. 1 (Diversification of Higher Education and the Academic Profession. Papers from the Hercules Symposium Turin, Italy 2009), 183-189.

Wissenschaftskultur. Zur Vernunft wissenschaftlicher Institutionen / The Culture of Science. On Reason in Scientific Institutions, in: Nova Acta Leopoldina. Abhandlungen der Deutschen Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina NF 113 (2010), 65-77. Ferner (gekürzt) in: Forschung und Lehre 17 (2010), 406-409 (tschech. [gekürzt] unter dem Titel: Věda a nové, Akademický bulletin 2010, Heft 7-8, 8-11).
Über die Nützlichkeit des Geisteswissenschaftlers, in: Was sich nicht sagen läßt. Das Nicht-Begriffliche in Wissenschaft, Kunst und Religion, ed. J. Bromand / G. Kreis, Berlin (Akademie Verlag) 2010, 209-215.

Wissenschaft und Werte. Über die Orientierungsfunktion der Wissenschaft, Frauenarzt 51 (2010), 1066-1070.

Humboldts Licht und Bolognas Schatten auf der Wissensgesellschaft, in: Bildung MACHT Gesellschaft, ed. M. Sandoval u.a., Münster (Verlag Westfälisches Dampfboot) 2011, 51-65.

Vom Nutzen der Philosophie, in: Warum noch Philosophie? Historische, systematische und gesellschaftliche Positionen, ed. M. van Ackeren / Th. Kobusch / J. Müller, Berlin/Boston (Walter de Gruyter) 2011, 251-266.

Keywords

  • evaluation vs. judgment
  • research values in the humanistic studies
  • funding policies
  • standards of quality in the Humanities

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Open AccessArticle Research “Values” in the Humanities: Funding Policies, Evaluation, and Cultural Resources. Some Introductory Remarks
Humanities 2015, 4(1), 42-67; doi:10.3390/h4010042
Received: 3 November 2014 / Revised: 15 December 2014 / Accepted: 18 December 2014 / Published: 4 February 2015
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Abstract
In her capacity as guest editor, the author introduces a set of essays examining the trends, risks, needs, pressures, and prospects of the humanities after recent reforms to tertiary education throughout Europe. By focusing on the educational, cultural, and social value of [...] Read more.
In her capacity as guest editor, the author introduces a set of essays examining the trends, risks, needs, pressures, and prospects of the humanities after recent reforms to tertiary education throughout Europe. By focusing on the educational, cultural, and social value of research in the humanities, which also provide economic and democratic benefits, this special issue focuses on three key topics: “funding policies”, “evaluation”, and “cultural resources”. This article provides the background to the subject matter (Section 1); a reflection on the controversial issues of quality control, measures of research productivity, and funding decisions as key drivers changing the humanities (Section 2); an overview of the current difficulties and prospects for “modernizing” the humanities (Section 3); the rationale for this special issue (Section 4); the context and a synopsis of the contributions, showing how and why these position papers by members of the humanities cluster of the Academia Europaea can provide this debate with new tools of analysis and diagnosis (Section 5). Finally, the concluding remarks highlight the Academia Europaea’s actions for the humanities (Section 6). Full article
Open AccessArticle The Humanities as a Public Good and the Need for Developing Accountability Strategies
Humanities 2015, 4(1), 98-108; doi:10.3390/h4010098
Received: 4 November 2014 / Revised: 5 December 2014 / Accepted: 18 December 2014 / Published: 4 February 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (201 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The present political and economic context of the humanities is more demanding than ever in regards to its justification, social impact and evaluation of research activities. These processes call for an updated understanding of the situation and a prudent counter-strategy that, in [...] Read more.
The present political and economic context of the humanities is more demanding than ever in regards to its justification, social impact and evaluation of research activities. These processes call for an updated understanding of the situation and a prudent counter-strategy that, in a best-case scenario, could result in appreciation opportunities that have thus far been neglected. This article contributes to a differentiation of these grand challenges at three levels: (1) Improved understanding of the policy agenda: The humanities, like other research disciplines, still have to map the full picture of all opportunities in funding policies. The EU’s framework programs could be one example of a funding system that contains inclusive mechanisms that have not yet been fully discovered. (2) Research management in the humanities: To benefit the most from those identified inclusive mechanisms, the humanistic disciplines have to develop better and more sophisticated research management tools for their projects and improve their strategic planning and capacity. (3) The humanities as public good: The humanities represent one of the greatest cultural resources of humankind. The task is to make this as explicit and clear as possible to the general public through the explanatory power of the main categories, including recognition, judgment, experience, wisdom and common sense, which mirror some of the most important historical and cultural experiences of human history. Full article
Open AccessArticle No Future without Humanities: Literary Perspectives
Humanities 2015, 4(1), 131-148; doi:10.3390/h4010131
Received: 4 November 2014 / Revised: 9 January 2015 / Accepted: 13 January 2015 / Published: 4 February 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (213 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
What might Humanities have to offer to the current big societal and technological challenges? The nine short position papers presented here were collected by Svend Erik Larsen from colleagues and members of the Academia Europaea Section for Literary and Theatrical Studies who [...] Read more.
What might Humanities have to offer to the current big societal and technological challenges? The nine short position papers presented here were collected by Svend Erik Larsen from colleagues and members of the Academia Europaea Section for Literary and Theatrical Studies who have been actively involved in the changes within their discipline in the areas they introduce. They show emerging interdisciplinary fields, provide new insights, indicate significant cultural achievements and forge new collaborations in order to shape the outlines of the research landscape of the 21st century. Their main concern is not the future of Humanities, but the future with Humanities. Full article

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Open AccessEssay From Literature to Cultural Literacy
Humanities 2015, 4(1), 68-79; doi:10.3390/h4010068
Received: 4 November 2014 / Revised: 26 November 2014 / Accepted: 17 December 2014 / Published: 4 February 2015
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Abstract
In recent years, the academic field of literary studies has changed radically. Literary scholars are now working on objects other than poems, dramas or fiction. This essay presents an ongoing strategic project, Cultural Literacy in Contemporary Europe, which was founded in [...] Read more.
In recent years, the academic field of literary studies has changed radically. Literary scholars are now working on objects other than poems, dramas or fiction. This essay presents an ongoing strategic project, Cultural Literacy in Contemporary Europe, which was founded in 2007 and run in 2009-11 as an European Science Foundation & Cooperation in Science and Technology (ESF-COST) synergy. Its aim is to investigate and celebrate the range of research currently being conducted in the field we have renamed “literary-and-cultural studies”, or LCS. This research aims to enhance cultural literacy. Cultural literacy is an attitude to the social and cultural phenomena that shape our existence—bodies of knowledge, fields of social action, individuals or groups, and of course cultural artefacts, including texts—which views them as being essentially readable: it is a way of looking at social and cultural issues, especially issues of change and mobility, through the lens of literary thinking. The project focuses on four academic fields—cultural memory, migration and translation, electronic textuality, and biopolitics and the body—and four concepts: textuality, fictionality, rhetoricity and historicity. It stresses multilingualism and is part of the movement of interdisciplinarity within the humanities and between the humanities and other disciplines, but remains a distinctive activity within that larger movement. Full article
Open AccessEssay Humanities under Pressure
Humanities 2015, 4(1), 80-86; doi:10.3390/h4010080
Received: 4 November 2014 / Revised: 28 November 2014 / Accepted: 1 December 2014 / Published: 4 February 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (165 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Humanities have a problem with visibility both in the public sphere and in the academic system itself, and they have an organisational problem when compared with other sections of the academic system. They also have a funding problem, particularly in a [...] Read more.
The Humanities have a problem with visibility both in the public sphere and in the academic system itself, and they have an organisational problem when compared with other sections of the academic system. They also have a funding problem, particularly in a European context, i.e., in the framework of the European research policy. The topic of this position paper is the essential role of the Humanities when dealing with the European project, the framing of Europe. In this respect, in contrast to the natural and social sciences, the Humanities need specific models of research funding, more individualised and of more interdisciplinary character. Additionally, they may need more multi-national centres for advanced studies on a European level, thus also solving their visibility and organisational problems. Full article
Open AccessEssay Schemes of Funding Music Research in Italy: A Case Study in Comparison with other European Countries
Humanities 2015, 4(1), 87-97; doi:10.3390/h4010087
Received: 4 November 2014 / Revised: 2 December 2014 / Accepted: 3 December 2014 / Published: 4 February 2015
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Abstract
The awareness of the central government and other supportive agencies in Italy as to the need for research to be accomplished in music and music history in that country is determined by first stating what that support has been for such research [...] Read more.
The awareness of the central government and other supportive agencies in Italy as to the need for research to be accomplished in music and music history in that country is determined by first stating what that support has been for such research in the 1990s, together with its accessibility to groups and/or individuals working in that field, and then reporting how such aid has been reduced in the more recent times of financial crises. In order to assess Italy’s position not in isolation but more realistically by considering it within a broader geographical frame, the same investigation has been accomplished for a group of other culturally developed countries in Europe which offer sufficient areas of comparison: Spain, France, England, Germany. Sadly, Italy does not come off well. Perhaps surprisingly but still sadly this is shown not to be due to the present financial crises but to a long-standing absence of respect for the entire musical history of the country and for the need that it be known and understood thoroughly. In short, the government in Italy seems not to have been sufficiently aware of its responsibility to acknowledge and preserve its musical patrimony by adequately supporting research which aims at uncovering the country’s rich past, understanding it, and thereby making it available to professional performing musicians and, through them, also to the people of Italy and the rest of the world. Full article
Open AccessEssay Integrity and Quality in Universities: Accountability, Excellence and Success
Humanities 2015, 4(1), 109-117; doi:10.3390/h4010109
Received: 4 November 2014 / Revised: 4 December 2014 / Accepted: 16 December 2014 / Published: 4 February 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (177 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The essay focuses on the tension between the integrity of a university’s ideal or mission (academic freedom, innovation, excellence in research and teaching) and approaches to accountability that are used to monitor performance and to establish criteria for university funding. The paper [...] Read more.
The essay focuses on the tension between the integrity of a university’s ideal or mission (academic freedom, innovation, excellence in research and teaching) and approaches to accountability that are used to monitor performance and to establish criteria for university funding. The paper examines evaluation systems and the distorting effects of the incentives some of them create, especially when different metrics are combined in order to rank academic institutions. Such league tables prioritise comparative success rather than excellence, which is not a positional good. Yet better forms of accountability are possible. Some simple aspects of academic and educational achievements can be measured reasonably accurately and are less open to manipulation. These include hours of study, standards of writing, and the amount of feedback on written work received by students. Full article
Open AccessEssay Clashing Concepts and Methods: Assessing Excellence in the Humanities and Social Sciences
Humanities 2015, 4(1), 118-130; doi:10.3390/h4010118
Received: 4 November 2014 / Revised: 2 December 2014 / Accepted: 3 December 2014 / Published: 4 February 2015
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Abstract
The humanities are going through a period of exceptional vitality characterised by the proliferation of novel interpretative frameworks, methodologies and perspectives. Yet they—and, to a lesser extent, the social sciences—feel threatened by the rising tide of research assessment which appear to be [...] Read more.
The humanities are going through a period of exceptional vitality characterised by the proliferation of novel interpretative frameworks, methodologies and perspectives. Yet they—and, to a lesser extent, the social sciences—feel threatened by the rising tide of research assessment which appear to be predominantly derived from the needs and experience of the physical and natural sciences and depend on the application of standardized assessment tools. This position paper intends to contribute to the debate on the current criteria of evaluation and measures for excellence in the Humanities by casting light on their conceptual implications and methodological assumptions. It argues that decisions about their relative weight are not simply technical but also reflect underlying value systems. Full article

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