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The researcher as quantified self: Confessions and contestations

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Presentation at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa - 14 May 2015

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The researcher as quantified self: Confessions and contestations

  1. 1. Paul Prinsloo, University of South Africa Sharon Slade, Open UniversityImage credit: http://hominidas.blogs.quo.es/2013/11/; http://www.exponerat.net/socialdemokratins-bruna-bakgrund/; http://webbplatser.nordiskamuseet.se/minaogon/sida/historia/hist2.htm The researcher as quantified self: Confessions & contestations By Paul Prinsloo Presentation at SOTL@UJ - Towards a Socially Just Pedagogy 14 May 2015
  2. 2. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I do not own the copyright of any of the images in this presentation. I hereby acknowledge the original copyright and licensing regime of every image and reference used. All the images used in this presentation have been sourced from Google labeled for non-commercial re-use. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
  3. 3. OVERVIEW OF THE PRESENTATION 1. Some questions for consideration 2. Becoming & being measured, deviant or hero 3. The higher education context: Broader context, the move to digital & networked identities & the changing rules of performing research 4. The notion & praxis of being & becoming a quantified self 5. Five modes of self-tracking (Lupton, 2014c) 6. The quantified (digital) self: some considerations 7. Deviants or heroes: The net effect of being quantified & classified 8. (In)conclusions
  4. 4. Some questions to consider: • How does the dominant auditing and managerialist culture in higher education, and the current quantification fetish obsessed with measuring outputs & performance, impact on my identity & performance as researcher? • What do we measure? Who does the measurement & why, based on what criteria? • What is not measured & how does this impact on my final score? What am I worth? My sense of self? • How do I (increasingly) track my own performance in an unending obsession & anxiety about whether I do enough/am good enough? • How does all of this impact on my identity, my self-worth & sense of wellbeing? (See Prinsloo, 2014)
  5. 5. We are increasingly watched/measured We increasingly watch/measure each other We increasingly watch ourselves Image credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveillance#/media/File:Surveillance_video_cameras,_Gdynia.jpeg
  6. 6. Image credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-interest Every breath I/you take Every move I/you make Every bond I/you break Every step I/you take I'll be watching myself/you Every single day Every word I/you say Every game I/you play Every night I/you stay I'll be watching myself/you O can't I/you see I/You belong to them/me… Adapted from Sting – Every breath you take
  7. 7. Becoming and being measured, deviant or hero Image credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_anthropometry
  8. 8. What type of sociocultural, political, economic & regulatory context creates the notion & praxis of the researcher as quantified self? How are researchers as quantified selves structurally defined & generated, maintained, culled or lauded? (see Spitzer, 1975) The higher education context • The broader higher education context • The move to digital and networked identities • The (changing) rules of performing research The notion and practices of the quantified self The researcher as quantified self
  9. 9. Becoming and being measured, deviant or hero What type of sociocultural, political, economic and regulatory context s creates the notion of the researcher as quantified self? How are researchers as quantified selves structurally defined & generated, maintained, culled or lauded? (see Spitzer, 1975) The higher education context 1. The broader higher education context 2. The move to digital and networked identities 3. The (changing) rules of performing research The notion and practices of the quantified self The researcher as quantified self
  10. 10. Higher education should… • Do more with less • Expect funding to follow performance rather than preceding it • Realise it costs too much, spends carelessly, teaches poorly, plans myopically, and when questioned, acts defensively (Hartley, 1995, p. 412, 861) We need to take note of the impact of the dominant models of neoliberalism and its not-so-humble servant – managerialism – on higher education (Deem, 1998; Deem & Brehony, 2005; Diefenbach, 2007; Peters, 2013; Verhaeghe, 2014) The broader higher education context (1) Image credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mcdonalds_logo.png
  11. 11. There is talk of “academic capitalism” (Rhoades & Slaughter, 2004) where academics “sell their expertise to the highest bidder, research collaboratively, and teaching on/off line, locally and internationally” (Blackmore 2001, p. 353; emphasis added) “The research universities will have three classes of professors, like the airlines. A small first-class cabin of researchers, a business-class section of academics who will teach and do some research, and a large economy cabin of poorly paid teachers” (Altbach & Finkelstein, 2014, par. 16; emphasis added) “… the academic precariat has risen as a reserve army of workers with ever shorter, lower paid, hyper-flexible contracts and ever more temporally fragmented and geographically displaced hyper-mobile lives” (Ivancheva, 2015, p. 39) The broader higher education context (2)
  12. 12. In 2012, of the 1.5 million professors in the US, 1 million are adjunct professors appointed on a contract basis (Scott, 2012) Higher education is therefore in the process of becoming unbundled and unmoored (Watters, 2012) The broader higher education context (3) Image credit: http://pixabay.com/p-485222/?no_redirect
  13. 13. Becoming and being measured, deviant or hero What type of sociocultural, political, economic and regulatory context s creates the notion of the researcher as quantified self? How are researchers as quantified selves structurally defined & generated, maintained, culled or lauded? (see Spitzer, 1975) The higher education context 1. The broader higher education context 2. The move to digital and networked identities 3. The (changing) rules of performing research The notion and practices of the quantified self The researcher as quantified self
  14. 14. The move to digital & networked scholarly/researcher identities • Porous/disappearing boundaries between personal/professional/private/public • Changing conventions of definition of knowledge, ways of knowledge production, dissemination, peer-review & measuring impact • Alternative metrics • Inhabiting spaces/performing research Image credit: http://www.philips.nl/e/nederland-blog/blog/de-marketingspecialist-moet-digitaal-zijn.html
  15. 15. Becoming and being measured, deviant or hero What type of sociocultural, political, economic and regulatory context s creates the notion of the researcher as quantified self? How are researchers as quantified selves structurally defined & generated, maintained, culled or lauded? (see Spitzer, 1975) The higher education context 1. The broader higher education context 2. The move to digital and networked identities 3. The (changing) rules of performing research The notion and practices of the quantified self The researcher as quantified self
  16. 16. Hartzing’s Publish or Perish
  17. 17. The (traditional) rules of performing research Unisa’s Strategic Plan 2015 clearly states the intention: “To position Unisa in the Top 5 universities in South Africa in terms of research outputs per academic by 2015 (Placed 6th in 2004 in numerical outputs)” (Unisa, 2015, p. 17). Research criteria: • Publish my own research whether as articles or chapters. To score a 3 out of 5, I need to have published 7 individual articles in the last 3 years, or 10 individual articles in the last 5 years. If I co-authored the article with another researcher – I only get half the points • A further 15% weight is allocated if I submitted a grant application to an external funding agency. To score 3 out of 5, my grant should have been successful. • 10% of the total weighting is allocated to being a rated researcher. A ‘C- rating’ guarantees me a 3 out of 5.
  18. 18. But… the rules of performing research are changing … Image credit: http://blog- blond.blogspot.com/2009_03_01_archive.html
  19. 19. Becoming and being measured, deviant or hero What type of sociocultural, political, economic and regulatory context s creates the notion of the researcher as quantified self? How are researchers as quantified selves structurally defined & generated, maintained, culled or lauded? (see Spitzer, 1975) The higher education context • The broader higher education context • The move to digital and networked identities • The (changing) rules of performing research The notion and practices of the quantified self The researcher as quantified self
  20. 20. https://www.flickr.com/photos/cmichel67/9309088371/ http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantified_Self We monitor ourselves. We monitor each other. We are monitored…
  21. 21. I am my data. I am what I share. If I did not share it on Facebook, did it happen? Image credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bot%C3%B3n_Me_gusta.svg
  22. 22. Jennifer Ringely – 1996-2003 – webcam Source: http://onedio.com/haber/tum-zamanlarin- en-etkili-ve-onemli-internet-videolari-36465 “Secrets are lies” “Sharing is caring” “Privacy is theft” (Eggers, 2013, p. 303)
  23. 23. Five modes of self-tracking (Lupton, 2014c) 1. Private self-tracking: Achieving self-awareness, improving life-quality – what I did, how I did it and what I’ve learned 2. Pushed self-tracking: Voluntarily but encouraged/rewarded 3. Communal self-tracking: Sharing your numbers – the quantified us – “I ran so far…”, “I took so many steps”, “I have so many new Twitter followers”, etc 4. Imposed self-tracking: Compulsory, productivity self-tracking devices 5. Exploited self-tracking: Commercialisation of personal data (Also see Lupton 2014a, 2014b)
  24. 24. The quantified (digital) self: some considerations • The potential & limitations of “self knowledge through numbers” • Collecting my data & tracking myself as a way “to talk back”, to “contest”, to formulate counter-narratives • The dangers of exploitation of my data • The nature, use & misuse of digital, (a)synchronous peer-review • The virtue of forgetting in a digital age… • The bias of algorithms • The secret lives of our data-doubles (Lupton, 2014a) • I am more than what I share, what can be counted – I am more than my data
  25. 25. Deviants or heroes: The net effect of being quantified & classified “Academic labor and performance anxiety”: where the “shame [of not performing] becomes a central tenet of everyday academic life” (Richard Hall (2014a, par. 2) Academics “overwork because the current culture in universities is brutally and deliberately invested in shaming those who don’t compete effectively…” in stark contrast with the heroic few who do, somehow, meet the shifting goalposts (Kate Bowles, 2014, par. 7-8) Image credits: http://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Karloff http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Superman_S_sym bol.svg We acknowledge the exhilaration, the abundance, the networks, but…
  26. 26. (Re)considering scholarship: From quantified selves to qualified selves… • We cannot & should not ignore our context in the context of the quantification fetish in higher education • As a researcher, I am much more than my data, my citations, the number of followers on Twitter, the number of hits on my blog • I can, however, use my networks & online presences to play the field, increase my impact & reach • “Scholarship is not just about publication, but about interaction, interpretation, exchange, deliberation, discourse, debate, and controversy” (Gray, 2013, par. 5). Scholarship is therefore “not just the production of text” but in its essence about “the way in which constellations of people and objects produce meaning, understanding and insight, through interaction, acts of interpretation” (Gray, 2013, par. 6)
  27. 27. Goodier, S., & Czerniewicz, L. (2012). Academics’ online presence. A four-step guide to taking control of your visibility. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/2279505/Academics_online_presence_A_four-step_guide_to_taking_control_of_your_visibility
  28. 28. What type of sociocultural, political, economic & regulatory contexts creates the notion and praxis of the researcher as quantified self? How are researchers as quantified selves structurally defined & generated, maintained, culled or lauded? (see Spitzer, 1975) The higher education context • The broader higher education context • The move to digital and networked identities • The (changing) rules of performing research The notion and practices of the quantified self The researcher as quantified self (In)conclusions
  29. 29. Last thing I remember, I was Running for the door I had to find the passage back To the place I was before "Relax, " said the night man, "We are programmed to receive. You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave! " Eagles – Hotel California
  30. 30. THANK YOU Paul Prinsloo Research Professor in Open Distance Learning (ODL) College of Economic and Management Sciences, Office number 3-15, Club 1, Hazelwood, P O Box 392 Unisa, 0003, Republic of South Africa T: +27 (0) 12 433 4719 (office) T: +27 (0) 82 3954 113 (mobile) prinsp@unisa.ac.za Skype: paul.prinsloo59 Personal blog: http://opendistanceteachingandlearning.wordpress.com Twitter profile: @14prinsp
  31. 31. References Altbach, P.G., & Finkelstein, M.J. (2014, October 7). Forgetting the faculty. InsideHigherEd. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2014/10/07/essay-way-many-reformers-higher-education-are- ignoring-faculty-role Blackmore, J. (2001). Universities in crisis? Knowledge economies, emancipatory pedagogies, and the critical intellectual. Educational Theory, 51(3), 353 — 370. Bowles, K. (2014, March 5). Walking and learning. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://musicfordeckchairs.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/walking-and-learning/ Deem, R., & Brehony, K.J. (2005). Management as ideology: the case of ‘new managerialism’ in higher education. Oxford Review of Education, 31(2), 217—235. DOI: 10.1080/03054980500117827 Deem, R. (2011). ‘New managerialism’ and higher education: the management of performances and cultures in universities in the United Kingdom. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 8(1), 47—70. DOI: 10.1080/0962021980020014 Diefenbach, T. (2007). The managerialistic ideology of organisational change management. of Organisational Change Management, 20(1), 126 — 144. Goodier, S., & Czerniewicz, L. (2012). Academics’ online presence. A four-step guide to taking control of your visibility. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/2279505/Academics_online_presence_A_four- step_guide_to_taking_control_of_your_visibility Gray, J. (2013, October 25). Recomposing scholarship: the critical ingredients for a more inclusive scholarly communication system. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2013/10/25/gray-recomposing-scholarship/ Hall, R. (2014a, March 5). On academic labour and performance anxiety. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.richard-hall.org/2014/03/05/on-academic-labour-and-performance-anxiety/
  32. 32. Hall, R. (2014b, August 22). On chronic fatigue and being increasingly anxiety-hardened. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.richard-hall.org/2014/08/22/on-chronic-fatigue-and-being-increasingly-anxiety-hardened/ Hartley, D. (1995). The ‘McDonaldization’of higher education: food for thought?. Oxford Review of Education, 21(4), 409-423. Ivancheva, M. P. (2015). The age of precarity and the new challenges to the academic profession. Studia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai-Studia Europaea, (1), 39-48. Lupton, D. (2014a). Self-tracking cultures: Towards a sociology of personal informatics. Retrieved from http://www.canberra.edu.au/researchrepository/file/89265416-5c81-4d4c-bed3- 948c2d9a0734/1/full_text_postprint.pdf Lupton, D. (2014b). You are your data: Self-tracking practices and concepts of data. Available at SSRN. Lupton, D. (2014c). You are Your Data: Self-Tracking Practices and Concepts of Data. Available at SSRN. Peters, M.A. (2013). Managerialism and the neoliberal university: prospects for new forms of ‘open management’ in higher education. Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice, 5(1), 11—26 Prinsloo, P. (2014). Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin: researcher identity and performance. Retrieved from http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Paul_Prinsloo/publication/267395307_Mene_mene_tekel_upharsin_r esearcher_identity_and_performance/links/544f2f200cf29473161bf642.pdf Rhoades, G., & Slaughter, S. (2004). Academic capitalism in the new economy: markets, state, and higher education. Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press. Scott, D.L. (2012, October 16). How higher education in the US was destroyed in 5 basic steps. AlterNet. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.alternet.org/how-higher-education-us-was-destroyed-5-basic-steps Spitzer, S. (1975). Toward a Marxian theory of deviance. Social problems, 22(5), 638-651.
  33. 33. Verhaeghe, P. (2014, September 29). Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us. [Web log post]. TheGuardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/29/neoliberalism-economic-system- ethics-personality-psychopathicsthic Watters, A. (2012). Unbundling and unmooring: technology and the higher ed tsunami. EDUCAUSEreview, [online]. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/unbundling-and-unmooring-technology-and-higher-ed- tsunami
  34. 34. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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