Government research evaluations and academic freedom: A UK and Australian comparison

Martin-Sardesai, Ann, Irvine, Helen, Tooley, Stuart, & Guthrie, James (2017) Government research evaluations and academic freedom: A UK and Australian comparison. Higher Education Research and Development, 36(2), pp. 372-385.

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Performance management systems have been an inevitable consequence of the development of Government Research Evaluations (GREs) of university research, and have also inevitably affected the working life of academics. The aim of this paper is to track the development of GREs over the past 25 years, by critically evaluating their adoption in the UK and Australian Higher Education Sector and their contribution to the commodification of academic labor and to highlight the resultant tensions between GREs and academic freedom. The paper employs a literature-based analysis, relying on publicly available policy documents and academic studies over the period 1985-2010. GREs are a global phenomenon emanating from New Public Management reforms and while assessments of university research have been welcomed, they have attracted critique based on their design, the manner in which they have been applied, and the unintended consequences of their implementation on academic freedom in particular. Consistent with international research on the impact of GREs, Australian research assessments appear to be undoing the academic freedom that is central to successful research. Further empirical research on the impact of GREs on academics is urgently needed.

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ID Code: 96032
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: academic freedom, academics, Australian higher education sector, Excellence in Research for Australia, Government Research Evaluation, Research Excellence Framework, HERN
DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2016.1208156
ISSN: 1469-8366
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > ACCOUNTING AUDITING AND ACCOUNTABILITY (150100) > Management Accounting (150105)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Accountancy
Copyright Owner: 2016 HERDSA
Copyright Statement: The Version of Record of this manuscript has been published and is available in Higher Education Research and Development, 18 July 2016,
Deposited On: 12 Jun 2016 23:00
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2017 22:33

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