I also like this in the article:
This reminds me of the first many eye-opening things I learned when I did the HeadStart leadership programme a few years ago. We were asked to share an "ethical" issue with the group; and the economist among us raised precisely this problem: he wanted to give something back to the Australian community by studying national issues, but if he did so, his department would suffer in the national rankings. How could he best serve his community if he was to be penalised by serving his community?
When marketing decisions have direct power over career advancement, scholars are rewarded for producing palatable research that appeals to a preconceived audience. Those who choose not to pursue original research about their own country are actually rewarded.
Meanwhile, the time that junior scholars could spend writing original articles to improve their prospects is increasingly invaded by administrative requests.
Hours are spent wading through spreadsheets to correct journal rankings amassed by bureaucrats, and compiling lists to prove the "impact factor" of one's writing.
The situation is nothing short of alienating. The highlight of the job - getting published - has become an exercise in minimising losses from poor odds.
So it's not just junior scholars and early career researchers who are experiencing this disenchantment, although I can see that having a degree of job security does diminish the anxiety. But I have certainly spent far more hours and resources than I care to name, wading through bureaucratically-generated spreadsheets and unwieldy databases trying to account for myself and my field.
Yes, I have no problem with accountability. But it would also be good to feel trusted, too.
The latest dumb thing we have been presented with is a proposal for all student essays to be submitted electronically, so that staff can either mark online (l'horreur! l'horreur!), or spend their time printing out student work; and then putting the assessment back on line. One more example of a relentless drive to bureaucratic uniformity, developed in isolation from professional or pedagogical concerns, and that pays no attention to the way we work in the humanities.
Sigh. Luckily, I've had a lovely morning at home, on research leave, sorting out the jumble of Garter stories in the C16 and C17 to the glorious accompaniment of Keith Jarrett's Köln concert. My aim? to try and preserve something of that freedom and passion in my writing.