Challenging Proposals from European Scholars
Edited by Stephanie Dameron and Thomas Durand
Chapter 10: Performativity, Metatheorising and Journal Rankings: What are the Implications for Emerging Journals and Academic Freedom?
Dennis Tourish 10.1 INTRODUCTION I want to consider the future of emergent journals and academic freedom in the context of what I see as the performative pressures now endemic in the higher education sector. The first challenge is the proliferation of journal ranking systems. These seek to list journals which are in some way approved and are then viewed as a proxy measure of article or faculty quality. For example, the Financial Times lists 45 journals, and considers faculty publication in them as one measure of MBA quality.1 Others assign rankings to individual journals. In the UK, for example, the influential Association of Business Schools journal rankings in 2010 list 821 journals, and utilise the RAE system (shortly to be reincarnated as the Research Excellence Framework) to give an overall score to individual journals.2 A similar approach is followed in the rankings produced by the Australianbased Association of Business School Deans.3 Ranking systems have also been developed in South Africa, Mexico and New Zealand (Nkomo 2009). I will argue here that these systems are increasingly appropriated within universities as performative tools to limit academic freedom, particularly by pushing people to prioritise publication in a select band of supposedly elite journals above others. This has significant consequences for emerging new disciplines and sub-disciplines, and for those journals which seek to champion distinctive or innovative approaches to particular topics. The second challenge is equally compelling. Increasingly, ‘elite’ journals stress that all articles must make an ‘innovative theoretical contribution’, rather than, for example,...
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