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Competitive Accountability in Academic Life

The Struggle for Social Impact and Public Legitimacy

Richard Watermeyer

This book considers how a culture of ‘competitive accountability’ in UK higher education produces multiple tensions, contradictions and paradoxes that are destabilizing and deleterious to the work and identities of academics as research scientists. It suggests the potential of a new discourse of scientific accountability, that frees scientists and their public communities from the absurdities and profligacy of ‘performativity’ and ‘managerial governmentality’ encountered in the REF and an impact agenda – the noose of competitive accountability – and a more honest and meaningful public contract.
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Richard Watermeyer

While any scholarly text may list only one or a few authors, its genesis is most likely and most often attributable to a great many more. This book is no exception.

The intellectual contribution to the ideas presented herein is vast, as is my debt of gratitude. Yet I will not bore you with platitudes. Endless lists of thanks can be such a chore. Instead, I’ll be brief but no less beholden.

A quick thank you then to those who continue to make a huge impression on the travel of my ideas and whose own ideas I find so inspirational: Dr Stuart Tannock; Dr Michael Tomlinson; Professor Hugh Lauder; Professor Phillip Brown; Professor Mark Olssen; Professor Alma Harris; Dr Simon Lygo-Baker; Dr Jenn Chubb; Dr Robin Shields; Dr Chris Walsh; Dr Caroline Kenny; Professor Hans Radder; Dr Gemma Derrick; Professor Stefan Collini; Professor Alis Oancea; and Professor Adam Hedgecoe.

And thanks also to those peculiarly wonderful individuals whose contribution to what I do and how I think pervades every minute of every day: my persistently patient and uniquely fabulous wife, Vikki, and the inimitable heirs to the kingdom, Jack, Martha and Gracie.

My thanks also to Mally-the-Dog for excellent company all those eerily quiet days when the house was strangely still and I kept fingers tapping like Fred Astaire at the kitchen table … or such is the dream.