Harvesting some more

The year 2022 might have looked a bit quiet academically when scrolling through this blog: One conference participation and an interview plus two publications. Yet, most of the time was consumed by simply juggling a variety of projects and moving forward with them. This year has already yielded some results and, if I may pursue the metaphor, there seems to be more ready for harvesting.

The project in which my colleagues and I investigated scientific advisory bodies has produced a tiny, yet sweet fruit in the form of a journal article. Under the moniker “Best Critical Friends Forever?”, we explore how inner-academic advisory panels and committees are situated in a relationship between providing (critical) assessment to peers and providing deflection for extra-academic expectations of rationalization. Or, to put it more succinctly: They either provide real quality advise or are used to pretend that quality advise has been given and other actors (e.g. politicians) can refrain from critical review. 

There are advisory bodies that clearly provide the first service, others that are only maintained to provide the second. Yet, there are also some that oscillate between these primary functions. And then there are latent functions for either the institutions that is being advised or for the science system as such. If all this sounds like a typology, well: That’s what we attempted to carve out in the article as well.

Based on quantitative and qualitative data (ie. crunching numbers on how often advisory boards usually meet etc., but also on interviews with board members and board coordinators), the article gives an overview of different functional types of boards and argues that all types do contribute to quality assessment or development in some form or the other — even those boards that are merely facades.

Unfortunately, if you want to know how this comes about, you not only have to know German, but also either buy the journal or get in touch with me. Or wait for a monograph that we are working on right now and that should be ready sometime in 2023. Thus: More harvest is about to come…


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