How metrics, research downgrade teaching
The intense focus on research over teaching is not unique to the Philippines and has become a global trend. Universities worldwide strive to publish extensive research to improve their global standing and reputation. This trend has created global competition for recognition and a higher slot in the World University Ranking. In this context, publishing research, particularly in Scopus-indexed journals, is incentivized by the financial rewards it brings. However, this “publish or perish” policy can lead to problems for state university academics, where failure to meet publication requirements can prevent them from getting tenure.
Prioritizing research over teaching has also caused a disheartening situation where students suffer. The metric system imposed on teachers is responsible for this phenomenon, resulting in “academic dysmorphia.” This term describes teachers who dedicate most of their time to research and conferences, with only a few of them actually conducting lectures. Some teachers provide notes online and do not interact with students due to their research commitments. Focusing on research instead of teaching is a growing problem in the education system, with teachers’ priorities affecting students’ learning.
Is research being done for the community or for publication’s sake? One of the most evident and pivotal roles of universities in our society, as espoused by Karl Jaspers, is to serve as a crucial institution for knowledge advancement, fostering critical thinking, and promoting social responsibility and community engagement. If Jaspers were alive today, he would likely disdain the current trend in university practices that prioritize metrics and the commodification of knowledge production. In this pursuit, universities often prioritize “trending” or “hot” topics for publication, losing sight of the true purpose of knowledge advancement.
Furthermore, marginalized communities, such as indigenous peoples, are frequently exploited for research without consideration for their well-being or empowerment. Research must be conducted to contribute to the corpus of knowledge and to promote societal advancement without straying from the university’s basic role. Sadly, research remains accessible to a select few, with academics often citing and boosting the ego of those in their limited circle and making the research exclusive, thus limiting its impact on society at large.
Marginalization of teaching. The current paradigm of the university is heavily focused on metrics, where research takes precedence over teaching. This reality has resulted in a disconnect between the primary function of the academic institution and its actual priorities. The drive to publish to improve the institution’s academic ranking has led to a neglect of teaching, negatively impacting students’ preparation for the future. Students are often ill-prepared for employment due to a lack of necessary soft skills and those required in today’s job market. The consequences of this approach are alarming. Employers have reported a shortage of skilled graduates, citing a lack of preparedness for the workforce. In this context, the metric system is to blame for this phenomenon as it creates a situation where the university’s pursuit of status overshadows its primary purpose of education.
Predatory journals. Due to society’s demand for universities to produce research following the Times Higher Education criteria of “at least 1,000 relevant publications in the past five years and 150 each year,” many publications have taken advantage of desperate academics, creating a proliferation of predatory journals. Some universities require graduate students to publish in reputable journals before graduating, leading to high publication costs and added stress for students. The job market’s excessive emphasis on the number of published works rather than teaching expertise has also created a culture of speed and efficiency at the expense of quality. Paulo Virilio’s concept of “dromology,” which emphasizes speed, has been adopted by the university, resulting in quantity being preferred over accuracy and rigor.
This culture shift has created social division, with the university’s promise to develop a sense of community and social responsibility for students reduced to mere pursuit of reputation—through paper chase. The metric system’s emphasis on speed and the pursuit of quantifiable data has negatively impacted education and research. It has led to a disregard for nuanced ideas and a failure to uphold the university’s primary responsibility to produce knowledgeable and socially responsible citizens.—————–
Sensei M. Adorador is with the faculty of the College of Education at the Carlos Hilado Memorial State University in Negros Occidental. He is a member of the Congress of Teachers and Educators for Nationalism and Democracy.
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