Avoiding Trivialities

The “Times Higher Education” published recently a piece by Adam Graycar, titled
(see also here).- one of the few occasions that I comment on any articles, briefly making two points:

All right and important. I still would like to add one point, subdivided: (i) generally, doesn’t result-oriented, mostly empirically-oriented (“evidence-based”) research as standard expectation and kind-off methodological ultimate ratio contribute very much to such competitive orientation even before it comes to considerations concerning publication? I suppose such research is more inclined to competition than “fundamental research” (“Grundlagenforschung”). (ii) isn’t already the entire system of (mass)education as PRIMARILY “vocational training like education, driving (future) researchers into the direction of competition-driven instead of knowledge-enhancement driven? – This begins already when looking at the way of dealing with applications by students for courses – see some experience-based views.

The reason for mentioning it here is a short discussion I have had here in Helsinki in connection with a PhD-student. I was wondering that his work is cumulative and also based on/linked to earlier publications, co-authored with others. In Finland, at least it is a possible. I know about “collective/collaborative work” – actually my own diploma thesis in a cooperative manner.
Sure, there are terms and conditions as especially the need to sign and thus confirm that some part is the individual work …
My habilitation can be considered as cumulative. Now, here in the Finnish case it is about cumulative and collective. Shouldn’t that be the norm, also considering that cumulative is not only about the past, but also about “a stepping stone”, part of an ongoing cumulation and growth. Doesn’t the opportunity to co-author a thesis also acknowledge and highlight that any – tiny or large – work is part of a collective effort, actually the strive if humankind for truth? Making such exception of co-authoring cumulative work as thesis could be a tiny to overcoming individualist competition as foundation of academic work, too often resulting in arrogance or failure.
Indeed, Dante expressed it succinctly, reflecting the need to think about social and societal practice:
considerate la vostra semenza: fatti non foste a viver come bruti, ma per seguir virtute e conoscenza.


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