Higher Education

For Slow Scholarship: A Feminist Politics of Resistance through Collective Action in the Neoliberal University

This article, jointly authored by a number of geographers in the US and Canada, is worth reading in full.

As for the importance of slow scholarship, let me turn for a moment to my own experience:

During my time as a graduate student, I was fortunate enough to  present at over a dozen international conferences on projects that started out as seminar papers or portions of my MA thesis and dissertation (and to get the funding that made all that travel possible). In several cases I was urged to submit these papers for publication. In most of these I held off, however, and I’m glad I did: as I have gotten older and wiser, I have continued to think about these topics, and changed my mind about a number of things. Articles I wrote several years ago will benefit a great deal from these new perspectives and corresponding revisions when I send them out for publication in the near future.

I am also fully aware of the fact that the only reason I have time to make substantial revisions before sending things out the door is because I am lucky enough not to be in a position where I have to work full-time while on the academic job market.

There is of course a bit of a slippery slope problem here, in the sense that we are always thinking and learning more (at least ideally). If we always follow the basic principle that publications benefit from more time, nothing would ever get published. I would wager, though, that waiting brings in diminishing returns after a certain point, and at the very least we can impose a Schelling Fence of a certain number of years to insure we don’t sit on things too long.

Would this lead to a decrease in ‘productivity’? Probably, in the sense of pure volume of output. I’m not entirely convinced that is a problem, though, if it means that what remains is of significantly higher quality. In most disciplines it is already impossible for one person to read everything that gets published in their field, anyway, so why not help ensure that what we do read has benefitted from some time sitting in the cask?

Unfortunately, I’m not optimistic that university admins and tenure review boards will come to see things this way any time soon.

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Dan holds a PhD in Music History from a major Canadian university and is now pursuing a M.Ed in Higher Education at another one, because he likes to collect very expensive paper. He performs stand-up comedy at venues all over Toronto when he's not busy playing JRPGs with his cat, Roy. You can follow him at @incontrariomotu, but he isn't going anywhere. You can also send him a tip on PayPal (paypal.me/dandonnelly) if you like his work!

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