Academic integrity for the new year

Happy New Year  2013 to all of our readers! Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. We hope to continue being fun and useful to you in this new year!

We thought we should start the year by mentioning an important, if not strictly sociological, subject: the importance of academic integrity.

Integrity in methods, research process, ethics, and the presentation of findings has always been important for all types of research.  This is even more so in today’s increasingly pressurised environment which many academics recognise as determined by funding opportunities and the trend towards ever-increasing efficiency, shaped by shorter-term research projects, channelled by ‘buzzwords’. Those who do research face fierce academic job market competition and are compelled to either ‘publish or perish’ (and win grant-applications or perish).

And here are two views on integrity, to start off the new year’s reading list:

The first one is a 1974 lecture by theoretical physicist (and amazingly inspiring person) Richard Feynman (1918-1988)

The transcript is available here. It is mainly about integrity in experimental science, but is nevertheless relevant to any research. The recording is, unfortunately, read by someone else; do should check out Feynman’s other lectures on YouTube – he was a great lecturer.

The second one is a more specific critique of recent developments in the social sciences. In his recent book published in July 2012 by Palgrave Macmillan and bravely called Reinventing Evidence in Social Inquiry: Decoding Facts and Variables, Richard Biernacki debunks the practice of ‘coding data’ as a legitimising, but often deceptive, ritual of scientific practice. Ignore this book at your own methodological peril!

Biernacki, R. (2012) Reinventing Evidence in Social Inquiry. (click on the image to visit the book’s Amazon webpage)

Categories: Higher Education, Reviews

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