Scholarly Essay

For the scholarly essay for our future professoriate course, I decided to investigate the relationship between epistemology and the evaluation of research integrity. It led me to the following section which functions as an intro and abstract for the essay.

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“Publish or perish” goes the saying in academia. Developing and maintaining a strong research program appears to have overtaken other roles to define what it is to be a faculty member. Of course this is all relative to the institution, but at a research University faculty members are expected to do a significant amount of research in order to advance and eventually become tenured.

Without addressing the ethical implications of a relatively self-centered definition of the professoriate (with teaching and service roles as other-centered activities), it is important to address how we come to judge the value of research. While many judgments are sure to be discipline-specific, there are overarching epistemological claims about the reliability and validity of research.

From these foundational claims come an understanding of how research integrity is sacrificed in order to perpetuate scholarly existence or more simply–not perishing. I am particularly interested in how epistemologically-based claims of research integrity address the work in various disciplines (below I use my own discipline–communication–and the discipline of a close family member–geology–as examples for this inquiry across the university).

Beyond this inquiry, I hope to address how epistemological beliefs address the claims not only of scholars, but of those outside academia with strongly held beliefs about truth (often influenced by religious beliefs, conspiracy theories, etc.).

Of particular interest to me is why those who criticize and expose the threats to research integrity by other scholars make concessions for these groups outside of academia and tolerate scientifically unsupported claims.

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If you are interested in reading more, email me at aghughes@vt.edu and I’ll be happy to send along the full manuscript.

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