Drowning by Numbers. Evaluating Social Capacities

Eirikur Smari Sigurdarson
2017 Figshare  
Abstract:Impact and evaluation of research in the humanities has been the subject of several recent publications (e.g. Benneworth et al. 2016, Ochsner et al. 2016, Severinson 2017). A common theme is the need for a re-evaluation of how the humanities are evaluated, as well as for research on the effects of evaluation practices on the humanities (Ochsner et al. 2016, p. 9). Another important idea is that this re-evaluation should consider the nature of the public value of the humanities
more » ... humanities (Benneworth et al. 2016, especially ch. 7). The dominant model of research evaluation has as its focus societal economic benefits of research, a focus humanities scholars have mostly been uncomfortable with (Benneworth et al., ch. 2). One of the main tools of research evaluation, bibliometric analysis, is problematic – to say the least – for the humanities (Ochsner et al. 2016). As the policy and practice of research evaluations influences the way research is conducted (van Leeuwen 2016, Severinson 2017) there is a potential danger that the inherent value of the humanities will be eroded and their value to society diminished through evaluation. This problem will be addressed from two sides in this paper. The first approach is to look closer at the definition of the public value of research in the arts and humanities proposed in Benneworth et al. (2016, p. 199): the circulation of research in networks to users with identifiable interactions creating things that make a good society as public benefits from private assets A fundamental idea behind this definition is that of "social capacities" developed through humanities research. There is an important local aspect to this definition, recognized e.g. by UNESCO in its program on Social Transformations (UNESCO 2017). According to UNESCO the value of humanities (through research and teaching) for positive social transformations is found in the capacities developed in individuals and societies to deal with external and internal changes (e.g. climate change, povert [...]
doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.5181550.v1 fatcat:74domsrobjgj7hfp4f2qijql7i