Over the past several months, the University of Kentucky has been pushing us to set up profiles on a new research analytics platform. The platform looks… fine, but I’ve been irritated with some of how the platform works and curious why UK is so keen on having us fill out our profiles. It’s felt from the beginning like this is something more for UK’s benefit than for our individual benefits as faculty. When the platform launched today, a passage from the press release added to that feeling:
Businesses will be able to easily gain access to relevant areas of expertise, facilitating the transfer of technology to the marketplace, and creating opportunities to expand research. The publicly available, online portal will allow users to access information related to published research, literature reviews, grants and contracts, funding sources, intellectual property, and physical university assets such as core facilities and equipment.
I don’t have any issues with the idea of partnerships between academia and industry, but for that so baldly to be the motivation behind this platform rubs me the wrong way. My research doesn’t contribute to industry, and UK’s being so keen to have everyone fill out a profile feels in hindsight either like an implicit message that my work is less valuable for not opening up opportunities to collaborate with businesses or like UK isn’t interested in distinguishing between individual faculty members.
To be fair, I could also see this platform being helpful for journalists looking for people to interview, for faculty members looking for collaborators, and other purposes that annoy me less. I also get that the university has a bottom line to worry about, and while I’d prefer that we be able to rely on a steady flow of public funding from Kentucky General Assembly, it’s hard to fault university administration for looking for cashflow in other areas. In short, I’m still going to fill out my profile this summer and will probably make at least a half-hearted effort to keep it up to date.
For all my caveats, though, it bugs me that a platform that has been pitched to us for months as being about sharing the value of our research now turns out to be part of an effort that seems to only frame the value of that research in dollars and cents.
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