Collini’s What are universities for? – Deel 5

RembrandtHet onderwerp van dit laatste post met citaten uit Stefan Collini’s boek is bibliometrie (citaten ‘Meten is weten?’) ofwel «de interpretatie van statistische gegevens betreffende boeken en tijdschriften, bv. betreffende het lokaal, regionaal of landelijk gebruik daarvan» (Dikke Van Dale). Bibliometrie speelt ook een rol in het onderwijs informatievaardigheden die mijn collega’s en ik geven aan de UvA en aan universiteiten over de hele wereld: des te interessanter te kijken naar de rol van bibliometrie in het bredere kader van de universiteitswereld (en haar huidige perikelen).

Meten is weten? (1)
«The premise of the exercise [i.e. ‘bibliometry’] is that categories must be uniform. For the purposes of developing ‘bibliometric methods’ it is no good whingeing that editing early-medieval Latin texts is a touch different from conducting research in particle physics; just make sure we have a number in each box, will you? Even leaving aside for the moment the question of the point of such an exercise and the uses to which the ‘data’ will be put, and even leaving aside the whole question of judgments of quality and significance to be made between publications, it should still be obvious that even for the task of simply recording the publications of those working in universities, a far more variegated and nuanced set of categories would be required. Where are we to place activities, crucial to others’ scholarship, such as compiling dictionaries or editing texts? […] Many more objections of this kind might be made […] But again the Voice of Realism pipes up: ‘Surely it is not unreasonable to ask those employed at public expense to provide some record of their activities?’ […] No one would suggest that we should not collectively keep records of our publications. That we do already. The question is, what difference will the development of ‘bibliometric methods’ make?» (p. 124).

Meten is weten? (2)
«‘Bibliometric methods’ will not provide any ‘objective’ criteria here [i.e. judgment of publications’ quality]; they will simply iron out differences in category appropriate to each discipline. There is, in other words, no point in trying to devise a set of categories of publication appropriate to all disciplines unless you intend to reduce the extent to which decisions rest on judgment by peers and increase the extent to which they rest on measurement by administrators. It is not just that someone still has to discriminate a good piece of work from a mediocre one, or that there might be other considerations altogether to take into account in making the decision. It is that a uniform set of categories will be an obstacle and not an adjunct to making peer-group assessments. Those qualified to make such an assessment will have in effect to ignore the categories the ‘database’ presents and recognize what a review-essay or a letter to Nature or whatever means in their own field. So, the clear implication is that this information will be used to make decisions, primarily about funding, by those who are not qualified to judge (if they are qualified to judge, then casting the information into inappropriate uniform categories will only be a hindrance). ‘Bibliometric methods’ will provide a spurious sense of judging by objective criteria» (pp. 125-126).

Het Zelfportret van Rembrandt kom uit de website Think humanities Amsterdam.

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blog voor de Collectie Romaanse Talen van de Universiteitsbibliotheek van de UvA (universiteit van Amsterdam)
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One Response to Collini’s What are universities for? – Deel 5

  1. Pingback: Spaanse filosoof in Franse krant over rendabele musea… of zijn het de universiteiten? | Blog Nostrum

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