Research insight into academic evaluation

Professor Michael Cuellar presents an insight on academic evaluation to Kent Business School research students.

As part of our ongoing international collaborations, Kent Business School were delighted to welcome Professor Michael Cuellar, Lead Professor of Information Systems at North Carolina Central University, Durham, USA as a guest speaker for a Postgraduate and PhD Research Seminar, focussing on the importance of academic evaluation, defining the importance of ‘influence’ over ‘quality’.

Evaluating intellectual contributions is of great significance to all academics because of the mechanisms of tenure to full doctorate and professional promotion. For pragmatic reasons, current evaluation has typically been done by journal rankings – a scholar’s quantity of publications in selected journals deemed to be of ‘high quality’. During his presentation, “Defining, Understanding, Evaluating and Assessing Scholarly Influence,” Michael highlighted flaws in current assessment of journal rankings for research papers and the apparent lack of fairness in evaluating scholarly output.

Michael discussed the fact that there generally is no accepted theory of ‘quality’ and that journal selection process is subject to biases. “Quality journals have generally not been conceptualised well and there is in some sense of prejudiced judgement and they are often subject to political judgement” suggests Michael. Top journals do not always select articles that become highly cited which leads to an evaluation process biased toward the status quo, mainstream subjects and away from novelty and controversy, which in turn leads to stifled innovation and creativity.

Along with Duane Truex, Richard Vidgen and Hiro Takeda, Michael is part of the Scholarly Influence Research (SIR) Group, a dedicated team that investigates how intellectual contributions should be evaluated, who have developed a new set of metrics based on the concept of “influence” rather than quality, which they argue is fairer and less prone to manipulation than the current system.

The SIR Group’s metrics offers a more balanced approach to assessing the influence of a scholar’s ideas, social network influence and publication pattern, which together form a profile that can be used to compare scholarly contribution for purposes of tenure and promotion much more justly that current journal ranking assessments.

Director of Research and Kent Business School Director, Professor John Mingers attended the presentation and advised the group that “This informative presentation provided a useful insight into the reality of the world of journals and journal rankings which all research students and staff have to face today. These issues have to be considered when considering future opportunities for tenure, promotion and their employability.” Professor Mingers has been a great advocate of the Research Seminar Series and its development of our international relationships within the research community.

Speaker Biography
Michael Cuellar is Lead Professor of Information Systems in the School of Business at North Carolina Central University. His research is at the intersection of philosophy, social theory and information systems. Having spent over 25 years in commercial industry, he now and he is specifically concerned with what makes change initiatives successful. He has published in various venues, including European Journal of Information Systems, European Journal of Operational Research, Journal of the Association for Information Systems, and the America’s and International Conferences on Information Systems and is delighted to be up for tenure in 2012.

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