Nurturing Novelty: Toulmin's greenhouse, journal rankings and the evolution of knowledge

RENWICK, Douglas, BRESLIN, Dermot and PRICE, Ilfryn (2015). Nurturing Novelty: Toulmin's greenhouse, journal rankings and the evolution of knowledge. In: EURAM 2015, Warsaw, June 17 to 20 2015.

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Using Toulmin’s seminal work on the evolution of knowledge to provide a theoretical contribution, this paper details the relationship between journal ranking lists and the emergence of novelty in research. We argue that the formal and informal use of rankings throughout the hierarchy of research institutions can have a potentially damaging impact on the eventual trajectories taken by the evolution of knowledge. Such rankings can result in biased selection processes, which in turn seem to create an artificial environment within which favoured ‘branches’ of knowledge continue to flourish, at the expense of new conceptual saplings. This ‘greenhouse’ effect might result in the creation of a knowledge tree which is increasingly unfit to the external world for which it is intended. In conclusion we take a further step back and examine the wider implications of these factors on the broader issue of Research Excellence Framework (REF)-based research ‘impact’. In sum, we argue for a Toulminian explanation of the process by which journal ranking lists reduce academic innovation and creativity, bias academic selection pressures and constrain dissemination and retention process in the academic community.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Business School Research Institute > Service Sector Management
Depositing User: Ilfryn Price
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2015 09:46
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2016 23:57

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