[iDC] Tenure and access to knowledge

Trebor Scholz trebor at thing.net
Mon Apr 4 09:35:44 EDT 2005

Hi Trebor,

Read your latest interview (Ippolito and Blais) with interest. Thought the
UK situation might be of relevance to the subject.

Tenure here was abolished some 20 years ago. Now faculty are on permanent
but performance related contracts with the University able to "let them go"
if they have good reason (eg: restructuring, etc). It is called a "flexible
workforce"; an American idea that has caught on in some countries, but
apparently not in the US. Most UK lecturers are not even given the status of
faculty and are employed on temporary hourly paid contracts which can be
revoked or altered with out notice. Secure employment is a distant memory.

In the UK research is overwhelming funded from the public purse. There is
currently advanced discussion around the principle that all publicly funded
research outputs have to be made available for free via the Internet.
Researchers will still be able to publish in journals but they will be
required, through their institutional affiliation, to place their output
online for free.

This idea is gaining a lot of weight in academia and in government and could
well be official policy within a couple of years. If this caught on
elsewhere outside the US, which is the only country where most research is
not publicly funded (or if it is, it is defense related and therefore
subject to restricted publication), the journals would lose their
stranglehold on the economics of output. Elsevere and such companies are
fighting this.



Simon Biggs
simon at littlepig.org.uk

Professor, Fine Art, Art and Design Research Centre
Sheffield Hallam University, UK

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