Crowdsourcing in Academia

1 May 2012 at 6:43 pm 2 comments

| Peter Klein |

It’s called “fractional scholarship.”

American universities produce far more Ph.D’s than there are faculty positions for them to fill, say the report’s authors, Samuel Arbesman, senior scholar at the Kauffman Foundation, and Jon Wilkins, founder of the Ronin Institute. Thus, the traditional academic path may not be an option for newly minted Ph.D.s. Other post-graduate scientists may eschew academia for careers in positions that don’t take direct advantage of the skills they acquired in graduate school.

Consequently, “America has a glut of talented, highly educated, underemployed individuals who wish to and are quite capable of effectively pursuing scholarship, but are unable to do so,” said Arbesman. “Ideally, groups of these individuals would come together to identify, define and tackle the questions that offer the greatest potential for important scientific results and economic growth.”

Given the level of relationship-specific investment many research projects require, this isn’t likely to work without some kinds of long-term commitments. But the model may be effective for other projects. And it beats the alternative.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Innovation, Institutions, Methods/Methodology/Theory of Science.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Shawn Ritenour  |  5 May 2012 at 2:10 pm

    I’d also suggest that the report’s term “underemployed” is a relative one. It could just as easily read “over-credentialed.” Could it be that this is a consequence on the debt-driven inflationary boom in the higher ed. market?

  • 2. mikemarotta  |  10 May 2012 at 8:52 pm

    At root, perhaps the revelation is that lack of entrepreneurship as a mode we accept and embrace. The only path seems to be getting a salaried job. Yet, in fact, universities were founded by entrepreneurial scholars. Thus, Cambridge, Oxford, Sorbonne, and Bologna have different governance structures.

    Also, you know, the complaint that there are “too many” PhDs and they are “underemployed” (or over-credentialed) is sort of like the Luddite complaint that the market undervalued skilled craftsmen. They bring what they bring. The market is not under- or over- anything except someone’s arbitrary dream of a “fair price.”

    Finally, I think that if you consider You Tube, 200 cable channels, and blogs like this, it might seem that we are living in a kind of renaissance or golden age in which education for its own sake is all the rage and culture has blossomed beyond all expectations.

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