Publish yet perish: On the pitfalls of philosophy of education in an age of impact factors

P. Smeyers, D.J. de Ruyter, Y. Waghid, T. Strand

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    In many countries publications in Web of Knowledge journals are dominant in the evaluation of educational research. For various purposes comparisons are made between the output of philosophers of education in these journals and the publications of their colleagues in educational research generally, sometimes also including psychologists and/or social scientists. Taking its starting-point from Hayden’s article in this journal (Stud Philos Educ 31:1–27, 2012), this paper discusses the situation of educational research in three countries: The Netherlands, South Africa and Norway. In this paper an alternative for comparing research output is offered by invoking comparisons with colleagues at the international level from within the same sub-discipline. It is argued that if one would do so a different picture would emerge, even if one were to limit oneself to particular kinds of publications. The case is then made that if comparisons are regarded as a necessary part of the evaluation of an individual scholar (for appointment, promotion, tenure, and/or funding application purposes), it would be more fair to use a proxy system which is sub-discipline specific, or minimally contains some kind of correction factor in relation to the over-all quality assessment device. Debates about the relevance or irrelevance of philosophy of education in the context of educational sciences are now obscured, even poisoned by focusing almost exclusively on a particular kind of publication output. As the ‘reward’ system that is developed accordingly is possibly the most important driver of educational research, it puts the sub-discipline unduly under pressure to the extent that it possibly cannot survive.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)647-666
    JournalStudies in Philosophy and Education
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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