Making Changes in the Academic Incentive System : HIBAR Research Alliance Discussion Paper Austin, Jehannine; Berman, Richard; Chau, Kenneth; Davis, Jerry; Dilabio, Gino; Hannah, David; Lemieux, Vicki; Wakimoto, Roger; Mossman, Michele Ann; Seidel, Marc-David; Stuart, Gavin; Whitehead, Lorne
Recent academic and public discourse suggests society would benefit if more research was focused on addressing societal problems. One form of such research, described as Highly Integrative Basic and Responsive (HIBAR), is particularly impactful while also improving academic excellence. HIBAR research has historically been highly generative, leading to breakthroughs such as the transistor and penicillin, and, indirectly, the internet, cell phones, and the GPS system. Academic researchers in all fields (including social sciences, humanities, science, engineering, and medicine), working alongside societal partners that bring key expertise, have much to offer in the diverse collaborations that are central to most HIBAR projects. A research project is considered fully HIBAR if it combines basic and responsive research in all four of the following key ways: • Integrating motivations, through a desire for discovery and an intent to solve problems; • Integrating methods, using traditional academic investigation and creative methods; • Integrating leadership, by academics co-leading projects with societal partners; • Integrating time frames, by maintaining a strong sense of urgency over a long haul. The HIBAR Research Alliance (HRA) brings together contributors from research universities and related organizations, with a goal of catalyzing a system-wide increase in HIBAR research, from about one project in 20 today, to one in 5 by 2030, while strengthening all types of research excellence. Participants in HRA activities recognize that progress toward solving society’s critical problems can be greatly accelerated if university-based researchers and non-academic researchers work together more often as equal partners. HRA activities are aimed at improving academic culture, using established organizational change methods, so that universities can become better partners, as well as catalyzing and supporting key changes identified by other organizations. To achieve this goal, universities must ensure that academic incentive systems, specifically with regard to promotion and tenure processes, are appropriately aligned to encourage more and better HIBAR research. Aspects of the current promotion and tenure system discourage faculty researchers from working on HIBAR research projects, and we aim to encourage a discussion among those who are in a position to influence and directly make the necessary changes. This discussion will identify what specifically needs to change, how it should change, and actions that we can take individually or together in order to make these changes happen in a timely manner. This paper is intended to encourage discussion among the broad stakeholder community. All interested individuals and organizations are sincerely invited to join the discussion.
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