Researchers June 4, 2020
Maintaining Academic Standards in a Competitive Research Environment
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Standards and expectations in the academic world have always been based on the highest ethical norms. Today, those standards have risen parallel to the advent of significantly increasing technology. The evolution of international travel and study has been a massive boon to the ability to disseminate knowledge, but it’s also increased the amount of student and faculty competition.

Too many degrees and too few positions mean that everyone is pushing to be better, do better, and look better. In addition, reduced revenue and funding of universities means job cuts and more workload for those in the positions. This type of politics often results in competitive research environments in which simply maintaining academic standards becomes a preference instead of a requirement.

The Erosion of Academic Standards

Incentives and competition were meant to enhance standards, but instead, they have begun to slowly erode away at them. As the focus has turned to an unequal emphasis on quantitative data collection rather than a balance of those metrics with qualitative consideration, researchers have had to adjust their strategies and goals or walk away from their projects entirely. Additionally, the increased competition for limited funding turns some applicants to pursuing more cutthroat or less ethical measures.

Traditionally, research funders that could be considered biased or had a stake in the outcome would be turned away. With today’s competitive system of rewards and incentives for those who succeed and disciplinary consequences for those who don’t, these types of backers can end up welcome to a researcher who sees no other alternative.

When Standards Slide

The freedom of researchers to pursue all threads of inquiry to its origin is an essential component of good research. This is why so many researchers are passionate about their projects: They have chosen them based on their enthusiasm for the answer to be uncovered.

But when experiments begin to be chosen for incentivized reasons or researchers are persuaded to work on topics they aren’t passionate about, the results can be lowered outcomes when the work is done to get to the results rather than because of the thrill of the search.

Additionally, the decline in funding has a parallel impact on lowered standards. When funding is not available, the thoroughness of the research is also reduced. This can happen naturally, as researchers don’t have the ability to dig deeper when they know there is more to be learned. Or it can happen in corrupt ways when commercial parties who have an interest in the outcome of research incentivize academic misconduct or set up obstacles to the work being completed in the first place.

Keeping Your Standards High Amongst Competition

The intent of academic standards is to give every student the same ability to access a curriculum that will enrich them and challenge them to problem solve. These standards also enable the faculty to motivate each student, supporting them in their endeavor to be high-achieving.

Keeping those high standards in the face of challenging competition and eroding expectations can be tough. But tough isn’t impossible. 

First, you have to face the problem and accept it for what it is. Ignoring it won’t make it go away, so get a handle on the issues you’re facing and the knowledge that other students won’t be as diligent as you in holding themselves to higher standards.

Then, embrace the knowledge that your research proposals will be rejected multiple times before they’re accepted. Continue to keep submitting your work at the highest level you know you’re capable of.

Find a support system of like-minded peers and faculty that you can turn to for critique of your proposal or research. When you feel like you’re the only one keeping to high standards, this fallback group is crucial to helping you push on.

Ultimately, it may seem like the corrupt or those willing to slide on their standards and ethics get the funding and incentives. But it’s not always that way, and your high standards will create a reputation for you that will follow you throughout your academic life.

Raising the Bar with Impactio

The work you do is of the highest standards, and so should be the method you use to publish it. Impactio is used by academic experts and scholars all over the world as an all-in-one platform for publication and more.

If you want to create professional products to display your research results, connect with others in your field, or follow the impact of your published work, turn to Impactio. We meet and exceed the highest standards of academic programs so you always know you’re working with the best tools available.

Tags Academic ResearchResearch Environment
About the author
Jason Collins- Writer
Jason is a writer for many niche brands with experience “bringing stories to life” for both startups and corporate partners.
Jason Collins
Jason is a writer for many niche brands with experience “bringing stories to life” for both startups and corporate partners.
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