Invisible Forces: The function of professional staff of universities in the ecosystem of academic knowledge production

Who wants to help realising this project?

Recently, the European Commission put my Marie Curie proposal ‘Invisible Forces: The function of professional staff of universities in the ecosystem of academic knowledge production’ on the reservelist. The proposal received an outstanding evaluation and a seal of excellence. This means that the proposal was judged to deserve funding but did not get it due to budget limits. I am very eager to realise this project! This is why I decided to publish the abstract below. I am happy to share the full proposal as well as the evaluation summary report via e-mail. Naturally, I am willing to consider changes to the proposal that will help realising the project. Please, contact me (info[@]stefan-de-jong.nl) if you think you can help me out!

Abstract

Using an innovative ecological perspective, the objective of this project is to conceptualize and optimize the function of professional staff of universities in the ecosystem of academic knowledge production. It compares case studies in the US, the Netherlands and Spain.

Professional staff does not teach or do research, but is involved in organizing these tasks. Despite this body of staff now making up 20- 50% of university employees, this study is the first to consider its function in academic research. Insights into this major, but still poorly understood, component of universities contributes to more efficient and effective use of these public resources. The relevance and urgency of this project are that the European Commission will allocate around €40 billion to universities in Framework Programme 9.

The project investigates the expertise of professional staff, the way it concentrates and uses its expertise, the power that it exercises through it and the effects of its power on academic knowledge production. The study consists of 1) a literature review 2) network analysis 3) ethnographic studies of professional staff in six universities and 4) the construction of a conceptual model to explain the function of professional staff in academic knowledge production.

Results will be shared with 1) academic (seminars, conference presentations and journal publications) 2) professionals (blogs, a conference presentation and journal publication for professional staff and 3) the wider audience (presentations at science events and a videoblog.)