Epistemic responsibility as an edifying force in academic research: investigating the moral challenges and opportunities of an impact agenda in the UK and Australia

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The requirement to anticipate, articulate and evaluate the impact of research is a growing part of academic labor. A research impact agenda in the UK and Australia reflects a drive from Governments to see a return on the public investment of research. Some view this as symptomatic of a marketised higher education system, in which knowledge is a commodity as opposed to an object of intrinsic value and dismiss the latter view as nostalgic and unrealistic. Within a research context where knowledge continues to be politicized, long-standing philosophical concerns concerning the value of knowledge and its purpose are re-rehearsed and revisited. Discourse concerning the preservation of freedom in an age of increased accountability can be seen to give rise to increased moral and emotional dissonance amongst pockets of the academic community. At the same time, the academic community can be largely seen to possess a strong moral sense of epistemic responsibility toward the societal contribution of useful knowledge. This piece, based upon research that examined the philosophical challenges with respect to an impact agenda facing academics in the UK and Australia, will serve to provoke further discussion about the challenges posed by an impact agenda whilst also acting as a provocation for academics to locate and harness a sense of epistemic responsibility in order to respond to the impact agenda. This may enable a departure away from narrow conceptions of knowledge and its instrumentalism, thus supporting the academic community and its actors in forming a more holistic view of the value of knowledge within this context.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHumanities and Social Sciences Communications
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2017

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