Speeding up to keep up: exploring the use of AI in the research process

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Despite growing interest (UKRI 2021) the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in research as an enabler of new methods, processes, management and evaluation is still relatively under-explored (Cyranoki 2019; Royal Society 2018). This empirical paper explores (n=25) expert interviews on the potential impact of AI on research practice and culture. Our interviewees identify positive and negative consequences for research and researchers with respect to collective and individual use. AI is perceived as helpful with respect to information gathering and other narrow tasks, and in support of impact and interdisciplinarity. However, using AI as a way of ‘speeding up - to keep up’ with bureaucratic and metricised processes, may proliferate negative aspects of academic culture. The expansion of AI in research should assist and not replace human creativity. Research into the future role of AI needs to go further to address these challenges, and ask fundamental questions about how AI might assist in providing new tools able to question the values and principles driving institutions and research processes. We argue that to do this explicit research on the role of AI in research should be carried out considering the effects for research and researcher creativity. Anticipatory approaches and engagement of diverse and critical voices at policy level and across disciplines should also be considered.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalAI and Society
Early online date15 Oct 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Oct 2021

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© The Author(s) 2021


  • Artificial intelligence

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