Guest Post by Pamela Lindsay. Higher Ed’s Big Research-Excellence Adventure. Or, What is research excellence and what has it to do with EDI?

Please note. My next biblio, on Diversity, won’t be published for a few weeks — lest I overwhelm Viminitz’s blog.

I’ll upload that biblio as a PDF, which will be an in an easier format to read and save. The WordPress custom format associated with this blog makes for a cumbersome document. Note that you can export this post as a PDF (under ‘File’).

I recently released an annotated bibliography in another Guest Post entitled, “The ubiquitous, questionable, and possibly unethical use of implicit bias tests and training at Canadian universities under the auspices of EDI.”

There I sketched the overarching EDI initiative in Canadian universities, a Tri-Agencies (federal research funding agencies) initiative in collaboration with NSERC‘s Dimensions program. I then elucidated the significant role unconscious (implicit) bias testing and training plays within the EDI program, and that worries about their use are warranted.

Here I consider a concept used by the Tri-Agencies as a justification for their EDI initiatives: research excellence.

  • “Commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion …Through these means the agencies will work with those involved in the research system to develop the inclusive culture needed for research excellence and to achieve outcomes that are rigorous, relevant and accessible to diverse populations [bolding mine].”

“Best Practices in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Research,” Canada Research Coordinating Committee, New Frontiers in Research Fund, Government of Canada, last accessed 18 February 2022, https://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/funding-financement/nfrf-fnfr/edi-eng.aspx

Whatever is meant by “outcomes that are rigorous, relevant and accessible to diverse populations” is anyone’s guess — including whoever wrote this drivel.


Subheadings:

The Analytics of Research Excellence

More on the Analytics of Research Excellence

Whence did Research Excellence Come?

What has EDI to do with Research Excellence?

Some examples of Research Excellence + EDI at Canadian Universities

What has Unconscious Bias to do with Research Excellence?


The Analytics of Research Excellence:

As Viminitz says, to talk about something, like research excellence, you have to first do your analytics; that is, determine what research excellence is. So, what is it?

  • One straightforward, albeit circular, definition is that research excellence is research that satisfies a set local, national, and international merit criteria — “targeting global excellence and leadership” — in order to qualify for multi-million dollar awards (over a seven year period) from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund. You can peruse the Canadian selection criteria here:

“Application Process — 2022 Competition,” Program Details, Canada First Research Excellence Fund, Government of Canada, 2022-02-03, accessed 3 March 2022, https://www.cfref-apogee.gc.ca/program-programme/competitions-concours/2022/apply-demande-eng.aspx

Bibliographer’s Note: One might take issue with the meaninglessness of a number of the selection criteria. E.g.:

  1. The word salad of the following criterion: “originality and positioning of the proposed research vis à vis existing national and international capacity, the interdisciplinary and intersectoral approach of the proposed research, and the potential for the research to provide breakthrough impact on a global scale;”

2. Which criteria are used to determine the “level of excellence of the existing research underpinning the proposed initiative”?

3. a) What is meant by a ‘safe environment’ in the following criterion: “strategy for establishing and maintaining a diverse research team, and for providing an inclusive and safe environment”? b) ‘Safe’ not only how, but also for whom? And, why? c) What are the autonomous effects of this ‘safety’?

4. Given that nearly half the selection criteria stipulate the ‘quality of’ something, what is ‘quality’ and how is it measured? And who measures it?

E.g. “quality of the training plans and strategies that will establish CFREF-supported institutions as top global destinations to conduct research and to receive training”

Since quality is a comparative, what are the criteria, or properties, the stipulated quality is measured against? The moment ‘quality’ becomes a stipulated criterion for an application, it becomes a quantitative measure. Otherwise we’re left with a Euthyphro problem: Is the quality of something ‘excellent’ because a grant application adjudicator says it is (makes it so), or does the adjudicator merely report on something that has the quality of ‘excellent’ (sees that it’s so)?


More on the Analytics of Research Excellence:


Research Excellence has been variously described as: (1) “contextual”; (2) “a pernicious and dangerous rhetoric”; (3) an “essentially contested concept”; (4) not as much determined by researchers as by “policymakers, political decision-makers and other types of experts”; and, (5) “defined in terms of what everyone else is doing,” but should apply to processes rather than outcomes.


(1) The meaning of research excellence is contextual.

Editorial. “Science needs to redefine excellence,” Nature 554, 403-404 (2018), doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-018-02183, https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-02183-y, (accessed 4 March 2022).

  • “Excellence is used to rank research and universities but it is a hard term to define.” (Photo caption.)
  • Bibliographer’s Note: The editors argue that while the metrics used to gauge research excellence are flawed, some metrics are useful guides for public policy and necessary for public accountability. And so, flawed as they may be, these metrics should be reformed rather than scrapped.
  • “But it is true that excellence can be defined in many ways. And this is where reforms should focus. Nature, for example, intends to promote the health of research groups this year and, with that, the responsibilities of principal investigators and other group leaders to promote reproducibility. Can a university that does not offer adequate training to people in these positions truly be considered excellent?”

(2) “[Research excellence used] in its current unqualified form … is a pernicious and dangerous rhetoric that undermines the very foundations of good research and scholarship.”

Moore S et al. (2017) “Excellence R Us”: university research and the fetishisation of excellence. Palgrave Communications. 3:16105 doi: 10.1057/palcomms.2016.105 (accessed 4 March 2022)

Bibliographer’s Note: Moore et al’s arguments are at times too quick and too strong, but they’ve provided a lot of meat for discussion. This paper is worth a cup of coffee and 15-20 minutes of your time.

  • Abstract: The rhetoric of “excellence” is pervasive across the academy. It is used to refer to research outputs as well as researchers, theory and education, individuals and organizations, from art history to zoology. But does “excellence” actually mean anything? Does this pervasive narrative of “excellence” do any good? Drawing on a range of sources we interrogate “excellence” as a concept and find that it has no intrinsic meaning in academia. Rather it functions as a linguistic interchange mechanism. To investigate whether this linguistic function is useful we examine how the rhetoric of excellence combines with narratives of scarcity and competition to show that the hyper-competition that arises from the performance of “excellence” is completely at odds with the qualities of good research. We trace the roots of issues in reproducibility, fraud, and homophily to this rhetoric. But we also show that this rhetoric is an internal, and not primarily an external, imposition. We conclude by proposing an alternative rhetoric based on soundness and capacity-building. In the final analysis, it turns out that that “excellence” is not excellent. Used in its current unqualified form it is a pernicious and dangerous rhetoric that undermines the very foundations of good research and scholarship. This article is published as part of a collection on the future of research assessment.

(3) “One way to conceive of research excellence then, is to think of it as an essentially contested concept. The notion of essentially contested concept was first introduced by Gallie (1955) to describe cases, that is ideas or phenomena that are widely appraised but controversial at the same time.”

Federico Ferretti, Ângela Guimarães Pereira, Dániel Vértesy, Sjoerd Hardeman, Research excellence indicators: time to reimagine the ‘making of’?, Science and Public Policy, Volume 45, Issue 5, October 2018, Pages 731–741, https://doi.org/10.1093/scipol/scy007 (accessed 4 March 2022)

  • Abstract: In the current parlance of evidence-based policy, indicators are increasingly called upon to inform policymakers, including in the research and innovation domain. However, few studies have scrutinized how such indicators come about in practice. We take as an example the development of an indicator by the European Commission, the Research Excellence in Science & Technology indicator. First, we outline tensions related to defining and measuring research excellence for policy using the notion of ‘essentially contested concept’. Second, we explore the construction and use of the aforementioned indicator through in-depth interviews with relevant actors and the co-production of indicators, that is the interplay of their making vis-à-vis academic practices and policy expectations. We find that although many respondents in our study feel uncomfortable with the current usage of notions of excellence as indicator of quality of research practices, few alternatives are suggested. We identify a number of challenges which may contribute to the debate of indicator development, suggesting that the making of current indicators for research policy in the EU may be in need of serious review.

(4) “[Research excellence] “metrics are selected, constructed and implemented not primarily by scientists, but also, or sometimes mainly by policymakers, political decision-makers and other types of experts, who are not necessarily familiar with the workings and processes of the scientific and research community.”

“Currently there is no precise or widely adopted definition of what research excellence is or should be. We might say that we know what excellence is when we see it, or that excellence is what expert reviewers agree is excellent. Some have argued that we have seen a shift over the last two decades from a notion of scientific excellence to a notion of research excellence, at least at the level of the European Union’s science policy landscape. The former is a rather fuzzy, undefined notion, which is embedded in the scientific and research community and its processes, focused on specific content and mainly left to be recognized and promoted by expert reviewers who are themselves scientists. The latter is more precise, and focuses on specific research outputs which are supposed to be the indicators of research excellence, such as publications in the top 10% of cited scientific papers, internationally recognized patents, cooperation of the public research sphere with industry, etc. Such metrics are selected, constructed and implemented not primarily by scientists, but also, or sometimes mainly by policymakers, political decision-makers and other types of experts, who are not necessarily familiar with the workings and processes of the scientific and research community.”


(5) Whatever excellence is it is not measurable by examining the data produced under a grant, which is “not surprising given scientific research is inherently unpredictable, otherwise we wouldn’t need it.” Hence excellence should apply to research practices, rather than outcomes.

“Even national agencies struggle to define the phrase. The ARC runs the Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) exercise to benchmark the country’s universities. Research quality is rated on a 1-to-5 scale from “well below world standard” to “well above world standard”. But there is no direct definition of excellence. Rather, it is defined in terms of what everyone else is doing. In practice, nobody knows what the “world standard” benchmark means. When the ERA ratings are released, university staff scour the results to see how many 4s and 5s they managed, and how many their rivals received.”

“Rewarding research based on competence would take the heat out a system that has become hyper-competitive as more researchers compete for limited funding, which drives some scientists to spin their results to appear more positive. A smaller number commit fraud.”


From Whence did Research Excellence come?

The term research excellence is found extensively around the globe to refer to some set of metrics used by research funding agencies to determine the allocation of grants. So, that’s how I’ll use the term in this section. The term also pertains to awards and recognitions, promotional material, and is employed to add rhetorical flourishes.

Research excellence is as much about competition for research funding as it is about competing for and between researchers — for positions, prestige, reputation, and so on. So it’s not surprising that the word ‘excellent’ is sometimes garishly over-used in these pursuits.


Jong et al sum up a history of the concept of research excellence thus:

“For example, the roots of excellence culture can be traced back to the very first university rankings created in 1910 by the American psychologist James McKeen Catell, based on his view of the number of “eminent scientists” at each university and their reputation among their peers. These efforts were informed by the eugenicist panic and aimed to arrest a perceived decline in the number of “great men” in society by encouraging pockets of excellence.

From the 1950s, excellence was prioritised as means to drive productivity and economic growth, picking up speed in the 1980s. The concept of excellence became firmly established in the European Union’s science policy as part of the 2000 Lisbon strategy to improve the bloc’s position in the global knowledge economy. This push resulted in the creation of merit-led funding body the European Research Council.”

*Note. You will need to register to read this article. Registration is free, and it will allow you access to three free articles per month.


Two well-known funding agencies are the European Research Council (ERC), established in 2007 to fund research in the European Union, and in 2014 the Research Excellence Framework (REF) was first used to determine the allocation of funding in the UK.

……….

  • Of interest, the ERC Starting Grant is open to researchers of any nationality and boasts that “Proposals are evaluated by selected international peer reviewers who evaluate proposals on the basis of excellence as the sole criterion.” [bolding their own]

“Starting Grants,” European Research Grants, https://erc.europa.eu/funding/starting-grants (accessed 6 March 2022)

………

  • On topic for this bibliography, I’ve include a link to the REF Equality and Diversity page.

“Research Excellence Framework,” REF 2021, https://www.ref.ac.uk

“Equality and Diversity in the REF,” REF 2014, (accessed 6 March 2022) https://www.ref.ac.uk/2014/equality/


  • There has been some criticism and controversy surrounding the REF and there is some speculation about whether it will be scrapped. One reason is the expense of the program itself, which some claim as been underestimated.

“Will the latest UK Research Excellence Framework turn out to be the last? The REF is unpopular but researchers should beware unintended consequences if it is abolished,” Nature 578, 338 (2020), doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-020-00451-4 (accessed March 6, 2022) https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00451-4

“The REF is also not cheap to administer — the 2014 exercise cost around £246 million. And as with most indices, the REF’s overlords keep having to make changes to prevent it from being gamed. In the past, departments were able to achieve high scores by submitting outputs from a fraction of their best-performing staff — something that is no longer allowed …The REF’s critics need to be careful what they wish for, because the framework protects money that universities rely on to pay salaries and to keep the lights on.”

……….

  • Criticisms of the REF include that its focus on “impact” outside the academy, which “undermines academic freedom.” And that “REF has negative effects on the humanities.”

I reference Wikipedia as it is useful for a quick overview.

Wikipedia contributors, “Research Excellence Framework,”  Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Research_Excellence_Framework&oldid=1069883322 (accessed February 26, 2022).

  • I’m not going to delve into research impact in this bibliography, but here’s an overview:

“Impact is about looking at the effects a piece of research has had.  There are many different ways your research could have an impact depending on the nature of the work.” These include: academic; cultural and societal; policy; economic; environmental; health.

“Research Impact,” Author Services, Taylor & Francis, (accessed 6 March 2022), https://authorservices.taylorandfrancis.com/research-impact/#

………….

REF Undermines Academic Freedom:

“Much of research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences is grounded in ideological theory. Hence, judgements of research in these areas are necessarily subjective. The panel members of each subject area (there are 34 “units of assessment”) are deemed to be experts precisely because they advocate mainstream views and their ideological underpinnings.”

Bibliographer’s Note: What is considered “mainstream” is sometimes an archaic view, comparing backwards with a particular generation rather than with the current trends. And it is sometimes a politically partisan view.

Remember: mainstream is an indexical — mainstream as indexed to what? EDI appears pretty mainstream in universities, if by mainstream is meant some salient trend. EDI also looks pretty mainstream in the corporate and public service industries.

But is mainstream that which most believe in a certain circumscribed domain, or is it that which is most loudly espoused?

Is by ‘mainstream’ meant other than what one belongs to, an opposing view? Are people liable to stand up and announce that they subscribe to a mainstream view, or is mainstream the view ascribed to certain others? Is by mainstream meant what’s popular? And if so, with whom? What are the connotations of ‘mainstream’ and ‘ideology’?

“The real criticism of the REF is that it wastes our time and for this reason is an attack on our academic freedom. It also encourages mediocrity with publications churned out for publications sake.”

Bibliographer’s note: I suspect that adding the EDI apparatus also consumes research time.

……………

REF has Negative Effects on the Humanities:

“Few would quarrel with the principle of a system of assessment for the humanities based on reading and judging work submitted, rather than one using citation indexes and other bibliometric data. But the scale of the task makes meaningful or honest assessment impossible. There are too few assessors to provide competent, specialised judgement on the range of work submitted. The workload imposed on them requires superhuman capacities: along with their normal teaching and research, panel members must read the equivalent of a full-length book every day for nine months…

Attempting to measure impact on the world outside the universities is also failing the humanities. In the next Ref, in 2021, impact will count for a quarter of the whole score. The criteria are not designed for humanities subjects, but rather for scientific discoveries or technological advances. They exclude academic books that reach a wide audience of general readers – the real way scholars in history, literature, art and philosophy make an impact. Since the Ref tends to give low ratings to general and popularising publications, the best academics are discouraged from sharing their knowledge and ideas with the public.”


Research excellence made its appearance in Canada in 2013 under the leadership of PM Stephen Harper.

…………….

The Canadian federal research grants pertinent to research excellence are: Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF): Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC): and, Canada Research Chairs (CRC).

“Governance,” Research Support Fund, Government of Canada, (accessed 6 March 2022), https://www.rsf-fsr.gc.ca/about-au_sujet/governance-gouvernance-eng.aspx

……….

About: “The Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) Program offers universities award values of either $8 million or $4 million over eight years to support world‑renowned researchers and their teams to establish ambitious research programs at Canadian universities.”

About: “The Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP) stands at the centre of a national strategy to make Canada one of the world’s top countries in research and development. It invests approximately $311 million per year to attract and retain a diverse cadre of world-class researchers, to reinforce academic research and training excellence in Canadian postsecondary institutions.”

……….

What is the difference between Canada Research Chairs and Canada Excellence Research Chairs?

The Canada Research Chairs Program, created in 2000, supports world-class researchers in all disciplines, and is linked to the strategic research priorities of individual institutions. The Canada Excellence Research Chairs Program is a distinct program that targets the very top tier of world-class researchers to help Canada build a critical mass of expertise in the Government of Canada’s targeted science and technology priority areas.


What has EDI to do with research excellence?

Please see the first section of my previous Guest Post on EDI and unconscious bias for details the about the overarching EDI initiative in Canadian universities.

‘Diversity’ is the concept most emphasised as contributing to research excellence. The topic of my next Guest Post is Diversity, so I won’t delve into the claims made about it here. Just as with unconscious bias training, there appears to be dubious and overstated claims about Diversity that I will take apart in that entry.

  • Diversity is one of Canada’s strengths, which positively contributes to research excellence [bolding mine].”

“Dimensions Charter Preamble,”Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Natural Science and Engineering Council of Canada, Government of Canada, accessed 2 March 2022, https://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/NSERC-CRSNG/EDI-EDI/Dimensions-Charter_Dimensions-Charte_eng.asp

……….

“The CERC program is committed to excellence in research and research training and is promoting exemplary practices with respect to equity and diversity. The goals of research excellence can only be met when equity and diversity are integrated into the research initiative. [bolding mine] In collaboration with participating institutions, the program is working to ensure that all recruitment practices for CERC positions are open, transparent and equitable. It is also working to ensure equitable access to opportunities available within the CERC teams.”

………

“By considering differing views, ideas and approaches, equitable and inclusive practices help promote research excellence that better addresses the needs of a diverse Canadian population.” [bolding mine].

………

“The murder of George Floyd and countless acts of anti-black racism. The rise in xenophobia and anti-Asian racism amid covid-19. The uncovering of mass graves of Indigenous children in Canada.

These horrific acts only add to a long, unending history of racial violence. However, over the last few years they have, finally, led us to have a meaningful and painful discourse on oppression within our society and corresponding privilege, enabling a collective shift in our understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). Many of us are reflecting within ourselves — perhaps for the first time — about our biases, and how they inform our actions or how we treat others…

Speaking outside the walls of CIFAR and to the global research community as a whole, I cannot stress enough: EDI does not come at the expense of research excellence. [bolding Quanash’s]

Without EDI, we cannot achieve excellence — having researchers from different backgrounds and perspectives is what leads to bold questions and solutions. In fact, numerous studies have shown that diverse teams are more innovative, engaged, and productive than homogenous teams.” [bolding mine]

……….

“Moreover, while matters of equality, diversity and inclusion have generally been perceived as being in tension with conventional ideas of research excellence, [bolding mine] efforts are made by funding organisations to bring these closer together by expanding their understanding of excellence, such as the concept of “inclusive excellence”.”[bolding mine]

………

“The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) are committed to excellence in research and research training, and achieving an equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise. EDI is essential to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to seize opportunities and respond to global challenges.” [bolding mine]

“EDI is embedded as a foundational principle in CFREF’s objectives, expected outcomes, and application and reporting requirements. For the program to achieve its objectives and outcomes based on research excellence, the participation and contributions of students, trainees, personnel and researchers from underrepresented groups is required.” [bolding mine]


The Upshot:

“TIPS has worked with our governance committees to refine some of the design elements to ensure the program continues to meet its objectives. While many elements of the next funding opportunity will remain similar to those in previous competitions, here are some highlights of the design changes to the program for the next competition:

-strengthening equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) by ensuring it is incorporated into research design, research teams and recruitment processes. Chairholders have a role to play in following the institution’s EDI action plan and ensuring that their core teams are diverse and inclusive and offer more equitable access opportunities”

………

The CRCP, which is administered by the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat, housed within the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, continues to work with Canadian institutions to ensure that the program’s representation of Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, racialized minorities, and women among chairholders is reflective of Canada’s population by 2029.

……….

Bibliographer’s Note: I’ll upload the application as a PDF as follows. There’s a substantial amount dedicated to EDI:

Excerpts:

“CFREF-funded initiatives are expected to demonstrate exceptional leadership in contributing to transforming their research discipline and Canada’s research ecosystem to help it become equitable, diverse and inclusive.”

“Selection criteria. 1. Scientific merit and demonstrated capacity to lead on an international scale:

  • quality of the research proposal in considering and implementing EDI (i.e., GBA+SGBA+) within (as relevant) the research questions, design, methodology, data collection, analysis and interpretation, and dissemination of results;
  • quality of the proposed research in its inclusion of Indigenous research that is co-created and co-led by and with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples—as investigators, students, trainees, partners and collaborators—and in its recognition of Indigenous ways of knowing, and how it will extend research knowledge in the field that is significant for Indigenous Peoples and communities; and”

……….

2022 Canada Excellence Research Chairs Competition, Canada Excellence Research Chairs, Government of Canada, Date modified:2022-02-03, https://www.cerc.gc.ca/program-programme/cpan-pccs-eng.aspx


Some examples of Research Excellence + EDI at Canadian Universities


University of British Columbia

“Led by Canada’s federal research funding agencies, Dimensions is an initiative designed to provide a mechanism that post-secondary institutions can adopt to increase research excellence, innovation and creativity across all disciplines through increased equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).”

Bibliographer’s Note: I recommend you peruse the content under “EQUITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN UBC’S RESEARCH COMMUNITY: DIMENSIONS PILOT” in the left side-bar, such as:

“The Dimensions team acknowledges that extensive consultation processes have been conducted in support of several institutional strategic initiatives addressing EDI and decolonization at the university. Where possible, qualitative and quantitative information from those consultations and initiatives are being incorporated into the Dimensions work. This engagement platform is provided as an opportunity to review and provide feedback on information and gaps specific to UBC’s research culture and ecosystem as defined within the scope of Dimensions’ self-assessment approach.”


Wilfred Laurier University

Note the roster of workshops bolded in purple at the bottom of the page.

“With the goals of excellence in research and research training in mind, the agencies are committed to:

  1. Supporting equitable access to funding opportunities for all researchers and trainees.
  2. Promoting the integration of equity, diversity and inclusion-related considerations in research design and practices.
  3. Increasing equitable and inclusive participation in the research system, including on research teams.
  4. Collecting the data and conducting the analyses needed to include equity, diversity and inclusion considerations in decision-making.

By taking steps to foster an equitable research environment, the Laurier will work with those involved in Canada’s research ecosystem to develop the inclusive culture needed to produce research that is rigorous, relevant and accessible to diverse populations.”

Bibliographer’s Note: What is meant by ‘rigorous’? And which research is relevant and accessible to, or for, whom? What is meant by ‘accessible’? What is meant by ‘diverse populations’? Are you giving the bank robber a better get-away car? Why not? These words might mean something in some administrator’s head, but I doubt it. They’re buzz words, just as ‘ecosystem’ and ‘inclusive culture’.

Bibliographer’s Note: See the roster highlighted in purple at the bottom of the resource page:

“Laurier offers researchers an array of training opportunities and toolkits that provide strategies for bringing EDI into research. Browse this roster of resources, which are available to Laurier researchers.”


University of Windsor

The evidence clearly shows [bolding mine] that increasing equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in research environments enhances excellence, innovation and creativity. EDI policies and practices strengthen the research community, as well as the quality, social relevance, outcomes and impacts of research.”

Bibliographer’s Note: Re: “The evidence clearly shows.” Nice job hand-waving. Now, which evidence?

Bibliographer’s Note: Which “research community?” ‘The’ is a determiner.


University of Toronto, Scarborough

“The University of Toronto is committed to inclusion and excellence in the pursuit of its academic mission because an equitable, diverse and inclusive environment enables all [bolding mine] scholars to reach their full potential and contribute to original, significant and ground-breaking research across the University. Diversity strengthens the quality and impact of research by bringing together multiple ideas and perspectives.”

Bibliographer’s Note:

An EDI environment enables all scholars to reach their ‘full potential’? This is an implausible if not patently false claim. But let’s assume it’s true.

If, in an EDI environment, the potential of all scholars is, at best, mediocrity, then an EDI environment enables all scholars to reach mediocrity. Or, rather, to be fully mediocre. The bar might very well be lowered by an EDI environment.


Simon Fraser University

Openings. Canada Excellence Research Chair Opportunites, VP Academic, Simon Fraser University, http://www.sfu.ca/vpacademic/faculty_openings.html (accessed 6 March 2022)

Canada Excellence Research Chairs | Date posted: January 14th, 2022 |  Revised: January 31st, 2022

“SFU is an equity employer and encourages applications from all qualified individuals, including women, persons with disabilities, racialized minorities, Indigenous Peoples, people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, and others who may contribute to creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive community. SFU is committed to ensuring that no individual is denied access to employment opportunities for reasons unrelated to ability or qualifications. Consistent with this principle, SFU will advance the interests of underrepresented members of the work force, ensure that equal opportunity is afforded to all who seek employment at the University, and treat all employees equitably. Candidates who belong to equity-seeking groups are particularly encouraged to apply. ” [The bolding is theirs.]

Bibliographer’s Note: Isn’t there some tension between “ensure that equal opportunity is afforded to all who seek employment at the university” and  “Candidates who belong to equity-seeking groups are particularly encouraged to apply”?

The posting continues,

5.     Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Globalization, natural resource use and distribution, economic uncertainty, population migration and changing patterns of convergence and conflict challenge the structures of societies and shape the ways we interact with each other. Existing policies governing our way of life originate from Eurocentrism and reinforce systems of power and privilege, creating inequities and systemic barriers grounded in and contributing to racism, heterosexism, ableism, classism, and other sustained systems of oppression. This negatively impacts physical, mental and social well-being of marginalized individuals. Considerations related to justice, equity, and social responsibility also shape the ways in which we engage with communities and value their contributions. Fostering community participation in research is both a vehicle for social change and a critical source of scholarship. There is a need to dismantle Eurocentric structures and facilitate better educational practices and critical discourse while strengthening equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Researchers at SFU are considering questions of equity and justice in relation to environmental, educational, health, economic and governmental systems. Matters of social inclusion, identity, diversity, and belonging are key drivers behind how individuals and groups perceive and connect with society at large.

Research areas of interest: Gender,Colonialism, Decolonization, Disability, Equity, Ethics, Feminist Theory, Justice, Race, Educational Policy, Higher Education”


Carleton University


What has Unconscious Bias to do with Research Excellence?

“Toronto Initiative for Diversity and Excellence (TIDE)  Workshops … Questions can be directed to: unconscious.bias@utoronto.ca

……….

“From: Kelly Hannah-Moffat, VP, People Strategy, Equity & Culture; Karima Hashmani, Executive Director, Equity, Diversity & InclusionTo: University of Toronto faculty, librarians, and staff…

The online Unconscious Bias training modules, available via SuccessFactors: Learning, were created at University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) in an initiative led by Professor Maydianne Andrade, Department of Biological Sciences at UTSC. These modules were produced with input from University of Toronto faculty members who serve as part of the Toronto Initiative for Diversity & Excellence (TIDE) to increase capacity for education across the University in response to heavy demand.”

………

  • “Equity, diversity and inclusion resources,” Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the Research System, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Government of Canada, Date modified: 2021-07-05, (accessed on 5 March 2022), https://cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/52553.html

Unconscious bias is mentioned throughout the following NSERC powerpoint. The 3rd frame from last entitled, “What this means for the community” states: “It means helping to define and contribute to a dynamic process of enhancing research excellence…Taking the Harvard Implicit Association Test.”

EDI and research excellence, 4. http://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/_doc/EDI/EDIpresentation_EN.pdf

……………..

  • “Is Unconscious Bias Relevant to REF 2021?,” Marshall E-learning Consultancy, 3rd October 2019, (accessed 6 March 2022),

So what can you do to mitigate the risks of Unconscious Bias and ensure compliance with the REF 2021?

Being aware that we all have unconscious biases is an important step in becoming more mindful of the factors that may be influencing our decision making. Therefore, proper training in the features of unconscious bias, why it occurs and how it occurs, are key to mitigate its influences. At Marshall’s, we specialise in this training and offer bespoke solutions on unconscious bias with particular reference to the REF 2021. Click here to view our REF 2021 course.

Contact us today for a demo or to find out more.”



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