Justice and the Dynamics of Research and Publication in Africa: Interrogating the Performance of "Publish or Perish"
Ssentongo, Jimmy Spire
Draru, Mary Cecilia
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In this paper, we analyse how Ugandan academics are negotiating the age old academic tradition of ‘Publish or Perish’ by differently curving their own identity in academia. The ‘publish or perish’ adage has marked the academic career track not only in Europe and America where it originates from but also in Africa. The major publication outlet target for many African academics are international highimpact-factor journals (with which promotion is smoother and academic reputation higher), most of which are based in the West and hardly accessed by local Africans. The contextual relevance of the ‘publish or perish’ performance has remained largely unquestioned, especially on the African continent. This positions the practice as an uncritical imitation/conformist exercise and affects the relevance of African academics to their local contexts. Here we interrogate the ‘publish or perish’ adage/norm, examine the paradigm on which it is based and how it differently affects career tracks of African academics and their colleagues in the West. Basing on the theoretical stance of ‘research justice’, we agree that research is an indispensable part of academia but differ on the methods of disseminating the generated new knowledge and the measurement of impact factor of the published knowledge. Publication of knowledge should not only be contextual but also accessible and relevant to the target audience. We argue that the impact factor is most importantly how knowledge influences attitudes and practice of the target audience (or what should be the target audience). The chapter is based on personal experiences of several years in performance of the norm, conversational interactions with peers, plus empirical qualitative research carried out among women academics in four Ugandan universities using indepth interviews and, as such, though generic, pays some more attention to the peculiar gender circumstances of African women academics