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Academic Freedom$
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Jennifer Lackey

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198791508

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198791508.001.0001

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Freedom of Research Area

Freedom of Research Area

Chapter:
(p.102) 6 Freedom of Research Area
Source:
Academic Freedom
Author(s):

Brian Weatherson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198791508.003.0006

Some writers have said that academic freedom should extend to giving academics complete freedom over what they choose to research. I argue against this: it is consistent with academic freedom for universities to hire people to research particular subjects, and to make continued employment conditional on at least some of the academic’s research being in the areas they were hired to work in. In practice, many academics think that their fellow academics should be free to choose to work on anything that’s within the disciplinary boundaries of the department they were hired into. I argue that’s both too narrow and too broad. Academic freedom implies that researchers should be allowed to have their research focus drift over time. But the boundaries of permissible drift do not correspond to anything like the boundaries of contemporary academic departments.

Keywords:   academic freedom, research area, drift, tenure, interdisciplinary research

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