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'You need to shut up': Research silencing and what it reveals about academic freedom

Hoepner, Jacqueline Elise

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What do attacks on ‘unpalatable’ or ‘controversial’ research reveal about academic freedom? In this thesis I examine cases in which academic freedom has been curtailed, and show that they reveal a great deal about this dearly held, yet poorly defined and understood, concept. Instances of research silencing based on moral objection—rather than demonstrable misconduct—suggest that academic freedom does not allow for the unfettered pursuit of academically...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorHoepner, Jacqueline Elise
dc.date.accessioned2017-07-28T06:04:50Z
dc.date.available2017-07-28T06:04:50Z
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/121823
dc.description.abstractWhat do attacks on ‘unpalatable’ or ‘controversial’ research reveal about academic freedom? In this thesis I examine cases in which academic freedom has been curtailed, and show that they reveal a great deal about this dearly held, yet poorly defined and understood, concept. Instances of research silencing based on moral objection—rather than demonstrable misconduct—suggest that academic freedom does not allow for the unfettered pursuit of academically rigorous research agendas. Academic freedom is a tightly rule bound concept in and through which the rules of the academic game are promulgated and policed. ‘Freedom’ is not the opposite to rules when it comes to academic work. When breaches to the rules that I argue constitute the core of academic freedom occur, they produce visceral reactions of disgust. It was these I placed under close examination in order to get at the difference between what we believe academic freedom to be, and what it actually is. Qualitative research interviews were conducted with 18 academics and scientists whose research has elicited controversy, condemnation or constraint beyond the expectations of ‘legitimate’ scholarly critique. A mixed-methods analysis of the data was used to determine shared themes, discourses and characteristics within the dataset. While academic institutions uphold their commitment to unfettered enquiry, ‘academic freedom’ is highly contingent and subject to the values of players in the field. This research challenges both the ideal and practice of academic freedom and reveals the invisible bounds that hinder free enquiry.
dc.language.isoen
dc.subjectacademic freedom
dc.subjectresearch silencing
dc.subjectmoral disgust
dc.subjectresearch integrity
dc.subjectacademic suppression
dc.subjectacademic culture
dc.title'You need to shut up': Research silencing and what it reveals about academic freedom
dc.typeThesis (PhD)
local.contributor.supervisorGrant, William
local.contributor.supervisorcontactwill.grant@anu.edu.au
dcterms.valid2017
local.description.notesthe author deposited 28/07/17
local.type.degreeDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
dc.date.issued2017
local.contributor.affiliationAustralian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, College of Physical & Mathematical Sciences, The Australian National University
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