The academic incentives: Motivators for productivity or barriers for integrity?


XI. European Conference on Social and Behavioral Sciences, Roma, Italy, 1 - 04 September 2016

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Roma
  • Country: Italy


Since 1970s, the ‘entrepreneurial university’ discourse have gain more importance in global higher education. Most universities strongly embraced the entrepreneurship to increase their financial independence from governments. In line with the desire of income generation, mainly research universities from developed countries started to be managed by professional administrators, not by senior academics. Via the ‘accountability’ model, these business-minded managers spread performative culture in academia and set up various performance criteria about publications, research funds, teaching loads, etc. Then, they completely returned to the Taylorist logic, piece-rate pay, and developed merit-pay system in academia. This payment system easily found place in developed higher education systems, and led to the emergence of the contingent/temporary academic labor. On the other hand, the merit-pay system have not strongly placed in developing higher education systems yet due to the higher job security of academics. However, the merit-payment approach has reflected to bonus payments via academic incentives. As one of the developing countries, Turkey started new academic incentive program in 2015 to increase the productivity in academia and the attractiveness of academic salaries. This program also brought serious questions related to its effects on academic productivity as well as academic integrity. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to examine the effects on academic productivity and integrity. For this purpose, the researcher conducted qualitative inquiry. He carried out interviews with 10 Turkish academics from different disciplines. He then performed content analysis by coding the interview transcripts. After forming the complete code-list, another researcher coded the transcripts by using the code-list. The researcher calculated the inter-coder reliability as .81 that provides evidence for adequate reliability. He then following the qualitative analysis steps: Data Reduction, Data Display, and Conclusion Drawing/Verification. The data were categorized in three themes. In the first theme, despite its positive goals, Turkish academics underlined the methodological adversities of the academic incentive program, as follow: “The program aims to tempt academics to produce more by extra payment, but the evaluation criteria in different categories like projects, publications, presentations, etc. are not equally fit all sorts of disciplines – from geography.” As a second, a prof. from social science claimed that “academics from several departments will increase their activities with mostly low quality works, but many others will jam on the brakes due to the highest limit of 100 points” and an from chemistry confirmed this claim: “as one of the top performer in my department, I already slowed down my publication pace, because I can get maximum score with less articles.” As the last theme, the interviewees highlighted several points related to academic honesty and research/publication ethics, such as: “academics with higher title may put their names on the studies without any contribution – res.assist. from mathematics”, “as a part of our academia, citation-gang will work more effectively – from business”, and “many academics will produce many papers/presentations based on fake data in relatively short time and carry out little projects without consideration of research ethics – prof. from marine sciences.” Accordingly, the higher education policy makers should re-organize the evaluation criteria by taking disciplinary differences into consideration, remove the highest limit for scoring, and form more serious rules related to academic ethics and operate stricter peer-review evaluation by the committees firstly at the departmental level.