Mandates, coercion and vegetables

From: Bernard Rentier <brentier_at_ULG.AC.BE>
Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2008 13:38:39 -0500

I like Les Carr's way to put it. Indeed coercion and mandates are very unpleasant words. Being a
university "rector" (as we say, let's say Chairman, President or Vice-Chancellor), I am very sensitive
to words that remind us of dictatorship. At a meeting on Institutional Repositories in Valencia two
months ago, after having explained that in my university (Liege, Belgium), posting in te repository
every paper produced was mandatory, I was very unpleasantly compared to Stalin by one of the
attending faculty. It makes you think.
Since then, I try to avoid such dictatorial vocabulary.

Obligation, mandate, coercion mean implicitly that ought to be a punishment, a penalty, if one
does not comply. But there is a huge panel of possible penalties. If you want compliance, use
penalties that mean something to people without shocking them.

Indeed, telling your researchers very simply that only the publications deposited in the official list
of their university, i.e. the institutional repository, will be taken into account for evaluation of their
CVs in the context of promotions, will do. It is simple and fair. And it hits the goal. To the benefit
of all: the author and the University.

The second aspect is not fear, it is pride. Making some publicity about the papers published by the
members of the Institution can be music to the researchers' ears. And selecting the good, or best
papers of the week or of the month, or even better, the top ten or twenty or whatever most
quoted papers and mentioning them specially on the University website is a real delight for the
author(s). And there are many other incentives one can think of along the same line.

I hate the expression "carrot and stick" but I am sure everybody understands here what I mean:
both are effective, the secret is to use some stick perhaps, if really necessary, but mostly carrots.
The university leaders who have difficulties to innovate in the carrot world are left with the sticks
and will have a hard time succeeding in imposing reform. It is a great chance that institutional
repositories provide so many opportunities to develop new carrots. Let's juste use some
imagination and let's propose a wide panel of incentives.
Received on Sun Jan 27 2008 - 19:01:12 GMT

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