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Ruth Falkenberg's and Maximilian Fochler's article was published in Science, Technology & Human values.

Innovation in Technology Instead of Thinking? Assetization and Its Epistemic Consequences in Academia 


This paper draws on the notion of the asset to better understand the role of innovative research technologies in researchers’ practices and decisions. Faced with both the need to accumulate academic capital to make a living in academia and with many uncertainties about the future, researchers must find ways to anticipate future academic revenues. We illustrate that innovative research technologies provide a suitable means for doing so: First, because they promise productivity through generating interesting data and hence publications. Second, because they allow a signaling of innovativeness in contexts where research is evaluated, even across disciplinary boundaries. As such, enrolling innovative research technologies as assets allows researchers to bridge partly conflicting valuations of productivity and innovativeness they are confronted with. However, the employment of innovative technologies in anticipation of future academic revenues is not always aligned with what researchers value epistemically. Nevertheless, considerations about potential future academic revenues derived from innovative research technologies sometimes seem to override particular epistemic valuations. Illustrating these dynamics, we show that processes of assetization in academia can have significant epistemic consequences which are important to unpack.

Keywords:  research technologies, assetization, innovation, research practices, epistemic choices 

Full text: Innovation in Technology Instead of Thinking? Assetization and Its Epistemic Consequences in Academia