A Research Enterprise?

“The research enterprise of a leading academic institution is a complex system of human, physical and digital infrastructures that functions to support the production of new knowledge and the advancement and training of research practitioners.”

Though I thoroughly agree with the sentiment of the statement; I disagree with the use of the word enterprise. “Enterprise” carries with it the idea of business interests and profit-seeking. I think that the “research enterprise of a leading academic instituion” should be a not-for-profit venture. The fundamental direction research should take is more of an expedition than an enterprise. Research is a community oriented activity that requires communication not just between the “human, physical and digital” elements at any one institution but also between their peers at other institutions (be it another university, a data center in a different state, or a data collection project in anctarctica). The Large Hadron Collider coupled with the Open Science Grid Consortium represent an interesting example of expeditionary as opposed to enterprise solutions to the problem of immense scientific workloads.

While we should certainly understand the immense financial investment required for future physical and digital components of research; supporting the free exchange of ideas over the drive for profit remains one of the most basic tools to increasing the efficiency of the current network of institutions. Problems stemming from the corporatization of academic research are already prevalent. Increasingly expensive subscription services keep not only scientific but all of academia behind a firewall for not scientists and citizens alike. The backlash is already happening but like any nascent movement demanding change, requires widespread acceptance before its demands can be made permanent. Unlike most other future advances in cyberscience, the tech for this already exists; the barriers are simply legal and financial (though the long term price tag is debatable).

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One Response to A Research Enterprise?

  1. cyberprofgus says:

    I was using the term enterprise in the generic sense of “a project or undertaking, typically one that is difficult or requires effort” (Oxford American dictionary’s def’n). But your points about for-profit publishing houses are very spot on, and we’ll be discussing more of this over the course of the term.

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