Andrea Sterzuk

University of Regina

The articles and book reviews that make up this special theme issue on power and identity are all written by graduate students in the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina, the university where in education is housed. The decision to create this special issue, and to engage students in a mentored publishing process, was partly motivated by an understanding of universities as sites of audit culture. As a term, audit culture describes conditions that include “outcome-based assessment systems for research productivity” (MacRury, 2007, p. 123). Some of the ways that research productivity is measured is by the number and frequency of successful external grants, the number of publications, the merit or impact of scholarly journals in which articles are published and the number of times a paper is cited (Burawoy, 2011; Craig, Amernic & Tourish, 2014; Spooner, 2015). Spooner (in press) contends that the pressure to publish begins with graduate students:

We can attribute the ubiquity of the publish-or-perish dictum in academia to the relentless manner by which the university inculcates graduate students to believe it (Spooner, 2015a). The notion of the journal article as a productivity indicator is so deeply ingrained that for many in the academy, it is the only “normal” paradigm, the only route to employability, the only way even to view oneself as a productive and worthy scholar.

Similar to all of us who work within the audit culture of higher education, graduate students are increasingly under pressure to publish, even prior to conducting research. Students are reminded that publishing provides access to educational advancement from masters to doctoral programs, external funding, and highly coveted tenure-track positions upon completion of their studies. Shore (2010) draws attention to the competition that emerges from university audit cultures when he writes that “the new university environment creates winners and losers” (Shore, 2010, p. 27). In choosing to create a mentored process, to provide supports at all stages to the writers, to not limit the number of student submissions, and to ensure an open review, we sought to reduce the competitive nature of publishing for graduate students in our Faculty.

The process began with a workshop, which provided an overview of academic publishing, the types of articles students might write, and descriptions of the peer review process. Next students were given several months to create first drafts of their articles. After that, an adjudication committee considered all submissions and one member of the committee was paired with each author in order to provide the students with feedback and opportunities to revise. The adjudication was conducted with an understanding of this process as an opportunity to work closely with graduate students and to initiate them in the world of peer review in supportive, mindful, and kind ways. Finally, the committee then sent the papers out for an open, peer review process. The authors’ and reviewers’ names were visible during the review process. Reviewers were invited to work collaboratively with the students. Similarly, the student authors of the book reviews were also mentored in their writing by a member of the in education editorial board. The goal of this project was to engage with our students in a learning process of all that is involved in the publishing process. In the same way that the authors of this issue consider issues of power and identity in education, the editorial board mirrored that too in our creation of this publishing route. From this perspective, the process that lead to this special issue can be understood as a form of resistance against dominant discourses that prescribe “research productivity” in narrow ways and position academics as in competition with one another. Other ways are possible.


Burawoy, M. (2011). Redefining the public university: Global and national contexts. In J. Holmwood (Ed.), A manifesto for the public university (pp. 27–41). New York, NY: Bloomsbury.

Craig, R., Amernic, J., & Tourish, D. (2014). Perverse audit culture and accountability of the modern public university. Financial Accountability & Management, 30(1), 1-24. doi: 10.1111/faam.12025

MacRury, I. (2007). Institutional creativity and pathologies of potential space: The modern university. Psychodynamic Practice, 13(2), 119-140. doi:10.1080/14753630701273058

Shore, C. (2010). Beyond the multiversity: Neoliberalism and the rise of the schizophrenic university. Social Anthropology, 18(1), 15-29. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8676.2009.00094.x

Spooner, M. (in press). Qualitative research and global audit culture: The politics of productivity, accountability, & possibility. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Spooner, M. (2015). The deleterious personal and societal effects of the “audit culture” and a domesticated academy: Another way is possible. International Review of Qualitative Research, 8(2), 212–228. doi: 10.1525/irqr.2015.8.2.212