TSElosophers meeting on 3 May 2024. Participants: Joonas Uotinen, Kari Lukka, Otto Rosendahl

Reading: “The value of research activities “other than” publishing articles: Reflections on an experimental workshop series” by Chahed, J., Charnock, R., Du Rietz Sahlström, S., Lennon, N.J., Palermo, T., Parisi, C., Pflueger, D., Sundström, A., Toh, D., and Yu, L.


Content-wise, the paper revolves around inherent tensions embedded in the ‘other than’ publishing-oriented activities, given the current Publish or Perish era in the academe. In this case, the ‘other than’ refers to a series of seminars a group of Early Career Researchers (ECRs) ran over eight years. One tension is keeping the attendance active, which they managed to do reasonably well.

Another tension was on what grounds to motivate the invitation of a series of senior, very influential scholars to participate in the seminars, as they might bring with them academic hierarchy and pecking order, inclining to somewhat restrict the freedom of speech of the ECRs. There were obvious pros in doing this, however, many of them very practical, like getting a local influential patron or catalysing active attendance. On the other hand, the paper admits how some element of hierarchy was infused into the meant-to-be democratic and open discussions.

A further tension is the very write-up of this paper – and trying and getting it published. The authors admit there is some irony here, but they also defend this choice arguing that this only tells how any ‘other than’ activity is eventually connected to publishing. TSElosophers found the of writing this paper a sound idea, since how else could the word of such activity be effectively spread – and the wider academia should know!


TSElosophers were very sympathetic towards the activities underlying this paper, a time-wise long series of seminars, featured by an intention to avoid being driven by mere interest in publishing. This means respecting the age-old academic virtue of open dialogue on all kinds of things, with as little external conditions as possible. The underlying idea is hence to resist the overwhelming tendencies to acting instrumentally in the academe. This reminded the TSElosophers of the series of activities of their own, having a history going back to 2017. A distinctive feature of the paper is that the list of authors is very long for an accounting paper, which nicely echoes the aspect of distributed knowledge, prominent in the paper. The paper is written from the perspective of ECRs, not least given that the invitees were ECRs when the seminar series started in 2013.

We found the paper as very nicely crafted as well as easy to read. It also indicated a good ability to be reflective regarding the process that the group of ECRs had gone through over a longer period with the help of the seminars. The Jasanoff notion of “technologies of humility” was used as a sensitizing method theory, which we found fitting and helpful. The paper was, however, perhaps not so exciting regarding its take-aways, which was likely since it actually lacked a strong substantive motivation. TSElosophers felt this added to the element of irony of the paper somewhat, given the idealistic starting point of the project. Somebody with a skeptic stance might see the paper written without due scholarly need for it, for the sake of just getting something published from the seminar series.

That said, the paper was anyway a very good facilitator for our discussion on numerous themes, including how separate the processes of free discussion and publishing are (or should be); the various motivations for the senior scholars to participate in the seminars for ECRs, including strengthening of their own research community (‘tribe’) and identifying and screening off new candidates for open positions at their departments. We also discussed aspects relating to the theme of what kind of power processes could be ongoing at and around the seminars – and which kinds of them their arrangement attempted or managed to avoid.

Overall, we found the paper offering TSElosophers a very nice basis for the discussion at our May 2024 meeting.