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Trust beyond metrics


Title of the working group: 'Trust beyond metrics. Alternative trust-building practices of European Universities'

About the group

The main aim of this research is to understand the rationale behind the alternative, non-metric oriented trust-building practices of European Universities and then promote them in the higher education landscape in Europe.   

The continuous processes of quantification, standardization and metricization constitute a material dimension of the integration of the European university landscape, as governing by numbers could be called a Western modern invention. In the context of the Bologna Process and establishing the European Higher Education Area and European Research Area, at first sight, these tools seem to fit for purpose, as well-known historian of statistics, Theodore M. Porter argued in his Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life. He stated: “reliance on numbers and quantitative manipulation minimizes the need for intimate knowledge and personal trust” and thus “quantification is well suited for communication that goes beyond the boundaries of locality and community”.

For this reason, in the European university landscape, as well as globally, we are witnessing a spectacular proliferation of different indicators, metrics and measures that serve the purpose of enabling control over heterogeneous institutions, as well as stimulating competition between them through constant comparisons.

Universities start to use metrics and indicators, as well as their status on various rankings not only to govern themselves internally, but to build their credibility and trust amongst their various stakeholders – from students and policymakers to local and international communities.

The task of this research group is to look beyond these practices and investigate the rationales behind the alternative approaches that are becoming visible in the European Higher Education landscape.

Plan of work

Design stage: February - March 2020

1. Drafting the theoretical background (by the 15th of March 2020 – first rough draft form) a. Development of the already existing sections b. Trust in metrics c. Development of the dimensions of trust + the actors involved.
2. Methods and the design of the research section.
3. Writing the background information about the selected cases (stressing the deviant character of their actions when compared to the global trend) 4. Exchanging comments and putting the draft in coherent form. (end of March 2020)

Empirical research preparation stage: April 2020

5. Drafting a questionnaire (April 2020)
6. Creating a list of necessary data items for preparation of the case studies (April 2020)
7. Preparation of the preliminary code book (April 2020) DATA COLLECTION STAGE – May 2020
8. Data gathering stage: conducting the interviews and collecting data (May 2020) ANALYSIS STAGE – June 2020
9. Coding of the material (June 2020)
10. Writing up the analysis section (June 2020) WRITE UP STAGE – June to November 2020
11. Writing up the discussion and conclusion sections (June to September 2020)
12. Revisiting the draft as a whole (October 2020)
13. Meeting up for finalizing the paper (November 2020)

Dissemination/output stage: December 2020 - May 2021

14. Submitting the paper (December 2020)
15. Presenting the paper at the final conference (May 2021)

Download the work plan for the group "Trust beyond metrics" here