Not-so-SMART: Why new platform and surveillance technologies are bad news for science and understanding

Büscher, Bram


This short paper critically engages with new technologies for data processing related to research outputs, connections and management. Such technologies are generally heralded as making research and publishing more efficient, enabling better connections between researchers and bringing disparate forms of research data together for better research and output management. Based on the examples of Elsevier's Pure and Fingerprint technologies, I argue that in reality the effects of these new technologies and the surveillance platforms they are based on, will be precisely the opposite: they degrade scientific understanding and relations by reducing them to superficial numbers, clicks and hits; they will lead to increased anxiety and stress among academic staff; and they open up the possibilities for new types of panopticon academic governance. The paper concludes by exploring an alternative based on decentralized diversity in research(er) representation.