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The Paperwinner’s Model in Academia and Undervaluation of Care Work


The identity of an academic discipline is essentially tied to production and reproduction of its disciplinary knowledge. This, in turn, determines the criteria of academic achievement for academicians belonging to a particular discipline. The ability of an academician to contribute to the disciplinary knowledge through publication of high-impact papers is considered to be of highest value in academic disciplines. This constitutes an essentialist paradigm of understanding academic disciplines. Such a paradigm, however, undervalues other equally important forms of academic labour, like academic service, which support, develop and repair the academic world through practice of care. In his paper, the essentialist paradigm is critically appraised through Paperwinner’s Model, an adaptation of Breadwinner’s Model. Through the lens of ethics of care, specifically Joan Tronto’s responsibility-based ethics, the paper offers an alternate paradigm, the deflationary perspective on academia, to acknowledge and evaluate the significance of caring practices. The paper concludes with a formative suggestion to institutionally recognize and reward care through service-intensive positions.

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  1. Further investigations on this aspect can also be found in Llorens et al., 2021d Meara et al., 2016.

  2. In this paper, academia denotes academic life as a whole, including scholars and students of the academic world and their activities. The term ‘academic world’ is also interchangeably used with the term ‘academia’. An academic discipline is a specific branch of knowledge institutionalised within academia through higher educational institutions. A citizen of academia, an academician, is a member of a specific academic discipline (including affiliated entities like professional organisations and associations) and a particular higher educational institution (and affiliated communities like committees).

  3. In the 2004 study, a total of 107 surveys were sent to chairs, of which 74 surveys were returned. In the 2006 study, a total of 98 surveys were sent out to the chairs, of which 42 were returned. In total, 196 surveys were distributed to the faculty members, of which 56 were returned. Cipriano and Riccardi noted that the low rate of return can be attributed to the methodology which was exercised to distribute the surveys where chairs were requested to complete and further, share the additional surveys with two faculty members of their departments. Owing to this, it was not possible to ascertain whether the surveys reached faculty members or not.


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This paper has been possible with the help of many vibrant discussions and debates, over the past two years, with Alan Nelson Isaac, Deepshikha Sharma (Teaching Fellow, KREA University), and Jayshree Jha (PhD Candidate, Department of Philosophy, University of Delhi). I would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers who shared their thoughts and perspective, motivating me to question and address diverse tangents related to the theme. Further, many thanks to the following citizens of my academic world for sharing their perspectives on research, and academic service, which stimulated me to think about its varying aspects - Dr. Balaganapathi Devarakonda (Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Delhi), Dr. R. Krishnaswamy (Associate Professor, Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities), Dr. Meenakshi Singh Tomar (Associate Professor, Jindal Global Business School, O P Jindal Global University), Dr. Tanushree Sharma (Professor, Jindal Global Business School, O P Jindal Global University), Dr. Lakhnath Jaysinghe (Professor, Jindal Global Business School, O P Jindal Global University), and Dr. Diptiman Banerjee (Associate Professor, Jindal Global Business School, O P Jindal Global University).

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Rajan, S.V. The Paperwinner’s Model in Academia and Undervaluation of Care Work. J Acad Ethics (2022).

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  • Academic service
  • Publications
  • Research
  • Ethics of care