The missing measure? Academic identity and the induction process

Jennie Billot, Virginia King

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)
    254 Downloads (Pure)


    The effectiveness of academic induction is under-monitored by higher education institutions (HEIs) despite growing evidence that some academics, facing increased expectations and rising accountability within higher education (HE), perceive a lack of support from their institution. In this paper, we argue that HEIs should follow the example of other sectors to promote socialisation through adequate and supportive scaffolding of the multiple responsibilities that new academics are required to take on. We offer a dual lens into the induction of early career academics in the contemporary university. Using corpus analysis techniques, we survey recent research into induction from the fields of HE studies and of human resources (HR). The HR literature displays a greater emphasis on organisational socialisation but also on performance measures. Secondly, drawing on an empirical study of researcher experiences within a measured and funding-directed environment, we surface the challenges faced by new academics and the tensions of juggling multiple roles and identities. We find that induction programmes that encourage and educate individuals to take responsibility for their socialisation can enhance positive outcomes. Paradoxically, traditional, one-size-fits-all, induction that focuses on the ‘doing’ of academic practice leaves individuals unequally prepared for academic life. The empirical study findings echo claims in the literature that communities of practice can act to positively support newer academics. The induction challenge then is to provide personalised, professional scaffolding for scholarly development and to monitor its effectiveness, while seeking opportunities to build a more supportive academic culture.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)612-624
    Number of pages13
    JournalHigher Education Research & Development
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2017

    Bibliographical note

    This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Higher Education Research & Development on 08/03/2017, available online:

    Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


    • early career academic
    • Induction
    • academic identity
    • corpus analytics
    • measured university


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