Academic Bragging

Those who exhibit highly admirable academic characteristics such as caution, refusal to exaggerate, humility, deference to the achievement of others, and support of their colleagues will have a much harder time rising to the top.


So says Jonathan Wolff (UCL), writing in The Guardian.

He attempts to figure out the cause of what seems like an “academic bragging contest.” Some of it, he says, comes from the need to justify university education—a not unreasonable concern:

No one undertakes research without hoping it will make a contribution. The university sector needs to be proud of its collective achievements, and if we don’t publicise how can we even know what they are?

So what to do?

It would, though, be nice to cut out some of the boastfulness, without falling into what Aristotle regarded as the opposite vice of mock modesty. And so what is the golden mean between these two vices? Fittingly, perhaps, Aristotle pointed out that it lacks a name. But we know it when we see it: owning what one has achieved, neither more nor less.

The whole column is here. A related discussion on self-promotion is here.

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