“Flipping Academics”

When I read the piece in the Guardian on Tuesday 11th December 2012 titled “A New Flipside to Academics”, I was immediately attracted to the piece!! What was this about and what was behind the use of this ‘casual’ language?


The notion of the “flipping academic” comes  from Alex Bruton who is an Associate Prof in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Mount Royal University in Canada. The idea is simple – that the academic informs first and publishes second. This way, it is thought that academics can engage with policy and practice, improve it and then write up the results.


What an excellent path to follow.


In Universities, academics teach, they publish and in their work, they can be close to those working in the practice in their fields. Good academics are informed by the latest thinking and research published in academic and professional journals and also by feedback from practice. They are also the ones publishing their findings from their own work. In funding terms, however, it is only the highest quality publications that receive funding for Universities and, as a result, academics spend much effort aiming high. Usually, but not always, the highest quality publications are the least read by those in practice.


And so, to the “flipping academic”. Writing up our research papers after the practice is an attractive option. This way, practitioners get feedback from academics and hopefully improve delivery and also academics can report on research in practice.


Making our mark in these ways will ensure that academics keep ahead in their fields. The idea of the “flipping academic” is an attractive one and is not far removed from the mission of this Public Policy centre – the engagement of academics and those in the policy community in improving the practice of public policy.


No more time at this point…need to get on with being a “flipping academic”!!


More in the New Year.



Professor Catherine Farrell.

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