Yes, Clydesdale is a drain on academia

Updating the previous posts on Clydesdale, I listened to this (Saturday) morning’s interview with Clydesdale on the Kim Hill Show.

Clydesdale defended his paper from the criticism of the established academics who had reviewed it by saying that (1) it was refereed by two academics for conference acceptance and (2) as it was an “international business” paper, the sociologists and economists weren’t qualified to review it. His arguments don’t stand up.

First, “international business” is not a discipline, but a multi-disciplinary field of study. What this means is that, while there may be a body of literature in international business, there is no well-developed overarching theory or particular methodology to distinguish the study of international business.

For example, as the AUT website puts it, “As a business discipline international business draws on a range of other related disciplines – economics, politics, management, and cultural studies in particular. A multidisciplinary approach is often necessary… Research studies draw upon these and other disciplines and a range of methodologies – both quantitative and qualitative – in an attempt to understand the determinants of international business activities.”

In short, the economists and sociologists who looked at Clydesdale’s paper were qualified to comment on the quality of the data, methods employed, logical structure, and so on. If the conclusions aren’t based on the data produced — as they aren’t in Clydesdale’s paper — then they aren’t, no matter who the target audience is, and there is no impediment for an economist to spot this in a quantitative study such as this.

Second, the conference looks very shonky. Refereeing for such conferences is notoriously lax. After all, the conference organisers want people to go to Brazil, don’t they? I’ve refereed for such conferences, and sometimes the instructions for reviewers even spell out that a light-handed approach must be taken.

That’s why conference papers count for tiddlysquat in serious academic circles.

How do I know that theAcademy of World Business, Marketing & Management Development 2008 Conference is shonky?

Let’s look at the President of the Academy of World Business, Marketing and Management Development, “Professor” Gabriel Ogunmokun. According to the Academy’s website he is “a full Professor and the Vice President of a Distance Learning University”. Which university? Doesn’t say. Why ever not? Alarm bells ringing yet?

Just last year he was an associate professor at one of the lesser universities in Queensland… “Distance learning universities” — the British Open University aside — tend to be privately owned companies with dodgy reputations at best, and mail-order degrees the norm.

One quick way to gauge the standing of an academic is to see how many times s/he’s been cited in reputable international jounals. There’s a database that collects these data. And Ogunmokun’s score is one. Clydesdale’s is zero. For the purposes of comparison, mine is 47. [Updated 26 August: Clydsedale still zero, I’m now at 55.

What affronts me the most about Clydesdale is that whereas academics have the privilege of leading public debates on social, moral, economic and other issues, that comes with the duty to contribute the highest quality data and analysis — and he has made a mockery of that. Clydesdale is letting the side down and doing academe a grave disservice with his drive for self-promotion.

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5 Responses to “Yes, Clydesdale is a drain on academia”

  1. Sconehead Says:

    What a remarkable interview, and man. For once, Ms Hill’s abrasive manner was a joy to listen to.

    I have to say, I felt sorry for the chap at the end. He’d made a prize chump of himself. I just loved the point where Dr. Drysdale tried – and failed – to express just who is paper is directed at. He seemed to be struggling identify his audience.

    I can just picture his Brazilian chums now, sunning themselves, enjoying a beer, admiring the beach beauties, and looking forward to their conference.

    The idea of some sort of objective truth, achieved through consensus and intelligible to most people seems to have escaped him.

    Is he a fair reflection of today’s academics? I hope not.

  2. Psycho Milt Says:

    I doubt very many academics, when accepting peer review of their own work, would consider the term “peer review” to encompass reviews by people with no expertise in the relevant discipline, commissioned by parties with a clear interest in discrediting the reviewee’s work. Would you?

    And a citation index pissing contest would perhaps make more sense after the guy’s actually published some articles?

  3. jafapete Says:

    Psycho, I deal with the first point above. “International business” is not a discipline. It is a multi-disciplinary field of study. I know people who research in this field and this is what they tell me. There is no well-developed overarching theory or particular methodology to distinguish the study of international business.

    Also, if you look at the study in question, it is really an economic study more than anything else. This is hardly surprising given Clydesdale’s background. A senior academic in that discipline would be as well qualified as anyone else in the world to review the study. A sociologist who uses qunatiative methods would be a good second IMO.

    Your point about the pissing contest would be valid were it not that he was holding himself up as an established academic of repute on the Kim Hill show, as a defence against criticism. He’s not.

  4. Wayne Says:

    I have had the privilage of being taught by Dr. Clydesdale, and his straight-forward opinions are an absolute pleasure in a world of useless politically correct garbage. I have learnt more from taking one of his classes than I have from several other combined.

    He’s an absolute brilliant man and you make you own supposedly impressive 55 citations (I’m sure that everyone reading this is extremely impressed by your gigantic brain) seem rather irrelevant by slanting your blog more as a personal attack on him than on his research.

    Look at the statistics. You may be able to prove Clydesdale wrong but he drew his conclusions from government collected data. You cant argue with statistics.

    And yes, I have zero citations, which apparantly makes anything I say insignificant.

  5. jafapete Says:

    Wayne, You’ve missed the point. Clydesdale was passing himself off as a well published scholar of international repute when this was not the case. I used the citation index as that is an objective score of the extent of a scholar’s international impact and the extent to which one’s academic peers judge your work to have merit. If you can’t get anybody in a decent journal to cite you, then your peers have judged what you say to be of little worth. The same applies to Dr Ogunmokun.

    I used my own score to illustrate the point. I much prefer to let my work stand on its merits, rather than making false claims about it and leading the press astray. Clydesdale will do this in the future, I hope.

    Indicators such as international citations carry more weight than the opinions of former students who think that any analysis using official data is ipso facto correct. No, it is not your lack of citations that makes what you say insignificant; it is your attempt to misconstrue my use of the metric. Thanks for your comment.

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