I've heard the term 'academic identity' used a fair amount. Although initially it seemed like a simple concept, there are many papers on the subject and no-one seems to have a concrete definition.

Is there a concrete definition of 'academic identity'? If not, what are the key points of an 'academic identity' (if there are any)?

Links to some academic identity papers:

  • Could you point the way to some of these papers?
    – Chris C
    Jan 30 '15 at 22:08
  • I've added some examples to the question. Jan 30 '15 at 22:24
  • academic identity is way you present your self to your academic community
    – sabelo
    Apr 29 '18 at 17:32

Have you read those papers?

The first paper says in the intro:

The aim of this paper is to raise questions for discussion and debate on academic identity rather than to offer definitive answers or specific conclusions. In particular, the paper addresses the following three questions:

1. What is academic identity? 2. What is it to be an academic in modern times? 3. What are the pressures that academics work under?

Then, at the beginning of the section on what is academic identity:

Academic identity is a phrase that is discussed in the Higher Education sector as if it is a fixed and known thing. Academic identity lacks precision in terms of description and cannot therefore be summed up in a few sentences.

This indicates that there is no (at least agreed-upon) definition. I didn't read the paper, but it seems that this section indicates what are the key commonalities in various situations of "academic identity." (I've never heard the term myself.)

  • 1
    I've read that too, but had hoped that there was now something more concrete. Being a scientist, if a man made principle fails to be properly defined, it's difficult to see why there is even a word for it! Jan 31 '15 at 19:36
  • 2
    Well, I don't know anything about this subject, but if you haven't been able to find anything that's a good indication there's not anything concrete in print (at least that's widely regarded). But I think you underestimate the difficulty of definitions. In research, a concept may be around for a long time before people are able to pin down a good definition, and definitions often go through many iterations until they are regarded as satisfactory. You typically have to understand a concept very thoroughly before you can precisely define it.
    – Kimball
    Feb 1 '15 at 9:35
  • Here's an exercise to help you see this: try to define chair. "something you sit on?" but you also sit on cushions. "something you sit on with four legs?" is a sofa with 4 legs a chair? can you not have chair with 3 or 5 legs? etc etc
    – Kimball
    Feb 1 '15 at 9:38
  • 1
    An object designed to be sat on by a single person, with a horizontal platform ("seat"), typically at the approximate height of its intended user's knees, and a vertical back, which may be supportive or merely decorative.
    – JeffE
    Feb 1 '15 at 11:09
  • 1
    I can accept I have underestimated the difficulty of definitions. That said, things that are difficult to define ('what is a sentence', 'what is sadness' etc.) have examples that everyone (or at least most people) can agree on. Naming the thing solves the problem of 'what do we call that thing that we can point to?'. In this case, it seems odd that no-one (or very few people) has (have) asked for the term, and no-one can agree on a definition for it. But if this is the case, that's a discussion best left for outside SE. Feb 2 '15 at 13:14

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