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There are several universities which have a staff profile page on their websites. Lecturers usually list their academic qualifications, work experience, the modules they teach and the papers they have published there.

  1. Since the page is public and qualifications and work experience are private information, can a lecturer refuse to provide this information?

  2. Is a university allowed to disclose a lecturer's background to the public or other staff members without said lecturer's consent?

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    Welcome to Academia SE. Your question smells of being an XY problem – you are very likely to get more helpful answers if you elaborate why you are interested in this. Moreover, it may help if you specify your question to a jurisdiction as laws regarding such matters may strongly differ between countries.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jul 10, 2016 at 17:30
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    @user161869 it's more likely that they just never bothered to fill out that page, than that they actively refused due to privacy concerns
    – ff524
    Jul 10, 2016 at 17:40
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    @svavil Would you demand similarly that the qualifications and work history of all employees at any company of which you are a customer, or of all public servants in any county in which you pay taxes, be disclosed to you?
    – fkraiem
    Jul 10, 2016 at 17:44
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    @fkraiem In my country, high-ranking officials disclose their qualifications and financial information prior to being elected. In case of private companies, company history (as opposed to employees history) will be a factor in choosing the company to work with. Mind you, I'm just giving you reasons why other people might want to know your background as a lecturer.
    – svavil
    Jul 10, 2016 at 17:49
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    Wikipedia tells me that the word "lecturer" has a significantly different meaning in the UK and Ireland vs. in other countries, it would probably be useful to know which of the two we are talking about here.
    – fkraiem
    Jul 10, 2016 at 17:53

2 Answers 2

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Sure it is acceptable for a Lecturer to refuse to do this, given that it isn't a condition of the Lecturer's being hired that they agree to publicly posting the information, nor is doing so strictly required for the lecturer to do the other parts of the job that are required.

My own view is that it'd be crazy not to make your information publicly available, since there's no harm in doing so, but much harm in terms of lost opportunities from not doing it. Still, there's no legal or even moral prohibition against making poor career choices.

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    One's previous employment history may itself be a testament to poor career choices that one does not wish to be judged by, and subsequently harmful to make public. Two years of unemployment? Three years being a janitor at a titty bar? You don't necessarily want your entire university, and by extension the entire web-going public, to know these things about you if you're trying to work out a teaching career. Nor do you want them going "huh, there's a 5 year gap that's unexplained". You'd just rather they know that you're there now and that they trust the school to hire someone qualified. Jul 10, 2016 at 18:29
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    @O.R.Mapper True, there's an ambiguity, though even "relevant" may yield uncomfortable revelations. Maybe the Ph.D. came 7 years ago, but there's only 2 years of academic work experience after that. What was the other 5 years? Industry? Unemployment? Janitorial work? Prison? Some people don't want these questions being asked of them when not necessary--they'll likely have to answer the question from the employer themselves, but should they have to be asked it by every student and visitor to the webpage? Jul 10, 2016 at 18:37
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    @zibadawatimmy: If you don't want any questions asked, give answers preemptively. (It's kind of the same as in an oral exam, really ...) If there really are students or other website visitors who go to full HR mode by asking what the other 5 years were spent with, I'd somehow expect them to ask "What's your work experience?" if no information is given. Jul 10, 2016 at 18:46
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    Because the OP specifically called out missing academic qualifications, I wonder if the OP is "shopping" for an advisor who graduated from a top 10 university (or similar) instead of focusing on the research record.
    – mkennedy
    Jul 10, 2016 at 19:16
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    @zibadawatimmy: To clarify: I'm not saying the concerns you mention are unreasonable as such, However, the preconditions sound quite contrived: A university position that is inherently somewhat public-facing, occupied by someone who has a large enough issue so they do not even want to provide a superficial description of other activity ("industry experience in automotive engineering"), combined with students that are inquisitive enough to scan CVs for gaps (and thereby assume the lecturer has devoted 100% of their professional life to their current field) - maybe possible, but certainly rare. Jul 10, 2016 at 19:19
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To be a bit blunt for the sake of discussion...

  1. Academic work - teaching and research - is public work in its essence, regardless of the material ownership of the university. Consequently, an academic staff member's qualifications and work experience are (or should be) essentially public information, or rather, the part of them relevant to the rest of the academic community. Thus it would be inappropriate for a lecturer to hide this information.
  2. As far as that background is relevant to the staff member's research and/or teaching; and unless s/he specifically objected with reasonable cause, then the university can certainly assume it can present this background information on the web page. However, the university should be required to indicate which parts of the information you provide go on the web page, and write up that specific part yourself. IMHO.
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    In my country, marriages are public and banns must be published. Does this mean the lecturer must display the fact they are married (if they are) on their web site? It is not inappropriate not to display every single public fact about yourself on your website. I also think there is a difference between "hiding" and "not displaying".
    – user9646
    Jul 11, 2016 at 7:47
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    @NajibIdrissi: I was talking about qualifications and relevant work experience. I would not think marriage status is part of that.
    – einpoklum
    Jul 11, 2016 at 8:25
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    Your argument is that since it is public, it is inappropriate to "hide" it, isn't it?
    – user9646
    Jul 11, 2016 at 8:35
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    @NajibIdrissi: No. My argument that since it is public and relevant, it should be published. Also, if some information is public in some country which should probably not be, that does not mean that in other contexts we should default to supporting no information being public.
    – einpoklum
    Jul 11, 2016 at 8:49

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