Striving for research excellence, the social impact of research and investing in the most successful research areas, are the vocabulary that defines everyday reality in academia. The Academic affects -project takes research strategies as its objective, examining it as affective economy. The interest lies in what kind of affective structures the research strategies, which are often regarded as rational research governing tools, produce in academia.


Research strategies, striving for research excellence and for the international top have become buzzwords that characterise the everyday practices of scholars in academia. Scholars are expected to shape their research topics, methods and approaches and select their publication format and forum according to the present research policy trends. Constant changes in research environment may be confusing or threatening, especially if the scholar’s own research or research profile of the department or faculty does not fit in with the given ideals and expectations. Then disappointment, shame and anxiety may be prevalent feelings in everyday experiences of academics. Conversely, the changes may thrill and create the feeling of success if they serve to establish one’s line of research, agency or position in academia.

Our claim is that research strategies are not merely rational research policy alignments, but they are produced in different affective movements while they also serve to produce different affective movements. In this project, we examine research strategies as affective economy.


The purpose of our research is to answer the following research questions:

  • What kind of values the scholars are expected to engage in through research strategies?
  • How scholars experience different research strategies in their work and what kind of affects research strategies invoke among scholars?
  • How do the affective movements produced by research strategies shape and reproduce the power relations within university?

We analyse these questions applying multiple methods and data.

Empirically, the study focuses on humanities and social sciences. They offer a particular interesting case due to their position in the current science policy landscape. It is argued that within the current research policy, which manifests research excellence and the social impact of research, these disciplines are in the underdog position.

This study generates novel and profound understanding about the effects of the neo-liberalised, managerial university sector on the research practices and ideals. Moreover, the project strives to increase the interaction between administration, scholars, different disciplines and scholars in different positions.

During the project, we will publish several articles and participate in national and international conferences. As a final product, we will write a book, in which we gather the results and sub-studies of the project.


This study is funded by Kone Foundation. The duration of the project: 1.2.2020-31.1.2023.

Research group:  Oili-Helena Ylijoki, Tiina Suopajärvi, Pia Olsson and Johanna Hokka