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Abolishing researchers' personal websites contravenes UCPH strategy

Ten professors, associate professors, and assistant professors at the Department of Economics protest against university management plans to abolish personal websites

At the Zoom lunch meeting of the Department of Economics 8 September, one of the announcements from head of department Christian Schultz was that — following a decision higher up in the system — researchers’ personal websites on a UCPH server would be discontinued. Rumours from elsewhere have it that the decision is based on a request from the central UCPH communications unit to homogenise the UCPH web presence.

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We are a group of researchers at Department of Economics who wish to express our deep concern about this. The reasons are:

1. The personal websites on the UCPH server function as a useful tool to exchange research and teaching materials with our Danish and international colleagues and students in Denmark and abroad.

2. The content and function of the pages is a key part of core activities like research, education and research communication. All three elements are linked together via these sites. And the natural and most practical place to keep the material is a UCPH web server. Among researchers at non-Danish universities with whom we collaborate, it is common to use personal websites within the university’s own auspices.

3. The personal websites supplement the official researcher reporting (via Curis). They cannot be replaced by a template-based communication like this, neither can they be replaced by the departments’ wider research dissemination nor the blog service at sites.ku.dk. The individual researcher needs to have the freedom and flexibility of their own site. And the existence of these sites contributes to the diversity that users’ appreciate.

4. The consequence of discontinuing personal websites will most likely be that many researchers will get their personal websites hosted by free solutions like Google Sites. Others will choose a paid server. In both cases, the websites’ users, that is, other researchers, students and the wider public, will not be able to avoid the extensive tracking that will be the result of this type of solution.

5. It will be more difficult for users to see whether a given website represents a university-employed researcher or someone who just claims to be one.

6. The discontinuation of researchers’ personal websites on the UCPH web server will reduce the visibility of PhDs and postdocs, and will mean that foreign applicants for research positions keep their personal website at their former place of employment. This is bad for the UCPH brand.

We therefore conclude that abolishing researchers’ personal websites contradicts the University of Copenhagen strategy stating that »UCPH is an internationally-oriented university,« that emphasises »critical thinking and the search for truth within the framework of an inclusive and appreciative culture with space for diversity«.

Signed by Miriam Gensowski (Associate Professor), Christian Groth (Associate Professor Emeritus), Mette Gørtz (Assistant Professor), Marc Patrick Bang Klemp (Assistant Professor), Claus Thustrup Kreiner (Professor), Søren Leth-Petersen (professor), Anders Munk-Nielsen (Assistant Professor), Peter Birch Sørensen (Professor), Peter Norman Sørensen (Professor), Finn Tarp (Professor).

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