In Search of Academic Excellence

Social Sciences and Humanities in Focus (Vol. II)

by Michał Klichowski (Volume editor) Paulina Pospieszna (Volume editor) Anna Sakson-Boulet (Volume editor)
©2022 Edited Collection 246 Pages
Open Access


All papers of this edition give an opportunity for reflection on the chances, challenges and difficulties associated with the long-term transformation of higher education and scientific activities. Therefore, the concept of “scientific excellence” has been perceived as a guiding idea in the academics’ efforts. On the other hand, it seems to be an ideal that can never be achieved but towards which one ought to strive persistently. Furthermore, the pursuit of excellence is accompanied by contradictions which have been pointed out many times in the history of academia in Poland. This publishing series embodies the belief in the existence of the so-called invisible college, i.e., the research community, exemplified by young scientists starting their academic path inspired by recognized professors.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Preface (Agnieszka Gromkowska-Melosik)
  • Introduction: Reconsidering Ph.D. Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities in Poland: Between Tradition and Innovation (Agnieszka Gromkowska-Melosik, Bartosz Hordecki, Michał Klichowski, Paulina Pospieszna, Anna Sakson-Boulet, and Tomasz R. Szymczyński)
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Where Should We Build Our Schools? (Jakub Adamczewski)
  • To Create a Map of Methodology Means to Know Your Identity: Challenges Around Narrative Therapy and Narrative Research (Syma Marta Al Azab-Malinowska)
  • Media Education: A Research Overview (Agnieszka Magdalena Barwicka)
  • The Functioning of Mother and Child Homes in Poland (Magdalena Biela-Cywka)
  • Hip Hop as a Postmodern Youth’s Lifestyle (Monika Bieńkowska)
  • Risk of Stress and Burnout among Scientific and Educational Staff in Higher Education Institutions (Żaneta Anna Garbacik)
  • Valorization and Devalorization of Women with Hearing Impairment (Beata Iwanicka)
  • Students on Education Involving the Use of the Internet: A Contribution to the Author’s Own Research (Ewelina Milart)
  • Raising Children in American Hippie Communes (Justyna Mrozek)
  • Situation of Prisoners with Disabilities in Penitentiary Units in Poland (Agnieszka Nymś-Górna)
  • The Other in the Modern World: An Overview of Chosen Ideas (Jonasz Pawlaczyk)
  • Economic Socialization in Polish Primary Schools (Ewelina Szczechowiak)
  • School Administrator as a Manager: Qualifications and Competencies (Emilia Wieczorek)
  • The Language of Mathematics as a New Language-Game: Can It Help Students with Math Anxiety? (Aleksandra Karoń)
  • History of Cosplay (Daria Wrona)

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The concept of excellence can be approached in a similar way as the idea of beauty or good with reference to Plato’s school of thought. As such, we need to acknowledge that they are absolute and universal. A standard that cannot be transgressed in any way. We need to, however, make every attempt at capturing it. On the other hand, from the perspective of social constructivism, excellence loses its ahistorical and eternal character. Each time, its meaning, range and even form and shape are conditioned by the current socio-cultural or political contexts. From this vantage point, one can even discern what version of excellence is suppressed by the other(s) in the course of history. At times, this happens gradually, yet sometimes such changes are revolutionary in nature (in such cases, we talk of a groundbreaking change). Here, we can adduce painting, literature, architecture as examples of excellence, as well as the feminine and masculine ideals in a somewhat different context of an ideal character. It should also be borne in mind that, in contemporary times, the idea of excellence is overused in countless presentations and thus loses its impact. It can also be inscribed in PR campaigns as in the notorious commercial slogan: Porsche: A history of excellence.

Striving for excellence has always been an integral part of doing research. History of science features various trajectories of shaping and transforming this concept. Here, the idea of a great thinker clashes with the one of an excellently organized research team. Monumental works, on the other hand, can be confronted with publications in renowned, prestigious journals.

With reference to Zbyszek Melosik’s work, one can state that two fundamental yet somewhat contradictory ways of perceiving excellence in research coexist with each other. One of them is expressed by a traditional research biography which has been constructed for decades. The other one, in turn, is related to the highest status and reputation. There are researchers who, for decades, have been setting the standards of excellent science and research identity marked by excellent achievements and their professional conduct. The alternative is based on bibliometric markers. Its essence lies in the adaptability to the (frequently altering) criteria and standards, usually imposed, also by state administration, on the researcher community.

It poses certain difficulty to unequivocally support any of these approaches to excellence in research. Therefore, it might be reasonable to treat them as complimentary.1 However, I tend to think that common features permeate the ←7 | 8→two approaches which can be related to the universal, and in a certain sense absolute, vision of research. They are, as per Z. Melosik’s words, linked to the passion and commitment as well as the originality of thought, responsibility, and ethics, undoubtfully including innovation, new ideas and discoveries. Excellence is not limited to the most renowned researchers and most groundbreaking discoveries. It can be also seen in the work of junior academic staff, doctoral students, as well as excellent achievements in a limited scope. It needs to be borne in mind that every field of study is characterized by various ways of seeing excellence. Above all this key concept should be perceived not as a destination, but a continuous journey that never ends.

Thus, I am convinced that we need to embrace various, at times contradictory, trajectories and variants in research.

Agnieszka Gromkowska-Melosik


ISBN (Hardcover)
Open Access
Publication date
2022 (March)
Ph.D. studies social sciences methodology anthropology of education sociology of education political sciences social psychology
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 246 pp., 10 fig. b/w, 4 tables.

Biographical notes

Michał Klichowski (Volume editor) Paulina Pospieszna (Volume editor) Anna Sakson-Boulet (Volume editor)

Michal Klichowski – Professor at the Adam Mickiewicz University (AMU), Poznań, Poland. His current research and projects belong primarily to the area of technology-enhanced learning and educational neuroscience. Paulina Pospieszna – Associate Professor of Political Science at AMU. Her main research interests are democracy promotion, democratization and democracy backsliding, and the civil society. Anna Sakson-Boulet – Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Political Science and Journalism, AMU. Her research focuses on global issues, especially hunger and malnutrition, political ecology and environmental security.


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248 pages