An Award-Winning Episode

Academics love awards. We give out career awards, mid-career awards, early-career awards. We give out awards for the best paper, the best theory, the best teaching, the best service. But what function do all those awards serve? And are we the better for having them? In this episode we talk about how awards fit into the academic ecosystem. How do recipients benefit from them? How do they help the organizations and research communities that give them out? What kinds of biases are baked into the system, and how can we counteract them? Should we consider radically changing how academic awards work, or even doing away with them? Plus: We answer a letter about why academia and policy research have such different norms around checking their numbers.

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 84. It was recorded on September 2/3 (US/AUS), 2020.