Saturday, June 15, 2013

What to expect when you're expecting tenure...

Some of you are getting ready to move into new jobs this summer. Woohoo! Grad school, postdoc, and adjunct teaching did not prepare me for a tenure-track job in some important ways. Here's a few things it would have helped me to know from the get-go.

1. Once you've landed a TT job, you cannot rest on your laurels. The quest for tenure begins before you've got your books unpacked. Seriously. Hit the ground running, kid. (If you're in a department that lets you go up for tenure early, this is doubly true.)
2. Find out what the specific tenure requirements are for your school and department. Start doing those things right away. Departmental committee work. Some number of p-r publications. A book. Grants. Teaching. If your dept doesn't have some kind of orientation for new faculty, talk to someone on the P&T committee about what you have to do.
3. Keep track of what you do. I find it useful to keep a yearly log of my work activity, with dates, brief description of activity, and time spent. It includes things like meetings, guest lectures, conferences, papers submitted and accepted, papers I reviewed for journals, interviews and promo stuff, training, etc. It just takes a minute to enter the info, and when it comes time for the annual P&T review, it's handy to have it all there in front of you.
4. Keep a "self-promotion" file of stuff that supports you and your work. Print out nice emails from students or colleagues, copies of favorable comments from student evals, reviews of your work, awards and recognition, those stupid certificates you get for completing training, etc. Put notes in there about stuff you've done for others (e.g. helped a student get an internship). If you have anything that shows how awesome you are, put it in the file.
5. Keep your CV up to date all the time. Add all the stuff you never had on it before, like departmental service.
6. Keep track of when/where your papers are cited (I use Google Scholar for this) if you're at a research (or other) school that cares about that. If your papers are not listed on, submit them yourself.
7. Volunteer for the minimum number of committees you can get away with, and volunteer for the ones that are likely to meet the least often. You will not get tenure just for being that person who volunteers for everything and publishes nothing. Here it pays to know what you're expected to do by your department (e.g. smaller departments may expect/need more committee work from each individual, etc.)
8. Find a trusted mentor in the department, a senior person who can advise you on tenure-related matters, fill you in on departmental politics/squabbles/history/culture. Someone you're comfortable talking to. The first several faculty meetings are bewildering. I didn't know what the hell people were talking about half the time.
9. Find a focus in your research. Most Some places (e.g. research-oriented departments) will expect you to at least start to gain a national reputation as a scholar by the time your tenure review comes along (typically 6 years), and to do that, you will likely need to specialize your research and have a coherent and important research agenda. This might not be true of SLACs. If someone knows, please enlighten.
10. Make time to write/do research in proportion, more or less, to how important it is to tenure. This can be especially tough in the first year, if you're teaching new classes and doing preps, but it has to be done. You hopefully have some pubs in the pipeline already, so that one or two of them will be published in your first year. But if you don't do any new work in the first year, your pubs will be scanty to nonexistent in your second year, which is probably when your first probationary period will expire and your first review happens.
11. Build a network/alliance of people in your department or school (for social and professional support) and also start building a network of people nationally/internationally who can support your tenure review by serving as external references. Join the relevant professional societies/groups and go to conferences. Join faculty groups on campus that are relevant to your interests.
12. Juggling work and family is tough, especially when you're moving to a new community and don't know anyone. I wish I had excellent advice on how to do that, but I don't (although it is super helpful if your kid(s) are in school or daycare). Try to make friends with other people in the department who can tell you about useful resources, places to go, reliable daycare, good doctors, dentists, veterinarians, hair salons, etc. Taking care of that day to day stuff can suck up a lot of time when you first land in your new town.

I reckon others will have useful advice. Or questions. Chime in.



Anonymous said...

"9. Find a focus in your research. Most places will expect you to at least start to gain a national reputation as a scholar by the time your tenure review comes along (typically 6 years), and to do that, you will likely need to specialize your research and have a coherent and important research agenda."

Is this meant to apply to teaching schools as well as research schools? Its seems weird to be expected to be a nationally recognized scholar at a SLAC or non-research state school. I'm not disagreeing, just curious, because I have no idea.

Anonymous said...


I have tenure at a "teaching school," so here's my 2 cents:

We, of course, love when our faculty have some national recognition. Only one of my colleagues does. (It's not due to any lack of merit, I can assure you. Many of my department colleagues produce excellent work, just not very often, for reasons I'm sure you understand.) What my department is interested in - and how we would understand the notion of "gain a national reputation" - is to demonstrate your ability to play on that stage. You don't need to publish often in my department; but when you do, we want you to publish in top journals. One article in a top journal is far more valuable than multiple articles in journals few people read. (This is generally true for most universities, I suspect. Research schools will simply expect more publishing.) Not being in a research-oriented program means you can't publish as often; however, it's no excuse for not publishing good work.

When we review tenure files, we send out samples of the applicant's work to scholars in their AOS, and ask for their opinion on the merits of the work. We do not ask for anything other than quality. We don't care what Big-Shot Scholar thinks about the volume of output, just the value of the piece in front of him. For us, "national recognition" is less about making sure your name is known by scholars, and more about evaluating the quality of the work: is the work worthy of national recognition?

We have (recently) tenured someone who has only published 2 articles since finishing his PhD. Not terribly impressive, one might think. Both articles, however, were published in the top journal in his AOS, and he has presented at international conferences. That, in addition to being an excellent teacher and a strong department colleague in terms of service.

Anonymous said...

A valuable word of advice:

Even if you see yourself leaving your new TT position at Southwestern Podunk State for a better one elsewhere, allow for the possibility that you might be at SPSU for life--and act accordingly. If you actually manage to hold on to that job for 5-6 years having done nothing for SPSU and everything to publish your way out of SPSU (unsuccessfully), you will have a really, really hard time when you go up for tenure at SPSU. It will be seriously surprising to you how much those "lightweights" expect from you, and you may very well be out of job if you have nothing to show them except your articles in JPhil or Mind or whatever.

zombie said...

8:03: I find the notion of "national recognition" to be inherently vague. That said, I'm pretty much speaking from my experience at a research school. Others here would know better than I about expectations at other types of schools (and thanks for the question, and prompting me to clarify that).

Anonymous said...

As a tenured associate who went through the process last year, I have two suggestions to make in addition to the ones listed.

1. Get a hold of the tenure guidelines in your department. If your department doesn't have them, search for philosophy dept. guidelines elsewhere at a similar institution and get a feel for them early in your career. My department had a long document outlining what was required and it was helpful.

2. Go to the faculty lounge and have lunch with others and ask them about the process. I learned a lot from those who had just gone through the process and who clued me in to their own experiences. ("When I meet wit the Dean, does he care about my service?" -- we had Dean interviews.) I know a few people who weren't clear about the expectations and it caused them trouble that could have been avoided by doing this.

SLAC-er said...

Re level/quantity of research required for tenure: When I was hired, the chair of my SLAC department told me, "You don't have to be a star, but you do have to be a player" (in my sub-discipline). Also, I was discouraged from working in more than one area before tenure. (I have done a very little work in two other areas.) "Wait until after tenure to expand your vision," I was told by a couple of senior folks. "There's too much else to do, now." I've only half taken their advice, but I see why it was well-intentioned.

Anonymous said...

I am going up for tenure in about a year. what kinds of elements go into a standard tenure package? Does one include things like citations of one's works (i.e. a google scholar citations tracking page or something like that)?

Also, when they send out for external referees, how often do people end up with someone kinda vindictive? I have to say, the random chance that someone who just has a grudge may write a nasty letter is my biggest worry.

Anonymous said...

I think 6:20's advice is worth bearing strongly in mind. Go talk to people early on and keep asking questions. Expectations vary and all the details vary from place to place, and you don't want to be stuck getting a bunch of stuff together and formatted properly at the last minute. There is just a lot that goes in to this. Strategizing about letter writers, for example, is a whole art unto itself. So do what 6:20 said, and do it early and keep on doing it: find the tenure expectations right away when you arrive, and have lunch or coffee with others that have gone through the process. If you can find a mentor or someone to stay in close touch with in the years leading up to the final packet drop off, do that. You'll have lots of stressed out questions about minutia. Also start a folder on your computer where you dump every last relevant thing that might matter, so when the time comes you have it all in one place. (I got tenure two years ago at a research oriented but non-Leiter place and I definitely asked a lot of questions and it helped).

Anonymous said...

9:23 -

You should take 6:20 AM's advice. There's only so much that can be said in a general way, a lot depends on your particular school.

Some places might include information about citations (in a letter that the Chair of your department writes, perhaps). Often they have to explain to people in other disciplines why our citation rates aren't always a good indication of whether a person is doing quality work. But if you have been cited a lot, this can sometimes be to your advantage.

As far as referees go: this can be an issue. At my University we're allowed to have a "don't ask" list and so if you know about some enemies (maybe you wrote a very critical notice of someone's book), they at least won't be asked for a tenure letter.

But you of course can't eliminate the possibility of a cranky letter. Just make sure other aspects of your file are as strong as you can make them. If the rest of your file is good, a cranky letter can be overcome.

zombie said...

9:23 -- my university asks the candidate to suggest reviewers. I think they take two from the candidate's list, and then one more. But the idea is to be able to suggest several possible reviewers, especially if you are the lone person in your specialty (as I am). You need a list of several people, as some may decline to serve.

If you're going up for tenure next year, you should really be working on your dossier now (as I understand it). Talk to the P&T committee in your department and find out what's supposed to be in your dossier. Start thinking about reviewers. Not getting tenure can be a career killer, so you want to be sure that you're ready, and you've got all your ducks in a row.

Anonymous said...

Have any of you heard of folks who didn't get tenure but hired on a TT track elsewhere? Is this very unlikely?

Anonymous said...


Yes. A former colleague of mine was denied tenure here, and then hired by another program the following year.

In the eyes of many, the new job is a step down: not a separate program/part of a larger Humanities Department; no graduate program/more gen-ed teaching; weaker research requirements for tenure/more service requirements. However, she's quite happy with her job.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:28-

It happens. I know of a couple of cases, but they're not ones that have happened in the last couple of years when the job market has been so bad. Also, they were people who were denied tenure at prestigious R1 places.

I also know a few folks who were denied tenure (all at R1 type schools) but are now out of academia. In fact, of the 6 or 7 people I know who were denied tenure at various places over the last decade or so, only a couple are still academics.

In at least two cases, they didn't bother to pursue academic jobs elsewhere.

I think tenure denial is most often the end of ones academic career, but I'd be interested in seeing statistics if anyone has any.

Anonymous said...

I know some people who left academia after being denied tenure and others who were denied tenure and ended up with tenure elsewhere. Either way all of them have some pretty serious baggage about it.

For tenure, documents everything! All professional activities. You don't want to be chasing down the email confirmation documenting that you submitted a referee report at the last minute.

zombie said...

I think it's generally understood that tenure is nigh impossible at some schools (the Ivies), but it doesn't hurt to be denied tenure (in terms of future employability), since virtually everyone is denied tenure at those schools. I had a prof in grad school who left Stanford to take a job at my grad school, a considerable step down the ladder, because, she said, "you can't get tenure there." She's now one of the top people in her specialty (and has tenure).

Tenure denial may be more often fatal at "lesser" schools, but I don't know of any statistics, since there seems to be so little transparency to the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

A problem with 8:00AM's 1st point:

Although I can see why someone trying to a get a TT job would want to publish in top journals due to its wow power alone, I don't think that the same applies for tenure review. Only the quality of the papers and perhaps the reputation of the junior faculty member matter. Neither of these criteria seem inconsistent with publishing only in mediocre or worse journals. Although publishing an article in a top tier journal indicates quality almost universally, publishing an article in a lowly ranked journal does not universally indicate that it is a low quality article. An earth shattering and awesome paper would be certainly accepted for publication in a lowly journal.

Thus, anonymous 8:00 am, I think that you misjudged when you decided not to engage a tenure review for the reasons you cite.

Anonymous said...

Let me pick up on the issue raised by 8:00 am and 9:40 regarding journal quality. I'm a tenured associate who teaches at an R2. At my university it is a requirement that all tenure applications include information about "acceptance rates of journals or impact factors or something similar" with the application. This is because tenure committees (both in and outside of your department) will want some evidence of the quality of the venues you are publishing in. While philosophy faculty may be able to read your papers and make informed judgments, this may not true of others who determine your tenure. I don't have evidence about all other universities in the country and whether they are this specific, but I would check carefully at your university before you begin submitting stuff to mediocre journals because this could be an issue.

I don't deny that quality articles can be published in mediocre places. I'm only speaking here about what conditions may be in place for applying for tenure.

Anonymous said...

Also some schools don't really give a shit where you publish, as long as you publish. Maybe these schools are less than prestigious, but hey, if you end up getting a job at all it will probably be at a less than prestigious school. If you're at a regional public university with a 4/4 load, people will be impressed if you publish anything at all.

Anonymous said...

Blanket comments, like those provided by 8:00, can be unhelpful. This is why you want to speak with those at your university about their tenure requirements.

At my university, publishing in (or editing) a Popular Culture and Philosophy volume will not work against you. I work at a school that places more emphasis on teaching than research, and because those volumes have been used (successfully) in classes - especially general education classes for non-majors - such work does not immediately generate a black mark against tenure. Yes, some questionable work has been published in such volumes; however, some very fine work has also been published, and can used to great effect in the classroom. (Also, distrust advice from anyone who notes that they will refuse to read scholarship, and is instead comfortable noting that it must be low quality because he doesn't approve of the venue. This is a bias we need to eliminate from our field.)

I understand that such advice is well-intentioned. And even useful in many situations. However, one of the problems plaguing our field is the notion that the only work worth doing is work published in top-tier journals for specialists. However, for those of us who are primarily focused on teaching - and who appreciate those who do work aimed at non-specialist audiences - a publishing record can indicate more than one's ability to play with the cool kids.

For what it's worth, my colleague gives a presentation on Philosophy and [Popular Superhero] at an event designed to recruit new majors, and is by far the most successful presentation given by anyone, from any department. He has recruited more students to our major than anybody else in the department. And surprisingly, some of them manage to go on and do "real philosophy" in their coursework. It's uncanny.

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear, 12:36.

We would do well to adopt a more nuanced approach to the issue of "quality" in publishing. The uncritical valorization of "rankings" (not just of journals, but of presses, graduate programs, and so on) is not healthy for our profession and bespeaks a hopeless naivete regarding the power dynamics at work in academia.

Anonymous said...

Worth noting: If you get a job at a community college, you won't have to publish anything to get tenure.

Anonymous said...

I'm a tenured full professor at a SLAC. It took years for my department to come up with and then make publicly available set of Departmental Research Criteria. Before the admin put the screws to depts to do so, my department pretty much decided who they liked and who they didn't when it came to tenure. If they liked you, and you published a couple of papers in 3rd tier journals, fine.. If they didn't and you published 2 books and 5 papers, too bad. Short tenure clock, too. So yeah it was a welcome change toward more accountability when departments had to furnish a set of reasonably objective criteria for publication for tenure and promotion.

What we ended up doing was formulating a set of scenarios for tenure and for each rank. The problem and the disputes came when colleagues disagreed on the qualitative descriptions of journals as 'top-tier', 'respectable', 'acceptable', etc. MUCH disagreement, usually in line with who had their publications where. Of course, most of the senior people couldn't have been hired, let alone tenured, under the new criteria, and were concomitantly ferocious in their zeal for making sure that only the highest possible/R1-worthy criteria were applied.

All this is to say that you can't assume that it is clear or agreed on what counts as 'publication' that is tenure-worty. Lip-service is paid to 'peer-reviewed' but beyond the department level--which is a matter of whether or not they want to keep you, don't think it isn't, and don't think they can't distort 10 papers in JPhil into something non-tenure worthy if they want-- commmittees and Deans like to see numbers. Of course philosophy journals don't go in as much for the citation index numbers like the science journals do, but you can always write to the journal editors and ask for percentages of acceptances (worked for me).

It also depends on whether or not there is a tenure committee beyond the department level. There is none at my SLAC, so from the Dept it goes to the Dean. Depts have a lot of power, and if the Dean doesn't want to get his/her hands dirty, their decision stands unless appealed, which gets uggggly.

Hope that helps someone! Courage, as they say.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:00 A.M.,

Professional philosophy is a very small community and a non-trivial number of this blogs' readership know exactly who you are talking about.

I know that you are trying to help the rest of us out, but the way you've done this seems to me to be unfair to the candidate.

Bob said...

I, for one, want to thank 8:00. I wish that more tenure evaluators who are only capable of evaluating publication venues rather than the quality of the publications themselves would refuse to do tenure evaluations. One hopes that this will lead to individuals willing to read the candidate's portfolio and evaluate it on its philosophical merits having more say in the review process.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 8.00am here:

1) Anonymous makes a very good point. Could my remarks about that case be removed--even if the whole post needs to be deleted?

2) There seems to be reading comprehension issues with some posters. Doing Popular Culture can indeed engage and draw in majors; it's useful there. Those majors can then do mainstream work. Of course. But my advice was to avoid this stuff as the MAINSTAY of your research output. And this advice is compatible with some places counting this as research. But if that's what you're after, DO heck first. Most places look askance at it--as *research*.

3) OF COURSE good papers can appear in bad journals. But if you ONLY publish in mediocre to poor journals, that does send a clear signal, like it or not.

Anonymous said...

Professional philosophy is a very small community and a non-trivial number of this blogs' readership know exactly who you are talking about.

I know that you are trying to help the rest of us out, but the way you've done this seems to me to be unfair to the candidate.

This seems exactly right to me. 8:00 AM provides too much identifying information. Like 7:20, I understand the comment was meant to be helpful. But posting it nevertheless seems to have been an error of judgment.

Anonymous said...

9:23 asks: "Also, when they send out for external referees, how often do people end up with someone kinda vindictive?"

In my (albeit limited) experience, most tenure letters from external reviewers are quite positive and warm. I have seen a letter that did attempt to undermine the candidate. (It took us all by surprise; and it turned out to be almost certainly motivated by a personal grudge and not the result of any real philosophical concerns about the candidate's work.) However, against the background of the other letters -- all of which were positively glowing -- the one faintly nasty letter had minimal impact on the case (which was ultimately positive).

I once heard a prominent philosopher (read: someone familiar with many tenure cases at a variety of well-regarded PhD-granting institutions) remark that there are really two types of external reviewers: those who have no interest in ending a person's career and will write a positive letter for most candidates, and those who are just mean and excessively critical. This is obviously a fairly gross oversimplification of how things actually are, but it was meant as such. The take-away was still valuable: Most tenure letters will be pretty strong; so don't over-think or second-guess the process too much.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8.00 here:

I think some clarification is in order. I've written several positive tenure letters, and declined to write in other cases when I believed that my letter would be unfavorable. When I declined I did so on the basis of the venues of publication or the low level of publication, Why? Institutions vary, but some require that ALL responses from external reviewers go into a tenure file, whether the reviewer serves officially or not. If you agree to write a letter, and then withdraw after reading the work and judging it to be of untenureable quality, your withdrawal AFTER AGREEING TO WRITE and officially receiving the tenure file will enter the candidate's file. This could be read as the negative evaluation it is--which if a department is factionalized or marginalized could be used against the candidate. To protect candidates, I, and others, often refuse to write in cases that look prima facie weak, and attempt to do so in ways that cannot be read as passing judgment.

Anonymous said...

I once heard a prominent philosopher (read: someone familiar with many tenure cases at a variety of well-regarded PhD-granting institutions) remark that there are really two types of external reviewers: those who have no interest in ending a person's career and will write a positive letter for most candidates, and those who are just mean and excessively critical.

This is a very interesting -- and I think largely correct -- remark, but it is way more problematic than most people think (if I'm right about what people here think).

Consider what it implies: That letter writers who have the honest opinion that a candidate does not deserve tenure in a given department either decline to write letters to that effect (due to lack of willingness to "end" a philosopher's career) or write a letter that is less than fully sincere: specifically more positive than is warranted.

This is indeed a natural human tendency, which results in more successful tenure cases than a policy of calling it like you see it -- which of course has to include accepting tenure review cases which one thinks might issue in an unfavorable letter.

It's a bit too simple to see the profession as a zero-sum game, but it's not wholly inaccurate. Every philosopher who gets tenured because the potential negative reviews were never written due to this natural (and well-intentioned) tendency holds down a line that would otherwise be open to another candidate of greater merit.

I hope it's obvious why, although this is clearly the easy and "kind" thing to do, it's not at all clear that it is the just or best practice. Jobs in philosophy, especially the most desirable ones (which often have the highest tenure bars) are a scarce commodity. I suppose this audience is as sensitive to that fact as any.

ms said...

I’m a full professor at a Leiter-ranked department. I’ll just pass along some of what I’ve experienced, especially about a stage that hasn’t got much discussion here.

What often happens, at least at research universities, is that after your department reviews and votes, your case goes to a university committee. Sometimes this is just a dean, sometimes it’s a set of administrators, often it’s faculty from the humanities or even faculty from all disciplines. How it works is more a matter of political structure than status-level: at Michigan, the faculty is hugely important at the university stage of tenure decisions, while at Harvard it has no role whatsoever.

Your department presents the case to the committee. It may be your chair; in larger departments it will probably be the chair of your tenure committee. Your department’s reputation on campus can be crucial to how things go at this stage. The committee might think of your department as indiscriminately supporting all candidates (much as many people think about recommendation letters). In that case, they could ask for corroboration for all the positive things your chair says: prove that these are really top journals; if they aren’t top journals give us some evidence that the papers are important anyway; show us that a mere 8 citations doesn’t mean the paper is stillborn… If the reputation of your department isn’t great and there is a negative letter, then your case is in trouble. Even minor, in-passing comments in a letter could pop up as sources of suspicion. Other irregularities could come up, too – why did so many people decline to write letters? Why are six out of nine letter writers from the Boston area? And so on.

That’s why some things that seem silly or petty can be important. Right, *we* know that what matters is whether it’s a great paper, not whether it appeared in a great journal; but non-philosophers are going to want evidence that it’s a great paper, and the word of your colleagues may not cut it. By contrast, if your chair has cred and likes you, a single negative letter is no big deal, and the weight of your department behind you is likely to be decisive.

This stuff is a long way off for most of you. And I agree with those who’ve agreed with 6:20 – you really want to get local advice on how tenure works.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:20 here again,

I think Anon 8:00's point at 6:59 is a very important one, and I think it reflects very well on our field that many people agree with this norm, which is just the result of recognizing your own epistemic limitations while trying to follow the principle of charity.

Given that all of us are subject to heuristic biases that we cannot fully control, if you think antecedently that there's a non-trivial chance that you are going to write a negative letter, then you are better off opting out at the get-go.

This obviously doesn't a priori guarantee that you are always going to write a positive letter (and it shouldn't), but it maximizes the chances that you will genuinely follow the principle of charity in a place where it makes a large difference to people's well-being.

As someone who has been on the other side of these things and who has written a fair number now, it's been one of the most pleasing aspects of my professional life to see how much work people put into doing this.

Philosophers can be real shits in conferences and in responding in print and in journal reviews. Given this, it's quite staggering to me how little shittiness there is in tenure letter writing.

Most people going up for tenure can do so with the reasonable expectation that the reviewers are going to read their work charitably and work very hard to explain it to their own department and administrators at their school. This is at least one thing that we are on the whole getting right as a discipline.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:11 is wrong. Its nowhere near a zero-sum game at the majority of degree granting institutions. Increasingly, when someone doesn't get tenure the dean is just as likely to take away the line.

Anonymous said...

6:11 sounds a lot like the people who come on here and claim that older philosophers have a professional duty to retire. NOTHING is going to make the job situation better any time soon. The place where I used to work lost two lines due to retirement, and those folks aren't going to be replaced. Why? Because of money.

9:21 said...

Oops. I meant to say that the lines disappeared after the two people retired.

Anonymous said...

"Most places look askance at it--as *research*."

Right. This is because people like you look askance at it as research. You don't get to say the reason you hold the biases you do is because that's how the field works. If you think it's a problem that the field works this way, then do something to change it. Read the scholarship in tenure cases you might immediately find questionable. Evaluate those works on their merits. Because perhaps if more people were granted tenure because more external reviewers wrote positively about such scholarship, then perhaps things might change.

Now, if the work is bad, then say so. That's fine. Give it an honest evaluation.

Or not. But own up to it. Don't say you're doing some favor to tenure applicants because that's how "most places" work. The bias is yours. Work to change it, or admit that the bias exists because of you and those like you.

Anonymous said...

It might be helpful for some of us if someone can comment on the following issue related to this discussion. I'm a tenured associate and had three external letters when I came up. But it appears from what I've heard at my university that not all departments require external letters of evaluation. Are people familiar with this practice? I know a colleague who came up in a different field and said he didn't include any because his department didn't require them. Do other people know whether this is common?

Anonymous said...


My university doesn't require outside review for tenure.

Many of us - largely junior faculty and the recently tenured - want to change this. However, the old guard - which currently controls the faculty senate and has the backing of administration - refuse to do so.

The argument is that, because we are a small state university focused on teaching, outside reviewers would find our research output unworthy of tenure. (8:00 may give one reason for such fear. Another is that, while some of us have published in top journals, we have done so very infrequently, some only once in our careers.)

Those of us who want to change this policy to include external review, would like to have our files reviewed by tenured faculty at similar institutions. Peer review, as it were. Unfortunately, we have been told that having our tenure files reviewed by scholars who are not top scholars in the field (not at major research institutions) does not really qualify as proper external review, precisely because those scholars (as they are not at top programs) are not qualified to judge tenure cases. Why not? Because they themselves don't publish in top journals, and therefore are not qualified readers of scholarship for tenure cases. So we can't external review because the only people capable of providing proper peer review are unqualified; and those who are capable of properly evaluating our materials are not our peers.

The sooner we move past the assumption that "tenure" = "must have consistently published in top journals," the better things will get.

Anonymous said...

a lot of universities have fairly strict policies that tenure denials ALWAYS get replaced. even in a hiring freeze. the reason is obvious and it should always be followed:

if the dept fears that a tenure denial will not be replaced, they are likely to play a game of "this person my kind of suck, but (s)he is better than nobody" and support a weak candidate. So, not having the policy undercuts the reliability of the departments own evaluation of candidates.

Anonymous said...

Maybe people look askance at "popular culture" and philosophy as *research* because that's not what it is?

This stuff might--and I stress *might, although a lot is just drivel--have a place as "outreach", or for teaching purposes. But AFAIK no-one is making origional philosophical points that adavance the field in publications like "Spiderman and Philosophy".

This doesn't mean it doesn't count for anything. It just means it doesn't count as research. Period. So if you are at a RESEARCH departtment, it shouldn't count. If you're elsewhere, well, maybe it should. But if 8.00am was evaluating a candidate at an R1 department he or she was right to recuse him or herself.... although a case could be made that he or she should have evaluated the dossier and perhaps made space for someone more deserving of that research job.