I signed a contract for a 6-year tenure-track professorship in a European University a few weeks ago.

Recently, I received an Agreement document between me and the University, whose main objective is to specify the details of my research and my teaching at the University.

Most of the information to fill out makes sense, except the one that is about the number of publications that I plan to produce. I am not sure what to put here, and whether this will start some kind of negotiation with the University.

Even if I am urged to put a high number, I could opt to publish to just about any low-rank venue (which I would not like).

Being completely honest, if I were to set expectations for myself, it would not be in the form of a number. I tend to do good research and the publications come as a consequence of this attitude, but this number has never been a metric that I targeted.

Perhaps entering a low conservative value would be the best approach?

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    I think this really needs advice from someone who is familiar with the local context. Can you talk to other people who have gone through the tenure process and/or your head of department/similar?
    – avid
    Dec 8, 2022 at 19:13
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    I feel so strongly about avid's comment that I'm voting to close (for strongly depending on individual factors). Dec 8, 2022 at 19:33
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    @avid ok, so I did some research, and I saw that the law stipulates that this agreement should "specify the objectives of research", and apparently someone from the administration thought that using numbers would be a good way to do it. I told the university that perhaps a descriptive text is better there, and will wait for their response.
    – Chim3ra
    Dec 8, 2022 at 21:07
  • Being completely honest, if I were to set expectations for myself You are a professor, these are the publications of your group, there is not anymore a "me", now you are "my research group". Getting a professorship is a big change, especially because your failure is "my research group failure". If you are an asshole you take it as a way out, if you are a decent person you will read it as a"my research group failure is my falilure" ... it is up to you, enjoy the responsibility :D . A part from this detail, I share your fundamental doubt about giving any value to the number of publications.
    – EarlGrey
    Dec 9, 2022 at 13:19
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    @EarlGrey Yes, I agree with you. In fact, your comment helped me realize that the Agreement itself is mostly structured around me as an individual. To be fair, this is a new way of recruiting professors for the Uni, so probably the Uni hasn't had time to iron out some flaws with the documentation. I am still waiting for their response. I could have put a value of 30 there and impress them, and then just publish everything on arXiv, and I would have met the publication "goal" :P
    – Chim3ra
    Dec 9, 2022 at 14:38

1 Answer 1


I agree that people could publish any number of articles if quality of the work and the journal are not a concern. I would put a number that seems like a reasonable estimate of the number of high quality papers you are likely to publish during that time frame. So maybe somewhere between 2 and 5 per year, depending on the field? In some fields, studies can take years to complete, so there will be many fewer completed and published than in a field in which studies can be completed in a few weeks or months.

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    Depends a lot on the field and subfield. Two per year is a lot in math and many highly theoretical subjects, including parts of CS.
    – Buffy
    Mar 29 at 21:30

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