With regard to tenure decisions how drastic are the different weight placed on journal articles compared to teaching ability in the classroom?

I know some in the STEM fields that seem narrowly focused on research prior to obtaining tenure and others in other academic fields that seem to spend very little time on research.

Is the relative weight of importance really as drastic as it appears? Or is it exaggerated by those who have a bias one way or the other?

  • 8
    The main differentiator is arguably not the field of study, but the school. Academics in a research university are likely evaluated largely by their research. For academics in a liberal arts college, teaching is a much more central aspect. – xLeitix May 22 '16 at 15:34
  • 1
    Note in some (non-STEM) fields, one isn't expected to publish articles, but rather books. Sometimes the rule is basically: "one book for tenure, 2 for full professor." – Kimball May 22 '16 at 22:33
  • You should be aware that the question and its title are rather different. In a department like mine, research and the resulting publications are very important. Citations, on the other hand, are not particularly important. We care about what the experts in your field say about the quality of your research, not about how many people (expert or not) cite it. – Andreas Blass May 24 '16 at 18:30

It doesn't depend on the field as much as the position. Consider three faculty members, all epidemiologists (my field):

  • One works at a school specifically focused on Masters of Public Health degrees. Research is done at the school, but as the MPH is primarily coursework based, with a single small project at the end, most faculty have a heavy student load.
  • One works at a major research university in a 50% hard money position, which comes with a teaching load of one graduate level class per semester.
  • One works in a 100% soft money research institute that does not offer any classes, and whose students come from other departments.

Note all of these could be at the same university.

Their tenure evaluations will weight things very differently. The first will probably be judged primarily based on their teaching ability, while the last likely hasn't taught at all, and may have actively been discouraged from doing so.

Where field comes in is what kind of positions exist, and in what proportion. For example, in the liberal arts, there are a large number of positions that are teaching centric, while medical schools often have a vast number of faculty whose positions will never involve teaching.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.