Documenting Scholarship

This page includes notes from the Tenure Seminar of October 9 and 10, 2007. Resources linked in the sidebar on the right include:

  • College tenure definitions and procedures (4.13)
  • College evaluation of faculty (4.12)
  • College definitions of types of scholarship (
  • The Academic Ladder, a 2-person firm providing coaching for the process of academic writing.
  • Excerpt from Boice, Advice for New Faculty Members
  • Excerpt from Lang, Surviving to Tenure
  • Excerpt from Boyer, Scholarship Reconsidered
  • Excerpt from Glassick, Scholarship Assessed

 The notes below are by Susanne Morgan and all disclaimers apply!

My assumptions and the college’s. We are a comprehensive college: primarily undergraduate, graduate programs are professional degrees rather than research doctorates. Teaching is our primary mission. Scholarship takes very many forms and often from our own perspective the work of others is virtually unknown. Our faculty has adopted definitions of scholarship based on the model introduced by Ernest Boyer of the Carnegie Foundation in his book Scholarship Reconsidered. He is also the one who identified our kind of institution as the “great American hybrid” with features of both liberal arts colleges and land grant research universities, and ANAC has taken that description as its organizing principle.

The anxiety about scholarship has increased recently, and in my view that is due to several factors:

  • We are an employer of choice now and our faculty members come wanting to be teacher/scholars.
  • Some of our new faculty members are coming from situations in which they built scholarly trajectories before even coming here. Some are in two-career families and need to remain employable in a wider variety of institutions. They are NOT typical and their files do NOT represent what is required.
  • Former Provost Peter Bardaglio spoke of “turning up the heat” in his third year mantra. First year was “lower the walls,” and second was “hard wire the campus”. People took that to mean that the expectations had dramatically changed. He said that he meant a culture change in many parts of institutional life, particularly for students, and was not expecting a dramatically higher level of faculty scholarly productivity. He said it was the candidate’s responsibility to create the narrative demonstrating that his/her scholarship represented a good tenure file. His actions confirm this, in my view.
  • The all-college tenure and promotion committee represents perspectives from across campus and should be the most varying and mixed voice, in my view. The committee does NOT have the final recommendation and there are multiple examples of positive outcomes following a negative recommendation from the committee.
  • I believe the FILES need to be stronger now and that expectations have indeed increased in the past 25 years but not necessarily in the past five.

My two main pieces of advice:

  • Remain engaged in your scholarly work and community
    • Trajectory is important: you want to demonstrate that you are and will remain active and that your work makes and will continue to make an impact.
    • Isolation is hazardous both personally and professionally; collaboration can be very productive, working groups can be excellent support, and engagement in professional organizations can help maintain your momentum.
    • Research shows that writing every day, even for 15-30 minutes, works extraordinarily well
  • For your file, recall that your final audience is people committed to the college who may know nothing about your area of scholarship.
    • Be instructive: describe the context and meaning of your work.
    • Set annual goals and reflect on them in writing; creating evidence of your trajectory.
    • Use outside sources such as Diamond or statements from your professional organization to support the value of the kind of work you do.
    • Assess whether you ought to guide your department to ways to put your scholarship in context: don’t assume they are familiar with the resources you have.
    • If you come across concise descriptions of the kind of scholarship you do, save in your pretend file.

Building a list of outside reviewers

  • Use your pretend tenure file to note names of people who you have reason to think understand your work
  • Check your own lit reviews for names
  • Review institutions that are similar to us (ANAC can be a start) and see if someone there does work at all like yours
  • Stay in touch with your school’s expectations as to whether the outside reviewers have to be unknown to you, etc