The evaluation of scholarship in academic promotion and tenure processes: Past, present, and future - F1000Research
peter.suber's bookmarks 2019-01-20
Abstract: Review, promotion, and tenure (RPT) processes significantly affect how faculty direct their own career and scholarly progression. Although RPT practices vary between and within institutions, and affect various disciplines, ranks, institution types, genders, and ethnicity in different ways, some consistent themes emerge when investigating what faculty would like to change about RPT. For instance, over the last few decades, RPT processes have generally increased the value placed on research, at the expense of teaching and service, which often results in an incongruity between how faculty actually spend their time vs. what is considered in their evaluation. Another issue relates to publication practices: most agree RPT requirements should encourage peer-reviewed works of high quality, but in practice, the value of publications is often assessed using shortcuts such as the prestige of the publication venue, rather than on the quality and rigor of peer review of each individual item. Open access and online publishing have made these issues even murkier due to misconceptions about peer review practices and concerns about predatory online publishers, which leaves traditional publishing formats the most desired despite their restricted circulation. And, efforts to replace journal-level measures such as the impact factor with more precise article-level metrics (e.g., citation counts and altmetrics) have been slow to integrate with the RPT process. Questions remain as to whether, or how, RPT practices should be changed to better reflect faculty work patterns and reduce pressure to publish in only the most prestigious traditional formats. To determine the most useful way to change RPT, we need to assess further the needs and perceptions of faculty and administrators, and gain a better understanding of the level of influence of written RPT guidelines and policy in an often vague process that is meant to allow for flexibility in assessing individuals.