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12/31/2019

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Tenure tracked

I was hired in a Tenure Track job at a comprehensive state college ( a four year college with some masters programs). I was told - but given nothing in writing - about the tenure conditions in the interview. I tried to get them to be more specific about the research requirements at the interview, but they responded by saying that I probably have stuff in the pipeline (I did in fact have a better publication record than any of them, even the full professor, before I was hired).
It was suggested that I needed some number of articles while at the college (so, not counting what I had already ... I already had two papers in Philosophy of Science, and one in Synthese, and others) - somewhere around 4 was suggested.
In fact the research requirements for tenure were easily met, and the institution honored what they said in the interview.
Subsequently, after I was tenured, we tried to nail down more precisely what the requirements for tenure are. We never did reach an agreement.

Overseas TT

Overseas research institution. I never got the tenure requirements in writing, but word is that the expectation is 2 peer-reviewed papers / year. (Rumor has it that a book is worth around 2 and a half papers. But the admin wants books to be published with a university press, i.e. Routledge, Springer etc. are practically out.)

My understanding is that the 2/year rule is on the assumption that the papers get published in so-so (though legitimate and peer reviewed) places. There's some leniency about the number if the publication venues are deemed prestigious enough (though how prestigious, how many papers etc. is unclear). Having applied to grants is also important, though actually having gotten any is not a strict must.

My impression is that people have been getting tenure for less than this, so those actually meeting the 2/year criterion can be pretty confident that they are going to get tenure. That said, like in many other places the de facto tenure standards are constantly rising. Many of my more senior colleagues probably wouldn't get tenure with what they were tenured for back then.

Overseas TT

PS: I didn't ask about the tenure standards before I got the job. I will say that I was quite surprised when I first heard them; they seemed high for a university that is well-regarded but has nothing like the name recognition of Oxbridge or the Ivy League.

Amanda

I've been hired as a TT professor at both what you might call a state comprehensive college, or maybe a teaching school and then an R1 with a PhD program in philosophy I should note that at the former place they did have some PhD programs, and I even taught masters students. So under some technical definitions it would be a research school. I think that just speaks to the craziness of these technical definitions, because the standard teaching load was a 4/4 (that could be reduced under special, but not common, circumstances) we had no graduate students in philosophy, and while the formal research requirements for TT were vague, in practice they were very minimal.

At the first school I had conversations with both the faculty and the dean about tenure requirements, and they were pretty specific and frank. Basically they wanted to see a respectable teaching and service record, and a research record that showed active involvement with the profession. It was made clear that this did not have to be via publications, but that things like conferences and doing popular philosophy would count. I do think they expected a few publications, but I got the impression that if you were extraordinary in other ways having only 1 or 2 publications could be enough. However, I was given almost nothing in writing. Just a very vague paragraph in my contract, from what I can recall.

It is hard to say as there had not been a tenure denial in several decades, (in the department) but then again every one who had come up for tenure had at least 4 publications, as well as a respectable teaching and service record, and some active involvement in the profession. I think the assumption was that hired people would get tenure, and if someone looked like they weren't progressing toward it than your mentors would be very upfront about what you had to do to improve. I also worked as a non-permanent faculty at a similar type of institution in a different state, and from what I know there tenure standards were very similar, and it had been over 50 years since anyone was denied tenure.

At my R1 I was given a packet and told to read it carefully. The conversations I had with the chair (the only faculty member who I talked to about this) was similar to the packet. Both were pretty vague, where they told you the sort of thing you had to do but what you were told, and what was written in the contract, was vague enough that almost anybody could, in theory, be given or denied tenure in accordance with the standards. I do think it would be pretty difficult to grant tenure with a weak publication record, but still possible, given the vagueness.

The standards they offered included information about teaching, service, and research, with none of them specifically claimed to be more important than the others. However, it was pretty clear that research was actually the most important one, and the standards were more specific for that.

Research standards: You were told to have multiple publications in prestigious, respected venues (which could be journals, authored books, or chapters in edited books) . They recommended at least 6, but this is just a recommendation, and it was not clear if publications prior to getting the job would count. It seemed like they would, but this wasn't clear. You were also supposed to be recognized in your field.

There was an implication that an extraordinary teaching or service record might be able to offset weaker or "on the line" publication records. It was recommended to not waste time on book reviews (not surprising) or special issue journals (somewhat surprising, since they were okay with chapters in anthologies. Although, anthology chapters were expected to be with the very top presses, and accompanied by testimony about your place in the field.)

Our school has lots of reviews for junior faculty (and even senior faculty). For junior faculty 1-2 a year. You also have the option to go up to tenure early. Most don't but doing so is not unheard of. For a research school we also give a decent amount of attention to teaching, but it is unclear to me how much of this is just filling out the paperwork versus actually being judged by both the student and faculty evaluation. It is clear that that you are supposed to be an excellent researcher but only a respectable to good teacher. There is not much information on service other than you should do some of it, and service that attracts media attention or grant money is something given extra consideration. Research grant money is seen as a plus but is not required.

Amanda

Overseas TT: 2 a year is very high. But they also oddly seem more focused on quantity than quality. That might have something to do with the admin. And if people are regularly granted tenure without that suggested 2 a year, perhaps it is a motivation tool. I also find it very odd that they rule out non-university presses, since Routledge, for instance, is often considered more prestigious than many of the university presses, and your university isn't too focused on prestigious journals. But that again, might be an odd administration thing.

Since you guys have a TT system then I assume you are not in the UK?

Overseas TT

Amanda: that's right, I work in a non-Anglophone country. (Though publications not in English are considered worthless for tenure.)

Canadian tt

I’m TT at a Canadian equivalent of R1. It was made clear that only research mattered for tenure but no one has given any clear guideance about how many pubs etc. It seems a book is essential though. Was not told anything at the time of offer.

Paul

TT at a large, private R2 with a philosophy PhD (but I am housed in the Honors College not the philosophy department). Tenure requirements were given in the interview with the Dean. 6-10 articles and book chapters or a book and a few articles and chapters. Co-authored count but be careful about both number and who the co-author is, and venue matters but no specifics were given about which venues.

Once I was hired, I was given the college's tenure document which is still somewhat vague but went into more detail about things like co-authorship, scholarship of teaching and learning, and the venue. Because its interdisciplinary, the tenure document referred to the candidate's home discipline department document.

I also received the philosophy department document. It is very similar, except there is a list of about 30 mostly analytic and history of philosophy journals that automatically count, as well as Oxford, Cambridge, or "comparable University Presses." If a candidate published in a venue not listed, they could either lobby the department to get it included (doesn't happen very often but we did get a few added last year) or justify the value of the pub in the tenure letter.

Service and teaching also matter and are discussed in the document, but it was made very clear early on that those things are not NEARLY as important as publishing. Great teaching and service might get someone who is on the fence over the fence, MAYBE, but that's doubtful. Terrible teaching and collegiality will sink you, however...

Lee

I was given two statements of the tenure requirements, one official and the unofficial. The official requirement was imprecise--something like "make a significant contribution to the field"--which I've heard from multiple departments. There was also a handy unofficial metric--X number of articles in good venues--but achieving that didn't help me get tenure. (And again, my sense is that they often don't put the more objective standards in writing, because it could be used in lawsuits.)

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