Thursday, November 30, 2006

Publish or Perish

Publish or perish is the mantra one learns as an untenured faculty member. Regardless of the type of institution or the discipline, all faculty members are expected to produce scholarly work to some degree. What varies is the extent to which this is an expectation that is weighted heavily in merit reviews and tenure considerations. What I have also learned (quite recently) is sometimes the rules can change. When they do, they tend towards more stringent evaluation criteria. Such is what I currently face with the introduction of ranked journals (i.e. impact ratings) and the use of the recent publications in the Journal of Criminal Justice Education ranking universities based on faculty productivity in the top tier journals.
This leaves me in a quandry about several things. First, what happened to submitting a manuscript to the journal that is substantively the most appropriate? Second, not all of us have access to the type of data that would be required to publish in one of the top five journals. Third, where has the focus on the research questions gone? For tenure, a research theme or substantive focus needs to be demonstrated for our work over the last five to six years. Fourth, shouldn't faculty productivity be measured both quantitatively and qualitatively? For instance, it is not unheard of in our college to be on 2-3 committees, 1-2 advisory boards in the community, supervising 5-10 M.A. and Ph.D. students, participating in 5+ thesis/dissertation committees, and teaching 2-3 courses per semester. Given these other obligations, I find it difficult to imagine having a room of one's own (thus, the picture) to conduct the research that will now be expected. Finally, I thoroughly enjoy conducting research. For me personally, I couldn't imagine being effective in the classroom without my research as it keeps me connected with the field. But I am frankly concerned with the recent developments. It's not that I don't think I could achieve the new standards but more a question of principle. How does one cope when the rules change while on the tenure track? Expect further postings on the issue. In the meantime, any words of wisdom would be gratefully accepted.

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