As I catch up from a residential move, I have had some time to ponder the latest developments in my goal to achieve tenure. We now have a new Dean of the College and he is working diligently on raising the profile including that which is decided by the U.S. News rankings. Albeit, problems abound with the methodology of these rankings, this is one of the stated objectives. Naturally, changes have started to occur to achieve these new goals.
For the most part, I wholeheartedly embrace these changes as I think they are going to move the College in a positive direction. For instance, increasing our scholarly productivity doesn't hurt us in any way. But as I approach my 3rd year review, I start to feel some tremors of concern. Why? Quite simply the rules are changing but none of us are exactly sure how that will manifest itself in the tenure review process or the annual faculty evaluations.You see, to raise a ranking one of the ways to do so is to increase the presence in the high impact journals in the discipline. In a one discipline department this might be a bit easier to accomplish. With the proper infrastructure this would also be slightly easier to do. However, we are an interdisciplinary group. We don't all publish in criminology and criminal justice journals. Does that make our publications any less worthy? Similarly, how many publications do we need for tenure consideration? When I started various officials suggested one peer reviewed journal article per year. In my second year, the ante appeared to increase to two peer reviewed journal articles. Now in my third year, the question remains whether it is the quantity or the location of publication. Not sure.
Let's face it. This is a thorny issue even when the guidelines for tenure are well established. Anyone who has been on the job market recently knows that during a job interview everyone is to some extent dodgey about tenure requirements. Probably for a good reason. However, for those of us on the tenure track some clarification would certainly put this probationary faculty member more at ease. As the saying goes: Tell me what needs to be done and I'll get it done. The ambiguity that presides makes this difficult. So, I have decided to take the approach of continuing to do what I have been doing so far. Work on research projects that interest me, do the best work that I can, and publish the results in the most appropriate journal for the given topic and methodology. What happens next? Time will tell.