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Letter from the Editors

Published onDec 12, 2023
Letter from the Editors

It is clear to anyone that works within a university that the scope of work happening within academia defies categorization in the strictly defined trifecta of research, teaching, and service. Yet, every day, across thousands of institutions, academics are asked to bin activities that fall outside, between, and across those categories as they subject themselves to tenure, promotion, and review processes. The adverse effects of the seemingly inescapable hierarchy that emerges from this trifecta—with research above and service below—have been well documented and widely discussed.

Fortunately, there have been continued calls and progress towards research assessment reform to address these adverse effects. It was within this context of positive movement that we agreed to edit this series. While the need to reform tenure, promotion, and recognition models has been made clear, the pathways for achieving change are not. Our hope, which has materialized in this series, was to contribute by providing a space to showcase the efforts of those actually doing the work of changing career recognition structures.

In our call for this series, we asked “how can we better reflect the scope of work happening across and beyond academia in our recognition models?” The resulting series explores this question from different perspectives across academia: librarians, funders, researchers, teaching faculty, and others. Because of the diversity of these perspectives, the articles within the series are not easily broken into categories. The one thing that these articles have in common is their tangibility: each article provides concrete ideas or examples which could be used to support individual choices or institutional changes surrounding the tenure, promotion, and recognition process.

Rather than viewing this series as a set, we would like our readers to approach these articles as individual contributions to the growing discussion around how we recognize and reward work in academia. This discussion has many layers, just like our series. Explore the perspectives represented here and consider what you can add to this conversation.

Below, a short summary of the articles published are provided:

In “The Rules Are Always Changing: An Explorative Review of the Lived Experiences of Faculty Librarians During the Tenure Track Process,” Christina Miskey, Stephanie Fell, and Brittani Sterling examine the written and unwritten expectations that are levied against faculty librarians during the tenure process, highlighting the unique challenges that this group faces.

In “Promoting values-based assessment in review, promotion, and tenure processes,” Caitlin Carter, Michael R. Dougherty, Erin C. McKiernan, and Greg Tananbaum share a workshop series which they have developed to help administrators align their institution’s stated values to the recognition processes they actually administer.

In “Valuing a broad range of research contributions through Team Infrastructure Roles: Why CRediT is not enough,” Esther Plomp highlights the barriers that many researchers face in describing and getting credit for their work in often overlooked areas of the research process, outlining a potential path forward for a more transparent research assessment process.

In “Supporting faculty success through subversive advocacy,” Olivia MacIsaac and Heather Coates discuss actionable steps that staff to support faculty as they navigate the tenure and promotion process, using their experience as a template for others to learn from.

In “From Code to Tenure: Valuing Research Software in Academia,” Eric A. Jensen and Daniel S. Katz highlight a current project they have started to support the recognition of research software in the tenure, promotion, and recognition process by sharing activities that can lead to actionable change.

In “Considering non-tenure track jobs in academia,” Anthony Pinter shares a personal essay about his decision to eschew the tenure track entirely, and why that decision might be the correct choice for many others in academia.

In “Are you there, promotion and tenure committee? It’s me, data,” Joanna Thielen, Wanda Marsolek, and Mikala Narlock write a persuasive letter to a fictional promotion and tenure committee, making the case for open science practices, and particularly the open sharing of research data, to be valued as a research output in tenure and promotion discussions.

In “Knowledge management narratives as tools for promotion at Universidad del Rosario, Colombia,” Salim Chalela and Clara García share how their institution has attempted to adapt their recognition processes by adopting knowledge management narratives, which faculty can write to provide additional qualitative information to highlight the evolution and quality of their work.

Juan Pablo Alperin is an Associate Professor in the Publishing Program at Simon Fraser University, the Associate Director of Research for the Public Knowledge Project, and the co-director of the Scholarly Communications Lab.

Abbey K. Elder is the Open Access & Scholarly Communication Librarian for ISU, where she manages campus initiatives for open access and open education.

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