Criteria for Tenure Evaluation: Scholarship

The Faculty Statutes define scholarship as "a concrete demonstration or evidence of authority or expertise in one's academic field or discipline as adjudged through peer review" (section 3.9.6.3).

Thus, candidates have two goals for the portion of the narrative devoted to scholarship. The first is to establish your expertise. Part of that means defining your field and your role as a scholar. The second goal is to demonstrate your "habit of scholarship." Remember, though, it's not about quantity, but about quality; so you should carefully select evidence that supports the narrative. The evidence that you include in the dossier should be clearly labeled and referenced from the narrative in order to make a compelling argument that you have the expertise needed for your role at Fisher and that you are a scholar who will continue to grow and bring important ideas from current research back to the classroom.

In what follows, the acronym SRCW refers collectively to "Scholarship, Research, and Creative Works."

Guiding Questions

It is your responsibility, as the candidate, to make a clear and compelling case that your SRCW meets the expectations of the statutes (section 3.10.4). To make your case, the following questions may help you brainstorm. It is not expected that you answer any or all of these; they are provided as a means to stimulate your thinking about this portion of your dossier to help you frame your SRCW, position your SRCW, define your role in the SRCW you have published, and explain what SRCW means in your field.

  • What are the goals and focus for your scholarship, considered as a body of work?
  • How does it fit into what you do here and into the mission and vision of your department, school, and the College as a whole?
  • How have your goals and research focus changed from your work prior to Fisher? Why have your goals changed? (You should summarize your work from before coming to Fisher, provide details about your scholarship at Fisher, and briefly outline your work that is in progress.)
  • How would you explain the significance and impact of your work(s)?
  • How do outside experts view the importance, significance, and influence of your scholarship? (Importance in this context refers to what the work is really all about. Significance is about where your work fits in the larger context. Influence is about how others are using it.)
  • Has your SRCW received citations or awards? For what? How were your works selected for these awards?
  • If your works were multiple-authored, what was your role? Were you the primary instigator of the idea? The workhorse behind the scenes? The organizer? The writer? Was it all equally shared?
  • How do your co-authors describe your role in the work?
  • What does SRCW mean in your field?
  • Are there any discipline-specific issues in SRCW that those outside the discipline need to understand?

Guiding Questions Related to Individual Works

Things to consider including in the dossier, but not necessarily the narrative, especially if you have any concerns about how the committee might view your work (i.e. online publications, non-traditional modes of scholarship, etc.) related to the background of your publications, the publication process, and how it has been received:

  • Is it peer reviewed?
  • What is the publication's acceptance rate?
  • How is this journal/venue viewed in your field (i.e. top tier, second tier, etc.)?
  • How long did it take between submission, feedback, and publication? Note that some journals include this in the printed version.
  • Are there any published reviews of it?
  • Was it cited in other works? If so, how was it used?

Reflections: Guiding Principles for Evaluating SRCW

The guiding principles below describe the relative significance of scholarship. Keep in mind that the Faculty Statutes are used to determine whether a candidate has met the requirements for tenure and promotion. In addition, a candidate's school and/or department may have specific requirements (such as those related to accreditation) which must be fulfilled; typically a candidate will have feedback relative to school and department requirements through the annual review and mid-probationary review.

  • The guiding principle is that quality is the significant factor. Solid evidence is necessary in order for evaluators to judge quality; often, dissemination after peer review is the best indication of quality. Presently, the College neither sets nor accepts any purely quantitative thresholds; this is not expected to change in the foreseeable future. Quantity cannot substitute for quality.
  • Works that appear in their final, published form are given more weight than pre-publication or unpublished works.
  • Refereed, juried, or peer-reviewed work is given more weight than non-refereed work (section 3.9.6.3). In general, work which is accepted as a result of highly competitive blind peer review processes is given greater weight than work which has undergone only minimal peer review.
  • Repetitive publication of essentially the same work is given less weight than the publication of further developed work or new work.
  • No greater or lesser significance is attached to single author works as compared to multiple author works. Disciplines differ with regard to the possibility, desirability, or necessity of collaboration on scholarly projects. The important consideration in evaluating multiple-author projects is the quality and importance of the candidate's contribution to the project. This should be addressed through self-evaluations as well as outside letters from co-authors.
  • Primacy is placed on scholarship published and/or disseminated during your time at Fisher* (roughly the previous five years). While previous work is important in establishing a trajectory for your scholarship, it is not sufficient for demonstrating a habit of scholarship. This is consistent with the Faculty Statutes, section 3.10.4, which outline that the dossier "demonstrate the candidate's performance in all areas of Criteria for Evaluation (section 3.9.6) in which he/she has been active" during the period of review (normally the first five full years of employment at the College as described in section 3.10.2.)

Adapted from "University of Portland. Guide to Tenure and Promotion. Downloaded 9 July, 2013"

*Note that some candidates have been granted credit for prior experience before joining the faculty at St. John Fisher College. This should be made clear in your narrative. Evaluation will then rely on the candidate's most recent SRCW (previous five years) and descriptions of works in progress to determine to what extent the candidate fulfills the requirements.

Examples of Scholarship

While the various sources of scholarship outlined below are all important and valid methods for demonstrating your expertise and your habit scholarship, the committee on rank and tenure, in accordance with section 3.9.6.3, does view peer-reviewed publication to be of critical importance. It is the responsibility of the candidate, in his or her narrative, to explain how the venues of publication meet this criterion, since it varies greatly from discipline to discipline. The list below expands on the list of sources discussed in section 3.9.6.3 to provide examples of different forms of peer-reviewed scholarship. It is also important to note that journals have varying processes for peer review, so the candidate should clearly provide evidence of peer review for each piece of evidence in the dossier.

  • Peer-reviewed and published by university or commercial presses: Journal articles (whether in print or online), books, and monographs;
  • Peer-reviewed and published by university or commercial presses: Textbooks, anthologies, synthetic essays and literature reviews, book chapters, case books, and case studies;
  • Invited and published by university, commercial, and professional presses: synthetic essays and literature reviews, book chapters, case books, significant encyclopedia articles, and case studies;
  • Conference papers, conference proceedings, presentations at scholarly conferences, invited presentations on other campuses,
  • Book reviews published in scholarly journals, brief encyclopedia entries, fully documented assistance to external agencies or enterprises directly related to one's field, invited presentations away from the College;
  • Grants, fellowships, and/or scholarships that are directly related to scholarly research; or reports prepared for external funding agencies.
  • Non-refereed research presentations, papers, and posters conducted in conjunction with students at off-campus venues;
  • Self-published research is not considered research unless its scholarly impact is well-documented (e.g., evidence of its citation in peer-reviewed scholarly literature, inclusion in library collections, reviews in scholarly journals).
  • In the creative and performing arts, scholarly research may be identified as intensive activity in a particular area or field which must be disseminated in the form of publication, performance, or exhibition.

Adapted from "Niagara University. Collective Bargaining Agreement Between Niagara University and Niagara University Teachers Association, 2007-2011. Downloaded 9 July, 2013"

Other Details

An important aspect of your narrative as it relates to scholarship is to frame your work and draw explicit connections among your scholarship endeavors, particularly as they relate to the other components of your narrative (teaching, service, and advising). One possible model that is used in several disciplines (for example, nursing) is the Boyer model [see resources], which frames four types of scholarship: (1) discovery, (2) integration, (3) application, (4) teaching and learning. Traditional scholarship typically fits into the first category (discovery), but all four can be relevant to what we do at Fisher; this may vary depending on your position. Regardless of which model you use, however, the statutes clearly refer to peer review as the relevant criteria for establishing your expertise (section 3.9.6.3). In many cases, this may require you to complete some SRCW related the Boyer's discovery category, in addition to whatever other works are included in the dossier. At the same time, Boyer is not the only alternative model for framing one's scholarship.

Also note that your department or school may specify additional criteria (e.g. School of Business) that relate to ongoing accreditation or other programming issues. Your narrative should clearly explain what these standards are and how you have met/exceeded them. Your annual evaluations, mid-probationary review, and school/department documents may be helpful here.

If your scholarship takes an unusual form (e.g. digital scholarship generates a host of unique issues ["What counts?" by R. Starkman in resources]) then you will need to clearly make a case for why your work should be considered as scholarship, so that those from other disciplines can understand how to think about your work.

Scholarship Resources

Fisher Resources to Support Scholarship

Fisher Digital Publications:  If you include your works in FDP, you'll get a regular report on how people are using your scholarship, with downloads and access data for all of your work.

Lavery Library Guide to Impact Factors: Find out about different ways to measure the impact of your work and the journals in which it is published as well as links to the data about journals in which you are involved.

General and Disciplinary Resources on Scholarship

The following works may provide you with ideas for how to frame your scholarship or may be useful for relating your disciplinary perspective on scholarship to the committee and others in the tenure/promotion review process.