How significant are the public dimensions of faculty work in review, promotion, and tenure documents?

  1. Juan Pablo Alperin  Is a corresponding author
  2. Carol Muñoz Nieves
  3. Lesley Schimanski
  4. Gustavo E Fischman
  5. Meredith T Niles
  6. Erin C McKiernan
  1. Simon Fraser University, Canada
  2. Arizona State University, United States
  3. University of Vermont, United States
  4. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico

Abstract

Much of the work done by faculty at both public and private universities has significant public dimensions: it is often paid for by public funds; it is often aimed at serving the public good; and it is often subject to public evaluation. To understand how the public dimensions of faculty work are valued, we analyzed review, promotion, and tenure documents from a representative sample of 129 universities in the US and Canada. Terms and concepts related to public and community are mentioned in a large portion of documents, but mostly in ways that relate to service, which is an undervalued aspect of academic careers. Moreover, the documents make significant mention of traditional research outputs and citation-based metrics: however, such outputs and metrics reward faculty work targeted to academics, and often disregard the public dimensions. Institutions that seek to embody their public mission could therefore work towards changing how faculty work is assessed and incentivized.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available in the Harvard Dataverse with the identifier https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/VY4TJE (Alperin et al., 2019). These data include the list of institutions and academic units for which we have acquired documents along with an indicator of whether each term and concept studied was found in the documents for the institution or academic unit. The data also include the aggregated values and chi-square calculations reported. The code used for computing these aggregations can be found on Github https://github.com/ScholCommLab/rpt-project (Alperin, 2019). The documents collected are available on request from the corresponding author (JPA). These documents are not publicly available due to copyright restrictions.

The following data sets were generated

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Juan Pablo Alperin

    School of Publishing, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
    For correspondence
    juan@alperin.ca
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-9344-7439
  2. Carol Muñoz Nieves

    Scholarly Communications Lab, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  3. Lesley Schimanski

    Scholarly Communications Lab, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  4. Gustavo E Fischman

    Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University, Tempe, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  5. Meredith T Niles

    Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, University of Vermont, Burlington, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  6. Erin C McKiernan

    Departamento de Física, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico
    Competing interests
    Erin C McKiernan, is a member of the DORA Steering Committee and an advisor for the Metrics Toolkit, both volunteer positions. The authors declare they have no other competing interests..
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-9430-5221

Funding

Open Society Foundations (OR2016-29841)

  • Juan Pablo Alperin
  • Meredith T Niles
  • Erin C McKiernan

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Emma Pewsey, eLife, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Received: September 24, 2018
  2. Accepted: February 11, 2019
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: February 12, 2019 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: February 26, 2019 (version 2)
  5. Version of Record updated: March 19, 2019 (version 3)

Copyright

© 2019, Alperin et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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  1. Juan Pablo Alperin
  2. Carol Muñoz Nieves
  3. Lesley Schimanski
  4. Gustavo E Fischman
  5. Meredith T Niles
  6. Erin C McKiernan
(2019)
How significant are the public dimensions of faculty work in review, promotion, and tenure documents?
eLife 8:e42254.
https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.42254

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