Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Question about Publication Requirements

Since I have many academics reading this blog, I would like to hear people's opinions on the following issue: do you think that the number of publications that is expected yearly from Full Professors (tenured, of course) should be the same as the number expected from non-tenured Assistant Professors?

Non-academics are welcome to answer too, of course. For those who are not sure about the terminology, an Assistant Professor is a person who is in her first to sixth year in her career while a tenured Full Professor is somebody who has been in academia in the professorial capacity for over 12 years (sometimes it's 10 years, but that is very rare.)

Just wondering what people think about this.


Pagan Topologist said...

I think that full professors should feel free to work on high-risk projects which may not result in a publication for several years, but which may also lead to profoundly important work. Of course, I am writing as someone who has done this at times, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. I have not published an article since 2005, and my teaching load has recently been increased from 2-2 to 3-3 as a consequence. I think this is fair, and I expect that it will go down again if and when I do publish something important.

It is dangerous, maybe even foolish, for an Assistant Professor to begin a project that will not lead to any published work for ten years, but someone ought to do these projects.

I also worry that counting papers is not a very good metric for evaluating work. I have a large project that I am writing up now, and I could either publish it as three papers or as one longer one. Should I get more credit if I break it up?

Clarissa said...

Thank you for the response! This is a very interesting approach to the issue.

We have had to quantify everything at our department, including how many conference talks equal one book review and how many book reviews equal one publication. It does make things somewhat easier, I guess, but it also makes you lose certain shades of difference in the quality of the projects as a result. For example, I'm not going to submit an article to a very prestigious journal in a year when I don't have at least one already accepted at a less prestigious one. It is simply not worth the risk.

Spanish prof said...

Do you have any kind of ranking for the journals? That would be a nightmare to create. Of course, it's easy to say that a certain journal is more prestigious than another one, but among certain journals, it's a matter of taste.

Jonathan said...

I think I should publish as much (as a full professor) as I did at other ranks. Of course, in terms of "requirements," there is no other promotion in sight, so If I don't, what are the consequences? A slightly lower raise (n a university that doesn't give great raises anyway)?

On the other hand, I should also be given some latitude, without having to publish as many articles if I am working on a major book, for example.

I think Assistant Professors should also have latitude, however, in the sense that not all years are going to have as many publication. You might have 4 in one year and zero in another. The proper period of judgment should be a two or three year period, since that's how long things take from writing to publication.

Clarissa said...

No, we don't have rankings for the journals. Who could reasonably expect to come up with one that everybody would agree on? Obviously, everybody would put the journals they published in as the best. :-) This would also mean that the operational papers would need to be updated all the time since journals keep disappearing and appearing like crazy.

V said...

At least in natural sciences there is ranking of journals based on the impact factors. Which, in turn, are based on how often the work published in a given journal is cited. Of course this implies the existence of general database of all publications and all citations, but that exists too.

Spanish prof said...

I'm saying it because my department tried it (before my arrival), but they obviously couldn't reach an agreement. I think it's impossible. In my field, we all know that the Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies has a better reputation than, say, Confluencia (and I've published in the latter and not the former). But is Chasqui better than the Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies?

At the same time, if you are saying that your department quantifies everything, it should somehow take into consideration reputation. Which I find impossible. But the end result would be an incentive to send your manuscript to less prestigious journals.

Clarissa said...

"But the end result would be an incentive to send your manuscript to less prestigious journals."

-Exactly. What's the point of sending anything to a super prestigious place that will take 2 years to publish you when you need numbers right now? Of course, there is always a possibility of publishing something at a less prestigious place to fulfill the requirement and then risk it with more important places. Which is the strategy I'm adopting right now.