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With regard to tenure decisions how drastic are the different weight placed on journal articles compared to teaching ability in the classroom?

I know some in the STEM fields that seem narrowly focused on research prior to obtaining tenure and others in other academic fields that seem to spend very little time on research.

Is the relative weight of importance really as drastic as it appears? Or is it exaggerated by those who have a bias one way or the other?

1 Answer 1

It doesn't depend on the field as much as the position. Consider three faculty members, all epidemiologists (my field):

  • One works at a school specifically focused on Masters of Public Health degrees. Research is done at the school, but as the MPH is primarily coursework based, with a single small project at the end, most faculty have a heavy student load.
  • One works at a major research university in a 50% hard money position, which comes with a teaching load of one graduate level class per semester.
  • One works in a 100% soft money research institute that does not offer any classes, and whose students come from other departments.

Note all of these could be at the same university.

Their tenure evaluations will weight things very differently. The first will probably be judged primarily based on their teaching ability, while the last likely hasn't taught at all, and may have actively been discouraged from doing so.

Where field comes in is what kind of positions exist, and in what proportion. For example, in the liberal arts, there are a large number of positions that are teaching centric, while medical schools often have a vast number of faculty whose positions will never involve teaching.