Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Assistance in Evaluating Digital Scholarship?

As a follow up to my Faculty Review System FAIL post, an article by Scott Jaschik entitled Tenure in a Digital Age appeared in today's Inside HigherEd.

The article highlights a consortium called the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory that have produce a draft guide (on a personal Web site, not the consortium's) that offers some guidance for departments on approaches used by various colleges to evaluate digital scholarship, resources available to scholars wanting to get a take on some project, and policies that could be adopted to assure the fair treatment of those coming up for review.
One reason for the new effort is that shifts in publishing may make it impossible for a growing number of academics to submit traditional tenure dossiers. With many university presses in financial trouble and others -- notably the University of Michigan Press -- turning to electronic publishing for monographs, there will be fewer possibilities for someone to be published in the traditional print form that was once the norm for tenure.
The article notes that the shift that is occurring isn't just about the digital scholarship, but about how tenure committees being forced to learn much more about candidates and how their work was evaluated than has been the norm.
So many tenure decisions have been made on the basis of assuming that a university press has a sound peer review system -- and one that can be relied upon -- that tenure has been outsourced, some say. Now, new models of scholarship are forcing these committees to closely consider how they know a candidate is producing good work.
The article also echoed my comments about how activities that do not fit neatly into teaching, research, or services get categorized as service:
Many tenure review procedures are based on an assumption that a junior professor's work can be divided easily into teaching, research and service. Feal noted that one of the exciting aspects of the new digital projects being created is that they advance scholarship and create teaching tools at the same time. Professors shouldn't be forced to pick between one category and another. Similarly, those involved in this project say that some college departments just categorize anything digital as service, a solution seen as unsatisfactory because many of these project are in fact focused on scholarship and teaching, and because service typically doesn't count for much in tenure reviews.
I haven't had the time to look over the HASTAC documents at length since I wanted to communicate their availability. I am very interested in seeing how they could be applied or modified for our library faculty. Sphere: Related Content

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