Posts Tagged ‘tenure’

Things to avoid as a new faculty member

5 Dec 2013

The transition from graduate student or postdoc to tenure-track faculty member is hard. You discover that there are a ton of new things to learn.

Here are some thoughts on things to avoid.

  • You may see lots of ways in which your department could be improved; don’t try to fix all of them at once.
  • You may see needs for many new courses. Don’t try to develop all of them. Try to teach the same courses at least three years in a row.
  • Don’t agree to work with just any student who asks. While a good student can really help, a bad student can suck up all your time and energy. Students may be worried about money and feigning interest in order to get a research position, but if they’re not really interested, they won’t make much progress and it will be bad for both of you.
  • Don’t agree to collaborate with someone in the two weeks before a grant deadline. You might get stuck in a commitment with some total jerk. Find out if you’d really enjoy working with them, first.
  • Don’t agree to write a book chapter. It’s almost as much work as a formal paper, but not as many people will read it and it won’t count for much on your CV.

How to evaluate faculty?

8 Sep 2012

…rate their departments.

The tenure guidelines for the Physical Sciences Division at UW-Madison include the following instructions (see section I-1 on page 11):

Provide a list of the five leading institutions for research (and outreach/extension activities) in the candidate’s discipline. The committee recognizes that the best work in the candidate’s specialty may not be carried out at the top ranked institutions in the broader discipline. However, it will look for a balance of evaluations from referees at the leading institutions who can evaluate the research and its impact on the broader field, and from the leaders in the subfield if they are at different institutions.

They use the ranking of a referee’s institution as an indication of his/her ability to evaluate the importance of a candidate’s work.

This disgusts me.

I like the analogy of measuring the importance of an academic paper by the “impact factor” of the journal in which it appeared, with measuring the quality of a researcher by the quality of his/her institution. I thought the absurdity of the latter would, by association, make plain the absurdity of the former. I hadn’t thought that the absurdity of the latter might be in question.