Tenure Publication Requirements and Pre-Tenure Leave For Philosophers At Liberal Arts Colleges


A philosopher writes in with the hopes that the Daily Nous readership can help with a query:

I’m a tenure track faculty member at a small, mediocre (not top 100), private liberal arts college with 3-3 teaching load and I am trying to convince my Dean that I need a pre-tenure leave in order to meet my department’s (unreasonable) publication requirements. (I am also hoping to convince them to change these unreasonable publication requirements—it’s a two pronged strategy…).  Anyway, it occurs to me that having some data on what other departments require publication-wise (both in terms of quantity and quality, though I’m personally more interested in quantity) might be helpful to me (and hopefully to others!). 

I would imagine that information about liberal arts colleges with both similar and different standard teaching loads could be of use here. So, readers, if you’re at a liberal arts college, please comment with your teaching load, a sense of what the publication requirements for tenure are at your institution, , and whether your department offers pre-tenure leave. Thank you.

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SLACer Jr.
SLACer Jr.
3 years ago

I’m at an “elite” SLAC. My understanding is that we’re supposed to have ~5 journal articles, and some of them are supposed to be in “top” journals.Report

Kareem Khalifa
Kareem Khalifa
Reply to  SLACer Jr.
3 years ago

Similar institution, similar expectations.Report

SLACer Jr.
SLACer Jr.
3 years ago

Sorry, and we get a year of pre-tenure research leave.Report

SLACer Jr
SLACer Jr
Reply to  SLACer Jr.
3 years ago

And our teaching load is 2-2. Should not have started responding before coffee!Report

Mark D. White
3 years ago

At the College of Staten Island — not technically a liberal arts school but one that supported the creation of an independent philosophy department in 2013 — our teaching load is roughly the same (5-6 courses a year) and in our department the tenure expectation is (roughly) one article or book chapter per year, with more credit for books (obviously).

By contract we’re eligible for standard sabbatical every seven years, but we can also apply for 25%-salary “scholar incentive” leave anytime; this is available to pre-tenure faculty, who also have the option of stopping the tenure clock for the year they’re on scholar incentive leave.

Mark D. White
Chair, Department of Philosophy
College of Staten Island/CUNYReport

SLAC2
SLAC2
3 years ago

I’m at a mid range SLAC. 5 course teaching load in a year. Our dept tenure guidelines ask for 3-4 articles (but preferably 4-5). We get a semester pre-tenure leave.Report

David
David
3 years ago

A 3/3 load would put you, I think, in the lowest eight or ten teaching loads among all schools in each of Minnesota or Wisconsin (the two states I have taught in).

I’m not sure what you are imagining as unreasonable, but a project to change tenure expectations seen in that light should proceed carefully.

I’m at a state school, 15 credits a year, one article a year minimum pre-tenure, competitive leaves pre-tenure possible, not guaranteed.Report

SLAC Prof
SLAC Prof
3 years ago

My SLAC, ranked by US News in the top 100 but not the top 50, has a 3-3 load and no pre-tenure leave. The College tenure requirements include “an emerging pattern of professional activity, as demonstrated by … professional publications;” individual departments interpret this differently. Mine was the first tenure case in my department in the past twenty years or so, and my department had not developed formal expectations. I was given to understand, however, that I should have at least one (good) publication, and that more would be desirable. In the event, I had two well-placed solo-authored journal articles, a well-placed co-authored article, a co-authored book chapter, and several minor pieces (handbook entries, etc.).Report

B
B
3 years ago

May I add a question? Do schools typically count articles written before the job starts for the tenure file? If I have, say, 7 articles before I start, would I be starting over at 0 for purposes of tenure?Report

Untenured
Untenured
Reply to  B
3 years ago

I too am interested to hear more on this from a few different people. Thank you to Midwest SLACer below for answering.Report

chronos
chronos
Reply to  B
3 years ago

My university (think 100 – 125 USNR national universities) does not count anything before your start date at the university towards tenure. It has to be published after you start, or if you are making a lateral move you have to negotiate this issue with the dean. Report

Sven
Sven
3 years ago

Two examples from my experience

Non-Elite SLAC. 4-4 teaching load. Course releases possible for research but not a pre-tenure leave. Expectation is two peer-reviewed publications, but the pubs aren’t necessary if there is good evidence of continual scholarly engagement with students (e.g., regular conference presentations at state, regional, or national conferences).

Top 100 SLAC. 3-4 teaching load but given the way the college counts credit toward the teaching requirements, it’s more like a 3-3 or 3-2. Course releases possible but not pre-tenure leave. A safe research portfolio would be 5 publications, possible (common) to receive tenure with as few as 3 pubs depending on quality and/or other evidence if scholarship,Report

K
K
Reply to  Sven
3 years ago

I teach at a COPLAC school (designated the public lib-arts school) and have the same 4-4 teaching load, and similar pub expectations. 2 peer reviewed and continual engagement.
Report

Midwest SLACer
Midwest SLACer
3 years ago

I teach at a midwestern liberal arts college in the 50-75 range, 3/2 load but courses meet 4 hours per week (as opposed to 3). Our institutional requirements are quite vague–we are expected to have an active professional development profile, where it is up to us to make the case that what we’ve done qualifies. In practice, that typically means something like 3-4 articles in peer-reviewed journals, maybe a book chapter or two mixed in. Professional activity in other ways–for example, I served on the ethics committee for a time at a local hospice–counts as well. The vagueness of the guidelines can be either liberating or unnerving, depending on your perspective. In practice, there does seem to be a kind of de facto publication bar: whatever other self-narrative you’re crafting, if you have fewer than three peer-reviewed articles published, you ought to be nervous about your chances.,Report

Midwest SLACer
Midwest SLACer
3 years ago

Also, to B’s question: this may vary, but at my institution, what you’ve written before the job starts won’t count unless that’s negotiated specifically in your contract with the dean at the time of hire.Report

a.
a.
3 years ago

At my religiously-affiliated, non-ranked, private liberal arts college, we have a 4/4 load, no “pre-tenure leave,” and there is a general expectation that if you have a peer-reviewed article or book chapter per year prior to applying for tenure, you will have no problems fulfilling the scholarship requirement for both tenure and promotion. Report

A
A
3 years ago

3-2 load at a top-30 SLAC. We were simply told by the Dean to be excellent scholars and excellent teachers (and do some service). This is not particularly helpful guidance, of course, since no one defines what “excellent” is. I got tenure with 4 published peer-reviewed articles, 2 invited book chapters, a few substantial book reviews and a couple of less serious articles. From conversations with my colleagues (who don’t get to vote on my tenure, only individually recommend it or not), the thing they are looking for isn’t what you’ve published, but how what you’ve done, together with the plans in your dossier, shows what you’re going to do. For them (although I don’t know how the tenure committee or external reviewers view this), it’s more important to show trajectory, but it’s also helpful (to justify their recommendations for tenure) to have produced evidence of that trajectory by having published, in good places. We standardly get a semester pre-tenure leave.Report

3-3 teaching load, 4 pubs required
3-3 teaching load, 4 pubs required
3 years ago

At my (regional state) university, my department requires 4 publications. 3-3 teaching load, but everyone teaches at least 1 course in the summer b/c our pay is bad. No leave before tenure. Service is also heavy. For example, we are expected to attend recruiting events twice every semester. Report

SLACer applying for tenure
SLACer applying for tenure
3 years ago

I have a 3/3 load at a SLAC that not many people have heard of, but that has aspirations of being elite. Our scholarship requirements for tenure are extremely vague, and seem to have shifted just in the time I have been here. As in A’s and Midwest-SLACer’s cases above, the language in the handbook (and what we are told by chair/dean) suggests that we must demonstrate scholarly engagement and a trajectory of development. Also, however, our service expectations are substantially higher than those of most of my friends at other institutions, and than those at institutions where I worked previously (I run two special programs at the institution and have chaired multiple committees and am not yet tenured). Yet, these expectations, along with publication expectations, have undergone a palpable, though of course un-specified, shift during my time at the institution. It is nerve-wracking, and results in a situation in which junior faculty are basically trying to be excellent in every regard. Pre-tenure leave is not a thing here. *However,* I won an external grant that would pay for a teaching replacement for a semester. I was thus allowed to take a pre-tenure teaching leave (with the explicit understanding that this did not exempt me from service during that leave)–but I was, as I understand it, the first person ever to do this at my institution. It was viewed by some folks in the institution (in other departments) as inappropriate; some senior faculty at the institution still view us as “a teaching school” and look askance at those who have significant scholarly agendas. But there is, of course, the expectation that one publish (something?), so there’s a bit of an unfortunate double-bind here.

Previously, I taught at a regional state school with a 3/3 load that bills itself as focused on the liberal arts. The minimum publication requirements were 3 articles or a single-authored book at a university press. There was no pre-tenure leave.Report

OneArticle
OneArticle
3 years ago

I’m at a liberal arts university in the US with a 3/3 load. Our department’s official research requirements for tenure are one article in a peer-reviewed journal. I also know several other philosophers at other liberal arts universities who have gotten tenure with a single publication, and not necessarily in a highly ranked journal.Report

RegLibArts
RegLibArts
3 years ago

Top-20 regional state school in the southeast that bills itself (I think accurately) as a liberal arts college. 6 courses a year. There are university-level internal grants that let you buy out a course. Priority for grants given to pre-tenure faculty. There are opportunities to teach during an abbreviated January term, which would count as 1 of the 6 courses. Reasonable service requirements. Clear tenure guidelines (thank goodness!). Four publications in respectable journals or book chapters + evidence of a strong trajectory is what is asked. There other scholarly activities that can count in lieu of a publication (maybe two), but, again, there needs to be evidence of a strong trajectory. Report

Christopher Morris
Christopher Morris
3 years ago

Some advice. If you are coming up for tenure at almost any institution, it is imprudent to write on a widely read site that your college is mediocre and that its tenure standards are unreasonable, at least if there is any possibility that authorship of the passage could be attributed to you.Report

Shoebill
Shoebill
3 years ago

To everybody who has posted that their college requires 3 or 4 or 5 or n articles: do these counts include articles published before you were an Assistant Professor?Report

Shoebill
Shoebill
Reply to  Shoebill
3 years ago

Oops, I see that this has already been asked; my apologies.Report

Perplexed Marketeer
Perplexed Marketeer
3 years ago

It’s amazing how much lower the bar is now for getting tenure than for getting a tenure-track job, at least in some places..Report

Craig
Craig
Reply to  Perplexed Marketeer
3 years ago

I don’t think it is clear that the number counts mean that the bar is lower. But even if so, it is not amazing at all. The tenure hurdle is in addition to the hiring hurdle, so it is still an additional hurdle. More importantly, however, this should be roughly what you’d expect, since the cost to the department of denying tenure is far, far higher than the cost to the department for rejecting any particular job applicant. This is especially so as lines tighten up. You want to fill, and then not empty, lines. Rejecting a candidate is relatively costless, since rejecting a particular candidate rarely means not filling a line. Rejecting a tenure file, on the other hand, is a big, big expense.Report

Craig
Craig
Reply to  Craig
3 years ago

(I do not intend my response to come across as snark–my apologies if it does!)Report

Perplexed Marketeer
Perplexed Marketeer
Reply to  Craig
3 years ago

I get that, but surely no search committee needs candidates who have satisfied the criteria twice (or sometimes more) over in order to have certainty that they will obtain tenure. When I first started grad school, the most common advice I received was to make sure that everything I did was aimed at demonstrating to search committees that I would relatively easily obtain tenure (e.g., write a strong and interesting dissertation, solo teach a number of courses, produce strong student evals, ensure that I had strong letters of recommendation). The implication was that one should show a trajectory most likely ending with obtaining tenure. But now … based on the comments in this thread, obtaining tenure at many places appears to be much less difficult than getting a tenure-track job to begin with. Worse, when we couple that difficulty with the commonly found expectation that nothing accomplished prior to being hired actually counts toward tenure, we can see that the standards even for acquiring tenure are now much higher. To cross the threshold for being hired, one must teach a large number of courses, publish four or more papers or a book, show a record of service (and that alone isn’t sufficient). Once you’re hired, you must start over. Teach a number of courses, publish four or more papers or a book, service, etc. Report

prefer not to say
prefer not to say
3 years ago

SLAC (an “elite” one, I suppose). 2-2 load with full year of pre-tenure sabbatical for all faculty and opportunities for a few competitive pre-tenure course releases here or there. Tenure expectations are roughly: at least 5-7 articles (at least 2-3 of which are in “top” journals) OR a book (at a “top” press) and at least 1-2 articles (at least 1 of which is in a “top” journal).Report

Phil Chair
Phil Chair
3 years ago

Mid-level SLAC with a 3-3 teaching load: our expectation is 3-4 publications for tenure. Two would do if they were peer-reviewed papers in great journals; 4-5 would be necessary if they were poorer quality journals/book chapters.Report

Recently tenured SLACer
Recently tenured SLACer
3 years ago

I teach at a SLAC which is probably considered a top-100 school, not quite a top-50. The load is 3/3. There is no promise of a leave before tenure, although junior faculty members are able to compete for a one-semester teaching release (I eventually got one but so late in the game that it did me no good for my tenure case). Research expectations are fuzzy, but my sense is that a publication in a reputable journal, along with some other demonstration of scholarly commitment (e.g., organizing conferences, giving talks, etc.), would generally just suffice to satisfy research expectations for tenure. Our research expectations are pretty low, but that is how it should be since our teaching evaluations must be very strong and since service expectations are high.

I’ll add that we’re probably heading in a more demanding direction. The number of teaching releases per year is not growing, whereas the number of junior faculty members has, if only incrementally. Additionally, there is evidence that research expectations are rising. Report

John
John
3 years ago

I would find it helpful if those who refer to “top” or “great” journals could say a bit about what journals are included in that category, in their own view and/or in the view of administrators who make tenure decisions.Report

SLACer Jr
SLACer Jr
Reply to  John
3 years ago

In my department, my sense is that it means having some papers in among the best journals in your subfield, but not necessarily in “the very best one” (if such classifications are meaningful). So, for instance, if you’re working in moral/political, it’s not essential that you publish in Ethics or PAPA (though that would be good to do), but you’ll probably want to have a couple papers in places like Journal of Political Philosophy, Journal of Moral Philosophy, etc. That being said, people in my department have also published in Ethics, PAPA, Nous, Mind, JPhil, Journal of the History of Philosophy, etc.

This is based on advice I’ve gleaned on what would make for a strong tenure case. I have no sense that publishing in any particular journals is *necessary* to receiving tenure. And this is of course just one school.Report

SLACer Jr
SLACer Jr
Reply to  SLACer Jr
3 years ago

I would add that administrators, as I understand it, tend not to know anything about the quality of journals in various disciplines (perhaps with the exception of knowing that Nature and Science are great). Rather, they rely on information provided to them about journal quality from departments and external reviewers.Report

prefer not to say
prefer not to say
Reply to  John
3 years ago

At my SLAC (see above), “top press” roughly means OUP or CUP, and “top journal” roughly means: Phil Review, JPhil, Nous, PPR, Mind, Phil Studies, AJP, JAPA, PQ, Analysis, APQ, Synthese, CJP, and the best one or two journals within the relevant specialty such as Ethics and PPA for moral philosophy, OSPR for metaphysics. There is room to make a case for other venues standing in the “top” tier, and low acceptance rates play a key role in making that case.Report

John
John
3 years ago

SLACerjr.: thank you, this is helpful.Report

D.
D.
3 years ago

We do not get tenure at all. But to get promoted from assistant to associate we need 5/6 peer-reviewed publications, preferably single authored. We have a 4/4 teaching load, no research leaves, and heavy service duties. Good times!Report

2nd TT Position
2nd TT Position
3 years ago

I second Midwest SLACer’s advice: get IN WRITING that your pre-hire (and pre-start date) research activity (and teaching evaluations, if you’re getting hired at an institution that highly values teaching) will count towards your tenure requirements at your new institution. I’d done a TON of stuff (research, teaching, AND service) in my previous position, and was verbally assured by the dean at my new job that it would be “taken into consideration” in promotion reviews, so I made the mistake of slowing down a bit. I got a nasty surprise during my 3rd year review 🙁 and am now frantically playing catch-up. Not awesome.Report

Regional state school
Regional state school
3 years ago

– 4/4 teaching load
– No pre-tenure leave
– Competitive single course releases possible
– Heavy service
– Necessary condition for tenure: one peer reviewed publication in any journal (barring, I suppose those crappy pay to publish peer reviewed things).
– Sufficient condition for adequate research for tenure: unclear and a matter of dispute. The Dean says three peer reviewed articles (or a book). If they like you, conferences, non-peer reviewed publications like book chapter, etc., are substituted for 1-2 of those papers.
– Publications must be from after hiring date. Report