Tenure qualifications

Jan 04 2015 Published by under Careerism, Tenure

From this OSU document:

Publication expectations*.


25-50 in journals with average impact factors of 3-6 or an H-index of 22 or above. As a general guideline 25 or more peer reviewed publications since appointment as an assistant professor at OSU.

I can see how some people in roughly my fields of interest could hit this. It is not, however, a default expectation that everyone deserving of tenure could clear this bar. Twenty five papers in six years is a lot. JIF 3-6 journals do not just hand out acceptance like tic tacs, no matter what the GlamourHounda might assume.

Funding.

PI or multiple-PD/PI on 1 funded R01 (or equivalent) that has been renewed or the combination of a current or prior R01 plus either a) a second R01 or b) an additional funded national grant; or c) patents generating licensing income.

R01 acquired and renewed in first 6 years? Maybe for the exceptionally fortunate Assistant Professors but even in my day that wasn't assured. By a long shot. Two concurrent R01s is more reasonable but still is quite a feat. Rockey published data showing that 1-2 R01s is a solid plurality of all R01-holding PIs, right? So this is the entry qualification for tenure? I don't see that as at all reasonable.

I do agree that hitting the 25+ papers measure would almost require multiple R01 levels of funding. So that part lines up.

I wonder how many of their faculty really measure up to this standard at tenure time.

Speaks to the sad reality that our profession has a general stance of "never enough". You are rarely allowed to meet expectations because they are set at some absurd aspirational level that only the top few meet (if that). Then most people are reluctantly passed as some sort of exception to the rule. As everyone tells them to redouble their efforts for the next review stage.

I don't like this part of our profession.

h/t: http://twitter.com/YountLabOSU/status/551520086163718144

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*naturally the narrative above the summary table is filled with the usual weasel wordage about adjusting for subfield expectations, etc. And about how these quantitative measures are not a guarantee nor a non-negotiable hard limit. Nevertheless, they chose to summarize with a *very* high bar.

52 responses so far

  • This 25+ peer-reviewed research manuscripts requirement is absolutely hilarious!

    (1) What's your guess of the number of tenured faculty at OSU medical school who published 25+ peer-reviewed research manuscripts as assistant professors? Mine is ZERO.

    (2) If you look at the top biomedical research institutions--UCSF, Rockefeller, Stanford, Salk, Yale, Harvard, UPenn, etc--NONE of their assistant professors who make tenure would meet this numerical standard, as they are publishing in CNS and the next tier down (PLOS Bio, other Cell Press journals, Nature Blah Blah, PNAS, etc) in order to make tenure. And the amount of labor and resources that go into one of those papers is a significant multiple of that required to squeeze out some turd into an IF3-6 dump journal.

  • drugmonkey says:

    5% I would guess.

  • K99er says:

    CPP - I was one of the first postdocs hired in the lab of an asst prof at one of the institutions you mention. My mentor would have easily met those requirements, and so would the new prof who worked next door. Both of them were promoted, so I can assure you that "NONE" is incorrect.

  • MoBio says:

    @CPP:

    FWIW: I did a short survey of the Associate Profs in Neuroscience at OSU and going to Google Scholar and all the ones I checked had H >22.

  • Ola says:

    If the clock is 6 years and starts ticking on day 1 as an asst prof, then forget it, no one other than a superstar is gonna have 2 R01s or have renewed their first, unless they came in on day 1 with a funded grant. More likely is they came in with the R00 bit of a kangaroo, struggled to get first R01 around year 3, and maybe might renew it around year 7-8. Maybe an R01 plus an AHA or other foundation grant is possible, but in my field the double grant goodness doesn't really start kicking in until you're well into assoc prof territory.

    As for pubs, an h index of 22 seems pretty reasonable to me. If you've got a couple of reviews published as a postdoc a decade ago that are cited maybe 200-300 times, that can go a long way to bringing up the average. Hey, if the deans are gonna use metrics, why not fuck 'me with metrics?

    25 papers during asst prof is a but rough though - assuming for the first couple of years the lab is still finding its feet, maybe not well funded, still hiring people, and can only squeeze out 2-3 papers and a couple of reviews. A full 5-6 papers a year is the stuff of trucking-along established R01 funded science.

  • Dr Becca says:

    If you've got a couple of reviews published as a postdoc a decade ago that are cited maybe 200-300 times, that can go a long way to bringing up the average.

    That's not how h-index works. A couple of reviews (i.e. 2 reviews), no matter how many times they're cited, can only bump the h-index up 2 pts.

    Unless I were given a $3M startup and hired 3 postdocs and a handful of grad students right off the bat, I don't see how I could even get close to 25 pubs before tenure with the kind of work I do, even if I published all LPUs in low IF journals.

    I have not been given a concrete threshold that must be passed, but was told that all that matters for tenure is number of papers published and grant dollars received. That they can so cavalierly brush off field differences or journal selectivity is utterly maddening.

  • MoBio says:

    I think all who comment on this should actually read the document where it says:

    "While individual circumstances may vary, both the quantity and quality
    of publications should be considered. Metrics that are useful in assessing a candidate
    include the total number of citations of their publications, the impact factor of journals in which they have published and their H-index. A sustained record of high quality and
    quantity of scholarly productivity as an assistant professor is required for promotion to
    the rank of associate professor or professor. Specific metrics in support of excellence in
    scholarship may be discipline-specific"

    I also note that the specific metrics cited by DM are

    "representative metrics used to assess suitability for promotion to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure"

  • asdasddasdsa says:

    LOL. I published over 25 papers during a 3.5 year PhD that met these impact factor requirements. Pre-tenure appointment was another 30-35.

    Maybe if you stopped bitching about stuff unrelated to your work on twitter you would actually be productive?

  • The Other Dave says:

    I think this is a great document. It's nice to see clear semi-quantitative benchmarks. So what if the bar is high? It's the institution's perogative to set the standards. If they can attract enough high quality assistant professors to ensure a decent success rate, then fine. It's their institution, their money. If you can't cut it there, or don't want to try, then don't apply.

    The problem is weasel wordage that you refer to, DM. That's where subjectivity and bias rear their ugly heads during promotion considerations. All too often people still see potential in their pal Joe the White Guy with the great pedigree, while at the same time feeling sorry that Celia the black girl isn't really a 'good fit' after all.

  • drugmonkey says:

    MoBio-

    And the overall message is what?

  • Dave says:

    I would struggle to name many BSDs in my field who come close to these arbitrary publishing requirements. I would also question the quality and relevance of ones science if they were publishing 5 papers a year in IF 3 journals for 5 or 6 years straight, especially as an early investigator.

    Might as well take a soft money job and forget about the clock. Not sure the benefits of tenure outweigh the risk when these sorts of requirements are in play.

  • The Other Dave says:

    "Speaks to the sad reality that our profession has a general stance of "never enough". You are rarely allowed to meet expectations because they are set at some absurd aspirational level that only the top few meet (if that). Then most people are reluctantly passed as some sort of exception to the rule. As everyone tells them to redouble their efforts for the next review stage.

    I don't like this part of our profession."

    You are too focused on winning, DM. Get that out of your head. Humans don't set the standards. Science is a chess game with God.

  • drugmonkey says:

    It happens to good old straight white guys too, TOD. Nastiest tenure denial I ever saw up close involved one such. And quantification of pubs vs prior recent tenure promotions was a factor that did not win the day. Great teacher, reasonably decent guy but....politics.

  • drugmonkey says:

    MoBio-

    BTW, Google Scholar counts all sorts of cites that are dubious- like doctoral theses. I think their h-index is a few points higher than the real one for many folks.

  • Comradde PhysioProffe says:

    "FWIW: I did a short survey of the Associate Profs in Neuroscience at OSU and going to Google Scholar and all the ones I checked had H >22."

    I didn't say anything about H factor. Associate Professors can easily have an H factor of 22 without publishing anywhere near 25 peer-reviewed research publications since starting as an assistant professor.

  • Philapodia says:

    You are too focused on winning, DM. Get that out of your head. Humans don't set the standards. Science is a chess game with God.

    This makes no sense. This has nothing to do with science and everything to do with bringing in the maximum amounts of indirects. The more papers you get, the greater your chances of getting that R01 and getting it renewed. As the administration is funded by indirects, so it stands to reason that they want you to bring in as much as possible to keep them going. THe OSU document talking about licensing fees as a consideration for promotion makes that obvious.

  • jmz4 says:

    I don't know, as much as we hate on the Glameratti, I don't think its a good idea to incentivize publishing routine or descriptive stories (which is what most of those 3-6 journals do) at such an early stage in the career. I know there has to be a cut-off somewhere, but you want to at least give them a couple tries to swing for the fences. I think something like 5 publications/year would be doable for my hypothetical lab of myself and 2-3 other (cause I've got C. elegans). However, if you do that, you're not really keeping enough back for a nice big Cell paper down the road, or letting people dither around on projects that'll be unexpected enough for Science or Nature. And, lets be honest, these are the sort of things that are going to enhance your rep in your field. Its much easier to see someone's contribution to the field when its all bundled together in the 21+ figures of a Cell paper than when its spread over 3-4 society journals.

    So, I think it'll hurt their faculty in terms of name recognition, which, I imagine, will make it tougher for grants as well.
    I see the 5-6 papers per year being much more a feature of established labs, who have lots of students and postdocs making their bones, and have a lot of scraps and loose ends to tie together for society papers. Not fair and not a good idea to hold new labs to those standards.

  • Kevin says:

    Well, it's been fun! I'm sorry this whole thing didn't work out, as there is now way my h index is getting up there in 6 years. I'd be happy getting to page 2 on pubmed.

  • Busy says:

    Doctoral theses citations are dubious? Under what metric? A PhD thesis has been peer reviewed by a stricter committee than most average journals.

  • Established PI says:

    These publishing requirements are totally out of whack with the fields I am most familiar with. I have never seen anything approaching 50 pubs and even 25 is almost unheard of. Fewer pubs, with evidence of significant scientific advances and evidence of a national reputation, win the day. This is my experience both from my institution and from former students and postdocs who have gotten tenure over the past few years.

    My read of the OSU funding criteria is that a one-off grant isn't enough - you need to show that you have succeeded at least twice, which can either be a renewal or funding from a second source. A little stringent but not out of the norm, I'm afraid.

    I wonder if this document was written by and for faculty in clinical departments, where paper-counting is the norm and overall publication output is higher than in basic science departments. I was on a search committee where we reviewed a candidate (clinician) for a leadership position who had over 600 pubs (!!). Some of these guys have refined coauthorship-chasing to a high art, I guess.

  • Rheophile says:

    Side note on google scholar: not only are there doctoral theses (which may just duplicate papers in many cases), but undergraduate theses, and even random things like conference abstracts. One of my papers picked up four extra citations because google scholar didn't distinguish between the four conference abstracts on the page that cited me. This broad swath is great for finding potentially relevant work even if it's not traditionally published yet, but it does mean google scholar's results are a little high.

  • Juan Lopez says:

    The whole assumption that IF's around 3 are dump useless papers is wrong and frustrating.

    The highest journals in my field have IF's 2 to 4. I have to move sideways to clinical areas to reach IF's between 3 and 6. So, please stop complaining about administrators doing stupid baseless claims, and doing the same to others.

    Something funny that happens in my field: papers rejected from the top journals are sometimes re-submitted outside the field and end up with higher IFs! Why people keep submitting to these journals? Because that's what everybody in the field reads and knows. If you want grants, you need to publish there and take the IF hit. It's a small field, so we get few citations in the short time period covered by IFs.

    In a way, it was good to see these guidelines:
    I have four years as assistant prof. Have 55 pubs, 34 of those since getting the position (counting all papers, not just first or last author), with h=22 in Google and 19 in ISI. Have an R01 that doesn't need renewing until after tenure evaluation, and have some more bits of funding from here and there, none big. I also have a few more things in review, so I may pass the double-funded bar. What can sink me? i - politics. ii - the IF shit mentioned above. iii - the unknown unknowns to quote your dear former secretary.

    I don't have a big lab. The key to publishing more has been collaborations. Develop a tool and help other people leverage their systems better. This also helps with the politics, or so I hope.

  • iGrrrl says:

    jmz4 said: "keeping enough back for a nice big Cell paper down the road"

    It's a tough line to walk. I've seen people fail to win tenure because they kept too much back, and it never made it into Cell.

  • Established PI says:

    JL - You need to be very careful about chasing after a lot of coauthorships if it comes at the expense of establishing yourself as a leader in your field. I don't know your area and perhaps developing a helpful tool is highly valued, but I have seen the same approach sink someone at promotion. When I am writing tenure letters, I look at the senior author publications and don't pay much attention to coauthorships unless there is a particularly good reason (e.g. strong ongoing collaboration where authors alternate senior authorship). Having a few coauthorships shows you are a collaborative colleague, but if a very low percentage of pubs are non-first authors, that is usually a negative (at least in my general area).

    The one thing that hasn't been discussed in this thread are the letters of reference, which are hugely important (and obviously not listed in the OSU metrics). Letters make or break a promotion decision. A bunch of letters that don't say a whole lot of specific, positive things or, even worse, are clearly dancing around the hard questions (would they be promoted at your institution? how do they compare to other peers?) can be deadly. To have people write slam-dunk letters about you, you need to have published papers that have helped move the field forward and that mark you as an up-and-coming leader, and you have to have given talks at meetings (and network, network) so that people know who you are. Chasing a lot of co-authorships can derail what should be a laser-like focus on establishing yourself as someone who is having an impact on your field.

  • MoBio says:

    @ DM: the point is simply that there are qualifications to the 'representative' metrics so these are certainly not iron-clad and I would suspect at OSU they are not adhered to as iron-clad metrics.

    @CPP: the publication records of the folks I examined in Neuroscience were respectable by most any measure.

    That being said, pondering this I wondered how many folks who are on the tenure-track at OSU (or elsewhere) are ultimately awarded tenure?

    In my experience at 3 different research-oriented universities I remember only 2 who were denied tenure in a basic science department.

    Both had no grant current support and abysmal publication records. Following up on them both still have no grants and few publications (although both have landed positions elsewhere).

    Where I am now (a basic science department) we make every effort to recruit and retain great scientists and go out of our way to ensure their success. Every Assistant Professor recruited in the time I've been here have been awarded tenure. I anticipate this will be true for the 3 we recruited in the past 2 years.

    If for no other reason--it costs a lot of \( to recruit someone these days and it is simply a waste of \) for them to fail so we all do what we can to help them succeed.

    It would be instructive to hear how this is elsewhere --other than Harvard/MIT where the situation is quite different.

  • MoBio says:

    that should read:

    'it costs a lot of money to recruit someone these days and it is simply a waste of money for them to fail'

  • rs says:

    Do the university promise 100% salary for the rest of the life? I will take these requirement for tenure then. but if it is usual 25-50% like in a medical department or 75% like in an engineering/science department, then probably that is too much ask. Tenure doesn't mean anything in many schools because department/university do not promise anything and don't take any responsibility in case there are dry days later on.

  • Juan Lopez says:

    Established PI, thanks for the comment. I will bring this up with my mentor on our next meeting. Maybe I have not been balancing things right.

    I think I have still been developing my core program, and even grown it substantially. I publish ~3 times a year on it as first or last. I was trying to follow what an earlier mentor had suggested: make sure you are known for something meaningful and that people think of you when they think about an important question. Thus, I have collaborated when other groups address this question, and I thought it was good to have my name connected with this question. Though, you are right, collaborations take a lot of time, and I have lost many of the people who could have written letters for me since now they are coauthors.

  • Joe says:

    In my field and at MRU, tenure expectation is 6 (first or last author) pubs and an R01 plus teaching and service, better if R01 is renewed or if you also have a second grant of some type. Letters need to show national and international reputation.

  • It's a tough line to walk. I've seen people fail to win tenure because they kept too much back, and it never made it into Cell.

    This is a very important point. The first thing my chair said to me when I started back int he day was, "You are here because you pursued an important project that was published in Cell. Don't think this means that everything you do here going forward is going to be published in Cell. Get your research program going, publish your work steadily in high quality journals, get your grants, and you will earn tenure. If you aim everything you do at C/N/S, you are setting yourself up for failure."

  • Established PI says:

    "Make sure you are known for something meaningful and that people think of you when they think about an important question."

    That is terrific advice sums it all up in a nutshell. The challenge is how to achieve that as a young PI. My advice is to stay utterly focused on this goal and to collaborate only when it helps you towards that goal. Say no to everyone else. They will respect and admire you more (and give you tenure) if you are successful in your career. You can devote more time to helping their careers along once yours is safely on track. As for publishing, CPP's chair is right that you can't aim all the time for CNS; on the other hand if that is what you really want you shouldn't be completely dissuaded. It's a judgement call and you have to decide what risks you are willing to take.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    If you aim everything you do at C/N/S, you are setting yourself up for failure.

    Watching an approximately lateral peer shoot exclusively for a CNS level, fail, not get substantial grant funding, move elsewhere and fade substantially into the background as an independent investigator was highly instructive for my comfort in my decision making as an Assistant Professor.

    the point is simply that there are qualifications to the 'representative' metrics so these are certainly not iron-clad and I would suspect at OSU they are not adhered to as iron-clad metrics.

    Absolutely. And the weasel wordage, much more familiar to us than seemingly hard targets, testifies to this fact. But there are broader points here. Firstly, the fact that hard targets are mentioned at all- coming trend or OSU as a one-off? Secondly the fact that the hard target is out of step with something that "most" associate qualified people are likely to match*. Thirdly, the point that this aligns with one of the aspects of academic careers that is most objectionable from a quality of life standpoint.

    *of course, given these standards, the smart assistant professor can go about trying to meet them within a context of a supportive department. Don't natively want to slice the sausage thinner? Well, you are just going to have to do so**. A department might collectively work harder to involve their new hires on other people's papers, even if other P&T committees' notions of "independence" might argue against it.

    **It occurs to me that were I a mover and shaker on a University committee drawing up promotion docs and I wanted to stick a knife in the disaster that is GlamourScience, I might opt for just such a thing to keep people in the habit of publishing more of their data in independent articles instead of stuffing it all in the "Supplemental Materials" of a GlamourPub. Hmmm

  • neurograd says:

    I keep seeing CNS in these blog posts - forgive me, but what does this stand for? I'm guessing not central nervous system.

  • neurograd says:

    oh. just got it. duh.

  • rxnm says:

    I think it's likely this is a clinical department. Signing prescriptions gets you authorship in a lot of those fields.

    Either way, setting hard metrics like this makes you look stupid. It suggests you are incapable of evaluating scientists and are more interested in forcing junior faculty to engage in time-wasting numbers-gaming (lots of reviews, wheedling middle authorships, salami slices in dump journals) to pump up department stats than in quality research programs.

  • Busy says:

    Neurograd: It is written C/N/S precisely to avoid confusion with CNS. DM made a typo when he wrote it without the slashes.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Neurograd: It is written intentionally as CNS, because neuroscience, duh. If you don't enjoy the allusion you write it as NSC or SCN or some such. Slashes are superfluous.

  • AcademicLurker says:

    Watching an approximately lateral peer shoot exclusively for a CNS level, fail, not get substantial grant funding, move elsewhere and fade substantially into the background as an independent investigator...

    I have recently witnessed a colleague do this. And it wasn't for lack of mentoring. Senior people in the department were telling her "Don't be obsessed with Nature; just publish in respectable places and get your name out there. If there's eventually a Nature paper, that's just a bonus." But she seriously drank the glamorMagz Kool Aid, and it ended up really damaging her career.

  • Anonymous says:

    Somewhat of a tangent, but since we're OK w/tangents....

    A friend of mine is getting his PhD this year. His mentor was awarded tenure last year. She had an RO1 and an R21 and enough pubs, reputation, etc., so that she was a "slam dunk," according to some of her colleagues in the field, at least. When my friend joined her lab, she had 7 students -- a mix of masters and doctoral students. When he graduates this year, there will be only 1 doctoral student left in the lab. His mentor hasn't succeeded in getting more grants, so I guess she hasn't hired anyone else because of that?

    What I'm wondering is this: given the current climate, is this normal? Or is she really in trouble? Has she done it wrong? I always assumed that by the time you got tenure, your lab would be humming along.

  • Comradde PhysioProffe says:

    Lots of successful labs are downsizing. It's a blood bath right now.

  • jmz4 says:

    "If you aim everything you do at C/N/S, you are setting yourself up for failure."
    -I've witnessed this first hand. Although, "failure" in this case meant going off of HHMI and getting scooped up by Genentech. And my current boss seems to have scrounged great funding out two Nature papers in the last 6 years (total, for the lab). I'm guessing that if you're old and established enough (h index over 50), publications just don't matter as much. Probably not the advice to take for starting out, though.

  • […] interesting comment from Anonymous […]

  • Juan Lopez says:

    I have another tangent: what's the big deal with getting tenure? Yes, I know, I am in tenure track and the whole thing. I feel like I have missed the story of why it's such a big deal. To me, it's about moving forward in my career, bigger title (to help with grants), slightly better salary and a little bit better job security. But that sounds far from a major accomplishment.
    But I pay my salary anyway, plus all the extras that are more than one third over the salary, and then pay the university anothe two thirds on top of all that for the privilege of working there. Without tenure I can lose my job right away. With tenure it would take them a couple of years to kick me out, but it's not too difficult. At my university they can reduce your salary 20% every year you are not funded, and take away everything else. So, in a couple of years I would be out anyway.
    Maybe in the old days when people actually worked and was paid by the university, and tenure was this promise of a stable job it meant something. Now, I don't see it.

    Can someone please please give me good arguments to believe in tenure? Why does everyone talk about it like its a big deal?

  • Kevin. says:

    New labs, particularly those with a lot of students, have a personnel boom and bust cycle on top of funding irregularities.

    All 5 new PhD students tend to leave around the same time, and without a steady stream of good 'anchor' students helping with recruitment, even a successful lab can become a ghost town rather quickly. Postdocs can help, but their clock is growing ever closer (or bypassing) that of PhD students.

  • Anonymous says:

    @JL: I'm in an engineering school (part of a large research-oriented uni). Tenure in my dept. means you are guaranteed a salary for 9 mo., regardless of funding. I suppose that if you went multiple years w/out funding, you might be asked to teach 2 classes per semester instead of the usual 1. But you'd still have a pretty decent salary. People could make your life unpleasant, but getting rid of you would take a lot longer than "a couple of years."

    Is my situation exceptional? I think not. What kind of school are you at?

  • Comradde PhysioProffe says:

    If you fail to make tenure, you are immediately given notice that you are fired, and generally have to be gone within one year. Avoiding that outcome seems like a pretty big deal to me.

  • jmz4 says:

    "Can someone please please give me good arguments to believe in tenure? Why does everyone talk about it like its a big deal?"
    The original argument for it was to promote controversial and independent scholarship. Protecting a tenured professor because he espouses, say, abiotic synthesis as the basis of life, for instance, when the Dean is a creationist, is a worthy reason for tenure. I think a lot of people lose sight of this and think of it as a sort of prize for sticking out a difficult career path.
    Traditionally, and this is still the case at many universities, you get minimum salary support guaranteed, and usually dedicated space on campus (though not neccessarily lab space). Sometimes this comes with riders qualifying that you must teach x hours a week or whatnot to earn your salary.
    So, basically, tenure is meant to be job security and academic freedom. I gather it's been eroded steadily in the past 20 years at various institutions.

  • Established PI says:

    The academic freedom aspect of tenure is rather hard to support for most experimental scientists. You wouldn't want to be doing science anyway at an institution with a creationist at the helm. The tenure system enables universities to get professionals with years of training largely on the cheap, as academics exchange job security for higher salaries.

    Tenure without mandatory retirement, though, is an especially toxic mix. Before 1986, you knew that the dead wood that no longer did research and did a half-assed job of teaching would be gone after their 65th birthdays, creating an opportunity for a junior scientist. Now traditional university campuses have all too many over the hill non-contributing faculty collecting their 9-month salaries and occupying space that could go to younger faculty. It's hard to support offering lifetime employment to someone (after just 6-7 years, no less) knowing that they may be impossible to get rid of even when they no longer contribute in any way to research, education, mentoring or administration.

  • Juan Lopez says:

    I am at the medical school side of an R1 university.

    CPP - agree, keeping the job is good.

    Also, there is a salary increase with promotion, usually. But we have to pay for that increase from our funding, and then some. My institution guarantees 15% of salary, and that's only because NIH forced them to do so.

    Academic freedom means little when we still have to conform to whatever the study section likes, or we lose the grant, then the salary starts going down... Tenured or not.

  • Anonymous says:

    @JL: Then I can see why for you tenure is not really significant -- you are basically in a soft money position. But most people in Arts & Sciences or Engineering at R1s are in situations like the ones I described. Grant money can be used to provide you extra income over the summer, on top of your 9-mo salary, and you can also buy your way out of teaching at some places, too. But funding or not, that 9-mo salary is fully covered by the uni.

  • AcademicLurker says:

    One thing that doesn't get talked about re: tenure: it doesn't just protect against McCarthy style persecution (although with global warming denialism, anti-vaxers, creationssts & etc. there's more potential for that than you might think), it also protects against petty interference from management. The average lifespan of a medical school dean is in the neighborhood of 3-4 years, and every single one comes in with a new "strategic vision" about how to disruptively leverage the synergies & etc.

    If I had to drop what I was doing every 3 years in order to realign my research to fit in with the latest strategic plan, nothing would ever get done. Science has issues with faddishness as it is, but it would be a million times worse if everyone understood that keeping their job depended on how quickly they could jump onto the latest bandwagon.

  • jmz4 says:

    "You wouldn't want to be doing science anyway at an institution with a creationist at the helm."
    -No, but what if your Dean has a theory on the health benefits of massive doses of vitamin C? I think the potential for persecution in science by bureaucrats or overzealous department chairs is underappreciated precisely because we have tenure systems.

    @JL
    "Academic freedom means little when we still have to conform to whatever the study section likes, or we lose the grant, then the salary starts going down... Tenured or not."

    Well, that's field specific, so its hardly an argument against tenure in general. Also, as pointed out, many tenure systems allow for quite a comfortable salary even without supplementing it with grants.

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