Friday, July 31, 2009

Should Faculty be required to Publish on the Web for Promotion?

Most of the discussion regarding the web and issues of tenure and promotion have asked questions like:
  1. Will web-based contributions count for promotion and tenure?
  2. What are the equivalences between traditional scholarly work and web-based work?
But maybe we should be asking another question:

Why shouldn't faculty be required to distribute their work via the web? In an age in which a significant amount of information is available in various online venues, shouldn't scholars be expected to contribute to the intellectual discussions in their fields? Don't scholars also have an obligation to participate in the public discussion of scientific issues?

In addition to asking scholars about their production of journal articles and books, perhaps we should begin reviewing their web-based contributions.

What's wrong with this expectation?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Can Faculty Post Stuff on the Web and get Tenure?

Most of the material that I have been able to find that discusses online faculty work and tenure has been related to the humanities. The Modern Language Association (2000) has posted these recommendations for faculty and committees making tenure decisions.

These general guidelines remind faculty to clarify their role at their institution, seek advice from administrators and senior faculty regarding types of work and to document their online work in a manner similar to other types of scholarly contributions.

The advice to committees reviewing promotion cases in regards to digital scholarship is to make sure that external evaluators are appropriate for this type of work, that the work is reviewed online rather than on paper (in order to fully understand the work) and to see advice from other disciplines that may be relevant to digital scholarship.

The MLA Committee on Information Technology has also established a wiki on the topic of digital scholarship that addresses a wide variety of issues and ideas about how faculty, administrators and faculty review committees can handle issues related to digital scholarship.

See all my delicious tags for p&t:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Online Science, Teaching and Outreach with Tenure

Some universities are beginning to think about how we deal with faculty contributions that are web-based, but there are much work that needs to be done. I am very interested in work by faculty and faculty committees regarding this issue. Please post comments about work at your institution or send me email at: if you have ideas about how this work should develop.

Over the next several weeks I will post a series of discussions of the issues surrounding online science, teaching and outreach and how we can begin to think more carefully about these issues. You can find all the posts on this topic with the label: "PandT"

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Measuring Scientific Contributions on the Web

Michael Nielson (The Future of Science) has been writing some very interesting ideas about why scientists have been slow to adopt the use of information-technology as a means to distribute their work and to invite collaboration.

He cites the failures of significant efforts to foster online collaboration and communication. For example, the journal, Nature, launched an open commentary section on their website to foster discussion among scientists about papers published. Nature terminated the effort when the site failed to get many comments. The final report on the site stated, “…there is a marked reluctance among scientists to offer open comments.”

Neilson suggests that there are two major problems that prevent web-based scientific publishing and collaboration—a lack of software and cultural practices within the scientific community that prevent open sharing. He suggests that the second problem is the biggest problem.

He also notes that we don’t have good metrics for how to judge the value of online contributions:

1. What is the value of a blog post?
2. What is the value of a blog?
3. What is the value of a contribution to Wikipedia?
4. What is the meaning of having a webpage at the top of Google’s Page Rank?
5. What is the value of your lecture on YouTube?

These are tough questions to answer, but it seems to me that we have to begin to provide some best guesses and take this type of work into account in making judgments about the quality and quantity of scientific work. Failing to do this will only harm science and education because our best work will not be available in easily accessible ways.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Open Peer-Review of Scientific Work on the Web

There is no particular reason that scientific articles cannot be openly reviewed on the web. If we are true to the scientific ideal that feedback from peers is valuable and advances both the scientific work and the presentation of the scientific work, then it would seem that the reviews of scientific papers should be available publicly. (Not just to scientists, but to all.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Chris Anderson on Free

Can this work for education? What is the "free" part of education and who pays for it?