The Scholarship of Research and Creative Accomplishments
This document adopted by EHDSS Research Statement Committee on Oct. 18, 2010.
Concrete evidence of an active record of research and creative accomplishments is required for tenure and promotion at Penn State Altoona. Research is broadly defined as the examination or reexamination of a topic, key concept, or theoretical approach in one’s discipline (For further reference, see AC23). Faculty may refer to the thirty (30) items identified in the Faculty Activity Report (FAR) for examples of activities considered to be research or creative accomplishments but should also be aware that these items are not weighted equally. Faculty are encouraged to focus on 1) articles published in refereed journals, 2) books or parts of books, and 3) papers presented at technical or professional meetings (in that order). Evidence of the quality of a candidate’s research and creative accomplishments will be provided by the candidate in the narrative statement and through external letters of assessment.
The following criteria may also serve as a guide for the evaluation of the quality of the candidate’s work:
Articles published in refereed journals
Indicators of greater quality:
- The journal article is published or documentation can be provided that it has been accepted for publication.
- The publishing journal utilizes a peer-reviewed process.
- The journal article represents original research conducted by the candidate.
- The publishing journal is of high quality as indicated by the external reviews or as indicated by rejection rates, journal impact factors, and affiliations with organizations of international or national prestige.
- The journal article can be identified as consistent with the candidate’s focused line(s) of inquiry.
Books and/or parts of books
Indicators of greater quality:
- The book or part of a book is published or documentation can be provided that it has been accepted for publication.
- The book or part of a book has received favorable reviews in recognized academic journals.
- The book or part of a book is based on original research conducted by the candidate and makes a scholarly contribution to the candidate’s discipline.
- The book or part of a book is published by a recognized academic or commercial press that publishes work in the candidate’s discipline.
- The book or part of a book article can be identified as consistent with the candidate’s focused line(s) of inquiry.
Papers presented at technical or professional meetings
Indicators of greater quality:
- The paper is accepted through a competitive or refereed process or the candidate was invited to make the presentation.
- The meeting is held by an internationally or nationally recognized scholarly organization or an internationally or nationally recognized organization that produces a refereed journal.
- The presentation can be identified as consistent with the candidate’s focused line(s) of inquiry.
Note: "Additional Considerations” adopted by EHDSS Research Statement Committee on Oct. 18, 2010 and transferred to EHDSS Mentoring Committee.
The following comments are not considered part of the Division’s official statement on the Scholarship of Research and Creative Accomplishments but are presented to help faculty navigate the tenure and promotion process.
Non-refereed publications are considered part of a faculty member’s total body of work and indicate creative accomplishment and engagement with one’s discipline. However, it is important to be aware that such publications will, as a general rule, be given lesser weight by faculty review committees and external reviewers. It is the responsibility of candidates seeking promotion and tenure to explain the relative importance of such work in their narrative statements in order to assist review committees and external reviewers with their assessments. Faculty members should also consult with the Division Head and other college mentors on how specific projects are likely to be evaluated and the extent to which such work should be pursued. Though the following list does not include all such publications, it is instructive on how candidates should expect non-refereed publications to be evaluated.
Book reviews. Academic reviews of scholarly monographs are an important service to one’s discipline and are certainly of crucial importance to the authors of those monographs. In most cases, however, they carry little weight as research publications. Certain reviews may be evaluated differently. For example, review essays which, beyond evaluating the worth of the monographs under consideration, also advance knowledge by integrating ideas across monographs, assess the standing of a discipline, or suggest novel directions for future research, may be viewed as higher quality contributions. The value of such contributions must be made clear in the narrative statement.
Textbooks. Textbooks or parts of textbooks that are intended primarily for classroom instruction are generally viewed as summaries of knowledge rather than original contributions to one’s discipline and, therefore, tend to be given lesser weight in reviews. The assessment of the quality of the text may vary with the intended audience. Texts and handbooks which present cutting edge ideas and techniques to professional researchers tend to be evaluated more favorably than textbooks oriented towards graduate students. Graduate texts, in turn, tend to be evaluated more favorably than undergraduate texts. Though faculty should not be discouraged from pursuing such work, it is important that the overall dossier be balanced with original contributions as well as projects such as these.
Encyclopedia entries. Encyclopedia entries may be indicators of a faculty member’s general reputation as an expert in their field of research, but they tend to be evaluated in much the same way as parts of textbooks. The work generally involves summations of research rather than original contributions, though the intended audience for the specific project may add greater or lesser weight to the evaluation of the article. If a candidate has published an encyclopedia entry that should be given significant weight by the faculty review committee or external reviewers, the justification must be provided in the narrative statement.
Pedagogical articles. The content of pedagogical writings has a significant impact on their evaluation. Pedagogical articles which are published in peer reviewed journals, based on original research, and/or which make important contributions to the advancement of pedagogy will be given greater weight. Brief articles on teaching tips, though important to one’s discipline, are unlikely to be given the same weight as other creative accomplishments. Since Penn State Altoona and our Division place great value on quality teaching in tenure and promotion decisions, faculty may be better served by placing such shorter pieces within the dossier section on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning as indicators of a commitment to excellence in that area. Such decisions should be discussed with the Division Head or other college mentors.
Agency reports. The contribution of one’s research expertise to outside agencies and organizations is evidence of both research activity and service to the community. Faculty review committees and external reviewers are likely to expect significant research on behalf of agencies to also lead to peer reviewed publications. However, there may be several reasons why such reports do not generate published articles. In these instances, it is the responsibility of the faculty member to explain the significance of the research in the narrative statement.
Externally funded research is often viewed as an indicator of engagement in significant research and recognition of research abilities by agencies and organizations outside of the college and university. Certain projects may also demonstrate significant involvement in outreach and service to the community. For the purpose of evaluating the Scholarship of Research and Creative Accomplishments, it is expected that high quality funded research will generate refereed publications as well as agency reports. As noted above, there are many reasons why this may not occur. Again, it is the faculty member’s responsibility, in consultation with the Division Head and other mentors, to explain the relative importance of such research and its products in the narrative statement.
Undergraduate research is highly valued at Penn State Altoona. The contribution of such work to the Scholarship of Research and Creative Accomplishments, however, does not differ from other research projects. If the work significantly advances knowledge and contributes to one’s discipline, especially if it results in refereed publications or presentations, it will carry the same weight as other research. If the research undertaken does not result in truly new knowledge, however fresh it might be for the students, it should be used to demonstrate a commitment to excellence in teaching in the dossier under the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.
Other factors should also be considered including whether or not the undergraduate research falls outside of the faculty member’s focused line(s) of inquiry, the faculty member’s contribution to the paper (e.g., principal author, supervised person who authored the work, etc.), and the content and quality of the faculty member’s existing body of research.
Focused Line of Inquiry
Practically speaking, having a focused line of inquiry in research activities is beneficial to the faculty member for two reasons: 1) it assists in the identification of qualified external reviewers and 2) it can help establish a national and international reputation. While a focused line of inquiry remains an effective method of securing promotion and tenure, it is not an absolute requirement. Faculty members who have already established a focused line of inquiry may have the ability to take on projects that stray from that focus with little detriment to their dossiers. However, faculty members who have not established themselves in such a manner, and instead remain unfocused in their research efforts, may find greater difficulty in achieving favorable external reviews. Faculty members should reflect upon their current body of work and the potential quality of the final product before pursuing a divergent research project. It is highly recommended that the faculty member seek mentoring in such a situation.
The identification of a faculty member’s focused line of inquiry should be a key feature of the narrative statement. Remember that the dossier will pass through review committees at the Division, College, and University levels and that the members of these review committees will represent a variety of disciplines. Identify your line of inquiry as though you were presenting it to the entire university because, in essence, you are.
Approved by Division April 26th, 2011.
Revised and Approved by Division February 8, 2018.