1940?? Really??

I have recently gone through the 1940 document on Academic Freedom and Tenure and found the magic 7 year tenure track number.  This dates back over 70 years?  Wow.  It may be time for an update.

Let’s assume that a big part of obtaining tenure is research and publication.  Think about how that was accomplished in 1940.  Let’s say I wanted to study the behavior of widgets.  I get a bunch of them, test them, write down my results in a notebook, fire up my pencil and paper and spend months crunching data.  Then I pull out my manual typewriter and start typing away, maybe stopping from time to time to spend a few hours hand-drawing the figures that would accompany my article.  So in 7 years, how many studies can I finish and publish?  2?  3?

Now think about today.  I get my widgets and run the tests.  Given modern equipment, depending on the tests, they probably run a lot faster.  I record my data into my spreadsheet and almost instantly have my analysis.  I copy and paste that into my word processor, re-format, put out a pdf and and ship it via email to my reviewers and eventually, the publication.  How many of those can I do in 7 years?

I am not saying that the system is flawed.  In fact, I would think that the 7 years is likely a good amount of time to gain the academic mindset that one would likely need to be an effective professor.  But, the standards for performance have certainly changed in the 70+ years since the 7-year timeline was created.  Should it be re-visited?  What do you think?

About rainman

CEE SEM MS ’12 PhD ’15
ESM BS ’92
SUC ’89-’92
PE VA, TN, KY, WV, PA

Category(s): PFP13F, Teaching Philosophy

One Response to 1940?? Really??

  1. I agree with you, 7 years for producing research is a good amount of time. However, I don’t think it needs to be changed. As you already mentioned it’s the academic mindset, tenure is not just about the research it’s also the teaching and service. I think 7 years gives people a chance to grow in these areas, I doubt 4 years would be long enough.
    Good Blog though Smilie: :)

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