Even as the use of electronic media has become common across fields for
research and teaching, what is taken for granted among young scholars
is still foreign to many of those who sit on tenure and promotion
committees. In an effort to confront this problem, the MLA and a
consortium called the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced
Collaboratory have decided to find new ways to help departments
evaluate the kinds of digital scholarship being produced today. The MLA
ran a program for department chairs at last year’s annual meeting in
which chairs were given digital scholarship to evaluate, and that will
take place again this year. — Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed
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One thought on “Tenure in a Digital Era”
Great article… I like those guidelines and I think things are evolving slowly, but organically. The economy and politics of “publishing” as a criterion for tenure are very complex. There’s more to it than simply presuming that if its online, it can’t be quality scholarship. Because, after all, UNpublished work can still be “quality scholarship” — and I think some young scholars underestimate the intelligence of committee members when it comes to their work.
I think what tenure committees are more concerned with is whether or not the appropriate audiences are being reached with a scholar’s work (and if they are truly ‘working’ at all). But no matter which medium is used for publication, there is always a gap between a tenure committee and the field of scholarship that any candidate is specialized in, and this “trouble” for Digital Humanities is no different than, say, the trouble an artist has with presenting their sculptures in a portfolio, etc. etc.
There are no guarantees and no shortcuts for tenure — the best anyone can do is work hard to try to help the committee to understand the scholar’s work…and that includes helping them understand the ‘discourse community’ for their scholarship as well as their intellectual trajectory and the content of the scholarship itself.