Discipline-Specific Expectations and Standards

The expectations and standards that define excellence in scholarship vary by discipline. These disciplinary expectations and standards include norms around the types of scholarship conducted (e.g., quantitative vs. qualitative; primary vs. secondary; basic vs. applied), expected products of scholarship (e.g., books, peer-reviewed journal articles, artistic compositions, evaluation reports and public policy briefs), authorship, quality, and appropriate quantity, among other things. These disciplinary expectations should be clearly laid out in the dossier, to facilitate a fair review at all levels of the process.

The department has the primary responsibility for ensuring that these disciplinary norms and expectations are clearly presented in the file. Letters from appropriately selected external reviewers help establish this context, but the department Chair has primary responsibility to describe the scholarly context in the candidate’s discipline. The instructions for the Chair’s letter and the guidelines for writing a Chair’s letter contain specific guidance for this task.

This disciplinary context is especially important as new and evolving forms of scholarship develop. For example, community-engaged scholarship and entrepreneurial scholarship have become important forms of scholarship in recent years in some fields, and it is likely that other forms of scholarship may emerge in the future as established disciplines advance and newer disciplines mature. Similarly, the standards around appropriate scholarly products change as new forms of scholarly communication and dissemination emerge (e.g., e-journals, blogs, open-access publications, digital collection building, multi-media genres).

Departments are expected to have a written document, approved by the department faculty as a whole and reviewed periodically, that describes the norms and expectations for promotion and tenure in that department and discipline. Such a document should not present a strict checklist of the minimum levels of productivity necessary for promotion and tenure, but rather, should qualitatively explain the overall expectations by which the candidate will be evaluated, and should be flexible enough to encompass the normal variations in what is considered excellence within a discipline. These documents should be shared with junior faculty at the time of their initial appointment, and must also be included in the tenure dossier.