Flutterby™! : get tenure

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get tenure

2007-07-23 23:27:14.116471+00 by Dan Lyke 2 comments

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-07-24 13:07:37.664139+00 by: ebradway

That's funny... I watched a guy back at UTC who managed to blow his tenure-track. He was an amazing salesman and brought in more grant money than everyone else in his department combined. But his tenure review contract stipulated three publications in three years - which is easy for a new PhD - any decent dissertation can be editted into at least three pubs. After three years and lots of grants, he had no publications. Of course, he also had a couple sexual harassment claims against him by students and faculty.

I also recently attended the retirement party for my mentor at UTC, Dr. R. Gary Litchford. He started teaching at UTC (actually, it was UC then) in 1965. For his party, I made a big poster with various yearbook pictures of him and aerial photos of the university just before he started and in 2006 (to show that he'd been around longer than most of the buildings). I also made a timeline showing his publication and grant activity over his 43 year tenure. His publications were dense in the first 5-15 years. Sure, his productivity in terms of pubs dropped off dramatically after receiving tenure. But his grant activity started picking up steam and he started doing "bigger" things like creating the Environmental Science MS program at UTC and directing the board of the Special Olympics.

Publications really aren't that hard. The most challenging part for many academics is that they involve criticism and possibly flat-out rejection. And where many folks go wrong is that they assume their "big idea" will either trump their inability to communicate or that the "big idea" is so grand that the top journals will accept it.

Every journal has a specific focus. That focus tends to shift from time to time based on the editors. But this is how the journals maintain themes. And you have to send your pubs to the right journals. Even then, you have to be able to handle rejection and you definitely have to be able to handle criticism. Pretty much no one gets a pub accepted without at least one round of R&R (Revise and Resubmit). But decent editors and reviewers will tell you pretty much exactly what they want to see added or changed in the pub.

The MS Thesis and PhD Dissertation is very similar. When I wrote my MS thesis, I found it was alot like writing code. I'd make a pass at "the algorithm", send it to my advisor who'd "test it". He send me back "bugs" that I needed to correct. I'd edit the "code" and send it back to him for more "testing".

Pubs work the same way. The problem is so many "really smart" academics have never had that much experience with writing code. They think their code is perfect on the first pass. You see this often in people who never finish their dissertation. They can't get over the fact that the PhD is as much about COMMUNICATING[Wiki] your ideas as it is the ideas themselves. Same is true for the publication. It's a form of communication.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-07-24 21:41:22.334677+00 by: petronius

I once met a guy who was a soil geologist who had figured out an algorithm for predicting mudslides. His idea was to outline the idea for his Master's thesis, then refine it for this dissertation, then make his fortune as a consultant to California hillside communities anxious to find if they were in imminent danger of sliding down into Compton.