Newsletter Editor editor at igpp.ucla.edu
Sun Mar 31 17:57:16 PDT 2019

Volume XXVI, Issue 23


Table of Contents

1. Advancement in Science


Announcement Submission Website: http://goo.gl/forms/qjcm4dDr4g


Advancement in Science

From: Ann Nonie Muss (claruse at igpp.ucla.edu)

The American Association of Academic Advancement has just issued their long-awaited study on improving efficiency of the academic processes throughout the US university system. The first study to be released in what is expected to be an exhaustive look at the internal workings of academic departments in all disciplines concerns the promotion process, which is obscure in many institutions and labor-intensive in all. At present, a typical candidate for promotion is asked if he or she wishes to be promoted and then, if the answer is yes, is asked for endless information about what was accomplished since the last promotion, including service to the community, contribution to diversity, communication with the press, communication with the science community, committee work, publications, service on committees, awards both honorific and financial, in addition to questions about teaching and students. After the candidate answers the request, this material is sent to reviewers who may or may not know the candidate, and they compare the candidate with other faculty members elsewhere whom they may or may not know well. These records from the candidate and evaluations by external members of the university community are then reviewed by an internal committee of faculty members who may or may not understand what the candidate does or why, and who may or may not have heard the candidate speak in class or in a scientific meeting, and who may or may not like the candidate for reasons that may or may not be valid. The committee then writes a recommendation on promotion that may or may not be on time, and this is voted on by the faculty who may or may not care by this point, and the vote sent to the chair who may or may not agree, who then writes a letter that may or may not be supportive. This letter goes to a committee on academic personnel that may or may not have a member who is literate in the field of the candidate. Then this committee passes their recommendation to the dean, who may or may not be in the mood to promote faculty, this specific one or any one. The decision then goes back to the department that may or may not agree, and more meetings may or may not ensue, and after several interactions, the candidate may or may not be recommended for promotion.

The forty-five volumes constituting the AAAA report can be succinctly summarized by ignoring the first forty-four reports, which is consistent with the opinion of the association that all this is a tremendous waste of time, and that departments should just cut to the chase and promote candidates as their H-indices (the number of papers that have been cited that number of times or more) pass certain thresholds such as 10, 20, 30, 40, etc. More pretentious institutions may choose high numbers. This simple change to Automatic Academic Advancement will not alter the end result, but it will save the department, the university, the reviewers, and the candidates an enormous amount of time. The association could not be reached for comment, as its members were in a meeting.


SPA Newsletter Editorial Team: Peter Chi (Editor), Guan Le (Co-Editor), Sharon Uy, Marjorie Sowmendran, Todd King, and Kevin Addison (E-mail: claruse at igpp.ucla.edu)

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