Re: [asa] Muggings and the tenure process

From: <>
Date: Mon May 21 2007 - 22:22:15 EDT

In a message dated 5/21/2007 2:03:34 PM Mountain Daylight Time, writes:

>>> <> 5/14/2007 6:19 PM >>>writes:

While I suspect that Ted is right about the viewpoint discrimination in
tenure decision (at least it smells bad, especially given the way some
faculty have "targeted" him), some correctives need to be made with regard

to some of the numbers and assertions being thrown around.

Ted replies:
I understand from a physicist at a major research university, that
Guillermo has an h-index of 23. This means that he has written at least 23
papers that have each been cited at least 23 times. By the same
calculation, a recent Nobel laureate in physics whose name I gave my friend
for comparison, has an index of 18. The highest I have ever heard of is 41.
Gonzalez is a world class scientist, even at his career stage.

This one really does exude an unpleasant odor.

Allan replies:
I will start by reiterating that I am suspicious of the odor as well,
especially because of the previous smear campaign. But I must continue to point
out that the cause is not helped when simple numbers (whether h-index or number
of publications) are advanced as though they alone prove somebody is a
"world-class scientist".
A tenure review committee that put much stock in this h-index, or in raw
numbers of publications, would be derelict in its duty. How many of these 23
papers were written at ISU with Gonzalez leading the research? For all we
know, most of them could have been early career work led by highly cited Ph.D.
and/or postdoc advisors. And how many of the 23 citations were self-citations?
 Actually, this h-index looks like a lousy measure to use for tenure,
because it gives more weight to older work that has had more time to get cited,
when the tenure process is typically evaluating the performance of the person in
the most recent 5 years or so. The process was supposed to evaluate whether
Gonzalez has become a research leader in his time at ISU, and that is done
primarily not by looking at these simplistic numbers but by evaluating the
importance of recent publications and the degree to which others in his field
consider him to be a leader, usually helped by a small number of outside
experts in the field. If he has a lot of *recent* papers getting highly cited *by
others* in first-rate journals, then he has a case. The numbers we have seen
so far don't tell us that one way or the other.
And to return to a point I made previously, I have not yet seen anything
about whether Gonzalez brought in any outside research funding. The sad truth
of modern U.S. academia (in science and engineering, and maybe especially in
state schools with tightening budgets) is that in most research universities,
if you don't bring in any money, you are unlikely to get tenure no matter how
good your publication record is. Many good scholars who are not good at
hustling for grant money lose out in this manner, independent of their religious
Allan (who tried to figure his h-index today and came up with 16 -- and I
know I'm not 16/18 of a Nobel-prize stature ...)

Dr. Allan H. Harvey, Boulder, Colorado |
"Any opinions expressed here are mine, and should not be
attributed to my employer, my wife, or my cat"

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Received on Mon May 21 22:22:41 2007

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