Re: [asa] Muggings and the tenure process

From: gordon brown <gbrown@Colorado.EDU>
Date: Tue May 22 2007 - 16:37:04 EDT

From my experience with promotion and tenure committees I would say that
the letters solicited from outside experts in the candidate's field are an
absolutely huge factor in deciding these cases. Usually only those who
have a role in making the decision have access to these letters, and so it
is difficult for the rest of us to know for sure what went on in the
deliberations over such personnel matters.

Gordon Brown
Department of Mathematics
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0395

On Mon, 21 May 2007, wrote:

> 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
> this
> tenure decision (at least it smells bad, especially given the way some
> other
> 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
> viewpoint.
> 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"
> ************************************** See what's free at

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Tue, 22 May 2007 14:37:04 -0600 (MDT)

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue May 22 2007 - 16:37:31 EDT