RE: [asa] gonzalez' citation record

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Fri May 25 2007 - 15:17:02 EDT

I have a simple question. Of all the experts that are discussing the Guillermo-tenure-case, how many are tenured professors in universities and how many times have they participated in the tenure and promotion decisions in their debarments? Let us have people that know what they are talking about talk!


When Albert Einstein finally got an academic position at the University of Berlin, which he got because of his earlier work in relativity and the photoelectric effect, Einstein said regarding his ability of doing more first-rate work, "You know, ideas come from God." People do get jobs and tenure for their work previously done. I got my appointment as a tenured professor when I came in.



From: on behalf of
Sent: Fri 5/25/2007 2:32 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] gonzalez' citation record

It is seldom on this list that I will be more in agreement with Pim than with Ted Davis about something, but I think this issue of publication record is one such case.
And again I must preface this by saying that I am NOT defending the denial of tenure. I am just trying to make sure that, when people cite statistics about the publication record, they are citing statistics that are actually relevant to the tenure decision (as opposed, for example, to the bogus "350%" from the Discovery Institute).

The key point with regard to these publication statistics is (excuse me for shouting but it is important to hear this):

That is a bit of an overstatement, but only a bit.
Research that was led by somebody else (doctoral advisor, postdoctoral advisor, etc.) is not what they are looking for -- they are looking for Gonzalez himself to become a research leader. The only publications that matter for that are those representing work performed under his leadership AFTER he arrived at ISU. So, for evaluating the tenure judgment, we need to disregard all the papers (no matter how well regarded and cited) from his doctoral work and postdocs. This includes any publications after arriving at ISU that report work done during the postdoc. And we need to disregard "citations" of pre-ISU work.

Now, I said this was a bit of an overstatement -- such earlier work is not totally irrelevant for evaluating a candidate. It might even be a significant consideration if it was known somehow (perhaps from a letter of recommendation from the postdoc advisor) that the candidate had been the main source of ideas and leadership in some project, as opposed to serving as labor carrying out the advisor's ideas. But by far the greater weight goes to work done once the person is in the faculty position and responsible for leading the research himself.

Ted mentioned some publications in good journals done after Gonzalez arrived at ISU, and what seems to be a major role in a significant book, and those are definitely relevant to the case. But citations and h-factors for pre-ISU work are for the most part irrelevant.

A valid comparison, if somebody were willing to put in the time, would be to compare the publications FOR WORK DONE AT ISU of Gonzalez with those of the other candidate who got tenure at the same time from the same department. If the person who got tenure had fewer publications during this period, in less reputable journals, getting cited less by others [and we only count citations of the work done at ISU], that would be pretty suspicious.

Of course we must also remember that the publication aspect is just one factor in the tenure decision, and may often be #3 in importance behind the recommendations of outside experts in the field and behind success in obtaining external research funding. It sounds like Gonzalez did poorly in the latter, and we have no way to know about the former.

As an aside, I would add that I do find it disturbing to see comments from some scientists that amount to "He is associated with this movement that is endangering science education, so he should be punished." If Gonzalez had, for example, testified on the "creationist" side in Kansas or Dover, this might be justified. But merely for being affiliated with an Institute that does some anti-science propaganda? That seems like guilt by association, which is generally not a good argument.

Dr. Allan H. Harvey, Boulder, Colorado,
(Usual disclaimers here)

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Received on Fri May 25 15:17:26 2007

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