Friday, March 27, 2009

The value of an open-access publication record for an academic job search and tenure & promotion.

11:22 am update

Steve says: I just read Gideon Burton's excellent post about "Intellectual Apartheid." One of his recommended steps for administrators is "Update promotion and tenure policies to favor open access publications and to accommodate evolving scholarly genres (such as data sets, software, and scholarly tools that build the cyberinfrastructure)."

Earlier this week, my department chair sent our department a link to an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education about MIT's open-access policy announcement. (I believe there is the standard irony that the article from the Chronicle is limited-access, but you may be able to find freely available stories on Google news.)

Without being an expert on open-access or doing much background research, I decided to send the following email to my department. I'll let you know what happens (if anything)!

Email to Physics & Astronomy faculty:

This got me to thinking. Our department could adopt a simple & public policy, such as: "Regarding new faculty hires and promotion & tenure decisions, we highly value an open access publication record. We place a value on open access publishing comparable to the value we place on publishing in top-tier scholarly journals which may have limited access." I don't know whether we could agree on such a statement, but if we could, I think it would place a positive light on our department, similar to how the MIT and Harvard statements below do for those universities.

As a tenure-track faculty in our department, I do feel that open-access publishing will be viewed positively by the voting faculty. It would be good to know that more formally, but I'm not worried. A much more worrisome thing for me is how open-access publishing will affect my Ph.D. students.
Will they lose out in job searches or will they stand out? Our own department's stand on this issue won't help our own students. But maybe by taking a public stand, we can set an example that other departments can follow.

I think it'd be worth spending a bit of time discussing at an upcoming faculty meeting.

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