Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book Fields and Salary Increments

In so far as we are asked annually about our research, those who write big books, or even more modest books, don't fit. In book fields, this may not be a problem. The idea that someone would work for 5-7 years (or twice that in some cases) on a project, and then have a book come out does not quite fit with the idea of two research articles/year in many fields. Or monitoring research productivity.  Yes, I know people should publish articles about their project as they go along. But what you want to encourage is deep difficult work. Now of course we know of promised books that never appear, and we know of people who produce books rabbit-like. I don't know what to do with the barren or the fructiferous. But for most people, the way the university works, the book writers have a difficult time.

As far as I recall, in promotion and tenure and UCAPT, the book fields are well recognized and two articles/year is never brought up. (Book fields might be defined by what scholars do at peer or better institutions.)

In fields where books or articles are considered, then the one book every 5-7 or more years person might well not get raises when the book appears to compensate for what they did not receive in previous years when their two article/year colleagues were rewarded (but I don’t know if this happens).

The other problem is that all universities now publicize “findings,” and much of the humanities and some of the social sciences, do not have findings or discoveries. I do believe that there is a very useful kind of university publicizing: scholars and scientists, and what they are doing, with a focus on the ideas and problems rather than on the person, per se.

As for part time faculty and a dual labor market, I suspect that there was a short period when there were fewer part-time etc. faculty, maybe 1955-1975, but before or after we are back to the not-so-good old days.  [In Judith Shklar’s address about the life of a scholar, she reminds us of her experience (although she tells us it gave her time to write and bring up her children—no meetings, committees!—and that she felt she was not majorized by her colleagues in terms of their excellence).]

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