Ticklish Ears

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Research, Scholarship, Application, and Being A Professor (Part I)

This post started to get longish, so I’ve decided to make this into a multi-part series. Hope you like it.

As I mentioned in my last post, there’s a miniature storm brewing at my university around the issue of “traditional research” and its importance to faculty life and success. For now let’s define traditional research as the stuff that results in continual publication in journals of significance and receipt of external grants.

Interestingly, a lot of the controversy revolves around different perceptions of the priority of research at our school. Some think that research in its traditional form is getting short shrift, while others fear that more and more importance is being placed on publication records and grant awards. As a historical note, my understanding when coming here five years ago was that teaching came first, and that for “research,” about one publication a year was a good metric for receiving tenure. That seemed acceptable, and I really wanted to be somewhere where teaching had priority.

I hope I’m not creating any false strawmen, but those defending research tend to claim that research is necessary to inform our teaching. My counter is that while research in a particular area may help in teaching that same area, it’s not the only way to grow intellectually. I don’t think I’m alone in this.

(to be continued)

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