Research Assessment in the Humanities: Towards Criteria and Procedures

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Research assessments in the humanities are highly controversial and the evaluation of humanities research is delicate.

While citation-based research performance indicators are widely used in the natural and life sciences, quantitative measures for research performance meet strong opposition in the humanities. This volume combines the presentation of state-of-the-art projects on research assessments in the humanities by humanities scholars themselves with a description of the evaluation of humanities research in practice presented by research funders. Bibliometric issues concerning humanities research complete the exhaustive analysis of humanities research assessment.

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Post-tenure review covers the seven-year period leading up to the review, including the six prior annual evaluation letters and activities since the last annual evaluation. The cycle is restarted if a faculty member is evaluated for promotion or is awarded a distinguished professorship. The time period when a faculty member is on medical or familial leave or that would otherwise be excluded when computing time in rank does not count toward this period.

Research Assessment in the Humanities

In addition, time serving as department chair, program director, dean or associate dean, or other administrative position subject to administrative review is excluded. The review may be postponed if it falls in a year when the faculty member is on leave. Faculty members on phased retirement or whose retirement date has been approved by the university will be exempt from review under this policy. The dean of the College will notify faculty members scheduled for post-tenure review no later than March 15 th in the spring semester preceding the academic year of review. The expectations for post-tenure review are consistent with these standards, with overall productivity commensurate to the seven-year period under review.

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The following specific criteria shall apply for purposes of post-tenure review. Teaching: Each member of the faculty is expected to engage in teaching and advising activities. Full-time faculty members teach two classes per semester. Consistent with the instructional mission of the University, teaching effectiveness is essential in the evaluation of a faculty member. As a largely undergraduate, interdisciplinary degree program grounded in the liberal arts and home to a core element of general education at KU, HWC views teaching as central to its mission.

Teaching ability can express itself in a variety of approaches and methods, and ranges over everything from lower-level introductory courses, including large lecture classes involving GTA supervision, to specialized courses for majors and independent study for the senior essay. The effectiveness in teaching may be achieved in many ways, and may be documented by several means, among them:.

Advising: Advising, in the broad sense of assisting students regarding a broad range of academic matters and curricular and career choices, is the responsibility of all faculty, and it is assessed as part of the annual faculty evaluations. Faculty generally are expected to be familiar with the appropriate catalogs, timetable, and program requirements; keep scheduled office hours; assist students in making academic and career choices; and refer students to campus support offices when appropriate.

To further a community of scholars and students, faculty members are responsible for mentoring students. Mentoring establishes a trust between faculty and students in which confidence-building and the fruitful exchange of ideas can take place. Advising in the narrower sense of assisting HWC majors in selecting their courses during the advising and re-enrollment period each semester is the primary responsibility of the Majors Coordinator assisted by designated HWC faculty.

The effectiveness of faculty members in advising and mentoring is evaluated through informal and formal surveys of students, recent graduates, and peers. Scholarly Research, Presentation, and Publication: Each member of the faculty is expected to engage in scholarly research. Since Humanities and Western Civilization is not a field of study or discipline but a broad interdisciplinary program, individual faculty may conduct discipline specific or interdisciplinary research or both.

In the Humanities and Western Civilization Program, scholarship is defined as contribution to one or more of the disciplines in the humanities and social sciences as measured by, for example, publication of articles in appropriate academic journals, monographs, chapters in books, participation in academic conferences, substantial book reviews, editorship of journals, citation by other scholars, and academic awards. Although rate of publication varies widely among the disciplines of the humanities and social sciences, within a six-year period an HWC faculty member may normally be expected to have a monograph under contract or in press with an academic publisher of the equivalent in shorter works e.

No absolute or rigid set of criteria can measure scholarly activity and excellence, but it may be documented in several ways, among them:. Ordinarily, faculty members are expected to publish in order to engage in scholarly discourse. Publication includes articles, books, and book chapters as well as curated exhibits, catalogues, electronically disseminated work, and films, or other forms of creative work.

One evaluative measure is the acceptance of a published work by peers, which may be documented by:. Papers presented at meetings. Papers accepted for professional meetings are important evidence of scholarly research, frequently providing an opportunity to submit for peer discussion research that will later be published.

Service can be provided to the program, College, University, professions, and community. It can be expressed through local state, national and international venues. Appointment or election to and active service on committees and in offices at the program, College, and University levels. Relation to the Annual Evaluation. Only by articulating all of the values e. The issues discussed here are equally relevant to funding agencies, researchers, departments, research institutes and scholarly societies alike.

Beginning with a discussion on the academic evaluation culture and how the humanities differ from other disciplines, the article goes on to address a number of questions that have guided work in developing more humane research evaluation indicators for the humanities as part of the HuMetricsHSS initiative:. The article concludes with a discussion of how the HuMetricsHSS initiative plans to tackle the work ahead.

1. Introduction

For many researchers in the humanities, the creation of traditional research outputs is but one small aspect of their contribution to the intellectual community. They teach, create open educational materials, organize speaker series and mentor junior colleagues. But often, these practices are not formally recognized in evaluative processes such as promotion and tenure to the same extent as traditional research. Even research itself is changing in a material way, and the humanities are grappling with how to address it. Current evaluation systems fail to capture what is most substantive about the newer, digital forms of scholarship in which we engage.

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From the creation of multimodal open access OA pedagogical materials to the digitization of texts for computational analysis or the creation of rich data visualizations that tell high-level stories about literature or history over time, digital work is often considered an addendum to humanities labor, rather than the labor itself. Several of the major scholarly societies in the US have created guidelines for the inclusion of digital work in promotion and tenure portfolios, 8 , 9 , 10 but adoption of their recommendations remains sporadic.

This is perhaps due to the fact that research cultures, once ingrained, are resistant to change. Digital and public humanities projects can present a challenge to how current humanities evaluation understands credit and attribution; almost always collaborative, they require a huge amount of behind-the-scenes labor that is not always recognized.

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Then there is the challenge of assessment for digital and public humanities projects. How exactly does one measure impact? In tackling the challenge of improving research evaluation in the humanities, several studies have sought to explore the role that values can and should play in how research is evaluated. However, their scope has mostly been limited to examining metrics based in the values of quality and originality.

The use of bibliometrics in humanities research evaluation has been problematized by a number of studies that reflect differences in citation patterns, self-citation and collaboration practices, and regional orientations across the humanities.

However, some humanists question the pursuit of measurable outcomes i. The HumetricsHSS initiative 24 was formed on a belief that telling and valuing more textured stories about the processes, failures and successes of scholarship writ large could open the door to a healthier, more rewarding Academy. While at Triangle SCI, my colleagues and I brainstormed lists of the practices, products and core values that drive the humanities.

We then asked ourselves how those core values might manifest in common scholarly practices like the creation of a syllabus, the hosting of a conference, or the publication of a monograph. For example, how can the value of equity inform the design of a syllabus to make it more accessible? Or how might more collegial peer reviews improve the quality of a monograph?

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With the support of the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, we sought to test our theory that the humanities and social sciences do indeed share a set of common values that can be used to develop better, more humane indicators. Surprisingly, we were not able to come to consensus on a list of shared values, although we came close. We learned something more important instead.

Though not always easy, the discussions and productive disagreements that the workshop encouraged showed us that the process of debating and discussing values, with something like our initial framework as a conversation starter, is an important first step in developing an institutional framework for values-based evaluation. With this lesson in mind, we then hosted a second workshop that centered around how values might manifest in one particular scholarly practice: the development of syllabi.

For example, we asked participants to consider how the value of quality might color how they evaluate their own syllabi from years past. In so doing, values-based thinking would be institutionally established as important. The practices that are important to individuals and departments will vary based upon their varied goals. For example, some institutions have an OA mandate, which is meant to encourage the value of openness through OA publishing or writing open source code. Other institutions and departments emphasize the value of community through public engagement requirements in promotion and tenure guidelines.

Research Assessment in the Humanities: Towards Criteria and Procedures Research Assessment in the Humanities: Towards Criteria and Procedures
Research Assessment in the Humanities: Towards Criteria and Procedures Research Assessment in the Humanities: Towards Criteria and Procedures
Research Assessment in the Humanities: Towards Criteria and Procedures Research Assessment in the Humanities: Towards Criteria and Procedures
Research Assessment in the Humanities: Towards Criteria and Procedures Research Assessment in the Humanities: Towards Criteria and Procedures
Research Assessment in the Humanities: Towards Criteria and Procedures Research Assessment in the Humanities: Towards Criteria and Procedures

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