Criteria for Assessing Scholarly/Creative Activity for Promotion and Tenure/Department of Journalism

Note: The standards below were used prior to December 2017. To see current standards, go to the "December 2017 to Current" page.

A scholar, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is defined as a specialist in a particular field of study. For purposes of tenure, the Department of Journalism recognizes work that is within the more traditional scholarly arena as well as work that demonstrates excellence in professional achievement. Both must contribute to the body of knowledge within the discipline be it journalism, history or political science. Candidates applying for tenure in the Department of Journalism meet the expected standards of excellence by assembling a portfolio of traditional scholarly research, of original professional/creative work, or a combination of the two. The work in that portfolio may be produced, published or otherwise disseminated. No one medium of dissemination is inherently valued more than another.

The work of the candidate in history, political science or journalism should have a clear, primary focus and show progress over the course of the pre-tenure years, and promise of further contribution after tenure is granted. While academic interests can draw scholars and creative professionals alike into more than one area, it is important for the untenured faculty member to build a body of work that is cohesive and in a significant area of scholarship and/or interest, as reflected in the candidate’s statement. The candidate must establish a growing expertise and influence within the field.

The principal ways of demonstrating superior academic scholarship are through publication in prestigious peer-reviewed journals, books published by recognized academic presses, and films/videos, broadcast, electronic or online work judged by juried festivals or national competitions. Additionally, scholarship can be further demonstrated by editing books, contributing chapters, obtaining grants, and engaging in other endeavors that contribute to the dissemination of scholarly work. These will be viewed in the context of the principal scholarly work submitted for tenure review. While the tenure review process is not based on strict quantitative guidelines, successful candidates produce the approximate equivalent of one significant article or production per year. This does not exclude the possibility of fewer works of extraordinary quality meeting the tenure standard but these works, though fewer in number, must nonetheless be of such depth and scope as to represent an equivalent body of work and establish the candidate as an ongoing scholar.

To be deemed worthy of tenure, a candidate’s work must be seen by leaders in the field, be they academics, practicing professionals, or both, as a significant contribution to the field. It must elevate the candidate to a figure of stature in the field, serving as an exemplar, provoking serious and significant discussion, providing a catalyst for self-examination within the profession, or deepening public understanding of an issue or topic of significance to the discipline. The indicia of distinction to which tenure reviewers will look may include, but not be limited to, publication of a book, a collection of articles, documentaries, or electronic productions that are considered exemplary by one’s professional peers, are cited in the literature and book reviews, have significant social or legislative impact, are recognized for major journalistic prizes, or are embraced by the profession as innovative, groundbreaking or influential. Textbooks that break new ground and significantly advance pedagogy in the field are also indicants of achievement. Such external plaudits represent the equivalent of peer review for more traditional academic scholarship. Mere publication or production does not of itself suffice, nor does the publication of articles in venues that individually or collectively fail to meet those same exacting standards.

The tenure process is not a purely quantitative inquiry. In a rare circumstance, a single book or documentary, of extraordinary quality and reflecting years of serious work might be sufficient if recognized by the discipline as a work of singular distinction.

Journalistic work that leads to invitations as a major presenter or keynote speaker at a prestigious conference, or consultancies with prominent journalistic organizations will be seen as further evidence of a candidate’s contributions to the field. So too is the emergence of a tenure candidate through a body of that taken together establishes the candidate as one of the profession’s preeminent authorities in a field of specialization.

To promote innovation in an age of multiplatform presentation and rapidly evolving technology, such journalistic work may take virtually any form, yet it must still meet the same rigorous standards of peer acclaim as stated above.

In reaching such tenure determinations, Emerson’s DPTC, Dean and V.P. of Academic Affairs will also rely on the assessments of outside reviewers and the respective stature of those reviewers in the field. Works whose subjects are local or regional in scope may also constitute tenure-worthy production if, but only if, they are found to meet the same high standards and are accorded the same recognition, acclaim and respect from journalistic peers as those works of broader theme or distribution. Ultimately, the tenure inquiry is about recognized excellence, innovation and influence in the field. The tenure process looks to performance as the leading measure of promise and should demonstrate a trajectory of outstanding achievement.

Candidates are encouraged to build a scholarly/creative agenda that can be integrated into their primary areas of teaching or to seek opportunities to expand the offerings of the College to reflect their scholarly/creative interest(s) in conjunction with the Department’s and College’s curricular goals. The greater the faculty member’s ability to integrate scholarship and creative work into the education of students, the more the institution as a whole and its students benefit.

During the first year, the candidate will develop a written plan and timeline to meet the research/professional/creative requirement for tenure. The initial plan is the responsibility of the faculty member and it will serve as an important instrument throughout the review process. At the beginning of the second year, the faculty member should submit the plan to the Dean of the School of Communication, the chair of the Journalism Department and the DPTC for suggestions. It is expected that this plan will be discussed with the review parties and they will provide written feedback. The plan will be revised as needed throughout the annual review process.

The tenured faculty member seeking promotion from Associate to Full Professor should exemplify high achievement in all the requirements of teaching, scholarship/professional/creative work and service to the Department and the College that are set for appointment to Associate Professor.

In terms of scholarship/professional/creative activity, the candidate for promotion from Associate to Full Professor must demonstrate leadership in his/her chosen field/discipline. Leadership should include a record of work that is ongoing and mature in nature, taking the form of nationally/internationally recognized creative, scholarly or professional work. Leadership also involves evidence of an ongoing commitment to scholarly/creative/professional work that will positively impact the mission, work and reputation of the Department and the College. Taken as a whole, the body of the work should establish the candidate as a prominent contributor to the discipline.