MLA Task Force on Evaluating Scholarship for Tenure and Promotion Report

The MLA Task Force on Evaluating Scholarship for Tenure and Promotion has issued an important report. (The MLA is the Modern Language Association of America.)

Here’s some background on the report from its Executive Summary:

In 2004 the Executive Council of the Modern Language Association of America created a task force to examine current standards and emerging trends in publication requirements for tenure and promotion in English and foreign language departments in the United States. The council’s action came in response to widespread anxiety in the profession about ever-rising demands for research productivity and shrinking humanities lists by academic publishers, worries that forms of scholarship other than single-authored books were not being properly recognized, and fears that a generation of junior scholars would have a significantly reduced chance of being tenured. The task force was charged with investigating the factual basis behind such concerns and making recommendations to address the changing environment in which scholarship is being evaluated in tenure and promotion decisions.

The task force made 20 key recommendations, including:

3. The profession as a whole should develop a more capacious conception of scholarship by rethinking the dominance of the monograph, promoting the scholarly essay, establishing multiple pathways to tenure, and using scholarly portfolios. . . .

4. Departments and institutions should recognize the legitimacy of scholarship produced in new media, whether by individuals or in collaboration, and create procedures for evaluating these forms of scholarship. . . .

15. The task force encourages further study of the unfulfilled parts of its charge with respect to multiple submissions of manuscripts and comparisons of the number of books published by university presses between 1999 and 2005.

16. The task force recommends establishing concrete measures to support university presses. . . .

19. The task force encourages discussion of the current form of the dissertation (as a monograph-in-progress) and of the current trends in the graduate curriculum.

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