rethinking the pre-tenure process

A friend emailed me a link to a very interesting blog entry in an academic librarian's blog, commenting on the significant stresses that seem to descend on librarians pursuing tenure. Steven J. Bell asks an important question in his entry:

"Admittedly, the tenure track and its associated pressures are all about weeding out under performers to create an academic organization that benefits from having the best of the best. But what can be done to allow those on the tenure track to enjoy the process of research and publication, the way it was meant to be be experienced, without being made to feel as if they are on a vicious treadmill"?

I think it's time for this question to be asked in business schools as well. Some of the suggestions that Bell advocates for academic librarians might also be relevant in the b-school context, but we will have to come up with other remedies on our own.

I know that when the Weatherhead School here at Case extended the tenure clock from 6 to 9 years, one of the arguments for doing so was that the time that papers spent in review before being accepted for publication, and the time between acceptance and actual publication, had been increasing for the major journals in our field. I wonder, though, if this response of simply accepting the lengthening lead times and postponing the decision about a scholar's quality was really the wise choice. Perhaps we could instead lobby the major journals to set up a quick-response reviewing process, for those papers with authors who are untenured? Perhaps those papers could be given priority when moving from acceptance to publication? Since I have never edited a journal, I have no idea whether or not this kind of proposal would be considered realistic.


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