LINGUIST List 13.1365

Wed May 15 2002

Sum: Tenure and Promotion

Editor for this issue: Marie Klopfenstein <>


  1. Lynn Pearson, Tenure requirements for Linguists in Foreign Language Depts.

Message 1: Tenure requirements for Linguists in Foreign Language Depts.

Date: Tue, 14 May 2002 01:39:47 -0400
From: Lynn Pearson <>
Subject: Tenure requirements for Linguists in Foreign Language Depts.

Summary for Linguist List 13.687
Tenure requirements for Linguists in Foreign Language Depts.

I apologize for the late posting of this summary. I received useful
information regarding tenure and promotion criteria at universities in the
U.S. and in Europe. Happily, my department is in the process of adopting a
document that I will post at a later time that provides flexibility to
everyone working in literary and linguistic studies. I will also propose
to the Linguist List editors to add a site for Tenure and Promotion
criteria so that linguists will have a resource about this issue in the

Below you will find a short summary of the information in the message as
well as a few examples of tenure and promotion criteria in place at various
universities, edited from the messages. First, I would like to thank the
following people for submitting comments:

Barbara E. Bullock
Jose Camacho
Mark Greenberg
Kirk Hazen
Carol Klee
Tom Klingler
Carl Mills
Johanna Rubba
Deborah Ruuskanen
Nick Sobin
Rex A. Sprouse
Rob Vann
Dieter Wanner
Stan Whitley
Margaret Winters

1) Linguists in foreign language departments almost always have the same
guidelines as colleagues working in literature and cultural studies.

2) There are efforts, both official (college or departmental policy) and
unofficial (candidate's cover letter for the tenure portfolio), to explain
and recognize differences in linguistic research (or other fields, such as
creative writing) that make some requirements less or more appropriate for
different fields represented in foreign language departments (book vs.
articles, conference proceedings accepted as publications, etc.).

3) Linguists in foreign language departments should communicate information
regarding linguistic research to their non-linguist colleagues by citing
the expectations from Natural or Social Science model rather than the norms
of humanities fields. Beyond the book vs. article quandary, the evaluators
need to know about the process for selecting linguistics conference papers
(i.e., anonymous submission with refereeing) and "the relative ranking of
conferences or journals in linguistics" (Points contributed by Carl
Mills). Providing tenure and promotion evaluators with this information
will help them to effectively assess a candidate's research production.

Examples of Tenure and Promotion Criteria/Procedures (contributors noted)

1. Herb Stahlke, Dept. of English, Ball State University:
We have one P&T document for the entire department, including also English
Education, Literature, and Rhetoric/Composition. You can take a look at our
P&T policy and procedures at the English department web site at We do have representatives from each of our areas on our P&T
committee to make sure that differences in professional practice across the
areas are made clear.

2. Dieter Wanner, Ohio State University:
We have several linguists and a pedagogy specialist among a majority of
literature/culture faculty. I give you here the text of the applicable
statement of criteria and standards of research for the P&T aspect from
assistant to associate professor. As you can see, they operate a
differentiation between lit/cult and ling faculty according to the standard
expectations in the respective fields. These criteria and standards have
the explicit blessing of the College and the campus level review boards.
Their application has proved to be very reassuring to everybody, since they
spell out what is expected, and they provide for the necessary flexibility
according to a colleague's discipline. For service and teaching aspects, no
such differentiation is applied. Here it is:

A,P&T Document, Dept. of Spanish & Portuguese, OSU (rev. 11/01)

"VII.A.3. Research
No area of academic endeavor contributes as much as does research to the
standing afforded the department both within the university and within the
larger academic community. Thus, review committees at all levels of the
university place great emphasis on scholarly achievement and productivity,
and all candidates for promotion must demonstrate clear distinction in this
area. Given the diverse interests and responsibilities of members of the
department, the type and results of this activity may vary. Some research
may emphasize the generation or reinterpretation of knowledge; other
research may introduce new approaches or apply existing approaches to a new
body of material; still other research may emphasize pedagogical concerns
that incorporate theoretical advances in instruction and/or language
acquisition or apply technology in innovative and creative ways. Still
other recognized work could consist of such activities as translation,
editing scholarly publications, or compiling bibliographies. Just as there
are varying forms of scholarly activity and varying results of research
efforts, there must be varying criteria and patterns for the evaluation of
such efforts. In certain areas of research within the department, the
publication of a series of extensive articles may represent work and
accomplishment comparable to the publication of a book in another.
Specifically, for recommending an assistant professor for promotion and
tenure, a book (either published or in press), is a standard expectation in
the fields of literary and cultural studies, while in linguistics and
pedagogy more weight may be attributed to a series of substantive articles.

The research standard in addition comprises a series of refereed journal
articles and book chapters in high-quality outlets as documentation, in
combination with regular conference participation, of a developing program
of original research presented to the profession at large. In all
instances, the basic criterion is not quantity alone but the quality and
significance of the scholarly activity as an innovative contribution of
relevance to the faculty member's and the department's appointed fields.

Recommendation for appointment of a candidate to the rank of associate
professor must be based on convincing evidence that the faculty member has
achieved excellence as a scholar, and can be expected to continue a program
of high quality scholarship relevant to the mission of the academic unit(s)
to which the faculty member is assigned and to the University."

Dieter adds "our formulation may only make sense within the highly
formalized context of P&T procedures at OSU."

3. Nick Sobin, Department of Linguistics, University of Wales, Bangor
 From my experience in English Departments, the lit group puts a premium on
books, whereas for linguistics the stronger emphasis is on scientific
articles in good places. One bibliometric study that I recall showed that
the humanities tended to lack 'core' journals, a set that everyone
recognized as very important to have their work appearing in. In contrast,
the sciences have 'core' journals, and a bibliometric study on linguistics
showed that it, like the sciences, valued articles and recognized such a
set of core journals.

For some background, see

Zwaan, R. & A. J. Nederhof. 1990. Some aspects of scholarly communication in
linguistics: an empirical study. _Language_ 66(3): 553-557.

So, articles in Language, LI, NLLT, Lingua, Journal of Linguistics, etc.
should stand you in good stead.

4. Marc Greenberg, Dept. of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University
of Kansas
We do make a distinction in the requirements for the research portion of
the t. and p. profile. Typically, literature specialists can frame their
major projects in book form, but linguists often cannot, as the linguistic
writing tends to be more condensed. Therefore, in our department for a
tenure-track linguist a substantial number of articles (with thematic
coherence and high quality, of course) would be considered evidence towards
a strong research program, rather than a book.

5. Barbara Bullock, Department of French, Penn State University
Our T&P guidelines in French for "Research, Creative Accomplishment, and
Scholarship" read:

"A book, monograph, textbook, critical edition, or critical bibliography,
published or in final typescript accepted for publication, is required for
tenure and promotion to the Associate rank. In some areas of French Studies
where books or monographs are not the customary product of research (e.g.,
linguistics), an equivalent number of refereed articles or discipline
related creative accomplishments may be substituted. In such cases, the
number of articles should exceed that normally expected of candidates in
other fields of French Studies."

6. Johanna Rubba, Dept. of English, California Polytechnic State University
We revised our tenure and promotion requirements a few years ago so they
would be as unambiguous as possible. We have people in our department who
direct plays, so we had to be flexible without being too flexible. We came
down to refereeing as the main criterion: Work submitted as support for a
tenure/promotion decision has to have been peer-reviewed. This includes
professional theater critics as well as journal referees, etc. In other
words, the referees have to be professional peers of the candidate.

7. Stan Whitley, Romance Languages, Wake Forest University
We finally hammered out a compromise statement for expectations at both
levels of promotion: it's demanding ... and yet flexible enough to
accommodate a variety of research programs and forms of publication, from
paper to electronic. It's much more specific now and fairer to both sides,
and it's held up well through years of T&P decisions. ... All professorial
faculty in this department are held to the same standards, but those
standards have been adjusted to ensure comparable scholarly activity across
a range of rather disparate fields.

8. Carol Klee, Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Minnesota
I have attached the criteria for tenure and promotion of the Department of
Spanish and Portuguese Studies at the University of Minnesota. There is a
distinction made between linguists and literary scholars in the statement
on research and publication which I have copied below:

"There must be clear evidence of substantial accomplishment and promise as
a scholar, critic, or theorist. Optimally, for indefinite tenure one of the
candidate's works will be a book or equivalent. Substantial articles
(quality as well as quantity) documenting highly developed expertise in at
least one area of specialization can be considered the equivalent. This is
particularly true for faculty members who specialize in linguistics."

Thanks again to everyone for their contributions.

Lynn Pearson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Spanish
Dept. of Romance Languages
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, OH 43403

Lynn Pearson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Spanish
Undergraduate Advisor for Spanish Education Majors
Romance Languages
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, OH 43403
(419) 372-7141 (office)
(419) 372-7332 (fax)
Alternate email:
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