Open Access Tenure: What’s Required of Me

Every university handles tenure differently and there doesn’t seem to be particular consistency through any type of university. Here’s how things are handled for me.

From when I started at the university, I have six years to gain tenure.  This timeline is deceptive though.

I started in December and part of my negotiations was that I came in as 0Y (Zero Y). This is not extremely unusual for new faculty, I’m told, when you’re coming in several months into the school year. It meant that I had several months to get my feet under me, learn what was going on, and shift my brain over to academic library from public library. My clock officially started ticking last August, when I became 1y.  I’ll advance to 2Y and so on over the next few years.

My first formal review will come during my third year (3y). At that point in time, I face an internal review by the tenured (and tenure track? I should ask about that) faculty of the library.  They will review what I’ve done to meet the tenure requirements thus far and decide if I have demonstrated enough capability that they feel confident to let me continue. There is a vote–for me that should come around early spring of 2014. Assuming I pass that vote, I’ll get specific suggestions on things that I need to do to ensure that my tenure bid is successful.

At the start of my 5th year, we do the whole thing over again, only moreso.  I spend the fall semester pulling together ALL THE PAPERWORK and there’s another vote in early spring of 2016.  Once I successfully pass that vote, I spend the following few months finalizing the campus paperwork, which goes in during the fall of my sixth year. That gets voted on in the spring and somewhere around July 2017 I would officially advance to being an Associate Professor.  I’m not quite clear on the full Professor process, but I have a few years to work that out.

Our tenure is evaluated on three years: Research and Scholarship, Librarianship, and Service.

Research and Scholarship comes with being part of an R1 institution and ties into the whole publish or perish portion of the game. A review that was done by the institution in 2002 showed that the top 8% of published librarians were averaging three peer reviewed articles during the time they attained tenure process.  The goal I’ve heard is 3-5, with a strong preference for 5 if you can do it.

Librarianship is evaluated by my peers, though I will probably also ask that they speak to the College of Dentistry as those are colleagues that I work quite regularly with.  My teaching falls into this category.  I will be reviewed during teaching sessions, expected to turn in teaching evaluations, etc.

Service is a broad category, with a view both inside and outside of the institution. It is expected that we will participate and be active at the local, regional, and national level. This can include refereeing for journals, being on committees, developing continuing education programs, etc.  Pretty much anything that doesn’t fall into the other two categories easily goes  here.

While the latter two after definitely important, what’s stressed the most is the research and publications.  It’s generally assumed that you will succeed in the other two areas, but getting the publications out the door can be the sticky problem.

So those are the requirements. Next week I’ll talk about institutional support.  Please let me know if you have any questions or if something wasn’t clear.


  1. Comment by Colleen:

    Do they dictate which journals, by impact factor, that they prefer for you publish in? I’m curious, because as we were revising our bylaws, the library faculty were in general agreement that we were looking for work that impacted the library and wider profession. This makes things interesting, since an article may be more widely read than a book, an open-access article may be more widely read than a non-OA journal (simply because more people can get to the text), a salient blog post that makes rounds may be ‘impactful,’ etc. We’re not an R1, so our research requirements arent as strenuous and we tend to focus more on the librarianship factor (our three categories are Librarianship, Research, & Service) than the other two. (All of them are considered.) I’m still TT with a few years to go so I haven’t been in RTP committee to discuss it, but the idea of ‘impact on the profession’is interesting, and I wondered if you all address it in your system.

  2. Comment by Abigail:

    Hi Colleen,

    There’s not a specific list of journals that we’re supposed to publish in, though there is absolutely a very strong emphasis on publishing in journals with a high impact factor. Because many of the OA journals may not be established as long, I assume that means I’ll need to put together some alt-metrics as well as relying on more traditional citation impact. Because I’m part of the medical library, the Journal of the Medical Library Association (Gold OA) is one of our holy grails insofar as places they would prefer to see us publish.

    Insofar as impact on the profession, I think that’s assumed from journal article impact factors and partially from service (committee work, conference presentations, etc.) Peer reviewed book chapters also rank highly, moreso than practical book chapters. But I’ll go into more detail on that in upcoming weeks. 🙂

  3. Ping from Open Access Tenure: Lady in the Classroom – Hedgehog Librarian:

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