Category: Open Access Tenure

Open Access Tenure: Fill out the Forms

Last night, I finally made the first pass through the dreaded MS Word document known as this year’s tenure forms. I was on deadline to send a draft to my paperwork person and the time had finally come.

For those playing along, I’m prepping for my fifth year review, which is my third internal/”my college only” review. Since April, I’ve been hacking away at bits and pieces of the paperwork and forms. Everything will go off to the P&T chair at the end of this month.

Some of this has been much easier this time. I have spent five years working with the women who are on my Evaluation of Librarianship Committee, so it was more of an opportunity to chat with them and share all the accomplishments I’ve had, rather than the terror of the first round that I went through during my third year. I’d already written my statements of librarianship, research, and service once, so that’s been more about overhaul rather than complete invention. [I mentioned at a meeting that it felt daunting debating a complete rewrite and several senior faculty assured me that they expect to see an updated version, not entirely new.] Only my interdisciplinary statement was in its infancy.

And so I opened this year’s Word document and then my 3Y Word document, which some of you may have downloaded and read a couple of years ago. To my relief, the majority of going through the 45 pages was copying and pasting and marking checkboxes that are formatted oddly.  I think everyone at my institution is looking forward to the day when we get an online system that will update this automatically and you can just click through a web-based form. I hear there is ($$$) software out there that will do this but with the current state budget…. A colleague in another college told me that they are pretty sure that compiling the tenure dossier for internal review last year cost the equivalent time of writing a paper. It sounds about right when I think about all of the time spent on checkboxes and such.

But for this round it wasn’t recreation of the wheel. And so by just after midnight, I sent off an email detailing various changes to discuss on Thursday and realized that I’m at about the 85% mark.

I mention my paperwork person–that’s assigned here. In addition to a research mentor (who tries valiantly to rein in my impulses to do everything), my paperwork person is there to answer questions about forms or statements or process and I’ve been throwing a lot of things at her over the course of the fall. She also, partially at my request earlier this summer, has held me accountable to deadlines. Every two weeks, something has been due to her. It didn’t have to be totally done but the drafts needed to be solid. As a result, I was ready several weeks early for my Evaluation of Librarianship committee (they get 1/3rd of the documents in almost-done-draft form) and now, November 3, I’m nearly done.

Of course, I still have multiple outstanding research projects that everyone would love to see submitted or in semi-final manuscript format before the end of the month and that will take up all spare moments between now and then, but the paperwork isn’t the mountain it might otherwise be. That counts as a win in my book.



SPARC PS: Hedgehog LibraryBox

I forgot to mention in my write up of my presentation from ALA that I had my LibraryBox in the room and set up. When I was describing myself as a researcher and one whose work was open, it seemed only right that I make my work immediately available to anyone there with a device.  We had power up in the front of the room and so my

I’d preloaded my LibraryBox with my current published papers and chapters, and–for fun–pictures of the two felines whose cat fur lingers no matter how carefully I lint roll on my way out the door and who often appear in my presentations.

Guess what got more downloads?

Next I’ll hear that Gypsy has her own fan club.

It worked beautifully though and if you’ve not purchased or built your own LibraryBox, I encourage you to take a look at Jason Griffey’s project. It’s wonderfully useful for sharing documents, cat photos, and other things when the wifi is tenuous.

Open Access Tenure: Lead By Example-My SPARC ACRL Presentation

I don’t believe the SPARC/ACRL Forum at ALA Annual was recorded this year, but I had several people ask about my presentation so here are my remarks. The slides are available, though they are mostly just images.

Slide Deck


(Slide 1 Intro)

Thank you to Nick for the introduction and it’s exciting to get to wrap up the panel today. I’ve been so inspired by what the other panelists have already described, *of course* we should be talking to students and I can’t wait to get home and see how we can implement this at my institution. I hope you’re excited as well.

As Nick said, I’m a health sciences librarian at the University of Illinois at Chicago and if you’d like to see more about me, my blog is Hedgehog Librarian and you can find me on twitter @hedgielib.

(Slide 2 I’d Like to Change Directions)

I’d like to change directions from what the other panelists have been discussing so far. Up until now we’ve been talking about the library as collaborator or service provider and that’s something that we do a lot. We talk about students or researchers as this “other”, something we hold at arms length or a kind of shiny unicorn. I’d like to look internally at librarains. Many of us here do research and a number of us are early career researchers, whether we’re tenure track or not.

(Slide 3 Me!: An Example)

So, what do I mean when I say I want to talk about librarians as researchers? I’ll give you myself as an example. I’m a tenure-track research librarian at a large public university.  Prior to that I was a children’s librarian. My research umbrella is the impact of early 21st century technology on scholarly communication among librarians. What does that mean? It means I do research about open access, data, and a variety of other things that are impacting us presently. My current work is focused on institutional policies surrounding research data management and research data management self-education for librarians.  I am going into my 5th year of the tenure process, I have two still go, and I am absolutely in a publish-or-perish situation.

(Slide 4 A Personal Open Access Plan)

And then there was a decision I made on February 22, 2012. This was not that long after the NSF had started requiring data management plans and it was in the midst of the Research Works Act and I decided that I would attempt to get tenure publishing my library research only in open access journals.  This is the blog post from that day. I had to do research and publish to keep my job, but I also knew–as a former children’s librarian–exactly what it was like not to have access to the library literature and I decided that wasn’t going to work for me.

(Slide 5 It Helps to Have Support)

Deciding to do this wasn’t something that I really could do without some support and that came from a number of places. Immediately, it came from the library community. After I published my blog post, there were comments on the post and a lot of emails and tweets of support. It was absolutely wonderful to know that my peers throughout the profession were behind me.

I also had support from my institution. My college–the University Library–has an Open Access policy for faculty, as created by and voted in by the faculty. This isn’t university wide, but it does give me something to fall back on internally. And a number of my coworkers are very supportive of what I’m doing. That’s not something that everyone will have in all fields, either support from their profession or their immediate peers.  I am fortunate in that.

Finally, I got support from research colleagues and coauthors. They know about this and they believe in this for the projects that we collaborate on and that’s been a wonderful support as I am working on this over the years.

(Slide 6 We’ve Got Excellent Options)

It also helps that we have a number of excellent journals to publish in.  This is a short list and by no means is comprehensive–it’s what I jotted down when I said “Okay, if I had a new piece that I was thinking about publishing, where would I send it.” These are all well-reputed, peer-reviewed, gold open access journals.

[Journal List: College and Research Libraries; Practical Academic Librarianship; Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication; Journal of the Medical Library Association; Journal of eScience Librarianship; Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults; Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship; Information Technology and Libraries–and, I forgot to include Evidence Based Librarian and Information Practice]

That’s nine places (eight if you take out the YA journal, my research doesn’t fit there) that I’d be perfectly happy to see my work published and these are all good journals. Many of these are sponsored by ALA Divisions and Sections, and I think that’s important as well.  I’ve also included a link to work that Walt Crawford is doing on the open access landscape, that’ll take you to his summary of what library science presently looks like.

(Slide 7 Pros)

Alright, so you know about me and some places to publish, what are the benefits of publishing open access? For starters, it means your work can be found and read by everyone. Almost every researcher I know wants their work to be found, they want to be the one known to be doing research on X and by doing so openly, more people can read and cite their work.

I mentioned my research colleagues before and I can’t stress that enough. My researchers partners are amazing women and I count myself very lucky to have the opportunity to work with them.

And, while this may seem somewhat arbitrary, it can help you pick what opportunities you want to pursue. To be clear, I don’t recommend this as the only mechanism by which you determine what you’re doing, but we all are over-committed and yet constantly want to say yes to three new things. When I’m looking at 2-3 new calls for papers, presentations, etc, one of the ways that I weed out what I’m willing to give my time to is whether or not the work will be openly available. For  me, it’s an important filter and can help me keep a little bit more of my sanity.

(Slide 8 Cons)

I had to think for a while about finding Cons to what I’ve done. Thus far, I haven’t really run into any. One point that was raised was that I don’t get any extra credit either from my library or the University for publishing my work openly. There is a library in Virginia who is doing that, mine isn’t–at least not yet. But that’s not a major concern, they want to see good research published in well-reputed places and I just showed you a list of highly regarded journals. So that’s pretty well taken care of.

The other concern that I hear raised is that of potential librarian research colleagues who don’t want to only publish in an open access venue.  Honestly it hasn’t really been a problem. This is something I’m very open about, obviously, and it’s something that I discuss with people far before we get seriously into a research project. I’m not going to wait until 14 pages into a manuscript to spring this one someone. Also, I’m not requiring it of my co-authors on all of their projects, just on this one that they do with me.

(Slide 9 Promoting as Peers)

So, what can librarians do at their home institutions? We can lead by example. We can publish our work openly and archive that work in our repositories. When we talk to students and researchers who are asking us about this, this gives us the opportunity to discuss it as someone who has gone through it. Everyone is looking for an example and we can be that to them–use me as an example of someone who is on the tenure track if that would be useful to you.  Much of our work is about relationships and when a subject faculty talks to the subject librarian who says “Oh, yes, I’ve already done this” –this idea of it is suddenly less daunting. We can forge the way.

We can also, by dint of experience, advocate for policy on campuses. Whether that be for the students or faculty, we know what needs to be considered and we should be requiring that we have seats at the table where these things are discussed.  And finally, remind them that it will get them more citations/reputation. That’s academic currency and it never hurts.

(Slide 10 Thank You)

Thank you to SPARC and ACRL for inviting me today and again, that’s where you can reach me. I’m happy to answer any questions.






Open Access Tenure: A Climb Yes, But Not Impossible

It is always interesting to get feedback on my blogging, particularly when I’m writing about tenure. What surprises me is how frequently someone says “Oh, I could never do that-that’s just too hard.”

When I started this and throughout my blogging-about-tenure, my goal has not been to scare people off by shining the light on what I’m going through at my university. Yes, it consists of many hoops; yes the stakes are frighteningly high. And I won’t try to lie and say that it’s super-wonderful-Parmesan-goldfish everyday, because you are smarter than that.

And ultimately, I can’t tell you yet whether I think it’s worth it.  Will I, from some future other side, be able to look back and say that being hauled through it was right and as it should be?

Some say yes: it helps us learn the process that other faculty are going through; it usually mandates research requirements that we might otherwise put off; and it gives us seats at tables we might otherwise not be.

Generally I agree, though that first point I argue dumps us squarely back into the service category–thinking about our subject faculty or the all-revered researcher other–rather than on us and what we contribute.

Some say no: we’re in a service profession and we should be focused on that; “good researchers” will always find time/be passionate enough to write; respect doesn’t come from your title.

Generally, I agree with them too–though to the second point, I’ll note that many workplaces don’t allow for writing and research time unless/even if it’s a requirement. Expecting everyone’s priorities to be “and then in my free time I’ll do research and write” is unrealistic.

I have further thoughts about librarianship/service profession/where we align with tenure but I don’t want to get too far off track for this post.

Anyway, my goal isn’t to horrify future coworkers about the experience of tenure track positions or to make it sound like the most miserable experience ever (remind me that I said that about a year from now). I write about this because too often it is entirely opaque. We give candidates our norms: vague documents about achieving excellence–but from outside the academy it is nearly impossible to fully grasp the practical of what “getting tenure at MPOW” means. We say there is a process but don’t have a good way to actually step people through it-particularly during the interview-, so no matter what they end up blindsided a bit. We–the academy we–need to do better about that, but in the short term, you have me blogging.

Beyond that, I am only describing my tenure process at my institution. Every other librarian I’ve spoken to who is going through the tenure process at another institution is going through something different. And that includes within my own sibling university–UIUC has a different process/different weights than what I’m facing. One example: at MPOW, what year you are in is considered a very personal and private thing. This is, I’m told, to allow people privacy if they are granted an extra year on their clock due to health/family/etc issues. However, this can be kind of limiting in terms of offering peer support. Obviously I’m pretty open about where I am in the process both to other librarians and to other faculty.  But to contrast, at Warmaiden’s POW, they have “the 17” –the new tenure track faculty from across disciplines starting at the same time she did are cohorting together openly. (Also, if you’d really like to feel like a slacker, see her recent post on what she’s working on.)

Every university has it’s culture, process, and norms.  Everywhere is different and I would venture that everywhere will be difficult.

Ultimately though, I hope that you will take what I’ve written and see it as a challenge. If you’re applying for a tenure track position, I hope you’ll use what I write to probe into their process during the interview process. Please, know more than I did, and ask for more things than I knew to.  Try to get a junior faculty member or two alone to ask questions. Getting tenure is probably not going to be easy. It’s a long climb and I don’t know yet if the mountain peak view is amazing, but I sincerely hope so and hope you’ll consider climbing too.

Open Access Tenure: Conferencing

I’m in Minneapolis, where the Research Data Access Preservation Conference starts tomorrow morning. I got in mid-afternoon and friends and colleagues have been trickling in all evening, leading to fun encounters in a restaurant, on the street, in the elevators.

I love this conference because it is small and because it is targeted at a very specific group of librarians. Also, because I come here to learn.

ALA Annual and Midwinter are amazing behemoths. There’s such huge variety of things to take in and so many people to see from around the world that just reading the conference program can be overwhelming. As I’ve become more and more involved with LITA, the conferences have become more about working on committee things for me and, unfortunately, far less about getting to learn. At ALA Annual last summer, by the time I’d given my pre-conference, gone to 2 board meetings (as a guest), and attended my own other obligatory meetings, most of the conference was a wash.  It’s part of being in an organization and the work has brought incredible experiences but it does tend to isolate you off from the rest of the conference, working hard to ensure good things for others.

RDAP–even having helped a bit in the planning this year (truly, just a bit, Carolyn and Margaret have done the vast majority of wrangling) and even though tomorrow afternoon I’ll be speaking for a few minutes–is a learning conference for me. Last year, my first year attending, I volunteered for nothing, I spoke about nothing, I just attended, listened and learned. Met people who were facing problems like mine, laughed over dinner and drinks, commiserated and came away stronger.

RDAP is a professional soul-feeding conference for me. I hope to leave on Friday somewhat reaffirmed in the work that we’re doing and refreshed. It’s not quite as good as a rest–I still could really use a vacation that doesn’t involve obligation travel (e.g. wedding)–but for now it will do.

And the chance to hang out with this many cool people doesn’t hurt either.