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ERIC Number: ED499364
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 100
Abstractor: ERIC
Report of the MLA Task Force on Evaluating Scholarship for Tenure and Promotion
Modern Language Association
In 2004 the Executive Council of the Modern Language Association of America (MLA) 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. To fulfill its charge, the task force reviewed numerous studies, reports, and documents; surveyed department chairs; interviewed deans and other senior administrators; solicited written comments from association members; and consulted with other committees and organizations. The most significant data-gathering instrument was a Spring 2005 online survey of 1,339 departments in 734 institutions across the United States covering a range of doctorate, master's, and baccalaureate institutions. The information gathered by the task force substantiates some worries and mitigates others. The results of the MLA survey, which covered the academic years from 1994-95 to 2003-04, initially seemed reassuring, since they suggested that there has been no perceptible lowering of tenure rates among those in the final stages of the tenure process, where the denial rate seems to be around 10%. However, further research presented a more complex picture. The MLA survey showed that well over 20% of tenure-track faculty members leave the departments that originally hired them before they come up for tenure. Data from studies conducted by other groups suggest that fewer than 40% of the PhD recipients who make up the pool of applicants for tenure-track positions obtain such positions and go through the tenure process at the institutions where they are initially hired, and a somewhat larger number of modern language doctorate recipients--more than 40%--never obtain tenure-track appointments. In the aggregate, then, PhDs in the fields represented by the MLA appear to have about a 35% chance of getting tenure. The MLA survey further documents that the demands placed on candidates for tenure, especially demands for publication, have been expanding in kind and increasing in quantity. Judging from the MLA's survey findings, junior faculty members are meeting these ever-growing demands even though this is a time when universities have lowered or eliminated subsidies for scholarly presses and libraries have dramatically reduced their purchases of books in the humanities. Despite a worsening climate for book publication, the monograph has become increasingly important in comparison with other forms of publication. While publication expectations for tenure and promotion have increased, the value that departments place on scholarly activity outside monograph publication remains within a fairly restricted range. The MLA offers recommendations for addressing the complex tenure situation before it becomes a crisis. The Survey Questionnaire is appended. (Contains 34 notes and 1 figure.)
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Publication Type: Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Modern Language Association of America, New York, NY.
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A