Session: Promotion, Tenure, Research Funding, and the Scientific Paper: Reconsidering the Meaning and Value of Traditional Measures of Scholarly Productivity (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

12 Promotion, Tenure, Research Funding, and the Scientific Paper: Reconsidering the Meaning and Value of Traditional Measures of Scholarly Productivity

Thursday, January 12, 2023: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Valley of the Sun C, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
Cluster: Research on Social Work Education
Clark Peters, PhD, JD, University of Missouri-Columbia
Clark Peters, PhD, JD, University of Missouri-Columbia, Brian Sims, PhD, Florida A & M University and Kelli Canada, PhD, LCSW, University of Missouri-Columbia
For university-based social work researchers, tenure can be a dual-edged sword. On one hand, the protection of tenure can free scholars to engage in meaningful, community-based research and advocacy. Such activities are at the heart of the principles of the social work profession, but are often sensibly discouraged within the academy; promotion and tenure committees undervalue research that involves community stakeholders from disadvantaged communities, work that can be time-consuming and fall outside of traditional notions of rigor and scientific inquiry. Sound career advice generally emphasizes submitting grant proposals, publishing manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals, and deferring community-engaged and policy change activities until one's institution awards tenure.

With support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Faculty Engagement Imperative (FEI) represents a growing movement among faculty members, communities, and institutions of higher learning towards clear and consistent valuation of community engaged scholarship in the promotion and tenure process. The pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and a crisis of higher education present an opportunity to reconfigure how universities recognize, reward, and promote their faculty. Restructuring the promotion and tenure process is especially urgent for land grant institutions, whose charters emphasize bringing scholarly research to all citizens through engagement and "extension" activities. All higher ed institutions, however, must reckon with academic traditions that help feed popular skepticism, if not hostility, to science that profoundly threatens public health.

Academics joke amongst themselves about the few colleagues who read their publications. Macro social work curricula emphasize the need to make research accessible to policy makers if the research seeks to effect change: Avoid scientific jargon and provide one-page summaries. One may reasonably question the degree to which scientific papers, which are generally sequestered behind paywalls, fulfill the obligations of social work researchers.

Community-engaged research, including time-intensive community-based participatory research (CBPR), involves local and indigenous representatives to co-produce knowledge, making it richer, more authentic, and more likely to connect with key change-makers. Studies suggest that women researchers, and faculty from traditionally underrepresented groups often carry a disproportionate share of responsibility to cultivate and maintain relationships with local communities. These efforts are understood to be essential, and may even be recognized in university media outlets, but these efforts often receive scant credit in the promotion process. Such inequities heighten the need to reexamine practices in academic promotion.

This roundtable session brings together social work scholars, agency professionals, community representatives, and foundation program officers to discuss the traditions of university promotion and tenure. The discussion will examine critically what is valued in the promotion process and how traditions may be reformed to connect academic research more effectively to the communities it purports to serve.

See more of: Roundtables