May 27, 2022

Research Article: “How Significant are the Public Dimensions of Faculty Work in Review, Promotion, and Tenure Documents?” (Preprint)

The following research article (preprint) was recently posted to Humanities Commons.


How Significant are the Public Dimensions of Faculty Work in Review, Promotion, and Tenure Documents


Juan Pablo Alperin
Simon Fraser University

Gustavo E. Fischman
Arizona State University

Erin C. McKiernan
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Carol Muñoz Nieves
Simon Fraser University

Meredith T. Niles
University of Vermont

Lesley Schimanski
Simon Fraser University


Humanities Commons
Scholarly Commons Lab at Simon Fraser University
DOI: 10.17613/M6W950N35


Much of the work of universities, even private institutions, has significant public dimensions. Faculty work in particular is often funded by public funds, is aimed at serving the public good, and is subject to public evaluation. To understand how the public dimensions of faculty work are valued, we analyzed review, tenure and promotion documents from a representative sample of 129 Canadian and American universities. We found terms and concepts related to public and community are mentioned in a large portion of documents, but mostly in ways that relate to service—an undervalued aspect of academic careers. Moreover, we find significant mentions of traditional research outputs and citation-based metrics. Such outputs and metrics reward faculty work targeted to academics, and mostly disregard the public dimensions. We conclude that institutions that want to live up to their public mission need to work towards systemic change in how faculty work is assessed and incentivized.

Direct to Full Text (via Humanities Commons)

Direct to Full Text (via Scholarly Commons Lab at Simon Fraser University)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.