Thursday, January 7, 2016

Tenure matters. Research by proxy - a big "no"

That's a potential problem with tenure-track faculty at smaller colleges. In order to get credit for scholarly activity, some of them encourage/coach students to present materials at conferences (mainly state or local). The materials are mostly elementary and well known (so that they would not count as a significant scholarly activity for any self-respecting faculty working towards his/her tenure), however having student presenters is strongly encouraged by the organizers of said conferences, and their contributed presentations are benevolently welcomed (and rightfully so). While it is OK (and arguably a formative experience) for students to present such materials, it is not OK for their faculty advisors to claim credit for scholarship (via 'undergraduate research') on the basis of having student advisees presenting at conferences (while they avoid having their names as coauthors alongside their students). That's a big "no". There is no such thing as "research by proxy". If they help students to give contributed talks on general topics, this is actually a credential for teaching effectiveness, not a scholarly credential. If they want scholarly credential they should "man up" and sign up as co-authors in the presentations with their advisees (and consequently face the "tune" of assessment after they claim scholarly credit for said presentations), or, even better - so that every doubt will be removed - publish with student co-authors (or without, for that matter). There is no undergraduate research without faculty research.