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School of Allied Health Sciences Statement on Research

(November 2019)

As a result of the strategic planning process, one of the recommended steps to meeting goals of increasing scholarship was as follows:

“Create clear definitions of the various forms of scholarship for differing faculty roles within and across departments.  Communicate them to all.”

The School does not play a formal role in the evaluation of faculty, either for the purpose of promotion and tenure or the annual performance review. Rather, the school serves as an advocate; an advocate of faculty, the college, the institution, and the academy. Therefore, this is written as a position paper representing the School’s best advice to faculty members who are seeking clarity as to the “definition of scholarship,” the school’s policy regarding scholarly productivity, and in an effort to promote a culture of scholarship that is widely accepted in the School.

What is Scholarship

The criteria for scholarship are centuries old and are as follows:

  1. Original Work
  2. That passes the muster of peer-reviewed
  3. And is broadly disseminated (in a peer-reviewed forum

For most of us in the School of Allied Health, scholarship would typically emerge in the form of publications that appear in peer-reviewed journals. Other forms of scholarship could include conference proceedings, textbooks, and of a far lesser weight, published abstracts. Peer-reviewed publication of original works are “the coin” of scholarship.

That having been said, faculty members engage in many “scholarly activities” that are perhaps best viewed as the requisite inputs to having a productive line of scholarship. These inputs might include, but are not limited to: the agonizing steps of setting up a laboratory and getting approval for their research methodologies, requesting and obtaining funding from any number of different sponsors, integrating students into the laboratory and guiding them through research experiences, collaborating with other investigators, attending and presenting findings at scientific conferences, preparing and revising manuscripts, turning abstracts and presentations into manuscripts, and so on.

The importance of these scholarly activities to the professional development of a scholar cannot be understated. Yet in and of themselves, these scholarly activities are not scholarship. They are the inputs that increase the likelihood of one becoming a productive and successful scholar. Effective leadership in research requires that the school and departments offer mentorship to faculty members, especially early career faculty members, to ensure that there is optimal opportunity and support for these scholarly activities. Further, it is important for leaders to recognize their faculty members’ commitment to scholarly activities; that is to support and acknowledge scholarly activity. But ultimately, scholarship will be evaluated as scholarly productivity, not simply scholarly activity. Thus, over time, a scholar must demonstrate a consistent ability to produce original work, that is peer-reviewed, and broadly disseminated.

In the School of Allied Health Sciences, our policy stipulates that for every 20% allocation of effort, there is an expectation of one peer-reviewed published manuscript per year. It is not wise to view any one year in a vacuum, but rather, a discerning eye will evaluate productivity over several years to get a more comprehensive picture of a scholar’s progress. To this end, one good rule of thumb for the emerging scholar is to always have at least one original work “in review.” This is not only one of the best ways to grow as a scholar, but it will create an opportunity for consistent and sustained scholarly productivity. While taking this long view is certainly more informative, faculty members should also still be aware that their annual performance evaluations will include a reflection on whether they met the publication expectation associated with their allocation of effort for scholarship for that particular period.

What about Boyer?

In 1996 Ernest Boyer published From scholarship reconsidered to scholarship assessed. [Quest, 48(2), 129-139]. In this paper, Boyer identifies four categories of scholarship:

  1. the scholarship of discovery
  2. the scholarship of application
  3. the scholarship of integration
  4. the scholarship of teaching and learning.

In this paper, Boyer contends that original works could be classified as belonging to at least one of these categories. However, it is worth noting, that in any case, Boyer maintains that the three criteria for scholarship still apply; that scholarship is original work, that passes the muster of peer-review, and is broadly disseminated. As new vehicles for dissemination emerge, Boyer makes a point of stating that scholars must find a way to ensure that their work passes “peer-review.”

Roles of Faculty

Tenured/Tenure-Track: At a Carnegie II (Highly Active) doctoral granting research institution, tenured/tenure-track faculty are expected to be active scholars. Because this is a relatively new designation for the institution, there are many tenured faculty members for whom this is a relatively new expectation, and reflects a rather dramatic change in their job descriptions. For that reason, department heads in the School of Allied Health Sciences currently have the latitude to assign teaching and research allocations that are more reflective of the tenured faculty member’s interests and, in point of fact, the reasons why they were tenured in the first place, which may well have been for outstanding teaching irrespective of scholarship.  Nevertheless, excellent leaders will promote inclusion in the research mission of the institution, even among tenured faculty whose interest has largely been in the area of instruction.

The evolving mission of the institution notwithstanding, the expectations of tenured/tenure track faculty with respect to scholarship is that they would produce one published manuscript per year for every 20% allocation of effort. It is not a requirement of tenure that one has obtained significant external funding during their pre-tenure period, but there should be clear evidence that the faculty member has attempted and some evidence that their line of inquiry is of value to the discipline. Furthermore, it is critical that tenured/tenure-track faculty members serve as principal investigators on projects, assuming responsibility for the approval for the procedures and oversee all elements of a study. They should frequently serve as the corresponding author on published manuscripts. Thus, they should frequently appear as either the first or the last author on published works (as is common in the health sciences). Finally, in reporting their scholarly productivity, faculty members are encouraged to indicate the impact of the journal and their role in the published work.

Clinical Faculty:These faculty members typically do not have a scholarship allocation of effort; however, they may be granted time for scholarship by their department chairs/heads. Clinical faculty can play a tremendously valuable and unique role in the research mission of the institution. These faculty members often possess outstanding clinical skills and access to clinical populations that can substantially advance clinical and translation research at the institution. In decisions regarding the research activities of clinical faculty, however, it is critically important that the activities are consistent with the faculty member’s training and experience.  Therefore, a research allocation of effort for a clinical faculty member would not require them to serve as a principal investigator or a corresponding author. Nevertheless, they would be expected to contribute substantially to the publication of one peer-reviewed manuscript per year for every 20% allocation of effort. As with tenured/tenure-track faculty, the clinical faculty member should also report the impact factor of published works, along with their role in the study.