TP Msg. #1183 The Best of Both Worlds - Industry and Academia

Choosing to work in industry does not preclude a return to academe. But the move back takes some planning and finesse.



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The posting looks at advice on how to transition from academia into industry and back. It is by Hannah Waters and it appeared in the April 1, 2012 Careers issue of The Scientist: Magazine of the Life Sciences []. © Copyright 2012, The Scientist, Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.


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Tomorrow's Academic Careers

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The Best of Both Worlds - Industry and Academia

Choosing to work in industry does not preclude a return to academe. But the move back takes some planning and finesse.

Plant geneticist Harry Klee always assumed that, after finishing his postdoc, he’d pursue an academic career. But one afternoon in the mid-1980s, he opened up an issue of Science to find a paper reporting the first “transgenic plant in the history of mankind,” he recalls. It wasn’t the accomplishment so much as the fact that the paper was written by scientists at Monsanto that blew him away.

At the time, industry was considered the career path for scientists who couldn’t cut it in academia, he says. Yet, although he’d gotten a job offer as an associate professor, when the time came to set out on his own, Klee decided to join the agricultural science company. “All the stuff Monsanto was doing was what I wanted to do,” he says—and when he visited the facilities, his inclination was confirmed: “It was clear that they were the best lab to do plant molecular biology in the world, bar none.”

However, after a decade of research that he “wouldn’t trade for anything,” Klee hit a glass ceiling. He felt pressure to leave research for management roles. Instead of succumbing to the inevitable in industry, he decided to put out feelers. He found the perfect spot at the University of Florida, working on a project to improve the tomato using genetic engineering. But the jump back to academia wouldn’t have been possible without his publication record and dedication to a focused research topic, Klee cautions.

For advice on how to transition from academia into industry and back, The Scientist interviewed recruiters on both sides and researchers who have made the round trip, to learn how they did it—and how they’d do it better next time.


* Don’t stress about your slides

Far more important than glossy slides, says Megan Driscoll, founder and president of PharmaLogics Recruiting, is the quality of your presentation to the interview panel. The interviewers will want to see how you work through a scientific problem. “It’s more about how you present your data, think critically, present problems, field questions,” she says. “How good your presentation is has very little to do even with the topic or the data.”

* Network, network, network

Having contacts who can vouch for you at the company you’re applying to can substantially increase your chances of landing the position. Recent or soon-to-be grads should “network with the people who graduated ahead of you: anyone who is in industry and who has graduated in the previous 5 years,” Driscoll says—both for advice and for recommendations.

* Revise your resume

Add a “skills summary” section that gives a good overview of your expertise, including specific methods at which you excel. But be honest. “Don’t put analytical methods in your skills sections that you’ve done one time,” Driscoll cautions.

* Do your homework

Make sure the interviewers know why you want to work for their company in general, and what attracts you about their research in particular. Study their website, and if you know which representatives you’ll be meeting, read their papers and familiarize yourself with their research. “[Companies] want someone who has done their homework, and who knows what they can contribute to the team.”

* Prepare some real-life experiences

It’s common in interviews, Driscoll says, to be asked for an example of how you’ve handled conflict in your lab. She says it’s best to have a few scenarios ready to share. For example, if there was a disagreement about lab equipment use, explain how you showed leadership by creating a sign-up sheet and starting a discussion about expectations for the tool’s usage.


* Keep publishing

It’s unanimous: continuing to publish while working in industry is absolutely vital if you want to return to academia one day. “What makes it possible to jump back and forth is publishing, and if you can’t publish in industry, you’re not going to be able to jump back to academia,” says molecular physiologist Sue Bodine, who transitioned from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to the University of California, Davis. Publications prove that you’ve continued to do quality science, can produce publishable data, and can ultimately win grant money.

But if you want to publish, you may have to push yourself to make it happen. While many companies encourage publication, “the problem is that there are no rewards for publishing, so you really have to do it on your own time,” says Klee. That means doing experiments with positive and negative controls beyond what your supervisor requires; taking beautiful photos; and remembering to go back and publish after patents are filed, he adds.

* Do a PubMed search

If you think you might want to return to academia one day, ensure from the outset that promises of a publication-friendly environment aren’t empty. “Every company says that 20 percent of the time you can work on whatever you want,” including publications, says Martin Seidel, the head of the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation. But don’t take them at their word, he says; instead, do a PubMed search to see just how frequently the company publishes, and assess the quality of the journals. Then search for the section you might be interested in joining and look up the records of researchers in that area to make sure you’re “joining a part of that company where [publishing] is a tradition.”

* Choose your meetings carefully

“It’s tricky when you’re in industry: if you’re spending all your time [attending meetings], then you’re the first one to go” when layoffs come around, says biochemist Patrick Griffin, a former research director at Merck who now directs the Scripps Translational Research Institute in Florida. Companies are businesses, so if you spend too much time working on presentations and attending meetings, you are less valuable. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attend any conferences. His advice: scrutinize agendas ahead of time to select the conferences attended by those people most likely to help you in the future, such as potential collaborators, academics working on similar projects, and administrators of programs that interest you.

* Build a scientific narrative

Just as the career of an academic researcher is, at heart, a scientific narrative, so should your industry science follow a single thread. For Klee, that thread was working on transgenic plants and eventually honing in on the tomato. Eva Chin, a molecular kinesiologist at the University of Maryland, College Park, spent time in several branches of Pfizer’s research and management—but, “except for my two years as a project manager, I always focused on the same theme,” she says. When applying for academic jobs, she presented her story about molecular signaling in muscle, beginning with her postdoctoral research; added in data from industry abstracts and presentations; and “integrated what I had done with what people at the universities had done.”

* Old acquaintances should not be forgotten

A good way to keep one foot in the university once you’ve gone into industry is by “maintaining contacts with classmates of yours that went into academia,” says Griffin. Those people can not only help you find a position in the future, but can speak to the quality of your science to potential employers. Attend the same meetings, and even develop collaborations. Chin, for example, sent transgenic mice she developed at Pfizer to her colleagues in academia—and later, they helped her secure her job. “Having known these people throughout my earlier career, they knew I had done really good work,” and her continued contact helped solidify her scientific reputation in the field.

* Get experience with grants

Klee started reviewing grants for the US Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation through contacts he made at meetings. “I had read and been on grant panels for a hundred grants before I ever had to write one, so I had a good idea of what a good grant looked like and what a bad grant looked like.” This, says Klee, reassured the search committee that he would be able to win funding, despite never having written his own grants. And it wasn’t all show: it really did keep him from floundering. “My first grant was funded,” he says. “I knew what they were looking for.”

* Keep your eyes open

Finding the right academic position to make the switch to is the hardest part. “You have to be surveying the landscape constantly,” says Griffin. For example, in recent years many academic institutions have taken an interest in developing translational research programs, where industry-learned skills are esteemed—a development that helped Griffin land his job. Another selling point might be a screening technique you picked up in industry that could be applied to a burgeoning area of academic research. These kinds of opportunities are often found at medical or technology-focused schools that are “very entrepreneurial and oriented towards having an impact on biomedical research,” he adds.


* Negotiate a good start-up package

When Chin reentered the academic lab, she assumed that with her data and big plans for research she’d be able to quickly secure a few grants. But 3 years into academic work, she has yet to rake in big bucks from government funds. “It takes time to get a research lab running, and you need to know that it may be 3 to 4 years in before you can land a grant,” she says. She wishes that she had known this before she returned to academia, because she would have negotiated a better contract. “Your department should be supporting you through that time,” Chin says. Many associate professor jobs only cover 9 months out of the year, so make sure you negotiate summer pay on top of that, she adds.

* Find a grant-writing mentor

“One of the hardest parts when you come back—even if you come back as a full professor—is getting back into the mode of writing grants,” says Bodine. It’s not only about carving out time to write grants, but also about learning how to structure them. “You need a good mentor to help you get your grants: how to write them, how to approach them, and how to sell your ideas,” she says. “I had one mentor that I think acknowledged the difficulty and helped me a lot and, in hindsight, it was more difficult than I thought it was going to be.”

* Keep your lesson plans

When Bodine left academia, she never thought she would return, so she tossed all of her lecture notes and lesson plans—a huge regret. “All of sudden, you’re developing all these new courses and lectures, teaching stuff you haven’t touched for a while, and relearning everything,” she says. Keeping those old notes can help tremendously, both for remembering how to best structure lectures and for refreshing one’s memory.

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TP Msg. #1182 The Twitter Generation: Teaching Deferred Gratification to College Students

Consider this: The research on deferred gratification connects with the research in the emerging neurodevelopment science of education. Moreover, there is a strong correlation between deferred gratification—defined as self-regulation—and current and future academic, social, and emotional success. And finally, teaching deferred gratification may increase student retention. Happily, there are specific, unique, and research-based strategies that educators can deploy to explicitly teach deferred gratification or self-regulation to all college students.



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The posting below looks at the relationship between deferred gratification and academic performance and suggest ways that the former can be taught to students. It is by Patty O’Grady, of the University of Tampa in Tampa, Florida, and is #61 in a series of selected excerpts from The NT&LF reproduced here as part of our "Shared Mission Partnership." NT&LF has a wealth of information on all aspects of teaching and learning. If you are not already a subscriber, you can check it out at [] The on-line edition of the Forum - like the printed version - offers subscribers insight from colleagues eager to share new ways of helping students reach the highest levels of learning. National Teaching and Learning Forum Newsletter, Vol. 21, Number 3, March 2012.© Copyright 1996-2012. Published by James Rhem & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Reprinted with permission.


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Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning

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The Twitter Generation: Teaching Deferred Gratification to College Students Consider this: The research on deferred gratification connects with the research in the emerging neurodevelopment science of education. Moreover, there is a strong correlation between deferred gratification—defined as self-regulation—and current and future academic, social, and emotional success. And finally, teaching deferred gratification may increase student retention. Happily, there are specific, unique, and research-based strategies that educators can deploy to explicitly teach deferred gratification or self-regulation to all college students.


Current college students are conditioned to expect instant gratification, whether in instant messages, instant admissions, speed dating, instant credit, or instant feedback from professors: How many pages do you want? Deferred gratification—also referred to as impulse control, self-regulation, self-control, self-discipline, patience, and will power—is the ability to delay reward. Goleman (1996) suggests that self-regulation is a key factor in emotional intelligence, predictive of both academic and personal success across multiple assessment variables. New neuroscience research suggests that deferred gratification is a brain process that activates the frontal cortex to manage the impulses and emotions of the amygdala. There is also emerging evidence that deferred gratification can be affected by direct experience and, as I’ve said, explicitly taught to young adults who may possess poor patience and planning abilities. (Davidson 2003).

The Marshmallow Effect

The famous Stanford University “marshmallow experiment” offers some background indicating that good impulse control seems to be important for academic achievement and life success (Mischel et al. 1989). In the 1960s and 1970s, Mischel and his colleagues studied 651 preschool-aged children examining the mental mechanisms that affect cognitive and emotional self-regulation (Mischel et al. 1989; Mischel & Ayduk 2004). The children were given a marshmallow and advised that if they waited to eat a marshmallow until the experimenter returned from an errand after 15-20 minutes, the experimenter would give the child two marshmallows to eat. One-third of the children ate the marshmallow almost immediately. One-third of the children waited some period of time, but ate the marshmallow before the experimenter returned. One-third of the children waited long enough to earn the second marshmallow. In a longitudinal follow-up study, the same children were tested at 18 years of age (Mischel, Shoda, & Peake 1989). The children who ate the marshmallow immediately, labeled the low delayers, were compared to the children who waited to receive the enhanced reward, labeled the high delayers. Across a range of measured variables—including behavioral measures, cognitive measures, attention measures, social and relationship measures, physical health measures, stress measures, school attendance, school completion, early pregnancy, truancy, drug use, and criminal activity—low delayers performed less success- fully. Most significantly, the high delayers (610-625) scored, on average, 210 points higher on the Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT) in mathematics than the low delayers (524-528). The predictive variable was deemed the “strategic allocation of attention” or the ability to self-distract (Mischel et al. 1972; Mischel et al. 1988). As children, these adults exhibited the ability to self-moderate and modulate emotions using cognitive strategies (e.g., singing to self, covering eyes). The findings are stable across cultures. Based on this research, ability to self-regulate is a better predictor of SAT score than Intelligence Quotient (IQ) or parent education or even economic status (Goleman 1996).

Neuroscience of Self-Regulation

Goleman (1996) advanced the theory of emotional intelligence summarizing the research that students who are emotionally competent, recognize and manage their feelings, exhibit empathy and tolerate frustration are less impulsive, more focused, and concentrate better. Goleman further argued that emotionally intelligent students manage their impulses and tend to find rational solutions to problems. Goleman’s propositions are perfectly aligned with Mischel’s claims that self-regulation is a key determinant of future success across multiple variables and that a lack of self-regulation is associated with increased academic, social, and behavioral difficulties. Fredricks et al. (2004) suggest that the neuroscience is persuasive that teachers must emphasize cognitive engagement. Cognitive engagement occurs when teachers explicitly teach self-regulation to students activating intrinsic motivation mechanisms rather than extrinsic motivation mechanisms, and by developing the student’s internal locus of control (Rotter 1990). This approach emphasizes the intrinsic value of learning and the need for self-mastery such that students are able to persist by consciously avoiding distractions. In young adults, important parts of the brain in the prefrontal cortex that control planning, working memory, organization, anticipation of consequences, impulse control, and mood regulation are not fully developed. Even in later adolescence and young adulthood, freshman and sophomore students may have an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex and thus compensate by relying heavily on other parts of the brain including the amygdala, a more primitive part of the brain that reacts more instinctually and impulsively, impairing judgment and reducing patience.

For proven biological reasons, these students are less able to self-regulate overall than other students. Students with a predisposition to impulsivity will fare even less well in the areas of controlling behavior and making sound judgments (Davidson 2003). Connecting the neuroscience evidence with cognitive self-regulation theories, it seems a legitimate claim that high delayers have earlier and more advanced prefrontal cortex development. Recently, McClure found two different areas of the brain that appear to be involved in balancing short-term versus long-term rewards in college students. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies demonstrated that in students who chose short-term gain, the active areas of the brain are those areas that regulate emotion. Students who chose the long-term gain had more activity in the prefrontal cortex that activates logic and reasoning. While both parts of the brain are involved in the decision, less emotionally reactive students make the better choice.

Teaching Self-Regulation

The research clearly indicates that educators can directly impact student success by teaching self-regulation as a disposition predictive of success. Experience can be found to reduce emotional decision-making and increase rational decision-making. Teaching strategies to develop self-regulation can be infused into the content curriculum relatively easily. Ten recommended approaches are derived from the literature.

1. Sensory and Sensory/Motor Experiences — Increase students’ personal and physical attention to self and body movement in space holding positions for prescribed periods of time, as occurs in yoga. Use music, smell, touch, and emotion to focus student’s self and sensory attention, discussing the amount of time the sensory experience takes, how long it lingers with the student, and how immediate the need is to recreate pleasant sensory experiences. Encourage all freshmen and sophomores to take experiential classes in movement, dance, and exercise science (Davis 2001; Kolb 2008; Wilson 2001).

2. Project-based Learning — Increase complexity of task, challenge of task, and student-driven inquiry to cognitive engagement through inquiry around essential questions that pose multiple solutions, such that students are aware of the amount of time needed to thoroughly investigate a problem or finalize a project. Eliminate short term quick tasks such as quizzes and increase semester-long projects — with intermediary steps clearly structured — that require more in depth learning (Kwon & Lawson 2000; Montgomery & Whiting 2000).

3. Stress Reduction — Stress is known to have a negative impact on neurodevelopment, so educators need to reduce stress to the maximum extent possible by creating supportive, nonthreatening, nonpunitive, emotionally safe classroom climates and school cultures committed to integrating the principles of positive psychology in the classroom that are correlated to regulation and resiliency. Freshmen and sophomores should work with advisors to record and chart antecedent conditions associated with stressful situations and report amount of stress time experienced daily (Resnick 1993).

4. Affiliation — Provide diverse opportunities to fully participate and succeed at school in both curricular, cocurricular, and extracurricular activities with full inclusion and zero rejection policies to ensure a sense of belonging, including clubs, field trips, competitions, intramural sports, and more. Include service-learning activities that help others and build empathy. Freshmen and sophomores should be required to participate in one club and take one service-learning class each semester as part of their academic requirements. Students record and chart time spent preparing for those activities and participating in those activities and record positive outcomes experienced (Catalano et al. 1997; Resnick 1993).

5. Goal Setting — Students generate self-directed plans that include written goals and an implementtion timeline that requires students to plan, monitor, evaluate progress, and identify ways to continuously improve in all freshman classes.

6. Strategic Time Allocation — Freshman students are required to generate daily/weekly/monthly schedules with specific times to complete tasks and assessment of how long the tasks took to complete, with ongoing revision of schedules as needed or modification of tasks for successful completion based on data analysis. Schedules are posted online as a prerequisite for continued enrollment.

7. Positive Distractors — Freshman students identify personal positive distractors (e.g., headphones with music, work time in library, exercise breaks) that increase persistence to tasks as part of orientation activities.

8. Token Economy Systems — Freshman and sophomore students collect tokens that are saved to acquire larger and more valued rewards such as independent work time in exchange for a set number of days of uninterrupted attendance.

9. Competitions — Hold competitions to determine what individual/groups can defer gratification longest. Coach individuals and groups, explicitly teaching definitions of deferred gratification, examples and non-examples of deferred gratification, distracting techniques (e.g., counting when angry). Practice through competitions for cases where a longer term commitment to tasks is required.

10. Second Chances — Provide opportunity to change and improve prospects at crucial “turning points” in development, especially during times of significant transition. Students report how lack of self-regulation contributed to the need for a second chance, and anticipate and describe how the second chance will improve their future (Rayner et al. 1993). Adopt a restorative justice discipline model university-wide for freshmen and sophomores.

Mischel (1989) argues that you can teach deferred gratification. He and other researchers identify three key conditions necessary to teach deferred gratification or impulse control. The first consideration is the trust expectation that relates to the degree to which the college student believes the reward will actually be received (Ferrin & Dirks 2003). Second, the reward must be worth waiting for because college students assign a set value to certain rewards and the rewards must be commensurate with the exertion of the wait (Washington Lewis Univer- sity 2007). Finally, an academic environment that is predictable and structured is essential to the practice of deferred gratification. The academic environment must insist on written goals and plans to ensure a level of cognitive engagement with tasks that increases the ability to defer graduation. Trust, value, and practice are the core considerations in a curriculum design that is intended to give students a significant advantage by explicitly teaching deferred gratification.

[References for this article will be found as supplemental materials on]

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TP Msg. #1181 eBook Version of Tomorrow's Professor Now Available + Free Download of a New Chapter


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I am pleased to let you know that a new eBook version of my original 1997 print edition of Tomorrow's Professor: Preparing for Academic Careers in Science and Engineering (Wiley) is now available for purchase. Also at this link, and ONLY AT THIS LINK, you will find a FREE download, UPDATE 2012 AND BEYOND, a substantial 15,000 word new chapter on recent changes in higher education that can impact your preparation for an academic career.

To get the download scroll down to "Bonus material is available for free download at" Click on the URL and put my name, Richard M. Reis, under author and hit Search. You will then see:

ISBN Title Author/Editor 9781118387122 Tomorrow's Professor Richard M. Reis

Click on the ISBN number and then on PDF on the right and hit Download and it should load to your computer.

To give you a further flavor of the new chapter I am reproducing below a list of its major sections followed by an excerpt from section 2, Significant Growth of Non-Tenure Track Positions. I may excerpt a few other sections later for posting on the TP eNewsletter but remember you can download the entire document now at the above link.

While the free items mentioned above are available whether or not you purchase the eBook version, I do hope some of you will consider such a purchase as the vast majority of the contents of the original edition remain accurate and valid today. The same eBook version can be purchased from AMAZON.COM.

Of course if you have any questions or comments I would love to hear from you.


Rick Reis UP NEXT: The Twitter Generation: Teaching Deferred Gratification to College Students

Tomorrow's Academic Careers

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UPDATE 2012: Recent Changes in Higher Education That Can Impact Your Preparation for an Academic Career Section topics

(1) Severe and Persistent Budget Constraints (2) Significant Growth of Non-Tenure Track Positions (3) Growth of Interdisciplinary Research Programs (4) University-industry Partnerships (5) The Presence of Social Media and Information Technology in Everyday Life (6) Growth of Online Education (7) New Developments with Respect to Teaching and Learning (8) Continuing Increases in Foreign-born Ph.D. Students and Postdocs Studying in the United States Who Aspire to Become Professors at American Universities (9) Career Opportunities for Ph.D.s and Postdocs at Community Colleges (10) Non-Academic Careers for Ph.D.s and Postdocs

(2) Significant Growth of Non-Tenure Track Positions The sine qua non of academic careers for over a hundred years has been the tenure track position leading in about six years to tenure and promotion from assistant to associate professor and then to life-time employment at a particular institution. Tenured faculty serve on academic councils and other governing committees and are the pool from which department chairs, deans, provosts, and presidents are drawn.

By having a system that encourages longevity, which tenure clearly does, the institution benefits from the reduced costs associated with not having formal annual reviews (as found in industry) and in having senior people available for administrative, governance, and mentoring responsibilities. Additional financial advantages of tenure for the institution become clear when we remember that tenure is a benefit just like health care and vacation time. Tenure, or more accurately the promise of it, is part of the total compensation package that candidates negotiate at the time of employment, and if the university did not provide its faculty with the security of tenure, it would probably have to compensate them with a higher salary.

It is also the case that in these difficult budgetary times employees everywhere become more risk averse and show a greater willingness to accept excessive or inappropriate demands from management. This is true in higher education as well, making tenure protection all the more important.

For these and other reasons, tenure is not going away. However, the number of new tenure track positions at all higher education institutions across the United States is decreasing significantly. In 1975, almost 57 percent of faculty were tenured or on the tenure track, yet today that percentage has been almost cut in half, and the percentage of new non-tenure track faculty has gone from 43.2 percent to 68.8 percent. [10, 11] Note that phrases such as fixed-term, limited-term, contract, and contingent, are often used in place of "non-tenure track," but they all mean essentially the same thing.

The main reason for the increase in non-tenure track positions is the budget constraints referred to above. In spite of the financial advantages to the institutions of having at least some tenured faculty, when it comes to adding new faculty, having a significant number enter off the tenure track can result in significant savings to the college or university. Paid sabbaticals, research and travel budgets, housing assistance and so on are rarely offered to non-tenure track faculty. Thus, new non-tenure track faculty, as opposed to those already in the system, are often significantly less expensive, some averaging about half as much per credit hour of teaching as their tenure track counterparts. [10]

Hiring non-tenure track faculty also gives the institution more flexibility in meeting supply and demand shifts in student interests. Other motives, as noted by Gross, might include "temporarily replacing tenure track faculty on leave, the use of 'adjuncts' who bring special knowledge and experience into the academy, the expanding need for 'remedial' education, and the employment of a partner in a dual career recruitment." [10] Of course there are also negative impacts on the academic culture from having such a large number of non-permanent faculty. These include such things as a loss of community, lack of shared sacrifice, and the difficulty of creating a long term vision. However, in these financial times many institutions are willing to pay this price.

No matter the reasons, the reality is that today there are simply far more graduate students and postdocs seeking tenure track positions than there are such positions and there is every reason to believe that the same situation will continue throughout the coming decade. Some graduate students and postdocs will certainly want to pursue tenure track positions and they should be encouraged to do so, hopefully using some of the techniques and approaches outlined in this book. Yet, while the benefits of becoming a tenured professor are obvious, they do come at a price, and one that may not be worth the cost for some segments of the graduate student and postdoc population seeking academic positions. Furthermore, there are, believe it or not, some real benefits to not seeking a tenure track position.

What might you gain by not being on the tenure track? One way to answer this question is to consider the other things you could do if you were not worrying about getting tenure, such as spending more time teaching, doing research at your own pace, whether faster or slower, exploring options at other academic institutions, taking advantages of long-term opportunities in other countries, considering possibilities outside academia concurrent with your faculty position such as other part-time employment, consulting for you and your partner, and doing more things with your family and friends. With the strong emphasis today on research, even at many master's and liberal-arts colleges, being free from such pressures to concentrate on teaching might be a real plus.

In particular, non-tenure track options have advantages for graduate students and postdocs who aren't sure if they want an academic career and would like to try it out without the full-time, intense probationary period that the tenure track requires, although going from a non-tenure track position to a tenure track position later on may be difficult. It also offers those individuals, especially in science and engineering fields, the opportunity to work part-time while continuing with full-time employment in industry or government with the eventual possibility of full-time academic positions.

Stanford University, for example, has a non-tenured faculty category called "teaching professor." One such professor teaches a number of classes ranging from small sophomore seminars to large introductory lectures of up to 500 students in his specialty, environmental sciences. With a reappointment every five years, he has been doing so full-time for the last 20 years.

In another case, also at Stanford, a professor teaches two specialized courses in a field called "smart product design" while also being employed half-time locally at one of the best product design firms in the country. His wife is a full-time tenured professor at Stanford. They would both have liked tenured positions, but finding them at the same institution is difficult for any academic couple. Their willingness not to insist on this path led to an excellent academic and industrial combination for him, and it gave her a full-time career at a prestigious university.

The same situation can also apply to research. In this case, however, it is important that you make sure that your non-tenure track position gives you the authority to serve as a Principal Investigator (PI) which allows you to author proposals, receive external funding, and supervise graduate students and postdocs. Often such appointments come with titles like Research Professor, or Senior Research Scientist. An inorganic chemist I know, after a very successful career in government, went to the University of California, Los Angeles as a senior research scientist. In such a role she was able to direct research and supervise graduate students without the service and teaching responsibilities associated with tenured faculty members.

It also turns out that tenure can actually limit your freedom of personal choices, particularly if both you and your partner are academics -- something far more common today than just a few years ago. As an associate professor of psychology at the University of Chicago put it to me a few years ago: "My wife and I both just got tenure in our respective departments. We're glad, but now we are really trapped. Now we can't go anywhere!"

Yes, you can always walk away from a tenured position. Yet, after the investment you and your partner put into getting it, that would be very difficult to do and more often than not you would stay where you are. This is particularly true when you realize that even for successfully tenured faculty members the likelihood that as a couple you can leave one institution and both find tenured positions at another one is quite low.

There is also the notion that if you have tenure you are more likely not to do things that will make you more attractive to other academic institutions or to industry. After all, if you can't be fired, why put in the effort to stay at the cutting edge in your field? Most tenured faculty do in fact keep up with their teaching and research, and in fact excel in later stages, but we all know of several situations where that is not the case. [11]

According to Tower, there are three kinds of Ph.D. and postdoc candidates who prefer non-tenure track jobs. They are: (1) The strategists, those who are willing to trade tenure track for a better location, more prestigious institution, opportunities for spouses and quality of life, (2) The pragmatists, those who need a job now and can't wait for the unlikely possibility of a tenure track job later, and (3) The nonconformists, those who just like the freedom to work at their own pace, to switch employers as needed, and who are simply not impressed with the idea of tenure. Tower goes on to point out that in some cases you can actually negotiate a higher salary - as a trade-off against benefits - than if you were on the tenure track. For still others, a non-tenure track position is a way to prove to themselves - without the clock running – that their qualifications will improve for a tenure track position that may open up at a later date although as noted above this is not a sure thing at all.[12]

The strategies for applying for non-tenure track positions are essentially the same as those outlined in this book for tenure track jobs. The differences are that: (1) if you take such applications seriously the likelihood of being successful goes up considerably over those many others who will treat the effort as a throw-away afterthought or a “backup plan”, (2) your chances of success increase simply because there are so many more such positions than tenure track positions and, (3) your bargaining position goes up if you have an accompanying spouse being considered for a tenure track position since such couples are greatly sought after by institutions and thus you can be more assertive in raising questions and issues that will be important to you.

What specific factors should you pay attention to in non-tenure track negotiations?

According to Porac there are several considerations to at least raise in your negotiations. [13] Since you are likely to have a large, often undergraduate, teaching commitment, you should see if you can reduce the number of different classes you teach and thereby reduce your class preparation time. This will be particularly important in your first year when you will be doing all you can to be successful. In addition, be sure to check on possible teaching assistant help. Also, see if you can arrange to not teach classes on certain days, T/Th or MWF for example, since this will free you up for other activities.

Find out as much as you can about how your teaching will be evaluated and use this information in your course planning. You also want to find out about other aspects of the support you will need to be a successful tenure candidate. Are there resources to guide junior faculty along the path to tenure, what are they and are they effective: does the institution have faculty support programs or services to provide resources and training in teaching (eg., pedagogy, instructional technology, curriculum development), does the department or school have a mechanism for young faculty to be mentored by more senior ones in similar disciplines, whether in academic or non-academic aspects of faculty life? This may be particularly important for women faculty in disciplines where they are a minority, or at institutions where there is a premium placed on acceptance by the department faculty. If your tenure decision will entail a review of your research productivity, as it usually does, you would want to know if you will have a research budget and what the customary practice is as far as allocating research dollars at the institution. For example, particularly in science and engineering, are you expected to generate all of your research dollars through external funding or are means within the institution to support your research program financially, at least in the early years of your position? The former means that you will be making significant effort writing and submitting grant proposals in order to generate the necessary resources for you to kick-off a research program, while the latter can jump-start that process with internal competition to worry about. The same applies to research assistants; who pays for them?

You will certainly want to know the length of your contract and how you will be evaluated for possible renewal. You need to find out who will make the decision regarding the renegotiation of your contract. As Porac notes, "at some universities contract renewal decisions regarding limited term faculty are made solely by the department chair while at others it is the decision of a committee. You should know whether you must please only one colleague or a committee of colleagues." [13]

Naturally, you will want to know if there is a possibility that your non-tenure track position could be converted to a tenure track appointment. You are not likely to get a firm answer to this question, certainly not one that is binding, and in any case you can be sure that a public search will take place for the position. Your familiarity to your colleagues will have both pluses and minuses in this regard so it is best not to count on such a conversion in your planning.

Finally, remember, a poor, for whatever the reasons, tenure track offer may not be as good as a better non-tenure track offer, at least at the beginning of your academic career. For many potential academics this is an option well worth considering.


* Is the Tenure Path the Best Route for You?

* Negotiating the Non-Tenure Track

* Overexposed? The Questionable Life of a Science Professor

* Variations on the Theme of Academic Careers: The Non-tenure Track Position

* Why Hire Non-Tenure-Track Faculty?

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TP Msg. #1180 Learning Theory and Online Instruction

In this chapter, we look at the psychological foundations of learning, including behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism, to understand how each of these learning theories contributes to our understanding of learning and the instructional strategies we use in teaching.



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The posting below is a review of the psychological foundations of learning. It is from Chapter 4, Learning Theory in the book, Effective Online Teaching: Foundations and Strategies for Student Success, by Tina Stavredes. Published by Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint. 989 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103-1741— Copyright © 2011 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.


Rick Reis UP NEXT: Significant Growth of Non-Tenure Track Positions

Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning

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Learning Theory and Online Instruction A basic understanding of learning theory is an important foundation to teaching. Learning is a complex process involving mental processes that are influenced by emotional and environment factors that can support or hinder learning. Learning theories have evolved that take into consideration these complex factors in an effort to explain how learning occurs and prescribe instructional strategies to facilitate learning. If instructional strategies are not grounded in understanding of how learning occurs, they are unproductive and do little to affect learner persistence. In addition, there is an opportunity to maximize retention and transfer by linking basic research about the process of learning with instructional strategies (Tennyson & Schott, 1997). This approach is important to help learners use the skills and knowledge gained through educational experiences in the real world.

In this chapter, we look at the psychological foundations of learning, including behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism, to understand how each of these learning theories contributes to our understanding of learning and the instructional strategies we use in teaching.


Learning in the 1950s and 1960s was based on behaviorist learning theories. Behaviorism is grounded in the study of observable behavior and does not take into consideration the functions of the mind. When behaviorism was introduced, the mind was considered a black box that could not be accessed. According to behaviorism, knowledge exists outside of a person and is gained through behavior modification. The theory views learning as a change in behavior that can be conditioned using positive and negative reinforcements such as reward and punishment. There are two types of conditioning associated with behaviorism: Ivan Pavlov's classical conditioning and B. F. Skinner's operant conditioning. Pavlov used animals to discover the principles of learning based on natural reflexes that respond to stimuli. Most prominent was Pavlov's work with dogs to teach them to salivate to the sound of a bell. In his experiments, he demonstrated classical conditioning, in which an association is created between two stimuli (Pavlov, 1927). Skinner's operant conditioning experiments conditioned rats and pigeons to press or peck a lever to obtain pellets of food in an apparatus known as a Skinner Box. The experiments were based on the theory that organisms emit responses, which are gradually shaped by consequences. If a response has a reward, it is more likely to occur again and if it does not, it is less likely to occur. Skinner's operant conditioning demonstrated that associations are formed between a behavior and a consequence (Skinner, 1938).

Based on these types of experiments with animals, behaviorists proposed that learning is influenced by associations between behaviors and consequences. Behavior is conditioned by the instructor through rewards or punishment to attain the desired learning outcomes. According to behaviorists, the types of reinforcement are a critical component to learning because individual learners respond to different reinforcement based on their personal motivations. For instance, if the learner is motivated by good grades, a great reinforcement is the use of grades. Poor grades are a negative reinforcement, which provides motivation for the learner to put in more effort in order to receive a better grade.

According to Moore (as cited in Tennyson & Schott, 1997), the goal from the behaviorist perspective was the development of instruction that would enable the majority of students to achieve levels of performance predetermined by behaviorally defined objectives. Learning that involves recalling facts, defining concepts and explanations, or performing procedures are best explained by behaviorist learning strategies, which focus on attainment of specific goals or outcomes. In behaviorist theory, learners are more passive in the learning process. The learners' role is simply to respond to the learning content and demonstrate a level of performance on specific goals and objectives. Pedagogy based on behaviorism focuses on the ability to modify observable behavior to acquire knowledge or skills. The operant model of stimulus-response-reinforcenment ensures that prescribed learning outcomes are achieved. In this model, the instructor provides learners with information about the appropriateness of the behavior through frequent feedback. This feedback either reinforces learners' behavior or determines consequences in the form of corrective actions for the learner to achieve the desired performance behavior. This requires continuous monitoring and feedback from the instructor.

According to the behaviorist view of learning, objectives should be developed that focus on the level of learning desired, as well as the type of task. Behaviorists focus on "identifying small, incremental tasks, or sub skills that the learner needed to acquire for successful completion of instruction, designing specific objectives that would lead to the acquisition of those sub skills, and sequencing sub skill acquisition in the order that would most efficiently lead to successful learner outcomes" (Tennyson & Schott, 1997, p. 5).


In the late 1960s and 1970s psychology moved from the study of behavior to the study of the mind, and cognitivism emerged as a new theory of how learning occurs. According to cognitivism, knowledge is still considered to exist outside of the person; however, its focus is on understanding how human memory works to acquire knowledge and promote learning. The theory's foundation is information processes and understanding the memory structures of the mind for knowledge acquisition. In addition, the theory establishes conditions of learning and strategies to incorporate individual differences into the design of instruction, including the use of pretests and more formative assessment strategies. In cognitivism, task analysis shifts from behavioral objectives to performance; the different stages of performance extend from novice to expert (Tennyson & Schott, 1997).

The environment continues to have the greatest impact on learning; however, there is more focus on how learners acquire specific types of strategies for learning, including planning, monitoring, and evaluating, and the influence of prior knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and values on learning (Tennyson & Schott, 1997). This theory developed a clearer understanding of how information is processed and stored, as well as how prior knowledge is stored in memory structures called schema for retrieval in an appropriate context. According to cognitivism, the transfer of knowledge to new situations is influenced by how information is presented and the relevance of the information. If information is presented poorly or too much irrelevant information is associated with relevant information, the learner may have difficulty sorting and organizing the information. This difficulty, in turn, can have an impact on storage, retrieval, and transfer—functions that are critical to adult learners who have specific professional needs that require them to be able to transfer knowledge to real-world applications in their professional environments.

Learning outcomes that are focused on complex higher levels of learning such as problem solving are best explained by cognitivism because the focus is on breaking down complex problems into component parts and relating the content to be learned with prior knowledge to braid higher levels of understanding. Instructional strategies based on cognitive theory consider the organization of content for learning and focus on information processing, including organization, retrieval, and application.

David Ausubel (1960) developed the concept of the advance organizer (information that is presented prior to learning) and researched how use of advance organizers can scaffold the learning of new information. Advance organizers stimulate schema to help learners link prior knowledge with new information. An example of an advance organizer is a summary of the main ideas in a reading passage and explanations of content at a "higher level of abstraction, generality, and inclusiveness than the reading itself" (Ausubel, 1963, p. 81).

Robert Gagne (1985) proposed nine events of learning that correspond with specific cognitive processes. Gagne's nine events are a systematic organizational process for learning and include the following: - Gaining the learners' attention - Informing them of the learning objectives - Stimulating recall of prior learning - Presenting stimulus in the form of content to be learned - Providing guidance - Eliciting performance through instructional activities - Providing feedback - Assessing performance - Enhancing retention and transfer

Gagne proposed that these nine events provide the conditions of learning and define the intellectual skills to be learned, as well as the sequence of instruction. He believed lessons should be organized according to these events so learners could associate new knowledge with existing structures. He also thought the nine events could provide the appropriate level of scaffolding to support learning.

According to cognitivism, learners play a more active role in learning by actively organizing the learning process. The emphasis of cognitivism is on helping learners organize information for successful processing into long-term memory and recall. Cognitive strategies focus on internal learning and thinking processes, including "problem solving, organizing information, reducing anxiety, developing self-monitoring skills, and enhancing positive attitudes" (Tennyson & Schott, 1997, p. 8). The instructor continues to determine learning outcomes and direct the learning with the additional application of specific information-processing strategies to assist the learner in acquiring knowledge. To facilitate learning, cognitivism postulates that the learning environment should be arranged to maximize learners' ability to retrieve prior knowledge relevant to the learning outcomes and organize the content to maximize information processing. Instructors should provide the appropriate context for learners to draw on prior knowledge and fit new information into existing schema. For learners with little prior knowledge, instructors need to provide opportunities to create new schema by relating the new information to something that is familiar to them.


Constructivism became popular in the 1980s. It describes learning as a process in which learners construct knowledge and meaning by integrating prior knowledge, beliefs, and experiences. According to this theory, knowledge does not exist outside of the person but is constructed based on how a person interacts with the environment and experiences the world (Tennyson & Schott, 1997). Control of the environment is not a focus of the constructivist theory of learning. Instead, it emphasizes the synthesis and integration of knowledge and skills into an individual's experiences. This theory addresses some of the limitations of other learning theories that emphasize components instead of integrated wholes.

There are two types of constructivism: cognitive constructivism and social constructivism. Cognitive constructivism focuses on the individual characteristics or attributes of the learner and their impact on learning. Social constructivism focuses on how meaning and understanding are created through social interaction. Together, they view knowledge acquisition as a means of interpreting incoming information through an individual's unique lens, which includes his or her personality, beliefs, culture, and experiences. Based on interpretations, knowledge has meaning and learners build schema to represent what they know.

Jean Piaget's (1985) theory of cognitive constructivism proposed that knowledge cannot be simply transmitted to a person but must be constructed through experience. Experiences allow individuals to construct mental models or schemas, and knowledge construction is based on a change in schema through assimilation and accommodation. If the incoming information can be associated with existing information, assimilation of the incoming information into the already formed schemas occurs and equilibrium is maintained. If the incoming information conflicts with current thinking, cognitive dissonance occurs; this is an uncomfortable feeling that stems from holding conflicting ideas at the same time. Cognitive dissonance requires a change in existing schemas to accommodate incoming information. In addition, Piaget believed that learning is based on interaction with the environment around us, so real-world practice is important.

Social constructivism emphasizes the social nature of learning. Lev Vygotsky (1978) proposed that learning could not be separated from the social context in which it occurs, nor could accommodation and assimilation occur without the active integration of the learner in a community of practice. He saw learning as a collaborative process, and he developed a theory called the zone of proximal development (ZPD) to explain the collaborative nature of learning (Vygotsky, 1978). This theory distinguishes between two levels of development. One is the level of development that a learner can reach independently. The second is the potential level of development a learner can achieve with the support of an instructor or peers. This theory argues that with help from an instructor or peers, learners can understand concepts and ideas that they cannot understand on their own. It supports an instructional strategy of providing learners just enough scaffolding or support to help them reach the next level of understanding. This scaffolding in turn allows learners to work independently until they no longer can learn without support. Instruction again is supported through the instructor or peers, and the learner continues to reach higher levels of understanding through their guidance.

According to constructivism, memory is continuously under construction as a person interacts with incoming information in unique contexts that require them to draw upon prior knowledge from different sources. Either accommodation or assimilation of new information into existing schemas occurs, which builds deeper levels of understanding and meaning. Transfer involves the use of meaningful contexts that allow the learning to be transferred to a novel situation and applied. Real-world examples, as well as opportunities to solve real-world problems, allow for the greatest opportunity for transfer.

Constructivist theories do not categorize learning into types but hold that all learning is context dependent. One of the problems with constructivist learning theories is the assumption that all learners come to the learning situation with prior knowledge and that the goal of learning is to activate prior knowledge and build additional understanding and meaning. Learners who are new to a field of study may not have prior knowledge, so building instructional strategies that require them to draw on prior knowledge and deal with ill-structured problems can be frustrating and overwhelming. For learners who do not have prior knowledge and experience, there are cognitive strategies such as the use of advance organizers and conceptual scaffolds that can be used to replace the lack of prior knowledge and experience. These strategies are addressed in more detail in Chapter 9.

From the constructivist perspective, learners are not merely passive receivers of knowledge, they are active participants in the learning process and knowledge construction. Instruction should situate the learning in authentic tasks that allow learners to understand why it is important to learn, as well as its relevance to them personally or professionally. Instructors who base their pedagogy on constructivism take on a new role of facilitator rather than lecturer by actively observing and assessing the current state of individual learners and providing learning strategies to help them interpret and understand the content. The facilitation role includes providing relevant context for learners who may not have prior knowledge and experience with the subject to help them organize the content into relevant schemas for acquiring knowledge. The instructor must develop skill in assessing the current state of learners and adapt the learning experience to support their attainment of goals. The instructor must also have an understanding of individual learning styles to provide effective strategies to help learners plan, monitor, and evaluate their thinking during learning.


Ausubel. D. P. (1960). The use of advance organizers in the learning and retention of meaningful verbal material. Journal of Educational Psychology, 51, 267-272.

Ausubel, D. P. (1963). The psychology of meaningful verbal learning. New York: Grune & Stratton.

Gagne, R. (1985). The conditions of learning (4th ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Pavlov, I. P. (1927). Conditioned reflexes: An investigation of the physiological activity of the cerebral cortex (G.V. Anrep, trans.). London: Oxford University Press.

Piaget, J. (1985). The equilibration of cognitive structures. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Skinner, B. F. (1938). The behavior of organisms. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

Tennyson, R. D. & Schott, F. (1997). Instructional design theory research and models. In R. D. Tennyson, F. Schott, N. Seel, & S. Dijkstra. Instructional design: International perspective. Vol. 1, Theory, research, and models. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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TP Msg. #1179 Measuring Student Progress with E-Portfolios

Too often, students see their overall education as a disconnected series of courses and experiences. Situating a wide range of skills and areas of knowledge over a four-year scale, institutions can use the VALUE rubrics to help students see how their skills and knowledge build sequentially over time, from course to course, and sometimes, from institution to institution.



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The posting below looks at the use of ePortfolios at different institutions in evaluating so-called VALUE (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education) rubrics, and is by J. Elizabeth Clark, professor of English, LaGuardia Community College and Bret Eynon, assistant dean, Center for Teaching and Learning, LaGuardia Community College. The article is from Peer Review, Fall 2011/Winter 2012, Vol. 13, No. 4/Vol. 14, No. 1. Peer Review is a publication of the Association of American Colleges and Universities [] Copyright © 2012, all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.


Rick Reis UP NEXT: Learning Theory and Online Instruction

Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning

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Measuring Student Progress with E-Portfolios In his “An Essay on Criticism,” Alexander Pope defines wit thusly: “True wit is nature to advantage dressed, /What oft was said, but ne’er so well expressed/Something whose truth convinced at sight we find, /That gives us back the image of our mind.”

In higher education today, “What oft was said, but ne’er so well expressed” serves as a compelling metaphor for the progressive uses of institutional rubrics. Are our institutions doing what we say they are? Institutions often tout student progress and achievement based on new initiatives and proven programs and approaches built over time. What happens, however, when we connect these claims to authentic student work? Do they align? Can we talk about student work and achievements across institutions? Why would we want to do so?

Faculty, students, and administrators are engaged in exciting new conversations about definitions of educational progress. While many faculty have long used rubrics to measure student achievement in a course or on a specific assignment, institutions are increasingly using rubrics to assess authentic student learning based on student-produced work connected to larger institutional outcomes. Because of the national, collaborative work in creating the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ VALUE rubrics, these rubrics lend themselves to extending the conversation about work in individual courses, in programs and majors, in institutions, and across institutions.

Academic Pathways Through Higher Education

The flexibility of the VALUE rubrics allows them to be used in different segments of higher education and adapted to serve multiple purposes. Students are the ultimate stakeholders and beneficiaries, and so a key national issue in higher education today is helping students to see a clear pathway to graduation and to achieving their personal academic and vocational goals.

Too often, students see their overall education as a disconnected series of courses and experiences. Situating a wide range of skills and areas of knowledge over a four-year scale, institutions can use the VALUE rubrics to help students see how their skills and knowledge build sequentially over time, from course to course, and sometimes, from institution to institution.

Jason C. Evans, chair of the English department at Prairie State College, believes the VALUE rubrics are helpful for engaging students in a common language around academic expectations. “Since they’re widely used in two-and four-year settings, we can feel comfortable knowing we’re more or less in line with other colleges. They provide a helpful common language for our students to understand what they’re learning and why.”

Natalie McKnight explains that in Boston University’s College of General Studies (CGS) “The rubric is important because it makes faculty and students more conscious of what we are trying to accomplish; knowing and discussing our goals enables us to reach them more successfully. Plus students, faculty, and administrators can use the rubric as a gauge to assess the impact of our program, something we can all benefit from knowing.” She adds, “Articulating goals and then evaluating how well one has achieved those goals are essential to progress and learning in any field. The VALUE rubrics have played a key role in that process for us, as have e-portfolios.”

For students, the four-year scale of the VALUE rubrics allows them to understand their present learning in connection with future learning at their present or future institutions. Dean Susan Solberg of Prairie State College believes the power of the VALUE rubrics lies in this inter-institutional credibility. “I especially like the fact that we can say that we are adopting standards that have national credibility because many college and universities have worked on them collaboratively.” Sarah Burns-Feyl, Joy Tatusko, and Linda Anstendig of Pace University note, “The VALUE rubrics provide a gold standard for assessing learning outcomes and are grounded in theory and practice. After all, these rubrics were developed by teams of faculty over an eighteen-month period, and have been tested in various settings.” Knowledge building becomes more than situational at a particular college or university, communicated instead as a cultural value and a benchmark of higher education.

Adapting the Rubrics to Meet Local Needs

A key component of VALUE rubrics is their cross-institutional construction and transferability to local campuses as institutions transform the rubrics to make them relevant for local student learning.

Alison S. Carson explains how Manhattanville College adapted the rubrics to find new ways to talk with students and faculty about evaluating students through their distinctive portfolio program, transforming from paper to e-portfolios: “We began with the recognition that the rubric had to work for our unique portfolio requirements and learning outcomes, as well as be user-friendly, which meant not too long.”

Burns-Feyl, Tatsuko, and Anstendig of Pace University also believe that adapting nationally normed rubrics for a specific, local educational mission allows them to think differently about student learning.

At Pace, we have had various initiatives and pilots to assess learning outcomes (especially related to our last Middle States accreditation evaluation), but now as our ePortfolio program evolves, we have the opportunity to pursue assessment in a much more systematic way, and the VALUE rubrics (as well as our adaptations of them) are a crucial part of this process.

Engaging Students in Self-Assessment

Another important emerging trend is using the rubrics with students. Rather than just “assessing” students, some colleges and universities are asking students to engage in self-reflection and self-analysis. How do the rubrics allow them to understand their own growth and development over time?

Boston University’s CGS introduces students to a modified VALUE rubric in their freshman year. At the end of the year, students write a self-assessment essay or a video analyzing their own development.

At Stony Brook University, Nancy Wozniak engages her student e-portfolio consultants in the use of the VALUE rubrics focused on measuring “intensity” in student e-portfolios over time.

Understanding Student Learning

The VALUE rubrics have also provided an important benchmark for emerging work in e-portfolio research in individual courses, in college-wide e-portfolio programs, and across emerging national networks.

At Manhattanville College, Carson explains that the VALUE rubrics provide a way to establish a “more consistent, objective and transparent way of evaluating Portfolios.” The college has decided to use “the integrative and written communication VALUE rubrics to align with the college’s learning outcomes for their Portfolio system.”

Virginia Tech is an early leader in the use of e-portfolio rubrics to measure student learning. Marc Zaldivar explains the university’s pilot of three different rubrics to evaluate learning gains in first-year experience and the way the institution then hopes to use the emerging data:

The VALUE rubrics are a constant resource for Virginia Tech. As we work with new programs that are exploring assessment or learning with e-portfolio frameworks, we use these as a starter guide to defining specific learning outcomes (from the LEAP initiative) and how to assess those outcomes with the VALUE rubrics. Our largest project to adopt them is our growing first-year experiences, which is a combined, cross-campus effort for our Quality-Enhancement Plan for our recent SACS accreditation. In this, we are collecting artifacts and reflections from students on three specific outcomes: problem solving, integration of learning, and inquiry. For each of these outcomes, a modified version of the VALUE rubric will be employed to assess student learning in those three domains. The academic year 2010–2011 was our first year of this pilot effort, with six participating programs and roughly one thousand students. Assessment of those materials will begin in the next few months. The next academic year will expand to [assessment of] twelve different programs and approximately two thousand students. Our target is to reach 100 percent of the entering students, or roughly five thousand students, within the next three years. Other programs at Virginia Tech, such as the SERVE Living Community, are also exploring ways that other VALUE rubrics, such as the civic engagement and critical thinking rubrics, may be used to help them assess the effectiveness of their programs.

Like Manhattanville College and Virginia Tech University, LaGuardia Community College has also begun to use the VALUE rubrics to assess student learning. The college modified the information literacy rubric for its local research and information literacy (RIL) competency.

Recently LaGuardia conducted college-wide Benchmark Assessment Readings to assist the college in preparing for its Middle States Review comparing student work from students with twenty-five credits or less and forty-five credits or more. The college believes that the data gleaned from student artifacts will provide an additional understanding of the extent of student learning of general education outcomes. In an examination of student work submitted for the RIL competency, an interdisciplinary group of faculty scorers found that students made a gain of +1.45 on a six-point rubric, demonstrating key gains between an earlier and later point in students’ tenures at the college.

For LaGuardia, this gain indicates that the college is effectively helping students to make gains in research and information literacy throughout the curriculum cumulatively over time. As students prepare to enter four-year colleges after graduation, they are better prepared for the rigors of research in the junior year. These findings are also helping the college to shape its conversation about student learning over time and preparing students for transfer to four-year institutions.

What emerged as one of the most significant findings of this evaluation process at LaGuardia, however, was the importance of reading and scoring student work as part of the college’s faculty development. Faculty found this process most meaningful because of the way it helped them to understand their relationship to student learning, the college’s core competencies, and the work of departments and disciplines. The assessment readings proved to be an enormously rich site of shared faculty exploration into the general education (core) competencies, and how those competencies play out in different courses. As a direct result of this process, several programs have already begun to revise assignments they use in order to ensure that what they ask students to do more effectively corresponds to the college’s competencies and rubrics. More importantly, faculty were engaged in reading student artifacts, using the assessment interface, and defining the college’s assessment outcomes.

Integrative Learning and E-Portfolios

Building on its work as a national e-portfolio leader, LaGuardia Community College recently launched the Connect to Learning project (C2L), a national three-year FIPSE-funded project coordinated by LaGuardia’s Making Connections National Resource Center in partnership with the Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning. The C2L project works with a national network of twenty-two campuses—community colleges, private colleges, and research universities—to engage in a collective and recursive knowledge-generation process. The project focuses e-portfolios on reflective pedagogy and student learning, correlating improvement on student success measures, such as retention, with more nuanced assessment of student work using the VALUE rubrics.

As LaGuardia Community College, Manhattanville College, Pace University, Boston University, Stony Brook University, Virginia Tech, Prairie State College, and other campuses in the C2L network expand their campus-based use of various VALUE rubrics, the C2L network as a whole will begin experimenting with VALUE as a tool for cross-institutional exchange. Highlighting the use of e-portfolio to support and surface students’ longitudinal development across semesters and disciplines, the C2L network will consider ways to use the VALUE rubrics to examine student work and compare student learning in diverse institutional settings.

This past summer, the teams from twenty-two campuses sampled student e-portfolios in a structured conversation around integrative learning and e-portfolio at the C2L Summer Institute. The teams used the integrative learning VALUE rubric to explore the range of integration in student e-portfolios. Every campus contributed a sample student e-portfolio. The campus teams rated the student e-portfolios in teams and small groups and then discussed the characteristics of integrative learning.

What emerged in a large group discussion is the importance of intentional e-portfolio development on our campuses. Reflection and integration have to be prompted and structured activities for students as they learn to be more reflective learners integrating their knowledge across disciplines. The group also concurred that asking students to integrate across disciplines can be particularly challenging when institutions do not model effective integration and cross-disciplinary practice for students. It is our collective hope that this will provide us with new ways to discuss e-portfolios as a pedagogical resource for higher education and point the way to future study.

Building a Relational Culture in Higher Education

Institutions of higher education have always been proficient at talking about what their campuses do well. The VALUE rubrics represent a radical shift, encouraging institutions to build a common discourse and to ground our exchange about pedagogy and innovation in a nuanced examination of student learning that these rubrics afford. Not meant to be prescriptive, the VALUE rubrics are broad and flexible enough to encourage campuses as diverse in their educational missions as Prairie State College, LaGuardia Community College, Manhattanville College, Pace University, Boston University, Virginia Tech, and Stony Brook University to assess student learning on their campuses in a relational way. They also present a unified view of the cultural, social, and economic importance of key skills like written communication and information literacy while also creating space for emerging concepts like integrative learning. This work allows us to talk concretely rather than abstractly about student learning and our shared vision for higher education in the United States. It “[G]ives us back the image of our mind,” for what higher education has always aspired to: creating a community of educated individuals poised to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

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TP Msg. #1178 Literal and Intelligent Plagiarism: Students Beware!

Students beware! When you indulge either in literal plagiarism or intelligent plagiarism either knowingly or unknowingly, you are putting all the authors in the manuscript at risk. Detection of plagiarism after publishing the paper can result in serious consequences to the organization where you work, and can severely damage your reputation and that of the co-authors.



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The posting below looks at the important and sometimes murky area of academic plagiarism. It is by M. Jagadesh Kumar, Dept of Electrical Engg., IIT, New Delhi, INDIA and is from his blog posted on April 11, 2012 at: Reprinted with permission.


Rick Reis UP NEXT: Measuring Student Progress with E-Portfolios

Tomorrow's Research

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Literal and Intelligent Plagiarism: Students Beware! Academic plagiarism has become like a viral fever that can affect even a healthy person if sufficient preventive measures are not taken. Untrained research students, who need to write good quality research papers under tight time constraints, are usually the victims. It is not uncommon for research supervisors to experience a psychological burden while approving the student’s paper for submission to a journal or conference. Who knows if a sentence copied by the student while writing a research paper may be detected years later, subjecting the research supervisor to a great embarrassment. When the supervisor asks them to be careful about plagiarism, the students may also feel that they are being treated with suspicion. Let us look at how incautious writing of a research paper can lead us to these potential plagiarism risks.

You write a research paper when your experiments are complete and you feel that the results are unique and a significant advancement in knowledge. Research papers typically contain an abstract, an introduction, experimental details, analysis of results including tables and figures, conclusions and a list of references. Preparing figures or tables, analyzing the results and making conclusions are the easier tasks of writing a research paper since you must have spent a couple of years working on the problem. However, writing the introduction of the paper is the most difficult task and is often written at the end just to make sure that no important points of rationale that support your work are left out. The reader should get an overall picture and important highlights of your contribution after reading the introduction so that he is enticed to delve further into your paper.

In the introduction, you briefly survey the field, and identify the limitations of the known approaches to justify why you have taken up the current research problem. You then go on to state the results you have obtained and why they are important in the present context. You may also highlight the limitations of your work in the broader context. In my view, writing the introduction part of a research paper is not easy because this is where you are making that emphatic selling point for your research. Students are generally clueless on writing the introduction to the research paper since it requires taking a broader view of the research area. This invariably leads them to read a variety of published papers to look for leads on how to build their case as the most novel and original idea with respect to the knowledge already known.

Borrowing a few words from others sentences to beautify the sentences in your own manuscript by itself cannot be called plagiarism as long as you have not borrowed the ideas. However, students whose native language is not English or those who are not fluent in English are tempted to use the easier way of “copying and pasting” entire sentences. This is called literal plagiarism. The introduction of a thesis or a research paper is the one where you will find most cases of literal plagiarism. Even if cosmetic changes are made in the sentences, it does not keep you from being called a plagiarist. Let me illustrate this with an example. The following sentences are from my research paper.

Original text : Bipolar transistors exhibit a number of significant advantages such as well-controllable characteristics, high speed, high gain, and low output resistance. These are excellent properties for mixed-signal circuit design and analog amplifiers. An emergent trend in modern high-density Very Large Scale Integrated circuits is the integration of bipolar transistors with complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technology on thin silicon-on-insulator (SOI).

Let us say an author copies the above text in his paper with slight modifications (in italics) as given below.

Copied text with minor modifications : Bipolar transistors show a number of significant advantages such as well-controllable characteristics, high gain , high speed, and small output resistance. These are useful characteristics for mixed-signal circuit design and analog amplifiers. A modern trend in high-density VLSI circuits is the integration of bipolar transistors with CMOS technology on thin silicon-on-insulator (SOI).

Carefully check the above two paragraphs. There are only a few changes in the choice of words. The modified and copied text will still be considered as literal plagiarism if the original source is not cited at the end of the copied text. I would even suggest that you put the modified and copied text in quotes or in italics and cite the original reference. This is to make sure that the reader is aware that the material has been taken from a different source. But this does not mean that you put every sentence in a written paragraph in quotes followed by a reference. This indeed has happened with one of my students. He brought a manuscript in which every alternate sentence is in quotes followed by a reference number. Such a collection of quotes does not lead to any original intellectual contribution and looks awkward.

If you examine the original text given above, it has three sentences. The first/second sentence is a general statement about bipolar transistors and therefore is standard stuff. However, the third sentence conveys an idea or a thought attributable to the original author. Only an expert working in the field could say it authoritatively. When the student copies a statement or thought from another paper because that sentence perfectly conveys what the student wanted to say, there is another danger. You might have copied an idea too along with the language of the sentence. You might not have used this idea in your paper. However, you have failed to acknowledge that the original author is the one who has presented that point of view. This is called idea adoption. If the plagiarist tries to hide the original source to represent the idea as his own during the idea adoption, it leads to intelligent plagiarism.

What we tend to forget is that it is not possible for two different human beings to exactly write the same set of sentences on a given idea. If you have watched a nice movie and wanted to convey the story to your friend, I am sure you would tell it in your own words. We can similarly summarize a written text without the need to copy from the original source. Let me re-write my original text given above to illustrate how you can avoid literal plagiarism.

Modified text : The significant advantages of bipolar transistors are (i) well-controllable characteristics, (ii) high speed, (iii) high gain, and (iv) low output resistance. These benefits make them highly useful in mixed-signal and analog amplifier circuit design. Integration of bipolar transistors with complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technology on thin silicon-on-insulator (SOI) is an emerging trend in modern high-density VLSI integrated circuits.

While there is no literal plagiarism in the above paragraph, the viewpoint expressed in the last sentence needs a citation of the original source although the viewpoint is re-written. However nicely you may summarize an idea of another author, you must remember that the idea is not yours and must, therefore, acknowledge the original source. Failure to do so can land you in intelligent plagiarism which is even more malicious compared to literal plagiarism.

Students beware! When you indulge either in literal plagiarism or intelligent plagiarism either knowingly or unknowingly, you are putting all the authors in the manuscript at risk. Detection of plagiarism after publishing the paper can result in serious consequences to the organization where you work, and can severely damage your reputation and that of the co-authors.

Academic institutes should evolve an enforceable policy defining the boundaries between fair use and plagiarism and make this policy widely available to their communities via their websites. This plagiarism policy should help the academic communities in improving their self-awareness about (i) what constitutes plagiarism and (ii) the consequences of plagiarism. Providing easy access to plagiarism detection tools through campus-wide licensing will make it easier both for the students and the faculty to keep out of situations that can be classified as plagiarism.

We need to recognize that while plagiarism is bad, we can definitely prevent it from happening through good practices.

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TP Msg. #1177 Is Technology-Enhanced Learning Effective?

Self-directed online learning is not the best: Collaborative or instructor-directed online learning achieved results superior to those attained through independent, self-directed online learning, which may provide a partial explanation for why online learning has not proven to be a money-saver for cash-strapped educational institutions.



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The posting below looks at what recent research says about the effectiveness of technology-enhanced learning. It is prepared by the Research and Evaluation Team, Office of Information Technology, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. In an effort to make research in the educational technology field more accessible, OIT's Research & Evaluation team produces frequent brief synopses of important recent studies. These synopses may be freely shared and used for non-profit academic purposes. For further information contact Dr. J.D. Walker (


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Tomorrows' Teaching and Learning

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Is Technology-Enhanced Learning Effective? * What the Research Says about TEL

Instructors interested in technology-enhanced learning (TEL) frequently want to know whether digital technology is educationally effective. Their question is not whether students like digital technology, or whether students are engaged by it, but instead whether it enhances student learning outcomes.

Despite a growing body of research into TEL, it is hard to give a simple answer to this question, in part because TEL studies are frequently deeply embedded in a particular context, which makes it difficult to know how well the studies generalize outside of that context.

A recent thorough and methodologically sound meta-analysis[1] by Barbara Means and colleagues for the U.S. Department of Education helps to address this problem by providing an overview of conclusions that are supported overall by the research on TEL. Means’ primary concern was to compare the effectiveness of courses with an online component[2] to fully face-to-face courses.

Means used a stringent selection procedure in selecting studies for the meta-analysis, limiting the studies to those that used a comparative research design, measured learning outcomes objectively, controlled statistically for possible differences between control and treatment samples, and reported effect sizes for student learning outcomes. This procedure yielded 50 contrasts from studies conducted between 1996 and 2008.

* The DOE Meta-analysis: Findings

Online versus face-to-face : Means found that an average effect size of +0.20 (p < .001) standard deviations favoring the courses with an online component. This means that, on average, students in courses with an online component outperformed students in face-to-face courses by a small but statistically significant amount, after controlling for other factors.

Means is careful to say, however, that this finding almost certainly does not represent a pure effect of technology, or of the delivery method used in the different courses. Instead, online courses were associated with other instructional conditions, such as increased learning time, different materials, and enhanced opportunities for collaboration, which are the likely mechanisms through which they achieved superior results.

Factors that had no effect : The meta-analysis analyzed the influence of a large number of potential moderator variables and found that the main effect holds independent of the vast majority of these variables, including:

* learner type (K-12, undergraduate, graduate/professional); * subject matter (medical/health care, others); * type of knowledge tested (declarative, procedural, strategic); and * type of computer-mediated communication with peers and with instructor (asynchronous only versus asynchronous plus synchronous).

Factors that had an effect : Several other moderator variables were statistically significant, however or nearly so, including:

* Blended learning : The authors separated purely online education from "blended" or "hybrid" conditions, or courses in which face-to-face instruction is enhanced or supplemented by online materials and/or activities. They then compared each of these separately to fully face-to-face conditions. Completely online instruction had an advantage of +0.05 (p = .46, not significant) standard deviations over purely face-to-face instruction, while the advantage of blended instruction over face-to-face was +0.35 (p < .001).

* Curriculum and instructional methods : When students in the online condition were exposed to a different curriculum and/or instructional methods from students in the face-to-face condition, the advantage of the online condition was +0.40 (p < .001); when these factors were equivalent across conditions, it was +0.13 (p < .05). This finding suggests that the positive effects of using online technology in education are enhanced when an instructor adapts curriculum and instructional approach to the use of technology.

* Type of online learning experience : Instructor-directed, expository learning had an effect size of +0.39 (p < .01); collaborative, interactive instruction, +0.25 (p < .001); independent, active online learning, +0.05 (not significant).

* Time on task : When students in the online condition spent more time on task than students in the face-to-face condition, the advantage of the online condition was +0.45; otherwise it was +0.18. This difference approached the threshold of statistical significance (p = .06).

Variants of online learning : Means’ study also examined different ways of implementing TEL. In other words, in addition to comparing online and face-to-face learning, the meta-analysis addressed studies which compared different learning conditions all of which involve online technology.

This part of the analysis found that some frequently recommended online learning practices did not result in improved learning outcomes. These included providing multimedia in online learning materials (e.g. enhancing text with static graphic and embedded video), and incorporating quizzes into the online environment.

A group of studies which examined the effects of giving learners control over online resources produced mixed results, with some studies favoring providing learner control and others yielding null results.

However, it does appear that learning in the online environment can be improved by individualizing instruction (providing feedback and guidance customized to each learner’s performance) and by promoting learner reflection (through prompts designed to foster student self-assessment and metacognition).

* Discussion and Best Practices

Blending works : This study adds to a growing consensus around the conclusion that the most effective type of instruction combines the online and face-to-face environments. Other meta-analyses which reach this conclusion are Bernard et. al (2004) and Zhao et. al (2005).

Adapting instruction works : Means’ work supports the thoughtful adaptation of instructional methods and materials to the online environment, and forthcoming research by OIT’s Research and Evaluation Team reaches a similar conclusion.

Self-directed online learning is not the best : Collaborative or instructor-directed online learning achieved results superior to those attained through independent, self-directed online learning, which may provide a partial explanation for why online learning has not proven to be a money-saver for cash-strapped educational institutions.


1 Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., Jones, K. (2010). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning. Center for Technology in Learning, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved May 10, 2010 from .

2 “Courses with an online component” included courses which merely supplemented an unchanged face-to-face course with online materials, as well as courses delivered entirely online with no face-to-face interaction.

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TP Msg. #1176 Twenty Steps to Writing a Research Article

Start writing before the experiments are complete. Start writing while you are still doing the experiments. Writing often evokes new ideas: you may realize that there are additional experiments to run or additional controls that you need to add. If you wait until you are done in the lab, have dismantled the equipment, and possibly moved on to another position, you will not have the opportunity to test these ideas.



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The posting describes 20 important steps to writing a research article. It is by Beth A. Fischer and Michael J. Zigmond, Survival Skills and Ethics Program, University of Pittsburgh Article reproduced with permission, and is from the November 2009 issue of the online publication, Graduate Connections Newsletter [], pp 11-14, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is published by the Office of Graduate Studies. ©2009 Graduate Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Reprinted with permission.


Rick Reis UP NEXT: Is Technology-Enhanced Learning Effective?

Tomorrow's Research

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Twenty Steps to Writing a Research Article THE PROCESS OF MOVING FROM IDEA to published manuscript can be a daunting one. Here we break that process into a series of steps designed to make this essential task more manageable. Our list has been modified and expanded from a list provided by the Council of Biological Editors, 1968. If 20 steps are too many to manage, focus on the 13 steps that we have marked with an asterisk (*) – these cannot be skipped!

1. Determine the authors. When designing a research project, we recommend preparing an initial list and order of authors. Such a list of authors should be based on established guidelines and should make explicit the estimated contribution of each individual to the project. We recommend that every research group establish and make known to its members the criteria for authorship on papers resulting from the work to be conducted. In so doing, the group may wish to make use of existing guidelines; see our essay on “Components of a Research Article.”

A list of authors will ensure that all individuals to be involved in the project understand at the outset whether or not they can expect to be an author and, if so, what their contribution is to be. It should be viewed as a tentative list, as the final version should reflect actual contributions to the work. (Also, there may be more than one list as it might be anticipated that more than one paper will derive from a given project.)

2. Start writing before the experiments are complete. Start writing while you are still doing the experiments. Writing often evokes new ideas: you may realize that there are additional experiments to run or additional controls that you need to add. If you wait until you are done in the lab, have dismantled the equipment, and possibly moved on to another position, you will not have the opportunity to test these ideas.

3. Decide it is time to publish. It is time to publish when your findings represent a complete story (or at least a complete chapter), one that will make a significant contribution to the scientific literature. Simply collecting a given amount of data is not adequate.

4. Draft a title & abstract. Drafting a working title and an abstract helps define the contents of the paper, identifying which experiments you will publish in this paper, and which studies you will save for inclusion in another paper. (See our Components of a Research Article on the preparation of these two items.)

*5. (Re)examine the list of authors. When you have now determined which experiments will be included in this paper you must select the authors and the order in which they will appear. If you have followed our advice to this point, you already have such a list. Reevaluate it based on the contributions that were made to those experiments and the additional contributions that will be made through the preparation of the manuscript. If a list already exists, make adjustments to ensure compliance with your guidelines. Of course, any changes should be done with caution and tact.

6. Determine the basic format. There are three basic formats for peer-reviewed research articles:

• Full-length research articles: These articles contain a comprehensive investigation of the subject matter and are viewed as the standard format. It uses the “IMRAD” format: Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion. (See “Components of a Research Article.”) • Short (or brief) communications: While not as comprehensive in scope as full-length research articles, these papers also make a significant contribution to the literature. Their length will be set by the journal but is usually 3500 words or less and will contain up to 12 tables and figures. Unlike full papers, methods, results, and discussions may be combined into a single section. • Rapid communications: These articles quickly disseminate particularly “hot” findings, usually in a brief communication format. Articles that have immediate implications for public health would be appropriate for such a format, as might findings in a highly competitive and quickly moving field.

7. Select the journal. There are several factors to consider when choosing a journal. It is unlikely that one journal will have all the features you are looking for, so you may have to compromise. However, there is one essential feature you should not compromise on – manuscripts must be peer reviewed for publication if they are to be considered research articles.

Language: English has become the dominant form for international scientific communication. Thus, if you are interested in communicating your results widely to the international scientific community, then it is essential to publish in English. If, on the other hand, you wish to communicate to a more localized community (e.g., physicians in a particular geographical area), you might chose a journal that permits another language.

Focus: What type of research does the journal publish? Is its focus broad or narrow? Which disciplines are represented? What is the journal’s orientation – for example, is it clinical or basic, theoretical or applied?

Indexing: Is the journal indexed in the major electronic databases such as Medline, Biological Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts, or Current Contents?

Availability: Is the journal broadly available? Is there an online version of the journal? Are papers provided in pdf format?

Reputation: Although it can be rather subjective, there are several ways to gauge the reputation of a journal. Ask colleagues which journals they respect. Look at recent articles and judge their importance. Check the members of the editorial board and determine if they are leaders in their fields. Determine the journal’s impact factor (an annual measure of the extent to which articles in a given journal are cited. How selective is the journal in accepting papers for publication? Note, however, these ratings can be artificially inflated in journals that publish review articles, which tend to be cited more than research articles. See ( Try to find out the acceptance rate of the journal.

Format: Do you like the appearance of published articles – the format, typeface, and style used in citing references? If relevant, does the journal publish short and/or rapid communications?

Figures: Do figures published in the journal have the resolution that you need?

Time to Print: Using the “date submitted” and a “date accepted” that are published on the article, along with the date of the issue, you can estimate the length of the review process as well as the time from acceptance to publication in print.

Charges: Some journals bill the author for page charges, a cost per final printed page. Most journals have a separate charge for color plates. This may be as much as $1000 per color plate. Many journals will waive page charges if this presents a financial hardship for the author; color plate charges are less readily waived and would at least require evidence that the color is essential to the presentation of the data (e.g., to show a double-labeled cell).

Once you decide on a journal, obtain and read that journal’s instructions to authors. This document describes the format for your article and provides information on how to submit your manuscript. You can usually obtain a copy of the journal’s instructions to authors on its Web site or in the first issue of a new volume.

8. Stock the sections of your paper. As you think about your paper, store relevant material in folders marked Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. This will save time and avoid frustration when the writing begins. Stored items might include figures, references, and ideas.

9. Construct the tables, figures, and legends. Yes, create figures and tables before the writing begins! The entire paper should be organized around the data you will present. By preparing the tables and figures (and their legends and appropriate statistical analyses), you will be certain of your results before you worry too much about their interpretation. You also may be able to determine if you have all the data you need. Note: except under unusual circumstance, you may not include any data that you have already published. (See “Components of a Research Paper.”)

10. Outline the paper. An outline is like a road map. An outline details how you will get from here to there, and helps ensure that you take the most direct and logical route. Do not start writing without it! If you have coauthors, you may wish to get feedback from them before you proceed to the actual writing phase. And if you have “stocked” your sections (Step 8), those files should be useful here and in the writing that follows.

11. Write the first draft. Write the first draft of the entire manuscript. If you are writing with coauthors, you may wish to assign different aspects of the manuscript to different authors. This can save time, allow more individuals to feel that they are making substantive contributions to the writing process, and ensure the best use of expertise. However, it also can lead to a mixture of styles. Thus, if you take this approach, be certain that the final product is carefully edited to provide a single “voice.”

“Components of a Research Article” discusses what goes into each section of the manuscript. For a more extensive presentation of this and many other aspects of preparing a paper, see Day (1998). At this point, do not worry about it being intelligible. That comes later.

Some people recommend that you begin your writing with the Introduction and continue through in order each section of the paper. This can help ensure flow. However, others suggest that you start wherever you wish – anything to get rid of that blank screen or piece of paper. Whatever your approach, heed the advice of Charles Sides (1991): “If you try to write and edit at the same time, you will do neither well.” And because editing is often a lot easier than writing, push through this step as quickly as possible. If you are taking much more than two full days, you have probably paused to edit!

*12. Revise the manuscript. This step involves three major tasks, each to be carried out in the order given:

Make major alterations: Fill in gaps, correct flaws in logic, restructure the document to present the material in the most logical order.

Polish the style: Refine the text, then correct grammar and spelling.

Format the document: Make your manuscript attractive and easy to read. It is important to do the tasks in the stated order. Otherwise, you may find yourself spending a lot of time revising material that you later delete.

*13. Check the references. Ensure that the citations are correct and complete. Do one last literature search to make certain that you are up to date. (See “Components of Research Article” on the matter of reference selection.)

*14. Write the final title and abstract. Many changes are made during the editing process. Make certain that your title and abstract match the final version of your article.

*15. Reread the journal's Instructions to Authors. Review the details of how the manuscript is to be formatted and submitted. Revise where necessary.

*16. Prepare the final illustrations. Ensure that your tables, figures, and figure legends are complete, clear, self-contained, and in the format required by the journal. Do not allow any chance for misunderstanding.

*17. Get feedback on your manuscript and then revise your manuscript again. Getting feedback is one of the most important things that you can do to improve your article. First, be sure your co-authors have had a chance to read and comment on the draft. Then, when it is ready, give the manuscript to some colleagues. Indicate when you would like to receive their comments, and what levels of information you would like (e.g., comments on the science, logic, language, and/or style). After you get their comments, revise your manuscript to address their concerns.

Do not submit your manuscript until you feel it is ready for publication. Once it is accepted, further changes in your manuscript will be difficult and may also be costly.

*18. Submit the manuscript to the editor. Follow the Instructions to Authors to determine what items you need to submit, how to submit them, and to whom you should send them. Note that some journals permit (or even require) a “pre-review,” i.e., a letter indicating the content of the article so that the editors can determine whether they will accept the manuscript for a full review. At this point you may wish to list possible reviewers (or individuals to be avoided). If necessary, contact the editor to be sure that the manuscript was received. And if after a month you have not received a response concerning the acceptability of your manuscript for publication you may wish to contact the editor about this, too.

*19. Deal with reviewers' comments. Most manuscripts are not accepted on the first submission. However, you may well be invited to resubmit a revised manuscript. If you choose to do so, you will need to respond to the reviewer comments. Do this with tact. Answer every concern of the reviewers, and indicate where the corresponding changes were made in the manuscript if they were, indeed, made. You do not need to make all of the changes that the reviewer recommended, but you do need to provide a convincing rationale for any changes that you did not make. When you resubmit the manuscript, indicate in your cover letter that this is a revised version. An alternative is to submit the manuscript to another journal. However, if you do so, it may still be best to take the reviewer comments into consideration. Even if you feel that the reviewers have misunderstood something in your paper, others might do the same. Of course, if you submit to another journal you probably will need to modify the format. And please note: You may not submit your manuscript to more than one journal at a time!

*20. Check the proofs. Once the manuscript is accepted and prepared for print, the publisher will send the corresponding author page proofs of the article. This may be accompanied by a list of queries, such as missing information regarding a reference. The proofs may be sent via e-mail or as hard copy. If there is a chance that you will be away when the proofs arrive, have a plan for making certain that they are received and you are notified. You may only have 24-48 hr to return the proofs. Carefully correct any typos and factual errors. And read the manuscript for clarity – this is your last chance!

However, try to limit changes to editorial queries plus minor modifications. If you think anything more major is required, you must first get permission from the journal editor and be prepared for additional costs and publication delays.

20+. Celebrate! As Robert Day says in How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper (1998), “The goal of scientific research is publication....A scientific experiment, no matter how spectacular the results, in not complete until the results are published.” Your experiment – at least one phase of it – is now complete. Enjoy the moment!

Selected Bibliography

For a more complete set of references on writing, see our web site (

Council of Biology Editors, Committee on Graduate Training in Scientific Writing (1968) Scientific Writing for Graduate Students: A Manual on the Teaching of Scientific Writing. New York: Rockefeller University Press. (This was subsequently revised, see Woodford below.)

Day, R.A. (1998) How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper, 5th Edition. Phoenix: Oryx Press.

Fischer, B.A., Zigmond, M.J. (2004) Components of a Research Article.

Institute for Scientific Information.

Sides, C. (1991) How to Write and Present Technical Information. USA: Oryx Press.

Woodford, F.P. (1999) How to Teach Scientific Communication. Reston, VA: Council of Biology Editors.

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TP Msg. #1175 The Future of Higher Education is Online

This talk discusses the future of higher education, which has been based on the same educational model for more than 100 years. But the status quo is about to be disrupted, by the Internet and those educators -- including new competitors -- who would unleash its potential. Higher education institutions as a whole have not adequately recognized the threat to the status quo, or come close to responding adequately to it. In truth, responding adequately will be very difficult, because higher ed faces a classic innovator's dilemma.



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The posting below is an abstract of an interesting, and somewhat controversal TEDx talk on the future of higher education by Michele R. Pistone, professor of Law, and Director, Clinic for Asylum, Refugee and Emigrant Services (CARES), at Villanova University School of Law in Villanova, PA 19085. Here is the link to the talk itself: You can post any comments either on the TP Blog site at:, or you can write to Professor Pistone directly at:


Rick Reis UP NEXT: Twenty Steps to Writing a Research Article

Tomorrow's Academia

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The Future of Higher Education is Online This talk discusses the future of higher education, which has been based on the same educational model for more than 100 years. But the status quo is about to be disrupted, by the Internet and those educators -- including new competitors -- who would unleash its potential. Higher education institutions as a whole have not adequately recognized the threat to the status quo, or come close to responding adequately to it. In truth, responding adequately will be very difficult, because higher ed faces a classic innovator's dilemma.

Michele Pistone guides law students as they evolve from student to lawyer at the Villanova School of Law. She founded its current clinical program and is the Director of the Clinic for Asylum, Refugee and Emigrant Services (CARES). Through CARES she and her students provide free legal representation to asylum seekers fleeing persecution, torture, unlawful imprisonment and other forms of mistreatment. Her clinic's clients are survivors of human rights abuses directed at them because of their religion, their political opinions, or other beliefs and characteristics that we as a nation have always sought to protect. Among the clients that she has represented are former child soldiers from Sierra Leone and Uganda; political dissidents from Belarus, Cameroon, and Afghanistan; women's rights activists from Nepal and Kenya; children's rights activists from Peru; and religious minorities from Iraq; among countless others.

She is a lifetime learner, always curious about other cultures and ideas, and loves to create anything, from tasty meals, to crafts, to engaging scholarship.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

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TP Msg. #1174 Post-Tenure Blues

Talk of “post-tenure review” is in circulation at the University of Texas System after the Board of Regents approved tougher rules earlier this month – requiring tenured faculty members in the system to be evaluated annually and receive rankings from “exceeds expectation” to “unsatisfactory.” Two unsatisfactory reviews can lead to a comprehensive review and a possible dismissal.



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The posting below looks at a proposed new post-tenure review system at the University of Texas and its implications for other systems as well. It is by Kaustuv Basu and is from the March 2, 2012, issue of INSIDE HIGHER ED, an excellent - and free - online source for news, opinion and jobs for all of higher education. You can subscribe by going to: Also for a free daily update from Inside Higher Ed, e-mail []. Copyright ©2011 Inside Higher Ed Reprinted with permission.


Rick Reis UP NEXT: The Future of Higher Education is Online

Tomorrow's Academic Careers

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Post-Tenure Blues The phrase “post-tenure review” can mean different things to different people.

Talk of “post-tenure review” is in circulation at the University of Texas System after the Board of Regents approved tougher rules earlier this month – requiring tenured faculty members in the system to be evaluated annually and receive rankings from “exceeds expectation” to “unsatisfactory.” Two unsatisfactory reviews can lead to a comprehensive review and a possible dismissal.

To some, “post-tenure review” raises the issue of whether a professor’s tenure will continue. To others, it is a process of evaluating performance to provide valuable feedback.

The latter is how Francisco G. Cigarroa, chancellor of the UT system, put it during a visit to the offices of Inside Higher Ed last week. Cigarroa stressed the importance of “performance differentiation” and how those professors getting unsatisfactory reviews will be helped with a remediation plan. He said one weakness of the previous post-tenure review system was that the best rating a professor could attain was “satisfactory.” And irrespective of what happened in between, a tenured professor would get a comprehensive review only once in six years.

The new professor ratings are: exceeds expectations, meets expectations, does not meet expectations and unsatisfactory. The post-tenure evaluations can be used for salary raises and promotions, and those failing remediation may lose their jobs. The department chair, dean or a peer-review committee will do the initial evaluations with the department chair or dean doing a final review of the evaluation. In case of a comprehensive review, a peer review committee including representatives of the school or department will also be appointed. Individual campuses will set their own policies using the new post-tenure review rules as a template.

Officials were not able to provide data on how many tenured UT professors have been dismissed in the past.

“The new document links annual reviews, post-tenure reviews and possible reviews for termination,” said Alan Friedman, a professor of English who is the chairman of the UT-Austin faculty council and member of the systemwide faculty advisory council. “The annual review that was used primarily for salary increases will take on much greater significance."

University of Texas professors have been under fire from some quarters in the state, with Rick O’Donnell, a former special adviser to the UT system, calling them slackers. But Cigarroa stressed that the new rules came about after discussion with the university’s Faculty Advisory Council. “This is not punitive but constructive,” Cigarroa said.

Last year, a draft version of a new post-tenure review process, was approved by the UT System Faculty Advisory Council. But this version was not too much different from the system already in place, according to Friedman, and wasn’t to the liking of the chancellor and other administrators.

Another version of the revised post-tenure review rules developed by a task force of faculty council members and administrators was eventually adopted. This version was tweaked before it passed, because it had been criticized by some faculty council members. According to Murray Leaf, a professor of anthropology and political economy at UT-Dallas who is on the executive committee of the FAC, subtle changes were made to the final version. For example, the language was changed to reflect that two unsatisfactory annual reviews “may” lead to a comprehensive review instead of “shall.” Also, a few sentences were added to a section on annual reviews to clarify that they are different from the comprehensive review.

“The way I interpreted it from the information given to us was that the chancellor was in a tough place in regard to the regents and we were being asked to support this plan,” Friedman said. “Some faculty members will be spending a lot more time evaluating productivity than being productive. The chairs of different departments have a major new workload,” he said. Friedman worried that the new review plan would have a negative impact on the reputation of the university. “Many people will see this as an assault on tenure. It will become harder to recruit and retain outstanding faculty,” he said.

The step by UT -- one of the largest public universities in the nation, with 5,268 tenured faculty members -- not only gives rise to the question of whether more universities will follow suit but also the inevitable question about the viability of tenure.

Daniel Hamermesh, a professor of economics at the University of Texas at Austin, said the revamping of the rules seemed highly visible because it was happening at the state’s top university, and wondered whether the rule changes were more about setting an example for the rest of the state. “I think the changes are pretty minor and there is only a slight change in the rules. I do not think this will make much of a difference,” Hamermesh said. “The new rules are not such a bad thing and the professors will adjust accordingly.”

The American Association of University Professors has long criticized the practice of post-tenure reviews and its leaders said such a system rarely provided any benefits. “It can deprive a tenured faculty member of the presumption of competence and it can have a chilling effect on academic freedom,” said Greg Scholtz, AAUP’s director of academic freedom, tenure and governance.

AAUP’s existing policy on such reviews says that “no procedure for evaluation of faculty should be used to weaken or undermine the principles of academic freedom and tenure. The association cautions particularly against allowing any general system of evaluation to be used as grounds for dismissal or other disciplinary sanctions."

While the organization approves of reviews for merit raises, it does not call them post-tenure reviews. “We are also not opposed to voluntary reviews that are intended to assist a professor in improving his or her performance. But such a review is not what is usually called 'post-tenure review,' ” Scholtz said.

Scholtz drew a distinction between formalized post-tenure processes and a “dismissal for cause”, which can be a way for a tenured professor to be fired but also added that “some post-tenure reviews procedures can, and all-too-often do, lead to a faculty member being dismissed for cause.”

But those cases, because they are so rare, can test the system. The Faculty Council at the University of Missouri’s Columbia campus has been debating the strength of evidence required against a tenured professor to recommend dismissal. The issue revolves around allegations against Greg Engel, an associate professor of engineering at the Columbia campus, who has been accused by three Chinese students of racism and sexism after he gave them failing grades for alleged plagiarism.

A student grievance committee has cleared Engel and a Faculty Responsibility Committee also cleared him because of a “lack of clear and convincing evidence.”

“The question that has come up is whether the Committee on Faculty Responsibility should rule by a ‘preponderance of evidence’ or ‘clear and convincing evidence,’ ” said Clyde Bentley, an associate professor of journalism and member of the Faculty Council. The provost has suggested that the lower standard - “preponderance of evidence” - be used and the case be sent back to the responsibility committee, which could recommend dismissal. A tenured professor can be fired through a decision of the Board of Curators. On Thursday, UM’s Faculty Council recommended that the chancellor uphold the original decision by the faculty responsibility committee.

But is UT’s new review process a harbinger of the future of tenure? The AAUP does not collect data on post-tenure reviews, but Scholtz said his rough estimate was that one-third of universities have such systems in place, based on his reviews of some faculty handbooks every year.

David Adamany, the former president of Temple University and Wayne State University, said he did not foresee widespread adoption of policies that would put the institution of tenure at risk. He said it was hard to foresee faculty committees making decisions that would get their colleagues dismissed.

“Most major universities have an annual form of review. My own view is that a more formal review at periodic intervals of 7 to 10 years is helpful to give faculty members feedback on what their strengths and weaknesses are,” he said. “Faculty members can get a sense of their career trajectory from these kinds of reviews.”

The reason that the demands for post-tenure reviews are more visible now might be connected to the removal of an exemption in 1994 from the 1986 Age Discrimination Act, Adamany said. The exemption allowed colleges, until 1994, to enforce mandatory retirement at 70. “There is a category of much older faculty like me who do not retire and might not be rigorously reviewed,” he said. Such a situation not only makes it expensive for a university but also prevents younger faculty members from finding jobs. “But I do not see any real drive in this country to end tenure,” Adamany added.

Hamermesh, the UT-Austin professor, felt the tenure system might become bifurcated such that the top public universities are not affected, but lesser universities undergo some kind of modification when it comes to tenure.

At UT, some faculty leaders think that the evaluation process would turn the tenure system on its head. "There is no question that the post-tenure review system undermines tenure. Professors will be looking over their shoulders. There will be no more independent thinking,” said James Aldridge, vice president of the University of Texas Pan American chapter of the Texas Faculty Association. “We fear that the intent of the new policy is to arbitrarily increase the number of professors whose performance is deemed unsatisfactory."

Read more: Inside Higher Ed

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