PvM posted Entry 3121 on May 15, 2007 12:08 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/3111

Facts regarding status of tenure case at Iowa State

Partial quote:

Why was tenure not granted to Guillermo Gonzalez?

Dr. Gonzalez was evaluated for tenure and promotion to associate professor by the tenured faculty in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. That evaluation was based on an assessment of the excellence of his teaching, service, scholarly research publications and research funding in astronomy, using standards and expectations set by the department faculty. The consensus of the tenured department faculty, the department chair, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the executive vice president and provost was that tenure should not be granted. Based on recommendations against granting tenure and promotion at every prior level of review, and his own review of the record, President Gregory Geoffroy notified Gonzalez in April that he would not be granted tenure and promotion to associate professor.

Commenters are responsible for the content of comments. The opinions expressed in articles, linked materials, and comments are not necessarily those of PandasThumb.org. See our full disclaimer.

Post a Comment

Use KwickXML formatting to markup your comments: <b>, <i>, <u> <s>, <quote author="...">, <url href="...">, etc. You may need to refresh before you will see your comment.




Remember personal info?

  


Comment #175593

Posted by Frank J on May 15, 2007 5:24 AM (e)

It’s fascinating to listen to those who would otherwise oppose the very concept of tenure whine when one of their own is denied it. That’s especially ironic, because Gonzalez would have has no problem getting tenure anywhere if his specialty were primate origins.

Comment #175600

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on May 15, 2007 6:06 AM (e)

Interesting. The university faculty handbook states in part:

The chair will inform each candidate in writing before the department’s recommendations are submitted to the college, whether a recommendation will be forwarded and, if so, the nature of the recommendation or recommendations. Persons who are not being recommended by either the promotion and tenure review committee or the chair, or both, will be informed by the chair in writing of the reasons. This information should be presented in a constructive manner and, where appropriate, should include guidance for improving performance in terms of the department’s criteria for promotion and tenure.

So Double-G should have known long before it got to the top of the chain that he was not being recommended for tenure. And he should have known the reasons why. It would be interesting to get a copy of that document…

Comment #175601

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on May 15, 2007 6:26 AM (e)

Kevin wrote:

he should have known the reasons why

Denial, thy name art fundamentalism.

Comment #175604

Posted by Science Goddess on May 15, 2007 7:00 AM (e)

Hey, Clarissa: Don’t judge us all by PZ Myers. Plenty of atheists are “live and let live”. I just object when we’re FORCED to listen to religious stuff in a non-religious environment, such as work. By the way, I was denied tenure too, and nobody knew I was an atheist, my research was cutting edge, and I was bringing in nearly a quarter of a million dollars to the department yearly.
Science Goddess

Comment #175605

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on May 15, 2007 7:02 AM (e)

the clarissa-bot wrote:

My information is that it does NOT.

Got a source for that?

And no, “my ass” doesn’t count as a source.

If the university didn’t send him the results after each of the 5 (if I’m reading it correctly) reviews, that would be grounds for a lawsuit, as they would have denied him the opportunity to correct any errors or omissions. I seriously doubt the university would deliberately expose itself to a lawsuit.

Comment #175612

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on May 15, 2007 8:32 AM (e)

1) Whoever said it wasn’t OK for granting him tenure? Did anyone actually try, or was the out-of-department response overwhelmingly against him?

2) So he was not alone in being denied tenure.

3) Of the 68, most were published (or is that simply submitted?) prior to him coming to ISU - and therefore, they don’t count towards tenure. He claims to have submitted 25 during his time at ISU, but the requirements are for published peer-reviewed papers. Near as anyone can tell, he had at best 17 peer-reviewed publications, and a couple of those are a stretch. So he appears to have barely met the benchmark (one of many) for publication, if at all. The handbook also talks about citations - many of his articles received few if any citations - most of the ones that did were ones that he was not the primary author. And there are a number of other criteria that he didn’t talk about, such as teaching.

Comment #175613

Posted by Oleg Tchernyshyov on May 15, 2007 8:33 AM (e)

Anonymous at #175610:

The petition signed by the more than 120 Iowa State faculty does not urge denial of tenure to Gonzalez. It does not even mention him by name.

Comment #175614

Posted by nunyer on May 15, 2007 8:43 AM (e)

From Anonymous:

In addition to that criteria, Gonzalez’s department of astronomy and physics sets a benchmark for tenure candidates to author at least 15 peer-reviewed journal articles of quality. Gonzalez said he submitted 68, of which 25 have been written since he arrived at ISU in 2001.

See here for a review of Gonzalez’ publication record.

In the summer of 2005, three faculty members at ISU drafted a statement against the use of intelligent design in science:

We, the undersigned faculty members at Iowa State University, reject all attempts to represent Intelligent Design as a scientific endeavor.

Advocates of Intelligent Design claim that the position of our planet and the complexity of particular life forms and processes are such that they may only be explained by the existence of a creator or designer of the universe. However, such claims are premised on (1) the arbitrary selection of features claimed to be engineered by a designer; (2) unverifiable conclusions about the wishes and desires of that designer; and (3) an abandonment by science of methodological naturalism.

Methodological naturalism, the view that natural phenomena can be explained without reference to supernatural beings or events, is the foundation of the natural sciences. The history of science contains many instances where complex natural phenomena were eventually understood only by adherence to methodological naturalism.

Whether one believes in a creator or not, views regarding a supernatural creator are, by their very nature, claims of religious faith, and so not within the scope or abilities of science. We, therefore, urge all faculty members to uphold the integrity of our university of “science and technology,” convey to students and the general public the importance of methodological naturalism in science, and reject efforts to portray Intelligent Design as science.

Where does this statement call for denying tenure to Gonzalez?

The request for tenure was denied at all levels. Why wouldn’t the tenure committees along the way make sure that all procedures had followed and notifications given? Those committees are well aware of that small percentage of unscrupulous, bankruptcy-specializing attorneys who will litigate any whacko complaint. “Clarissa” - as usual - is just MSU.

Comment #175615

Posted by Mark C. Chu-Carroll on May 15, 2007 8:45 AM (e)

Anonymous #175610:

You should, perhaps, acquaint yourself with what tenure means and how it works.

Tenure does not work like a gumball machine: insert 15 papers in the slot, and tenure pops out. It doesn’t work that way.

Tenure is a form of endorsement by the university as a whole. Your publication record is one part of it, but far from the only one. It also includes things like personal relations, community activity, teaching, grants, quality of ongoing agenda, etc.

Plenty of extraordinary people get denied tenure. A very good professor of mine was denied tenure a while back, despite a publication record far beyond what was required, grant support, etc. Why was it denied? In part, because he didn’t come to department luncheons. And that was a legitimate reason to deny him tenure! To get tenure, you need to demonstrate not just that you can publish papers, but that you’ll be valuable member of the University community. Because he was someone who kept himself in extreme isolation - he taught his classes, kept office hours and and met with his graduate students, but aside from those, no one ever saw him. He didn’t interact with other faculty, didn’t participate in any of the faculty committees, etc. So despite an outstanding publication record, advising a half-dozen PhD students who had successfully defended, and bringing in enough money in grants to more than cover his entire salary plus several students, he was denied tenure for being antisocial.

That’s the way things go.

I know of two other people who were faculty at an Ivy League University. A group of faculty in the department wanted to hire people who did work in a particular specialty. But the department chair thought that work in that specialty was garbage. So one of the two guys I know was hired, stayed for 6 years, published out the wazoo, and was denied tenure because the department chair didn’t like his research area. So the faculty hired *another* person in that area, who stayed for 4 years, published like crazy, and left because he’d been told in no uncertain terms that no matter what he did, he wasn’t going to get tenure, because the chair didn’t like his area.

Unfair? Yes. Legitimate? Yes. That’s the way it goes: you can be denied tenure if someone thinks your research area isn’t good, even though you publish and bring in money. The people who were wrong in the story above are the ones who keep hiring people that they *know* haven’t got a chance of getting tenure.

Tenure isn’t solely a decision of the department. It’s perfectly legit to deny someone tenure even though their department recommends them. Tenure makes you a permanent member of the university community, and so the community has a voice in whether or not you get it.

For example, I knew another professor as an undergrad who ended up not getting tenure. He *did* have the endorsement of his department. The guy was a genius, had tons of students, obscene number of publications, etc. But he was an obnoxious SOB. He was in a CS department, but had an old grudge against math students from bad experiences when we were undergrads. So he used to go to the PhD defenses of math students, and ask the most obnoxiously difficult questions he could, in order to throw them off their stride. So the math department intervened with a letter to the university president asking the tenure recommendation of the CS department to be overridden. It was, and he was denied tenure.

I don’t know why Gonzalez didn’t get tenure. But this endless conspiracy ranting is nonsense. Tenure is a crap-shoot - to get tenure, you need to have the right publications, the right funding, the right research area, the right relations with other members of the university community, etc. Gonzalez clearly didn’t have the right relations with the university community, and if the paranoid rantings of his supporters are any reflection of his own attitude, I wouldn’t be surprised if he
had a serious problem getting along with the other members of his department.

Comment #175617

Posted by Science Goddess on May 15, 2007 8:58 AM (e)

As I said, I was denied tenure even though I met all the requirements (and then some!) for my department and university. Afterwards, one of the committee told me privately that “we have enough useless PhDs”. They were looking for more MDs.

It’s often a crap shoot, not a conspiracy.

Science Goddess
And, yes, I still stayed there and retired last year.

Comment #175619

Posted by raven on May 15, 2007 9:21 AM (e)

Just going to repeat and expand my comment from Ed Brayton’s thread.

This whole discussion doesn’t have enough facts to really figure out why he was denied tenure, although they are slowly coming out. Astronomy isn’t my field and I wouldn’t be able to tell if his work was good, bad, or indifferent. Other posters have looked at his work and the pattern seems to be steadily declining quantity and quality.

My best guess is that the university had reason to believe that his pseudoscience was going to contaminate his science or it may have already done so. The risk here is that you end up with a wingnut babbling incoherently…..who has tenure. Much harder to fix later on and a black eye for the university. Tenure is not where one wants to take such a risk.

This happens a lot in universities and I’ve seen it many times. Sometimes tenured faculty go inert. Sometimes they turn into wingnuts of various sorts. Sometimes they do both. One recently tenured prof had a major breakdown and ended up joining some esoteric Eastern cult. By itself that would have been no big deal. But he literally never once touched a test tube again. He did spend a lot of time sitting at the feet of his guru and meditating.

If Gonzalez wants to mix pseudoscience and science and promote and work with the reality denying, science attackers at the DI, no one will stop him. But who can blame ISU for not wanting to be unwillingly associated with such activities. It would be like the DI hiring a real biologist to head their evolutionary biology program. Gonzalez will certainly find a place that fits his agenda and beliefs much better.

Comment #175622

Posted by CCP on May 15, 2007 9:44 AM (e)

What Mark Chu-Carroll said.
I am another victim of the tenure-decision crapshoot…in my case the department personnel committee decided that grant money trumped all other criteria (the ones actually spelled out in the handbook). I was pissed off–still am–but moved on. No conspiracy.
In the Gonzalez case, as in mine, his own department didn’t want him! There are few Deans, Provosts, or Presidents that would overrule a negative decision by the home department.

Comment #175629

Posted by Erp on May 15, 2007 10:36 AM (e)

I looked up the Iowa State info on tenure. In fact 38 were granted tenure this year and 66 were either granted tenure or promoted (not 63 with 3 either denied tenure or promotion as the various articles have been stating). I could find no listing of who was denied tenure. Given that Iowa State has about 60% of its faculty tenured and is concerned that that rate is too high, I find only 3 denials a bit low.

Another source is Regents meeting info on tenure

Comment #175630

Posted by Bob King on May 15, 2007 10:51 AM (e)

Mark is absolutely right. However, I think that Gonzalez didn’t deserve tenure based solely on his research record. Tenure is awarded based on an individual’s performance while an assistant professor. Publications prior to taking up a position don’t count directly towards tenure. After all, those papers were what got you the job in the first place - it’s double dipping to use them twice. Why not just give the guy tenure on day 1 if that’s how it works? What is looked for is a continuation and expansion of one’s research and, in particular, that the researcher can carve out a new area of his or her own. Gonzalez had 17 papers while at ISU - some of these were with his previous collaborators/mentors at Univ. of Washington, collaborators at UT Austin etc. So, those papers don’t really count, or count less than output from his own research group at ISU (if any - did he have PhD students?). Other papers were reviews - while writing reviews is fine, it is critical to advance new directions as an assistant professor. Gonzalez didn’t do that; writing popular articles, textbooks, etc., also does not count towards getting tenure. Typically his role statement would be 45% research and writing textbooks doesn’t fall under that rubric. If one is a productive researcher then these things are icing on the cake but they are only icing - you need cake to.

I also checked his funding - now, funding is hard to get but it is a requirement if one is to get tenure. In Gonzalez’s 2005 paper: The Astrophysical Journal, 627:432-445, 2005 July 1 this is the acknowledgment:

“We thank the referee for a most thorough and constructive review of the paper. This research has been supported in part by the Robert A. Welch Foundation of Houston, Texas.”

So the funding was obtained by his co-authors at Texas - presumably David Lambert. Researchers always acknowledge their grant support in papers. I looked at his review in PASP and there is no acknowledgment of any grant support. In fact the only funding I can find that he acknowledges is an NSF travel grant. I haven’t looked at all of his papers but his 2005 Ap article would reasonably have listed any grants that he had obtained while at ISU. The reason one lists funding sources is so that you can use those articles to get new grants - i.e., the articles are evidence of productivity from existing grants and provide a case for grant renewal..

If Gonzalez were not actively pro-ID he would almost certainly have been denied tenure for these reasons anyway - and that’s without considering any other areas of performance. It looks to me that he was hired in with high expectations and failed to meet these expectations either because he was distracted by his other activities or because once the training wheels were pulled from under him he collapsed. I suspect the latter.

In any event, why would one want to remain in a Department or University when your colleagues at every level don’t want you?

This really is a straightforward case - Gonzalez doesn’t have a leg to stand on. It is dishonest of the DI to say that he outperformed by 350% ISU expectations. It is also dishonest to try to make the case that he was denied tenure based primarily on his beliefs. While the latter is possible it only matters when the case for tenure is otherwise watertight. I would support Gonzalez getting tenure no matter what his personal religious beliefs were, provided that he actually met the high standards necessary to get tenure. Otherwise he is blocking a position that a productive researcher could hold.

Comment #175632

Posted by PvM on May 15, 2007 11:15 AM (e)

As far as the “facts” are concerned, it seems that the DI’s press releases are already starting to do its damage since they lack in credibility

(1) There was a big campaign outside his department to deny him tenure. A petition urging denial of tenure was submitted with about 120 faculty signatures. If his record was that bad, why didn’t his adversaries just let his record speak for itself? What is the value of such a petition that includes signatures of people who are unfamiliar with his qualifications? Was not the petition a meddling in the tenure-candidate review process? And why is it OK to campaign against granting him tenure while it is not OK to campaign in favor of granting him tenure?

No such campaign existed, what did exist was a statement by 120 scientists speaking out against ID (http://www.biology.iastate.edu/STATEMENT.htm)

(2) Tenure was denied to only 3 of the last academic year’s 66 candidates for tenure at Iowa State, so the denial of tenure is not routine at that university.

So let’s compare say Martin Pohl, who was given tenure in physics and astronomy, with Guillermo Gonzalez and see if we can find a common theme as to why.

(3) He published 68 peer-reviewed papers, vastly exceeding his university’s benchmark of 15 peer-reviewed papers for tenure candidates.

He published around 20-25 related to his research at ISU. Seems the DI is inflating the relevant statistics a bit here. I’d love to see the benchmark, which was btw not the university’s but the department’s benchmark, just to be accurate.

Comment #175633

Posted by David Stanton on May 15, 2007 11:16 AM (e)

I know of an ID supporter who recently got tenure in a University. He was very outspoken, even went so far as to claim in a public seminar that “there is no evidence for macroevolution”. He even invited Dembski to campus for a job interview. He even published a paper entitled “Intelligent Design and the End of Science” in a “well respected” journal. Everyone in the BIology Department was well aware of his views. However, apparently no one in his department (Philosophy) would speak out against him. So what could we do? It would have been hard to make a case, especially considering the fact that he really is a very good teacher. Obviously we are uncomfortable that such a person is teaching our Philosophy of Science classes. We have a lot of trouble with students who take that class before taking Intro Bio. I guess the evil Darwinist conspiracy failed in this case. Oh well, at least Hovind is behind bars.

Those who claim persesution must realize that they asked for it. It goes with the territory. If you don’t want to be discriminated against, wait until after you get tenure to open your big fat mouth. If you choose to do otherwise, about this or almost any other cententious issue, you have to realize that there will be consequences. It is great to have the courage of your convictions, but that is what tenure is all about. Getting tenure on the other hand is an entirely different matter.

Comment #175634

Posted by PvM on May 15, 2007 11:27 AM (e)

Gonzalez is not the first ISU professor to be turned down for tenure, which essentially gives a faculty member a lifetime job at the university.

About 12 people have applied for tenure in the past 10 years in the physics and astronomy department, and four of those were denied, said Eli Rosenberg, the chairman of the ISU department of physics and astronomy.

Source” Des Moines Register

Comment #175636

Posted by Chip Poirot on May 15, 2007 11:56 AM (e)

Whether Gonzales was inappropriately denied tenure or not is question I have no way of knowing at present.

As I said on the other forum, there seems to be a willingness to excuse bad tenure processes and political retaliation in the tenure process.

To the extent that we can consider AAUP (www.aaup.org) standards as normative or definitive for academia, much of what is being stated about tenure here goes against established norms and conventions. Of course one could argue that the AAUP guidelines are a bit of a wishlist since University administrators more often than not try to find ways not to follow them. The only time they have any teeth is when they are contractually enforced.

That said, AAUP regulations on tenure do not allow for denying tenure because people in the “community” dislike something you say. AAUP regulations do not allow for denying tenure because in the future or the present someone allies with unpopular causes.

At the time of appointment the University is supposed to provide you with a letter clearly stating the criteria for tenure. If you meet those criteria, you should be granted tenure.

Again, I don’t know what did or did not happen in Gonzales’ case and I doubt this is “persecution”. But if, and I see this as a big if that is yet unestablished, Gonzales was denied tenure **because** of his pro-ID views, **and he was otherwise qualified for tenure** then that is a violation of the principles of academic freedom.

Comment #175640

Posted by Gerard Harbison on May 15, 2007 12:04 PM (e)

I agree with Chip. And I have to say most of the anecdotal stuff about arbitrary tenure denials runs contrary to my experience, and my experience is quite extensive. The tenure denials I’ve seen were a result of negligible funding and/or inadequate publication, period. There may be some room for quixotic decision making at the very top, but mid-ranked Universities simply can’t afford to turn down prolific, well-funded faculty.

Of coruse, it appears now that Gonzalez was neither funded nor particularly prolific.

Comment #175641

Posted by Chip Poirot on May 15, 2007 12:14 PM (e)

David,

Surely you don’t think it would have been appropriate to turn down a philosophy professor because you don’t like the stance he takes in a philosophy of science class?

I trust you will think through the implications of that.

I face a similar situation at my University. I have a colleague in philosophy who is pro-ID and very anti-“Darwinian”. I certainly think people in philosophy have a right to discuss philosophical and metaphysical arguments for and against the existence of God (or any other supernatural force).

Now, I don’t think you should turn a molecular biology class into a metaphysics class. There is a responsibility to teach the subject matter.

Personally, I think the ID arguments belong in the philosophy departments and if the ID crowd would just own up to the fact that they want to make a philosophical/metaphysical critique of the philosophical/metaphysical underpinnings of science (and please don’t tell me there are none), then as far as I am concerned, the dispute would be mostly over, save for those who enjoy arguing about metaphysics.

Comment #175649

Posted by Gerard Harbison on May 15, 2007 1:00 PM (e)

So what is wrong with co-authoring papers with one’s previous collaborators/mentors?

It’s regarded as a sign you haven’t developed your own independent line of research.

Not having independent funding is, of course, the killer.

This is going to backfire on Darwinists by exposing the hypocrisy of their claims that they don’t persecute critics of Darwinism. The denial of tenure to Gonzalez is rapidly becoming a cause celebre.

Yeah, yeah. The guy was turned down at every level. Little or no funding, publication record that’s only adequate - you guys need to find a better victim.

Comment #175650

Posted by 2hulls on May 15, 2007 1:03 PM (e)

Just a passerby here. I’m not a biologist, a scientist, nor college professor. Just a man on the street and a college graduate with a technical degree. I have no vested interest here.

Anonymous says: “This is going to backfire on Darwinists by exposing the hypocrisy of their claims that they don’t persecute critics of Darwinism.”

Maybe I’m dense or naive, but I cannot figure out why the DI or anyone else who supports ID is making a big spectacle of this issue. Seems to me they would be smarter to downplay it.

From my vantage point, it makes a lot of sense why ISU would not grant this guy tenure. I wouldn’t want my alma mater to. Why would ANY science related department want someone on their staff with tenure who clearly supports pseudoscience and is a Fellow of the DI??? Duh!!! This is not a “persecution of a critic of Darwinism”. It’s an a clensing of an embarassment.

I think this noise is gonna backfire on the DI - the man on the street response will be, “Hello? Why are you surprised? Doesn’t this tell you something about your scam?”

Dave

Comment #175651

Posted by harold on May 15, 2007 1:16 PM (e)

Clarissa and Anonymous -

As a non-atheist who strongly opposes ID, I object very strongly to Clarissa’s foot-stomping. Her logic is that some guy on the internet is “against all religion” (even though he probably says he isn’t), and therefore denial of tenure to an astronomer is an atheist plot.

Why are so many Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Wiccan, etc, professor granted tenure? Including monks, nuns, priests, etc? The Jesuit astronomer who serves as science advisor to the Vatican could get tenure at any number of secular US universities tomorrow. Grow up.

Anonymous at least tries to make a case.

The issue of denying a science professor tenure for being a vocal advocate of something like ID/creationism, which does not appear to be what happened here, is a complex one.

I do not think that anyone’s religious beliefs should bias tenure decisions, except in rare cases where a sincere religious belief might create a conflict of interest, if even then. But this isn’t an issue, because a sincere religious person wouldn’t create such a situation in the first place.

ID is claimed, by its followers, to not be a religious belief. That’s what they claim over and over again. Some find it comical when they slip up and claim that the “designer” is God, but I actually think their first claim is true - ID isn’t religious. It’s a con game that targets the religious.

It’s a clearly fraudulent pseudoscience, and it’s a lot worse than, say, astrology or the like. Astrology has no scientific basis, but it doesn’t contradict what is known about science - it merely makes additional claims which cannot be supported by science. ID makes illogical claims that are directly in conflict with science.

I wouldn’t care if a competent productive scientist had an eccentric belief in astrology, ghosts, leperachauns, or the like, but claiming to advocate ID shows either intense dishonesty, or a belief system that is fundamentally incompatible with scientific inquiry or teaching, or both. You can believe that leperachauns exist but science hasn’t documented them yet, but to “believe” in ID you have to reject established science in favor of pseudo-philosophical claptrap.

I think overt advocacy of ID is worthy of consideration in a tenure case, as a negative. But that isn’t what happened here.

Comment #175655

Posted by Bob King on May 15, 2007 1:23 PM (e)

Anonymous wrote:

So what is wrong with co-authoring papers with one’s previous collaborators/mentors? And where did you get this information? You people are just pulling unsubstantiated “facts” out of thin air.

There is nothing wrong with it. However, the point of tenure evaluation is to identify what the candidate has done that is original to him or her. If a person has a large number of papers that are clearly from his or her own research group then outside collaborations aren’t an issue. But if the majority of the substantive papers are with outside - and, even worse, more senior - collaborators then these papers count less. In fact, papers with outside collaborators count less when it comes to pay raises even for tenured faculty. This is the way it is in academia and it’s not specific to Gonzalez, i.e., this is not special pleading.

Anonymous wrote:

Why shouldn’t writing textbooks, reviews, and popular articles in one’s field count towards getting tenure?

I didn’t say they didn’t count - but they don’t count in the research category which is typically 45% of a candidate’s predefined - and agreed to - role statement - with a further 45% being allocated for teaching and 10% for service. Of course role statements vary a bit but I’d be shocked if Gonzalez’s wasn’t somewhere in this region. Research in this context means original research not literature research. Again, this is the way things work. To argue for exceptionalism in the case of Gonzalez is purely the result of ignorance of how academia works. Reviews do count somewhat in the research category but they cannot stand in for original research.

And, as I and others have pointed out, Gonzalez has no serious funding - if he had he would have acknowledged it is his published work - there is not only an obligation but an actual benefit from acknowledging sources of research funding.

If the question is “Is the tenure process fair and the best it could be?” then the answer to that is debatable although I think it works fairly well. If the question is about whether Gonzalez has been treated differently then others operating in teh same environment then I’d say no - his funding and publication record clearly does not pass muster.

Comment #175656

Posted by Bob King on May 15, 2007 1:26 PM (e)

Oh, and Anonymous, I forgot to say - I got the information by going and reading some of his papers. The list of authors and their affiliations is clearly noted. Go and have a look.

Comment #175657

Posted by David Stanton on May 15, 2007 1:27 PM (e)

Chip,

You are correct. I don’t think it would be appropriate for a faculty member in the Philosophy Department to be denied tenure due to his philosophical position on anything. I also agree that philosophy is the appropriate place for ID material to be presented. I am fine with discussing ID in philosophy class. In fact, my point was that no matter what the feelings in the Biology Department, there is virtually no way in which we could have affected the tenure decision in another department without the support of members in that department. I know that members of the Philosophy Department are aware of this person’s beliefs and publications. If they have no problem giving him tenure then who are we to argue? We don’t have to work directly with the guy anyway. Unfortunately, we do suffer the consequences of his handiwork. Still, as far as I know, he keeps all classroom discussions professional and does not advocate for any particular religion in class. And besides, in the immortal words of our President: “We should be intolerant of intolerance.”

Such issues are usually not a problem in trying to decide on tenure for biologists. Apparently the same cannot be said for engineers, philosophers and astronomers. Wonder why that is?

Comment #175658

Posted by Raging Bee on May 15, 2007 1:28 PM (e)

“Anonymous” is beginning to sound like Larry Farfromsane.

Comment #175660

Posted by PZ Myers on May 15, 2007 1:40 PM (e)

PZ Myers jumps all over, viciously, even fellow scientists when they speak undeerstandingly of religous views.

With the implication that I would deny a faculty member tenure on the basis of their religion? Speaking of baseless bigotry…

I have been on tenure review committees for a couple of years now. Religious affiliation, whether non- or other, does not come up in these discussions, ever. If it did, anyone who tried to pull that kind of stunt would be derided by the other members of the committee, just as if someone tried to scuttle a tenure case by saying the candidate watched American Idol in his or her spare time – it would be utterly irrelevant, as long as they aren’t trying to squeeze some kind of silliness into their teaching.

Just for your information, I have voted on tenure cases where I knew from personal discussions that the candidates were regular church-goers. It didn’t matter. I voted for them. My colleagues also know that I do not judge them on the basis of their religious preferences.

I must say, though, it is kind of neat to be the universal Ogre of the Interwebs on these matters, and seeing my opinion invoked by people who don’t even know me in threads on which I have not participated.

Comment #175662

Posted by Gerard Harbison on May 15, 2007 1:50 PM (e)

I didn’t say they didn’t count - but they don’t count in the research category which is typically 45% of a candidate’s predefined - and agreed to - role statement - with a further 45% being allocated for teaching and 10% for service. Of course role statements vary a bit but I’d be shocked if Gonzalez’s wasn’t somewhere in this region.

That’s actually a little low on research. Our ‘standard’ load is 55:35:10 (research:teaching:service).

I would never recommend a junior faculty member write a textbook. It’s a sign you’re settling into a primarily teaching role, and that’s not what a research university is looking for in junior faculty.

Comment #175673

Posted by Tyrannosaurus on May 15, 2007 3:14 PM (e)

For all those ignorants out there, the tenure process is a well established one with a long tradition. It involves lots of steps and opportunities to receive feedback. The person seeking tenure have the opportunity to see what are his/hers deficiencies and work on correct them. The main thrust is on academically relevant activities (research, teaching, mentoring, etc) within the context of the department/university/institute mission.
Not all get tenure and sometimes you are a better fit at another university. Many people have been denied tenure a couple of times and eventually find a niche where they are tenured. But again all revolves around the area of expertise relevant to where you are not other irrelevant issues like some fundies are whining about.

Comment #175674

Posted by CJO on May 15, 2007 3:14 PM (e)

I don’t want to get sidetracked here into an argument over the scientific merits of ID

Probably wise. However, when you say things like

As for ID lacking mechanisms, what good are the mechanisms of Darwinism if those mechanisms are implausible and unproven?

you’ll have to forgive many of us for deciding your “contributions” here are entirely disingenuous.

Comment #175675

Posted by Gerard Harbison on May 15, 2007 3:20 PM (e)

The new rules for getting tenure –

You can’t co-author peer-viewed articles with former collaborators/mentors.

Let’s try not to represent other people’s arguments, now, shall we. You can co-author articles with previous mentors, but they will usually be interpreted as work you were finishing up from your previous position, not your own independent research. And a publication list heavy with such articles will be seen as a sign that you really haven’t blazed your own trail.

It’s not a new rule. It’s been the rule certainly since I started on a tenure track, in 1986.

You can’t write textbooks, reviews, or popular articles. OK, you can do those things if you can also find time to write what you are supposed to write.

Tenure track faculty are hired with the primary role of setting up an independent, funded, visible research program. That involves doing research and writing original research papers, recruiting and training graduate students and postdoctorals, and above all, getting major funding. This is no mystery or secret to anyone, and it’s not new.

Also, the emphasis on “publish or perish” has caused a decline in the quality of education in our colleges. Many college courses are taught by teaching assistants because the professors are too busy doing research and writing papers.

This actually doesn’t apply to the hard sciences, where almost all lectures are still taught by faculty. Teaching assistants teach recitations and run labs, but I don’t know of any hard science department where the primary teaching is done by TAs.

And our doing research is what earns America so many Nobel prizes.

As for independent funding, getting that is often a crapshoot and getting it in some fields is harder than getting it in others. Furthermore, considering independent funding in tenure decisions would cause tenure-track faculty to tend to avoid areas where independent funding is hard to get.

‘Would’, nothing. It’s always considered in funding decisions. Yes, I’ve heard getting funding is hard in astronomy (though it isn’t exactly easy in chemistry, either!). Still, if you’ve got good, new ideas, you can usually manage to get funded.

Comment #175678

Posted by GvlGeologist, FCD on May 15, 2007 3:34 PM (e)

The new rules for getting tenure –

You can’t co-author peer-viewed articles with former collaborators/mentors. You can’t write textbooks, reviews, or popular articles. OK, you can do those things if you can also find time to write what you are supposed to write.

Exactly. You can also write novels, go rock climbing, practice trancendental meditation, and many other things not connected to your job, as long as you do your job. Do you have a problem with that?

I teach at a community college that advertises itself as one of the top five community colleges in the country. I have no idea how that ranking is derived, but I do know that anecdotally speaking, our students are very well thought of at other schools in Florida. Our job is teaching, rather than research. I thoroughly enjoyed research when I was at a University, but if I had spent all my time doing research, which is certainly a laudable goal, I would never had been able to obtain tenure. My primary job is teaching, not research, and the tenure process reflects that.

Also, the emphasis on “publish or perish” has caused a decline in the quality of education in our colleges. Many college courses are taught by teaching assistants because the professors are too busy doing research and writing papers.

I agree that this may be a problem. However, the job of professors at research universities, as has been pointed out by Bob King and Gerald Harbison in this thread, is only partly teaching. So why do students want to go to a research university if they know (and realistically, they should know when they apply) that only about half or less of a research faculty’s job is teaching, and that many of the classes that they take will not be taught by doctoral professors. It may be that there is additional prestige obtained by attending an elite university. It may be that (in upper level classes) you do have a good chance of being taught by an elite researcher, even though the lower level classes are often taught by graduate students (which is part of the training of future professors, by the way!). It may be that the opportunity to take a class from a professor active in his/her field will outweigh the fact that the chance of being taught by a full time faculty member is less than 100% (Incidentally, even at community colleges, where teaching is the primary mission, often more than 50% of the classes are taught by adjuncts rather than full time faculty members.) Unfortunately, it is also a fact of life. What does this have to do with the fact that it seems that that Dr. Gonzalez does not seem to have been fulfilling the research part of his job description?

Comment #175679

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on May 15, 2007 3:37 PM (e)

Yo, Larry, wassup?

Comment #175680

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 15, 2007 3:46 PM (e)

but mid-ranked Universities simply can’t afford to turn down prolific, well-funded faculty.

bah.

if he had gone all Jonathan Wells on them as soon as he was granted tenure, what do you think that would have done for the University’s reputation THEN, eh?

Comment #175682

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 15, 2007 3:53 PM (e)

I don’t want to get sidetracked here into an argument over the scientific merits of ID, but I will just say a few words. ID is not in conflict with the ideas of changes through time and common descent. As for ID lacking mechanisms, what good are the mechanisms of Darwinism if those mechanisms are implausible and unproven?

yup, that sure sounds like Larry.

Comment #175683

Posted by Flint on May 15, 2007 3:55 PM (e)

As for ID lacking mechanisms, what good are the mechanisms of Darwinism if those mechanisms are implausible and unproven?

Since the mechanisms of evolution are both entirely plausible and thoroughly demonstrated every which way, this question misses the reality by assuming false conclusions. Even if evolution were not backed by literally millions of verifiable data, this wouldn’t mean a “process” without any even suggested mechanisms would make sense. (I admit that without any such suggestion, I don’t even know if it’s a process or a mechanism at all. ID has, to my knowledge, NEVER had an operational definition.)

The new rules for getting tenure –

You can’t co-author peer-viewed articles with former collaborators/mentors.

The comment was, icing on the cake is dandy so long is there is plenty of cake. So Larry (or his clone) here “forgets” about the cake, and says icing is prohibited. But of course, this is unresponsive. Original, personal research is the cake.

Many college courses are taught by teaching assistants because the professors are too busy doing research and writing papers.

This seems true at every university everywhere. Teaching is largely relegated to TAs, especially at the undergraduate level. What does this have to do with Gonzalez at all?

Furthermore, considering independent funding in tenure decisions would cause tenure-track faculty to tend to avoid areas where independent funding is hard to get.

This sounds like a carefully-crafted half-truth. Gonzalez is competing with other astronomers. Many (maybe most) academic astronomers eventually get tenured somewhere. One might make a case that bringing in lots of research grants is a separate skill, not related to the subject of the research itself. Some folks are fabulous grant-generators. But failure to generate money is a black mark, for better or worse.

There is no question in my mind that intolerance of Gonzalez’s pro-ID views was the deciding factor in the decision to deny him tenure.

Yes, you made this clear. And after learning that Gonzales hadn’t published much, or as primary researcher, and hadn’t generated any visible research funding, and was still largely leaning on his prior sponsors (both acadamic and monetary), you STILL concluded that it must be Gonzalez’s pro-ID views. Why bother asking for relevant information, when you’ll only dismiss it if it doesn’t fit your requirements?

though that statement did not mention Gonzalez by name, one of the statement’s authors admitted that Gonzalez was a principal target.

So what? I think it’s entirely understandable if a large number of the sapient faculty look at Gonzalez, look at Behe, look at the ridicule Lehigh professors are subjected to because of Behe, and don’t want to go down that road.

What I gather from this thread is that Gonzalez would probably not have qualified for tenure on the merits, that his anti-science notoriety certainly didn’t put him in good odor among faculty scientists, and that these two shortcomings were sufficient. What baffles me is why Gonzales even made the effort, after all the rejections he’d received in the past. Whatever his problems were, they surely were communicated to him in detail, repeatedly. Failure to correct them after so many repeated warnings isn’t going to look good to anyone.

Comment #175684

Posted by raven on May 15, 2007 3:55 PM (e)

Clearly the people who worked in the same field and near Gonzalez for 5 years or so thought he was not an asset. So who would know more, the department or internet posters who have studied a situation missing most of the relevant facts for a whole 5 minutes or so? I never heard of him before and have no idea what his ID writings said or whether they were totally wingnutty or just run of mill pseudoscience.

But not to worry about him. I’m sure there are any number of christian fundie colleges who would like to have an ID astronomer. I doubt there are very many. Sort of like trying to find an MD who believes in faith healing.

The IDers are part of an antiscience movement. They shouldn’t be surprised when their victims refuse to cooperate with their efforts to abolish church and state, overthrow the US government, and head on back to the dark ages.

Comment #175686

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 15, 2007 4:02 PM (e)

gerard:

This actually doesn’t apply to the hard sciences, where almost all lectures are still taught by faculty.

well, that’s mostly true for the primary lectures (about 3 hours a week, typically).

When I taught at Berkeley, sure the profs taught the primary lecture courses, but the majority of the teaching (by hour and content) occured in the sections and labs (especially in the hard sciences), and grad students taught 85% of those directly.

In fact, one year the grad students walked out to protest a lack of funding for health care, and they essentially shut down the university for 3 days.

just saying that professors aren’t always the primary ones responsible for teaching content at every university, even in the so-called “hard” sciences.

Comment #175687

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 15, 2007 4:05 PM (e)

What baffles me is why Gonzales even made the effort, after all the rejections he’d received in the past.

the mere fact that this thread exists is testimony to the reasons he pursued it.

Comment #175691

Posted by CJO on May 15, 2007 4:11 PM (e)

What baffles me is why Gonzales even made the effort, after all the rejections he’d received in the past.

Indeed. cui bono?

Given that, as pointed out above, this is a win-win for the spinmeisters, you don’t think… nah. The Discovery Institute, upstanding culture warriors that they are, would never, ever exploit something like this for cheap political points, would they?

Comment #175695

Posted by Robert O'Brien on May 15, 2007 4:25 PM (e)

MC-C wrote:

Tenure isn’t solely a decision of the department. It’s perfectly legit to deny someone tenure even though their department recommends them. Tenure makes you a permanent member of the university community, and so the community has a voice in whether or not you get it.

IA State is a public university, which means there has to be just cause and accountability in the process. Public university administrators and faculty cannot do as they please, since they subsist on the public’s dime.

Comment #175696

Posted by Jeffrey K McKee on May 15, 2007 4:29 PM (e)

So what is wrong with co-authoring papers with one’s previous collaborators/mentors?

It’s regarded as a sign you haven’t developed your own independent line of research.

Not having independent funding is, of course, the killer.

This is going to backfire on Darwinists by exposing the hypocrisy of their claims that they don’t persecute critics of Darwinism. The denial of tenure to Gonzalez is rapidly becoming a cause celebre.

Yeah, yeah. The guy was turned down at every level. Little or no funding, publication record that’s only adequate - you guys need to find a better victim.

“You guys?”

Anyway, having served on my college’s Promotion and Tenure Committee for the past 3 years, and having been through many a difficult case, all I can say is that Iowa MUST have considered this very carefully. If Iowa does tenure reviews the same as Ohio State, then each candidate is assessed by the department, department chair, college committee, college Dean, and then by a committee at the administrative level (Provost, in our case). The assessment is based upon internal reviews AND external referees. One must CLEARLY establish academic independence, a strong trajectory of a research program, and not just publish lots, but publish in quality, high-impact outlets that result in numerous citations of the research.

For tenure, the teaching record must be strong (i.e. mentoring students, quality classroom performance, etc.), and service to the university and discipline must also be strong.

I know very little about his particular case, but to claim he is a “victim” has to be an unverifiable if not a ridiculous assessment. The process is very extensive and thorough.

One last point: tenure is not a right, it is an exceptional professional privilege. Yet turning down a colleague for tenure is one of the most difficult things we do as academics. It NEVER comes lightly.

Comment #175699

Posted by Robert O'Brien on May 15, 2007 4:40 PM (e)

raven wrote:

The IDers are part of an antiscience movement. They shouldn’t be surprised when their victims refuse to cooperate with their efforts to abolish church and state, overthrow the US government, and head on back to the dark ages.

Tin-foil hat time!

Comment #175700

Posted by David Stanton on May 15, 2007 4:48 PM (e)

Anonymous wrote:

“As for ID lacking mechanisms, what good are the mechanisms of Darwinism if those mechanisms are implausible and unproven?”

Do tell, which mechanisms of modern evolutionary theory exactly do you feel are unproven? Which mechanism of ID are proven? In fact, what mechanisms of ID are hypothesized?

Comment #175704

Posted by Moses on May 15, 2007 5:16 PM (e)

When I read the press release, to me, it says “Everyone thinks you suck.” So much for persecution. Unless it’s a conspiracy of Darwinists who’ve managed to take over the department… :tinfoil hat:

Comment #175705

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 15, 2007 5:16 PM (e)

Tin-foil hat time!

nobody cares what you’re wearing, bobbo.

Comment #175706

Posted by Bob King on May 15, 2007 5:16 PM (e)

Dave Scott does a breathless rant over at UD on how Scientific American may be conspiring against Gonzales and his article. As far as I can see it’s available online but not for free.

http://www.sciamdigital.com/index.cfm?fa=Product…

But it’s not as if Gonzalez was the only author on this paper. Here is a link to his co-authors.

http://www.astro.washington.edu/rareearth/aboutt…

It is beyond belief how the UD and DI people behave. Shameless!

Comment #175707

Posted by Moses on May 15, 2007 5:21 PM (e)

Comment #175602

Posted by Clarissa on May 15, 2007 6:26 AM (e)

What makes you think that document exists?

My information is that it does NOT.

Right…

Comment #175708

Posted by Chip Poirot on May 15, 2007 5:23 PM (e)

Jeffrey,

Good to know that in your world of Ohio State the tenure process always works perfectly.

For the rest of us I suppose we have to muddle on with the protections of our union contract.

But since tenure is always such a smoothe, perfect process, why should I bother with a union at all?

Tenure may not be a “right”, but one is certainly entitled to a right to be treated fairly in the tenure process.

Perhaps the AAUP, NEA and AFT should just dissolve themselves since in your la la land, all tenure decisions are by definition “fair”.

Comment #175711

Posted by Unsympathetic reader on May 15, 2007 5:38 PM (e)

Anonymous: “Considering the number of citations is unfair – those working in major fields are likely to get more citations than those working in minor fields.

News to me. Different fields of science have different publishing rates but the alleged difference in minor/major field publishing rates doesn’t ring true to me.

Comment #175712

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 15, 2007 5:40 PM (e)

But since tenure is always such a smoothe, perfect process, why should I bother with a union at all?

chip-

how is the case of gonzalez going to help you in your crusade for fair tenure practices?

think about that.

Comment #175713

Posted by raven on May 15, 2007 5:45 PM (e)

Tin-foil hat time!

No, I think the IDer tinfoil hat time has come and gone. The only way they can abolish church and state separation is to overthrow the US government. This is a constitutional right and they violate it every time they try to sneak their cultist pseudoscience religion into our childrens science classes.

wikipedia wedge document:

Wedge strategy proponents are dogmatically opposed to materialism,[5][6][7] naturalism,[6][8] and evolution,[9][10][11][12] and have made the removal of each from how science is conducted and taught an explicit goal.[13][14]

Removing naturalism and evolution from science would destroy it. Sorry creo dude, the earth is not 5767 years old, neither is the universe, and evolution is one of the most robust theories in science. You may move to dark age level place with very religious fundies like Somalia or Afghanistan but the vast majority here like running water, electricity, medical care, computers.

We’ve seen what ignorant religious fanatics with god and automatic weapons on their side can do in Iraq and other places. Not going to say it can’t happen here but many will oppose it. I’m one, so apparently is ISU.

Comment #175714

Posted by Gerard Harbison on May 15, 2007 5:52 PM (e)

Chip:

My tenure decision went smoothly, but I heard later the only person who raised the issue of my politics was the department’s union rep. I think your faith in faculty unions may be a bit misplaced.

Comment #175715

Posted by Chip Poirot on May 15, 2007 5:54 PM (e)

Sir Toejam,

Where did I say that the case of Gonzales was going to help me in my “crusade” for fair tenure practices? Where have I said one single scintilla of an iota of a sentence in support of Gonzales? Come to think of it, where did I say i was on a “crusade”?

Academics, as far as I can see, taken as a collective whole are perfectly content to sit back and allow the corporate raiders to take over the University. Why in the world should I waste my time trying to convince them that soilent green is indeed, people?

Comment #175716

Posted by Chip Poirot on May 15, 2007 5:58 PM (e)

I have as much faith in faculty unions as I have in democracy. Neither more nor less.

Comment #175717

Posted by raven on May 15, 2007 6:09 PM (e)

Never heard of the Privileged Planet by Gonzalez before. So I did a net search and 5 minutes worth of reading. It looked like typical creo wingnut stuff.

Supposedly the atmosphere is transparent to visible light so our eyes can function. HUH!!! More likely our eyes evolved to use the radiation wavelengths that are available. It wouldn’t make much sense to have eyes that see in the far UV if there isn’t any ambient far UV rays around.

A small sample to be sure but it doesn’t seem like this book made much of an impression on the scientific community. Or at least a good impression.

Comment #175718

Posted by Moses on May 15, 2007 6:10 PM (e)

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, he was denied tenure because of his ID beliefs. So what? How would that be wrong? His beliefs are inherently antithetical to basis and structure of science. I see nothing wrong with it. Hiring a “scientist” that promotes a pseudo-science that directly attacks methodological naturalism, the very basis of science, in a public forum should have consequences.

And my thinking along these lines doesn’t stop there. I see no reason to license people as doctors that don’t believe in medicine, like Cristian Scientists. Even if they went to some Christian Science college and got some phony, unaccredited MD-esque degree. I see no reason for a church to not fire a priest who declares himself to be an atheist. Even if he’s a “fine priest” within the context of doing his duties in a professional manner. For example, the Anglican priest (Freeman) that was fired by the Anglican Church a decade ago. Ironically, despite, in this case, 60+ fellow priests petitioning that he keep his job. I would see no reason for the Army to deny a Chain-of-Command promotion to a Quaker. Though I would question the same denial if were in a support role, like a Doctor or a a Chaplin.

And, BTW, what’s all this “religious discrimination” garbage I’m reading in this thread. We all know (wink, wink) that ID is a science and NOT a religious doctrine (nudge, nudge) and has atheist proponents.

Comment #175719

Posted by David B. Benson on May 15, 2007 6:15 PM (e)

Chip — 0 = 0 ?

Comment #175723

Posted by Robert O'Brien on May 15, 2007 6:35 PM (e)

Moses wrote:

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, he was denied tenure because of his ID beliefs. So what? How would that be wrong? His beliefs are inherently antithetical to basis and structure of science.

No.

Comment #175725

Posted by Robert O'Brien on May 15, 2007 6:41 PM (e)

raven wrote:

No, I think the IDer tinfoil hat time has come and gone. The only way they can abolish church and state separation is to overthrow the US government. This is a constitutional right and they violate it every time they try to sneak their cultist pseudoscience religion into our childrens science classes.

With electromagnetic waves and sodium thiopental, no doubt.

Comment #175726

Posted by Gerard Harbison on May 15, 2007 6:46 PM (e)

Anonymous wrote:

There is no reason why continued research cannot be good, original research. Under the rule you describe, untenured faculty are simply going to avoid co-authoring papers with previous collaborators/mentors and may stop co-authoring papers altogether.

That’s just silly. Nobody is punished for co-authorship; it’s a disproportionate fraction of co-authorship with previous mentors that raises a red flag.

Here’s a useful link:
http://www.fiu.edu/~stoddard/tenure/Phil_tenure_…

Note that it says….

Do not write text books
Do not spend much time writing reviews
Book chapters are dicey because they are usually not reviewed as critically as other works

Publish your PhD and postdoc papers quickly, preferably in your first summer. Completion of graduate or postdoc work forges your identity and reputation professionally, which helps for letters and grants, but this work will not get you tenure.
You need to establish an active and demonstrably productive research program at FIU.
You must achieve independence and your own identity.
Once your PhD and postdoc papers are out, DO NOT continue to publish with your advisor.

Anonymous wrote:

I think that in the sciences and engineering, co-authored papers are more common than single-author ones. And what should a faculty member do when switching from one university to another – just forget all previous work in order to “blaze a new trail”?

No. If one moves from one institution to another, one isn’t in a position of having to prove one’s independence from a mentor.

Is this such a difficult concept? A requirement that you demonstrate an ability to do research that is new and different from the research you did under someone else’s supervision?

I think that you are really clutching at straws here.

The straws are falling off your straw men.

Comment #175727

Posted by Bob King on May 15, 2007 6:48 PM (e)

Anonymous wrote:

There is no reason why continued research cannot be good, original research. Under the rule you describe, untenured faculty are simply going to avoid co-authoring papers with previous collaborators/mentors and may stop co-authoring papers altogether. I think that in the sciences and engineering, co-authored papers are more common than single-author ones. And what should a faculty member do when switching from one university to another – just forget all previous work in order to “blaze a new trail”? I think that you are really clutching at straws here.

In fact untenured faculty do avoid extensive collaboration with prior mentors for precisely that reason. It’s not a question of forgetting all previous work but of taking a new direction, or at least pursuing a previous direction alone. Gonzalez’s h-index - a rough measure of productivity and impact - went from about 17 for the period 1993-2000 to about 8 for 2000-2007. Some drop-off is expected but any unbiased view of his publication record must conclude that he did better when he was part of an established group then by himself at ISU. Here is what the ISU faculty handbook says about collaborations:

ISU handbook wrote:

Scholarship often requires teamwork and other collaborative relationships, particularly because of the growth of interdisciplinary and collaborative programs. When work that is a result of joint effort is presented as evidence of scholarship, clarification of the candidate’s role in the joint effort must be provided.

In other words, such papers necessarily come with a caveat which amounts to divying up credit. It stands to reason that if Gonzalez, e.g., writes a paper with a previous mentor that he cannot take 100% cerdit for that work. The problem is not with collaborative papers per se but, as in this case, when there is a relative scarcity of non collaborative papers.

This is how academia operates - if you don’t believe this then I’d suggest you go here (e.g.,) - http://chronicle.com/forums/ -and, without referencing Gonzalez, ask some questions about how such matters are handled in academia, pitfalls in seeking tenure, etc.

Comment #175729

Posted by Gerard Harbison on May 15, 2007 6:50 PM (e)

Supposedly the atmosphere is transparent to visible light so our eyes can function. HUH!!!

:-)

Indeed. And have you noticed our legs are exactly the right length to reach the ground? Makes you think!

Comment #175730

Posted by Flint on May 15, 2007 7:08 PM (e)

I wasn’t talking about publishing rates – I was talking about citations by other papers, books, etc..

My reading is that you were comparing citation rates of astronomers with citation rates of research in other fields. You may be right that astronomy publications generally get lower average citation levels, but presumably Gonzalez’s citation rate was being compared with his peers (and competitors for tenure). These would be fellow astronomers. And the argument seems to be that when apples are compared with apples, Gonzales produced very small apples compared to other astronomers.

Comment #175732

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 15, 2007 7:25 PM (e)

Academics, as far as I can see, taken as a collective whole are perfectly content to sit back and allow the corporate raiders to take over the University. Why in the world should I waste my time trying to convince them that soilent green is indeed, people?

irony, thy name is chippy.

Comment #175733

Posted by Raging Bee on May 15, 2007 7:49 PM (e)

To me it is pointless to speculate now on whether he might have been granted tenure in the absence of that intolerance.

First ou speculate (with no evidence), then you say it’s pointless to spceulate. Sounds like a typical pointless Larry post to me…

Comment #175734

Posted by Anna Z. on May 15, 2007 7:50 PM (e)

Calm down “Clarissa.” Citing two individuals and a mysterious “they” fails to recognize the diversity of those who accept evolution as the best explanation for the origins of life.

As for PZ Meyers, you bet he attacks fellow scientists for statements showing an understanding view toward religion. It infuriates me, but he makes it entirely clear whether he is attacking their religious views or their science. In fairness I don’t think I have ever seen him discredit someone’s science merely because the person shows sympathy toward a belief in God. He evaluates science against scientific criteria, and religious belief also against scientific criteria. This probably means no religion will ever meet with his acceptance. As he’s a passionate, outspoken person, it’s no surprise that his views on religion and atheism are part of his shtick. While I often disagree, I support his freedom to promote atheist views. He does not and can not speak for all who find evolutionary explanations valid, but he is always interesting.

Personally, I have never encountered the alleged massive conspiracy to push atheism using evolutionary biology. Recalling my days in academia, instructors made no mention of God, pro- or anti-. I was never informed that I must drop all spiritual belief in order to embrace evolution. If my experience is representative, scientists don’t particularly care, with the caveat that they will vigorously unmask non-science trying to pass itself off as science. Even in social situations I can’t think of one scientist who would bring up religion unless I did.

As for denial of tenure to Gonzalez, service to the community has always been a legitimate criterion for tenure, so disserve must be as well. Perhaps some felt he did a disservice to the community to advocate a pseudo-scientific philosophy, dressing it up as science. If so, I believe they would be perfectly entitled to vote their conscience and deny tenure.

Comment #175738

Posted by Doc Bill on May 15, 2007 8:08 PM (e)

It would be astounding to see this much support, or not, over every professor who is denyed tenure.

The bottom line fact is that we can speculate and grumble and rant over what we would do or not do, or what the ISU committee should have done or not done but in the end it was their decision, not ours.

The fact that Gonzalez had no support up and down the line should be telling.

If Gonzalez is all that brilliant and all that wonderful and all that, then he will surface at another university and show ISU that it was wrong.

Over to you, GG, the ball’s in your court.

My prediction is that GG will sink into the primordial ooze with his pal WD and never be heard from again.

Comment #175739

Posted by Chip Poirot on May 15, 2007 8:08 PM (e)

Sir Toejam and David B. Benson.

Please stop addressing me and I will return the favor.

Thank you.

Comment #175742

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 15, 2007 8:21 PM (e)

Sir Toejam and David B. Benson.

Please stop addressing me and I will return the favor.

Thank you.

chip-

stop using incidents like gonzalez to promote your own idiosyncatic views, and we will.

My point was that the example of gonzalez has NOTHING to do with fairness in tenure.

so you bring up his case in this thread, and going off on your little rant is simply, to put it bluntly, not doing you any good.

but then, misrepresentation is your forte, so why should I expect anything less?

Comment #175743

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 15, 2007 8:27 PM (e)

I think that those rules are stupid.

irrelevant to whether they were violated.

That link you gave gives stupid advice like, “Editing work of others is considered professional service, not original research.” If one does enough editing of a particular work, then one deserves to be listed as a co-author.

talk about missing the point, being listed as a co-author does not necessarily equate with “ORIGINAL RESEARCH”. hence, the “stupid advice” is, in fact, dead on.

get it now?

btw, can you prove your name isn’t Larry, ‘cause these posts of yours sure seem familiar…

Comment #175744

Posted by Mark C. Chu-Carroll on May 15, 2007 8:30 PM (e)

Anonymous@#175644

No, I’m not defending the denial of tenure to Gonzalez by comparing it to other unfair denials of tenure.

My point was that all of the cases I mentioned were legitimate denials of tenure. Granting tenure is giving someone a lifetime position at a university. It’s a big deal, and there are numerous factors that go into the decision.

It can seem unfair - as in the case of the department chair who didn’t like a particular research area. But the point is that to get tenure, you need to convince the community: both your department, and the larger university community, that you’ll be a valuable part of that community for the entirety of your career. If your research doesn’t show promise of growing into something of long-term value to the research community, then you shouldn’t get tenure. The department chair in my example legitimately and honestly believed that the research area of those candidates simply did not have any hope becoming a long-term valuable area of research, and that the candidates did not show the potential as researchers to grow into other areas should their focus area collapse as a research topic. Believing that, he was absolutely correct in advocating that they be denied tenure.

The candidate who was denied tenure for not going to lunch sounds like a silly story, and an unreasonable reason for denying someone tenure. But the truth of the matter is, as I explained, the candidate was completely withdrawn, not interacting with anyone but his own students. No contact with other members of the department, no involvement with the university community, no activity on faculty committees. Someone who refuses to participate in the community of the department and the university should not be granted a lifetime position as a part of that community.

Or the guy who used to try to trash math students defenses. It didn’t detract from the quality of his own research or the number of publications he had, or the amount of grant money he brought in. But it was a very clear demonstration that he did not have the temperament to be a good professor.

Like I said in my original comment: tenure isn’t about “put 15 papers into the tenure machine, and tenure certificate pops out”. There’s a lot that goes into the decision besides just some magic number of required publications. Getting tenure is about judging what kind of professor you’ll be. Your publication history is definitely a very important factor in making that judgement. But so is your social behavior, your teaching, the way you interact with your coworkers, the way you interact with graduate students and undergraduate students, the role you play in faculty committees and department decision making, and numerous other factors.

*Just* pointing out that Gonzalez had the magic number of publications doesn’t mean he deserved tenure. And yet, that’s pretty much the entire response from the IDists: But he had enough publications! So clearly there must be something dishonest about not giving him tenure!

That’s just not how it works.

Comment #175745

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 15, 2007 8:31 PM (e)

And papers cite papers that cite papers that cite papers and so forth and so the original paper may never get full credit for its contribution.

ever heard of the Science Citation Index?

Comment #175748

Posted by Bob King on May 15, 2007 8:49 PM (e)

Anonymous wrote:

That link you gave gives stupid advice like, “Editing work of others is considered professional service, not original research.” If one does enough editing of a particular work, then one deserves to be listed as a co-author.

Do you understand what editing is? It ranges from being editor of a journal to putting together, e.g., a conference proceedings. It entails a lot of work. But it doesn’t mean contributing to the actual research. In the old days secretaries typed out papers on a typewriter and did a huge amount of editing. Were they entitled to become co-authors? Or are you arguing that Gonzalez is actually more akin to a typist than a scientist? Are you suggesting that the editor should be a co-author on everything that he or she edits? But, as for the advice, stupid or not, to make the point you want to make you have to demonstrate that the advice Harbison linked to was written with Gonzalez (or other IDers) specifically in mind. That is clearly ridiculous. If the rules and tenure process are merely generally stupid then applying them evenly, no matter how stupid they are, does not amount to persecution of particular individuals. It’s like the army - lots of stuff is boneheaded but people only get annoyed if the rules are applied differently to different people.

Anonymous wrote:

Of course he can’t take 100% credit – he can’t take 100% credit regardless of who the co-author was. Also, because different co-authors often make completely different kinds of contributions to a paper, it is generally impossible to exactly divvy up their contributions by percentages.

The difference is that if your co-authors are your own PhD students it is clear who is guiding the work.

You seem to be deliberately confusing general concerns about the tenure process with specific concerns about Gonzalez. If the tenure process is unfair in principle then it isn’t being specifically unfair to Gonzalez, or singling him out for especially bad treatment, if he gets dinged by the same stupid rules that would ding anybody.

By arguing that the tenure process in general is stupid you are not supporting the point that Gonzalez was treated unfairly. To do that you need to demonstrate that, it is only Gonzales - or other ID oriented faculty- who get penalized for low productivity and/or a high proportion of papers with former mentors. That is the rules - stupid or not - are applied differently based on considerations of religious belief. As Harbison might ask - is that such a hard concept? I am stupid to even ask it.

Comment #175751

Posted by Chip Poirot on May 15, 2007 8:58 PM (e)

Mark C,

Purely atrocious. This has got to be the worst apologetics for politicized tenure processes I have ever heard.

No, no, no and a thousand times no. Tenure processes should not be driven by vague, subjective inarticulable prejudices or wild guesses about the future. Tenure is not supposed to be a mystical decision made by a college of cardinals sending colored smoke out of a chimney.

I don’t know about Gonzales’ case enough to even begin to make a reasoned judgement. And contrary to the outright distorted (I think deliberate) implications by some, I am not using Gonzales as any kind of poster child for a campaign.

What you wrote is a perfect example of the type of cynical, go along to get along corruption of the tenure process that leads to politicized decisions, academic norming, endless churning out of short, trivial articles, lack of reflective scholarship, and is alas, reflective of the creeping corporate ethos that has invaded academia.

Comment #175752

Posted by shiva on May 15, 2007 9:04 PM (e)

I think that those rules are stupid. They put people in strait-jackets and prevent them from using their own judgment in choosing the kinds of work that are most productive and that make the best contributions to their fields.

No that’s not Larry, it must be John Woodmorappe! As Glenn Morton writes here http://tinyurl.com/ea0w in his review of Woodmorappe’s “Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study”

There are some serious drawbacks…Woodmorappe resorts to lots of name calling when he does not like an adversary’s argument…is called Moore’s “parrot” (p. 21), echo (p. 37)…is called “naive”; is accused of having “fantasies” and displaying “ignorance.” Opponents “imagine” their arguments. All this name calling is a distraction from Woodmorappe’s point

Sorry Larry?Woodmorappe/Anonymous - those are the rules of the tenure at FIU. If you don’t like it don’t work there.

Comment #175755

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 15, 2007 9:07 PM (e)

I don’t know about Gonzales’ case enough to even begin to make a reasoned judgement. And contrary to the outright distorted (I think deliberate) implications by some, I am not using Gonzales as any kind of poster child for a campaign.

…and yet that’s ALL you’ve done in this thread.

it’s EXACTLY what you did with your “academic freedom” argument in the other thread.

it’s quite amazing that you either don’t see that that is what you’re doing, or are completely dishonest about it.

Comment #175760

Posted by Chip Poirot on May 15, 2007 9:25 PM (e)

Sir Toejam,

I have not once said that I thought Gonzales was inappropriately denied tenure.

Please stop addressing me.

Comment #175763

Posted by DMA on May 15, 2007 9:53 PM (e)

I find it surprising that nobody’s mentioned one little fact: there’s intense competition to get into a tenure-track position. I got my Ph.D. at a solid 2nd-tier university. My advisor was in the physics department. He told me that there were 200-300 applicants per tenure-track position. If Gonzales (as mentioned by others above) has problems with a) finding grant money, b) getting grad students, and c) getting a good number of publications in good journals without sucking from the teat of his postdoctoral advisor, well, fuck him. There’s another 200 applicants who will gladly sell their own mothers for a chance at his job. ISU’s a good school–it’s where I got my B.S. in biochemistry–they can do much better.

Comment #175773

Posted by Gerard Harbison on May 15, 2007 11:47 PM (e)

I think that those rules are stupid. They put people in strait-jackets and prevent them from using their own judgment in choosing the kinds of work that are most productive and that make the best contributions to their fields.

Well, we’ve gone from denying they exist to thinking they’re stupid. I guess that’s progress.

You can indeed judge how best to contribute to your field. Your university can in turn decide if your judgement is sound, and whether you are doing what they hired you to do. In the present case, I think we saw both judgements made. So what’s the problem?

Comment #175774

Posted by dhogaza on May 16, 2007 12:04 AM (e)

There is no reason why continued research cannot be good, original research. Under the rule you describe, untenured faculty are simply going to avoid co-authoring papers with previous collaborators/mentors and may stop co-authoring papers altogether. I think that in the sciences and engineering, co-authored papers are more common than single-author ones. And what should a faculty member do when switching from one university to another – just forget all previous work in order to “blaze a new trail”?

The solution is simple, Larry (and has everyone noted that “anonymous” has not denied being Larry?)

Start your own university.

You have absolutely no right to expect existing universities to grant tenure to assistant professors on the tenure track who don’t fulfill the requirements for promotion.

What are you, some sort of leftist labor extremist who insists that people should be promoted after X years regardless of their job performance? You’re some kind of pinko, commie, hippy freak or something? You don’t believe in accountablity? Personal responsibility? Etc?

Comment #175778

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 16, 2007 12:15 AM (e)

Evidently there were things that became obvious to department members that made them recognize that Gonzalez could not be a productive researcher and long term contributor to the department.

It seems evident that many of the ID/Creationists who have acquired PhDs got through their programs with grotesque misconceptions about science still in place. Given the time pressures on faculty members and the fact that many PhD dissertations deal with rather mundane matters that don’t really probe the depth of a person’s understanding of science, it is not surprising that this can happen. Perhaps some of these fundamentalists have learned to exploit these kinds of situations. The scientific evidence simply doesn’t support the doctrines of the ID/Creationists, so in order to avoid debilitating cognitive dissonance, most of these ID/Creationists have managed to put in place a pile of misconceptions that fit with their religious preconceptions but that never get challenged during their training.

However, when one finally has to submit research proposals in a peer-reviewed funding process, it quickly becomes evident that the person with such misconceptions can’t even formulate a research proposal that has any chance of adding to the knowledge in a field. The ID/Creationists may not realize it, but it is extremely difficult to do scientific research if one’s fundamental understanding of the established science is wrong. You become a liability and an embarrassment to the department in which you serve.

When the ID/Creationists complain that they are being excluded by a closed-minded scientific cabal, it is very likely due to the fact that they really don’t know what is wrong with their own understanding of the science. It may make a good political ploy to gain the sympathy of their followers, but it doesn’t fool people who know.

I have had the impression that many of these ID/Creationists got their PhDs in order to appear to have some authority in a debate or in some other venue where they can’t be challenged effectively. What they don’t seem to understand is that the process of science doesn’t take place in op-ed columns, choreographed debates, or kangaroo courts. Part of their whiney dismay about being rejected probably can be traced to their misconceptions about science and how it works. This is what comes from being sheltered by fairy tales all one’s life.

Comment #175780

Posted by Unsympathetic reader on May 16, 2007 12:21 AM (e)

anonymous “I wasn’t talking about publishing rates – I was talking about citations by other papers, books, etc..

I still have a problem with that. ‘Major’ fields have more papers and but also more people. ‘Minor’ fields have fewer papers but also fewer people. If you take the ratio of (papers published) to (people available to be cited), that may balance. In fact it’s easier to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond as smaller fields tend to be more incestuous. It’s also tougher to have a big impact in a large field because there are so many others doing similar work. The best you can do is normalize.

In any case, few outside of the review committee and certainly nobody I’ve read anywhere has firm idea why tenure was denied. So, all these discussions may all be big fun but they’re not terribly illuminating.

Chip Poirot writes, regarding Mark C. Chu-Carroll’s discussion of the issues behind tenure decisions…
This has got to be the worst apologetics for politicized tenure processes I have ever heard.

It wasn’t apologetics, it was a statement of fact. Tenure decisions are multidimensional and some of those ‘dimensions’ aren’t necessarily tied to strict academic performance.

continuing…
What you wrote is a perfect example of the type of cynical, go along to get along corruption of the tenure process that leads to politicized decisions, academic norming, endless churning out of short, trivial articles, lack of reflective scholarship, and is alas, reflective of the creeping corporate ethos that has invaded academia.

It has always been there. The problem is that during non-boom and highly-competitive times the number of seats in this game of musical chairs can seem pretty small. You should consider Japan or Germany if you want to compare processes elsewhere…

That said, I have several friends and colleagues who sailed through the tenure process in extremely competitive fields and encountered no significant political issues at all.

Comment #175779

Posted by tomh on May 16, 2007 12:21 AM (e)

Chip Poirot wrote: Please stop addressing me.

Bad news. Once you put a comment out there anybody can address you. Even me.

Comment #175821

Posted by Pumpkinhead on May 16, 2007 6:05 AM (e)

Plenty of extraordinary people get denied tenure. A very good professor of mine was denied tenure a while back, despite a publication record far beyond what was required, grant support, etc. Why was it denied? In part, because he didn’t come to department luncheons. And that was a legitimate reason to deny him tenure! To get tenure, you need to demonstrate not just that you can publish papers, but that you’ll be valuable member of the University community. Because he was someone who kept himself in extreme isolation - he taught his classes, kept office hours and and met with his graduate students, but aside from those, no one ever saw him. He didn’t interact with other faculty, didn’t participate in any of the faculty committees, etc. So despite an outstanding publication record, advising a half-dozen PhD students who had successfully defended, and bringing in enough money in grants to more than cover his entire salary plus several students, he was denied tenure for being antisocial.

I’m sure this has much to do with it. Mr. Gonzales probably would not participate in the faculty mating rituals involving the laboratory animals. Evolutionists enjoy this sort of thing.

Comment #175826

Posted by Pumpkinhead on May 16, 2007 6:25 AM (e)

Hey, Clarissa: Don’t judge us all by PZ Myers. Plenty of atheists are “live and let live”. I just object when we’re FORCED to listen to religious stuff in a non-religious environment, such as work.

Well Goddess, Children the world over are forced by the state to absorb the catechisms of evolutionism until about eighteen years of age, and are then given the option to endure at least four more years of it in order to expand their employment prospects. The crap taught in secular schools is no less religious than Sunday School lessons.

Comment #175833

Posted by Richard Simons on May 16, 2007 6:56 AM (e)

Hi there, Pumpkinhead!

Back again for another childish, content free rant, I see.

Comment #175838

Posted by Chip Poirot on May 16, 2007 7:09 AM (e)

Tom h.

Sir Toejam has a habit of either misunderstanding what I say or of deliberately misrepresenting them. Either way, it amounts to someone constantly mischaracterizing my position rather than addressing my arguments. In addition, Sir Toejam deliberately engages in things that are designed to be rude and insulting-such as calling me “chippy” instead of “chip”.

While making fun of people’s names may make some feel clever or smart, it is IMO simply a way to try and start a flamewar.

Anybody who cares to can look over the history of my posts at PT over the last several years and very quickly conclude the following:

1. I am not an advocate of ID:
2. I am not an advocate of teaching ID.
3. I am not an advocate of “teaching the controversy” as a scientific controversy. I think “the controversy” should be taught in University philosophy classes since it does raise some potentially interesting metaphysical arguments. But I certainly do not advocate teaching it as “controversy in science” or as a controversy in a science classroom.
4. I do admittedly hold to an absolutist view of the First Amendment and to academic freedom and I think it should be applied wherever possible to high schools and not just to Universities. I recognize this may lead to the presentation of some bad and junk ideas in classrooms. I can live with that (I don’t celebrate it) provided that the course material is being covered in a rigorous way. I am against any kind of “orthodoxy sniffers” in any size, shape or form patrolling classrooms at any level.
5. I have made no defense of Gonzales whatsoever.
6. I have said repeatedly that I doubt his claim of “persecution” and the claim of the ID movement to be persecuted.
7. I find the willingness of several people on this board who are obviously academics to justify, in the abstract, practices such as not granting tenure to otherwise well qualified people because:
a. they didnt’ come to enough luncheons;
b. something they said or did was “embarassing” to the University (I am sure many, for example, would like to get rid of Noam Chomsky for being embarassing. Or maybe some would like to fire Lewontin for his well known Marxist views). The case of Lewontin brings up an interesting parallel. Here is one of the top ranked geneticists in the world who significantly misrepresents entire fields such as sociobiology on the basis of his Marxist ideology. Should he be fired as an embarassment?
c. Denying tenure despite the fact that someone clearly met the conditions of their appointment letter, the union contract, the faculty handbook because they think tenure is some mystical right to be conferred by a college of cardinals if “they just feel right about it.”

I have never said that any of the above happened to Gonzales. I have no way of knowing either way and even if it did that does not add up to a campaign of persecution against ID.

However, if, and I say if Gonzales was otherwise qualified for tenure and if (again if) he was denied tenure for his ID views, then that was wrong.

I refuse to celebrate or advocate actions that weaken the concept of academic freedom in general just as a means of getting pro-ID people.

Comment #175842

Posted by harold on May 16, 2007 7:17 AM (e)

O’Brien -

Raven’s comments are quite accurate. They may be exaggerated for effect, but if you want to stamp out science and replace it with “non-materialistic” study of nature - and that’s what the extremely well-known “Wedge Document” says ID is all about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_document, those are precisely the things you’d have to do. Case in point - Bush-appointed Republican Judge Jones ruled very strongly against ID in Dover public schools, and the creationists were subsequently voted off the school board. How are you going to reverse that, while respecting the rule of law and maintaining seperation of church and state. No flip, content-free, sarcastic answers please - answer the question if you reply.

Anonymous -

“I don’t want to get sidetracked here into an argument over the scientific merits of ID, but I will just say a few words.”

BWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!!! You’re here to screech that Gonzalez was denied tenure because of his support of ID, but the scientific merits of ID are a “sidetrack”! Of course, it looks as if he was denied tenure for other reasons, but since your claim is that it was because of ID…

“ID is not in conflict with the ideas of changes through time and common descent.”

Then what’s the point of it? We have natural explanations of life’s diversity if you allow changes through time and common descent.

“As for ID lacking mechanisms, what good are the mechanisms of Darwinism if those mechanisms are implausible and unproven?”

This suggests that you don’t have a clue what the mechanisms of biological evolution actually are.

Comment #175872

Posted by Bob King on May 16, 2007 9:19 AM (e)

Anon,

I notice that you have sidestepped the point yet again - you have yet to demonstrate that the rules were applied unfairly to Gonzalez. Arguing against the rules themselves - which you originally denied even existed - is a classic straw man strategy. So is accusing your interlocutor of doing what you yourself are doing:

Anonymous wrote:

That’s a straw man argument. “Editing” doesn’t necessarily mean just spell-checking and correcting grammatical errors. Editing can also mean searching for erroneous or flawed reasoning and suggesting additions, deletions, or changes.

You are clearly unfamiliar with the scientific publishing process. Most of what you’re talking about now is done not by the Editor but by the referees. For example, go and read some of Gonzalez’s articles and look for where he thanks the Editor as opposed to thanking the referee. The editor of a journal makes an overall assessment of the paper and may suggest areas for revision, clarification, etc. but this is usually based on the opinions of the referee.

In any event, whether you feel that editors who make suggestions should be made co-authors or not is besides the point. As is the case with most ID/creationist arguments you prefer constantly to shift the terms of the discussion than honestly assess the facts - see Job chapter 13.

Anonymous wrote:

(quoting me) “The difference is that if your co-authors are your own PhD students it is clear who is guiding the work.”

No, it is not clear at all. As an engineering grad student (not even a Ph.D), I once was a co-author of a paper presented at a conference. My contribution to the paper was my own independent work. In fact, my work was the main subject of the paper and without my work there would have been no paper at all.

As you say, you weren’t even a PhD student while I was clearly referring to PhD students. And, based on your knowledge of the academic system in the sciences I can infer you never were one. In any event, PhD students in astronomy are almost always part of a research group that has a leader who guides the research, attracts the funding to pay the students, etc. It’s is one requirement of getting tenure that such a group is established. The naif often focusses only on the work itself, as you do in your claim of credit for an unknown paper at an unknown conference - but the role of an untenured professor is not only to direct the research at an intellectual level but also to build and sustain an environment within which highly original and productive research can be done by talented people (e.g., students) - with a strong expectation that this will continue, i.e., that the group has momentum. A minimum requirement for that is external funding. Gonzalez has provided no evidence that he got close to doing that. Nor have you presented any reasons for thinking that he did.

I’d add that this must not help Gonzalez - i.e., to be defended by arguments so uniformed.

Comment #175887

Posted by Flint on May 16, 2007 10:20 AM (e)

Chip Poirot:

I think you raise an interesting point. In one corner, we have the notion of tenure as a means of protecting the academic freedoms (which means peculiarities, NOT me-too-ism) of a noted researcher from petty political dismissal. Presumably, before tenure was developed, nobody with any sense would do research into any area the Powers That Be at the university were uncomfortable with. That was the fast track out the door, at the end of a boot. And from this perspective, it’s those who don’t “go along to get along” who are in most need of tenure, and make the best use of the protections it provides.

But in the other corner, tenure presents a clear and present danger to the organization. Behe’s case is classic - once he received tenure, his research slammed to a stop permanently, and he became a preacher for anti-science religion. He has without question shamed his entire institution, and continues to do so with impunity, while contributing absolutely nothing in his field. And I have no doubt that academia is quite populated with tenured do-nothings who attend luncheons, serve on committees, and are friendly and non-threatening to everyone.

I think there is some substance to Mark’s position that intangibles should play an important role in the tenure decision. Tenure should require more than simply being able to put checkmarks in boxes; a strictly mechanical process. Whether he has stretched this to the point where tenure is almost entirely a matter of how well the candidate has played office politics, is a good question. The goal is to protect someone whose research will continue to be a credit to the institution, and ALSO who won’t unduly disturb or embarrass it.

So there would seem to be a tradeoff. If you’re going to have some eccentricity, you’d damn well better be outstanding in your area of expertise. And the more potentially embarrassing your peculiarity, the more spectacular your accomplishments need to be.

Ultimately, the perceived self-interest of the university is paramount. Go-along ciphers may make your life tranquil, but it also means your university is second-rate (or worse), and won’t attract the sort of students to correct this. You surely need a few really outstanding researchers, even if they’re jerks.

Unorthodoxy in science is perfectly tolerable, if it’s backed by solid research. You WANT people who are willing to drink the ulcer bacteria to prove their point. But you also need some grounds on which people might be rejected, or why bother with the exercise? So far, I’ve seen you reject what you consider inappropriate reasons for rejection, but I don’t get any clear picture of what you’d prefer instead. SOME people are simply mediocre. On the face of it, Gonzalez meets this description. Given his, uh, hobbies, mediocrity isn’t nearly good enough.

Comment #175894

Posted by Chip Poirot on May 16, 2007 10:59 AM (e)

Flint,

Thanks for that thoughtful reply. The following are what I think are appropriate reasons for not granting tenure, weighted by the tenure requirements/purpose of the institution.

1. Their teaching is not up to par of what is reasonably expected of people being granted tenure. The evidence that supports the rejection of tenure is supported by appropriately weighted factors such as poor student evaluations, poor peer/chair in class evaluations, lack of appropriate rigor in courses or failure to cover the subject matter of the course.

2. Failure to meet the relevant standards of that university for research. Evidence for this is lack of peer reviewed publications, failure to publish in appropriate journals (at the top ranked research institutions), research that is trivial, etc. how much research and what kind of research weighs in depends of course on the University.

3. An unwillingness to do one’s part on committees, etc.

4. Documented instances of misconduct.

What the criteria are and how they are weighted should be clearly specified in the appointment letter and the handbook or contract. Simply put, the appropriate reasons for denying tenure are those that relate to the University’s specified tenure requirements.

A decision to grant/not grant tenure IMO is a bit like a professor grading a student paper or a jury weighing guilt or innocence. You can probably never have 100% objectivity and there will always be some subjective weighing and evaluating and sifting. Maybe the candidate was an unusally strong teacher and served on a lot of committees but his or her research was very weak. In some institutions that would qualify for tenure, in other institutions it might legitimately preclude tenure.

Long before you get to the tenure review process there should have first been a mid-term review where you were advised to start looking for another job, upgrade your efforts towards tenure, or informed you were sailing along. People should go into the tenure process with a pretty good idea of their prospects.

Granting or not granting tenure is not a matter of checking boxes per se, but if the faculty handbook says “tenure will be granted if you have five peer reviewed articles in relevant journals” then it is unfair and innapropriate to turn around and say well we really meant six. how you weight coauthored papers, conference papers, books, chapters in books again is to some degree subjective and varies by institution.

In short, the only valid reasons for denying tenure are that the person has not met the academic standards of the institution where they are. If that person has met the standards then tenure should be granted, unless there is some clearly documented other problem-such as a **Valid and well warranted** sexual harassment complaint, for example.

Granting tenure, as I said, is a bit like grading. A student getting an “A” isn’t like checking a box. But if I say in my class syllabus an A paper has characteristics x, y and z, then I don’t have the right to make up b and c as additional requirements, or grade the paper down because the student said bad things behind my back.

I am against any kind of “collegiality” test or any “test” for “institutional fitness”. That is just a way for adminstrators to weed out people who they think will challenge administrative abuses, or for colleagues to attack people whose political ideas they don’t like. Notably, the AAUP opposes this practice.

Comment #175929

Posted by speedwell on May 16, 2007 1:46 PM (e)

Hello, everyone. I’m a half-educated non-academic who has been reading this thread with tourist-y interest. (I’ve always wondered what went into a tenure decision, and I find academic culture fascinating, even if I wouldn’t want to live there.)

Speaking simply as someone who might be going back to school and as someone who is in a position to influence which schools my sibling’s kids go to, I’m thrilled at the high-profile to-do over Gonzales. We non-insiders so seldom get a chance to evaluate a school based on the conspicuousness of its standards-upholding. You must know that’s what this all looks like to us out here–some goof with no idea how to do science is trying to crash his lazy, deluded musclehead into a field dominated by clear thinking and facts. Quality control.

If Gonzales had got tenure, and the creationists had, as is inevitable, used him as a celebrity advocate, and I was going to school where he taught, I would quit. It’s not that hard to switch schools as an undergraduate. But I’d make sure I did it before the new school asked me uncomfortable questions about the quality of my education at the old school.

Comment #175968

Posted by David B. Benson on May 16, 2007 4:47 PM (e)

Chip Poirot — A suggestion:

Just don’t respond to posts addressed to Chippy.

That must be somebody else and I, at least, do not bother to read the posts that begin that way…

Comment #175969

Posted by Laser on May 16, 2007 4:59 PM (e)

PvM: Anonymous bears a strong similarity to Larry Fafarman: engineer, inability to construct a coherent argument, “one can use X without believing it”, overconfidence in his understanding of the legal system, and the format of his posts, among others.

Can you check the IP address and block him, if it is Larry? We don’t need to return to last year, when he hijacked all the threads with his inane ramblings. Thanks.

Comment #175970

Posted by Flint on May 16, 2007 5:05 PM (e)

Chip:

In short, the only valid reasons for denying tenure are that the person has not met the academic standards of the institution where they are. If that person has met the standards then tenure should be granted, unless there is some clearly documented other problem-such as a **Valid and well warranted** sexual harassment complaint, for example.

Granting tenure, as I said, is a bit like grading. A student getting an “A” isn’t like checking a box. But if I say in my class syllabus an A paper has characteristics x, y and z, then I don’t have the right to make up b and c as additional requirements, or grade the paper down because the student said bad things behind my back.

I think perhaps the essence of your disagreement with others here is embedded in this clear statement. What you are doing is trying to position the default, and this is a very central point. Should a professor be granted tenure by default unless he fails to achieve x, y and z? Or should the professor be denied tenure as the default unless he is considered well above average, a positive credit (rather than merely not a discredit) to his field and to the school?

From what you write, you seem to feel that tenure is something a professor stands to LOSE by inappropriate behavior or inadequate accomplishments, rather than something he has to GAIN by performance over and above.

Personally, I’ve seen grading systems where the student is given an A if there is nothing wrong with a paper, and systems where the standard of “nothing wrong” deserves only a B, and getting an A requires something extraordinary and special. An A paper, in other words, MUST have AT LEAST x, y, and z. But lacking any one of them only disqualifies the paper from an A; possessing all of them doesn’t automatically guarantee an A. It’s entirely possible to write uninteresting prose, difficult to read and follow, without violating any of the rules of spelling, grammar, or organization. It’s not very easy to specify in any useful detail what “good, exciting, well-written, clear prose” actually consists of. But effetive authors do it nonetheless.

And maybe tenure is seen this same way at many schools. If you didn’t get a check in every box, don’t bother to apply. If you did, you’ve reached the ground floor. Now, as Frank Zappa said, what can you do that’s fantastic?

Comment #175994

Posted by Chip Poirot on May 16, 2007 6:36 PM (e)

Flint,

What I am saying is that at the time of appointment in the initial letter of appointment, in the handbook or contract, the University should specify what it considers as “excellent”, or sufficient to earn tenure.

That criterion can be “you have to walk on water” or it can be “you just need to be an effective teacher”. If a University only tenures potential Nobel prize winners-fine.

What I object to is defining the tenure standards as x,y and z, and then at the end saying it is something else.

But let’s look at it this way. Two candidates go up for tenure: one is male, one is female. Both have fully met the stated requirements for tenure. Both are equal in all respects. But the University says to one, you cannot have tenure because of things we just made up on the spot.

That is prima facie evidence of discrimination.

Comment #175995

Posted by Chip Poirot on May 16, 2007 6:39 PM (e)

David Benson,

But you see nothing wrong with gratuituous personal insults, right? As evidenced by your previous post:

Chip -0=0 thus implying, Chip = 0.

I’d call that rude and insulting and also somewhat irrelevant.

What would you call it?

Comment #176001

Posted by Robert O'Brien on May 16, 2007 7:04 PM (e)

DMA wrote:

ISU’s a good school–it’s where I got my B.S. in biochemistry–they can do much better.

That’s funny. I was going to say Guillermo Gonzalez is too good for IA State.

Comment #176003

Posted by t-bone on May 16, 2007 7:25 PM (e)

Comment #176001

Posted by Robert O’Brien on May 16, 2007 7:04 PM (e) | kill

DMA wrote:

ISU’s a good school–it’s where I got my B.S. in biochemistry–they can do much better.

That’s funny. I was going to say Guillermo Gonzalez is too good for IA State.

‘course, this is the kind of thing O’brien said about Dembski for a few years. So expect him to turn on Guillermo around 2009.

Rob’s not a bad kid, just a little slow on the uptake.

Comment #176005

Posted by David B. Benson on May 16, 2007 7:50 PM (e)

Chip Poirot — It was a joke. I should have put a smiley face on it.

In particular, you said you trusted two different institutions equally, without specifying how much.

It was certainly not intended as an insult, or even to hint at one. My apologies.

Comment #176007

Posted by Flint on May 16, 2007 7:56 PM (e)

Chip:

What I am saying is that at the time of appointment in the initial letter of appointment, in the handbook or contract, the University should specify what it considers as “excellent”, or sufficient to earn tenure.

May I suggest that what you’re saying is effectively not feasible? If you explicitly codify *precisely* what the requirements are, you will get people focusing strictly on the checkboxes rather than on excellence or knowledge. So many teaching hours, check, so many pubs, check, so many committee duties, check… You run the serious risks of (a) discouraging someone truly outstanding who doesn’t quite fit a checkbox; and (b) discouraging people capable of something truly outstanding from looking at your school in the first place.

Conversely, you don’t want totally open-ended BS in the handbook or contrast, saying that (for example) “to achieve tenure requires an outstanding record of achievement, personal commitment to the field and to the university, and blah blah blah” because these are so subjective nobody will have a clue if they meet the requirements.

But some middle ground really is necessary, if the university is to thrive. They want good people, knowing no two good people will be or should be alike. The power to discriminate is a double-edged sword, always will be. There will always be a subjective component in the assessment of excellent, and that subjective component can always be used to blackball people for irrelevant reasons. Recall that two Ohio State tenured professors were on the verge of granting a PhD to a creationist for purely religious-agenda purposes, and the hell with the reputation of the school.

So here’s my executive summary: You cannot codify excellence. You are hostage to the integrity of your selection committee. If you tie their hands, you will get checkbox-filling mediocrity ONLY. If you don’t tie their hands, AND if your committee is second-rate, you will get third-rate selections. First-rate people will approve ONLY first-rate people. They know who they are. If in the interests if fairness you deprive them of judgment, you will *always* lose in the long run.

(While I’m at it, I think there is also no substitute for continuous feedback, at least twice a year. Let the potential candidate know where s/he is doing well, what any weaknesses are, where to better focus. Tenure track people must be kept ON track. By the time the Big Day comes, there should be NO denials - those considered not worthy should have been weeded out and sent elsewhere long since. By all accounts, Gonzalez indeed had such feedback, but it didn’t seem to penetrate. And THAT, all by itself, should be reason enough…)

Comment #176026

Posted by Chip Poirot on May 16, 2007 10:13 PM (e)

David,

Sorry for not getting the joke. I actually normally have a pretty decent sense of humor. Toejam sets me off.

Flint,

I don’t think we are that far apart. What I am advocating is simply consistent with the AAUP recommended standards on academic freedom.

I agree-there will always be some weighing of relevant qualifications and that is why you can never get it precisely.

I think what is achievable is that tenure processes be above board, fair and that rules not be made up at the last minute. For example, if you are a mid level teaching/research university and someone has five peer reviewed articles and excellent teaching evaluations, don’t suddenly make up the requirement that you have to publish in the top journals instead of the mid level journals. Especially if no one else at the University publishes in the top journals. On the other hand, if you are a top tier university and everyone knows you have to publish in the top ranked journals and you don’t do it, then fair’s fair.

But what I am really saying is that the role of a tenure committee, Dean, Provost and President is to weigh facts like a jury and to apply facts to the rules. That’s a lot different from checking a box. It’s also a lot different from pretending that tenure is some mystical process.

I can do without the “good of the institution” stuff. That sounds like a good way for corporate minded Presidents to just get rid of people who they think don’t fit with their corporate agenda.

If in the end, protection of diversity of thought, open debate, etc. lead to the preservation of a few screwballs, I would rather live with that than the alternative.

If Gonzales has a case then he can make it to the appeals committee, to the AAUP, or to the courts. Or he can do what a lot of people do who are denied tenure and move on. I’m frankly not too worried about him.

Comment #176125

Posted by Darth Robo on May 17, 2007 6:15 AM (e)

Hey, has my old pal Larry been hanging around lately? Hey, Larry, if you’re here, Robo says hi!

:-P

Comment #176132

Posted by Frank J on May 17, 2007 6:27 AM (e)

Anonymous wrote:

I am against tenure, but I feel that it should be fair while we have it. My attitude towards people who are in favor of tenure is, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

I too dislike the concept, but “have to live with it” for the time being. I will also say that the great majority of those who I think do not deserve tenure are not IDers or creationists. And I happen to think that Michael Behe earned it, despite his moonlighting as a pseudoscientist. Now, can you name some IDers or creationists that you think don’t deserve tenure?

Comment #176164

Posted by Science Goddess on May 17, 2007 7:57 AM (e)

Wrong again, Pumpkinhead: Children are actually brainwashed into a religion from the day they’re born. We don’t give them evolution in school until at least the 7th grade. Look at how many years they’ve become inculcated with EVILUTION as opposed to EVOLUTION. For some of them, their minds are completely closed to fact after they’ve heard at home and at church that there’s no evidence. Evolution is real science, with actual data. There ARE transitional fossils, lots of them. The genetic, embryologic (evo-devo) and fossil evidence is all there for those who will open their eyes. It’s religion that demands faith without evidence, not evolution. Besides, this isn’t a thread about evolution, and I’m not trying to start one.

SG

Comment #176172

Posted by Flint on May 17, 2007 8:30 AM (e)

I point out that Behe, a tenured professor at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, has completely stopped doing any original biochemistry research, and Anonymous responds that Kansas and Georgia have good aerospace industries! Now THERE is a rebuttal!

Comment #176173

Posted by Flint on May 17, 2007 8:32 AM (e)

I point out that Behe, a tenured professor at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, has completely stopped doing any original biochemistry research, and Anonymous responds that Kansas and Georgia have good aerospace industries! Now THERE is a rebuttal!

Comment #176190

Posted by George Cauldron on May 17, 2007 10:05 AM (e)

Laser, you lousy scumbag, Larry and I have as much right to comment here as you do.

Larry now refers to himself in the first person plural? I see his mental deterioration is continuing unabated.

Anyway, the answer is no. Larry has LESS right to post here.

But Kansas and Georgia now have healthy aerospace industries whereas Southern California’s once fabulous aerospace industry has gone down the tubes. So who are the dumb ones?

And Larry, you’re mentally ill, but I wouldn’t want to malign the whole city of Los Angeles based on you.

Comment #176224

Posted by Laser on May 17, 2007 11:58 AM (e)

Anyway, the answer is no. Larry has LESS right to post here.

Actually, no, Larry has NO right to post here. Posting here is a privilege, subject to following the rules. Larry blatantly violated the rules in the past and thus forfeited his right to post here. So, no, Larry, you don’t have as much right to post here as anyone else, no matter how on-topic your posts are.

The proprietors make the rules, I’m just asking that they be enforced.

Comment #176249

Posted by guthrie on May 17, 2007 1:15 PM (e)

My, we have got an agressive little anonymous. It such a shame ID Creationism has no evidence to back it up.

If you’d like to pop over to
http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/i…

the forum for this place, you can vent your anger in more congenial company.

Comment #176270

Posted by Flint on May 17, 2007 2:19 PM (e)

Anonymous:

What I was rebutting was this notion that critics of evolution are “embarrassments” that drive away people and businesses.

But you didn’t even do that much. I would direct your attention to the statement the Lehigh faculty signed, attempting to disassociate themselves from Behe and deflect any popular impression that Lehigh is like Bob Jones.

Willard is right

Here, I agree with you. If the voters of Kansas wish to elect a creationist school board, and THEN pay for lawsuits they always lose, this is their business. I personally see no sign that the publicity surrounding a school board determined to preserve the students’ ignorance has damaged Kansas in any way. Their policies have not been implemented yet.

So instead of doing something positive to try to improve the reputation of ISU, the 120 faculty members who signed the anti-ID letter that implicitly targeted Gonzalez were attracting negative attention to the university.

I guess this depends on your perspective. As I see it, this petition caused ISU to go WAY up in my estimation - it means that the faculty are BOTH aware of what’s going on, and willing to protect their reputations. However, I can understand if you disapprove of any efforts to fight the threatening encroachment of knowledge. Mirecki himself sounds like a dumbass.

(Finally, I had no posting difficulty, as I’ve experienced in the past. I previewed, corrected typos, and submitted. Got two posts. Beats me…)

Comment #176272

Posted by RBH on May 17, 2007 2:22 PM (e)

Anonymous wrote

What I was rebutting was this notion that critics of evolution are “embarrassments” that drive away people and businesses.

As it happens, my chance seatmate on an airplane from Baltimore to Columbus, OH, just last night, a Ph.D. epidemiologist, told me in casual conversation that he’d spent 5 years working in Kansas and remarked on how careful he had to be about mentioning “evolution” in his work on rural health care quality control there, even to orthopedic surgeons whose specific routines for the post-operative use of prophylactic antibiotic treatment created conditions ideal for the evolution of antibiotic resistance. He left Kansas.

RBH

Comment #176292

Posted by jv on May 17, 2007 3:22 PM (e)

It is my understanding that GG has:

1. No major funding,
2. No graduated students, and few to none students at all, and
3. A middling and boring publication history.

It’s just Iowa State, but it’s still a significant research university. It’s the kind of place people go when they can’t make it at a top tier university.

GG has the makings for tenure at some place none of us have ever heard of, but Iowa State would be wasting time and resources on him.

GG might be the best ID has so far, but that is not a compliment.

Comment #176332

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 17, 2007 5:57 PM (e)

Yes, I am Larry. I deserve to post here just like anywhere else.

I am Larry,
hear me roar,
in caps too big too ignore…

Comment #176454

Posted by ben on May 18, 2007 4:43 AM (e)

Yes, I am Larry. I deserve to post here just like anywhere else.

No, you don’t.

Panda’s Thumb Comment Integrity Policy
[snip]
6. Posting under multiple identities or falsely posting as someone else may lead to removal of affected comments and blocking of the IP address from which those comments were posted, at the discretion of the management.

You’ve done both, repeatedly. Go back to your own (readerless) blog.

Comment #176460

Posted by Darth Robo on May 18, 2007 5:48 AM (e)

“PvM, you have no shame. You have been deleting my comments here, even though those comments have been on-topic, serious, and polite (unless I am provoked). You are just a big phony with no credibility.”

Ah, Larry. Still referring back to the good old fundie martyr complex. Oh, the pain.

“Your unethical action is also very inconsiderate, as I spent a lot of time researching and writing the comments.”

Hey, Larry did research! (giggle)

If it makes you feel better, I miss ya, Larry!

Comment #183433

Posted by franco agosti on June 16, 2007 3:58 PM (e)

dear sir
I am interested in the history, may I have a list of names of great modern scientist that where also known cristias?
Begining from Isaac Newton, Blaise Pascal, Benjamin Franklin…till the Francis Shaeffer

Comment #183434

Posted by franco agosti on June 16, 2007 3:58 PM (e)

dear sir
I am interested in the history, may I have a list of names of great modern scientist that where also known cristias?
Begining from Isaac Newton, Blaise Pascal, Benjamin Franklin…till the Francis Shaeffer

Trackback: Why you should never trust a creationist (Reason #3,208)

Posted by Clever Beyond Measure on May 15, 2007 10:11 AM

There’s been a lot of to-do in the Series of Tubes lately regarding Iowa State University denying tenure to Guillermo Gonzales, he of Privileged Planet fame. You can read about it here if you’re not familiar with the situation. Of

Trackback: Guillermo Gonzalez’s Denial of Tenure Brings out Widespread Intolerance among Rank and File Darwinists

Posted by Evolution News & Views on May 17, 2007 3:18 PM

It seems like just yesterday that University of Minnesota biologist P.Z. Myers, who runs what Nature declared to be the #1 science blog, admitted, "I get to vote on tenure decisions at my university, and I can assure you that if someone comes up who cl...

Trackback: Darwinists Spread Misinformation about Guillermo Gonzalez's Denial of Tenure

Posted by Evolution News & Views on May 19, 2007 1:49 AM

All too predictably, during the past week various Darwinists have been trying to divert attention away from the Guillermo Gonzalez tenure case through a campaign of misinformation about both Dr. Gonzalez and intelligent design. Whether they do so knowi...

Trackback: Academic Freedom and ID

Posted by Threads from Henry's Web on May 19, 2007 8:47 AM

Intelligent Design advocates are trying to make us believe that their struggle is primarily about academic freedom, about allowing a new idea to get the examination it deserves, and about ensuring that people are not persecuted for their beliefs. Simi...