Frequently Asked Questions
The following is a collection of frequently asked questions that we are compiling and tentative answers will come. The questions are organized into those for Candidates and those for Evaluators.
Questions for Candidates:
- Has anyone been tenured or promoted on the basis of digital work?
Yes, many people have and in so doing have had to negotiate an openness to new forms of research and review with their university.
- Should I also have a book?
You shouldn't have to, but it is safer. That said, it can be hard to find the sustained time to write a book while doing digital work. You may want to focus on articles so all your eggs are in one basket. Ask your chair as the importance of the book varies from discipline to discipline and from institution to institution.
- I've been told I should hide the digital work until I get tenure; is that true?
No. It would only be true at a very conservative place where you were hired to do only traditional stuff. While digital stuff may not count for much, it rarely harms a case. You are more likely to find that at different levels there are different attitudes to digital work. Your chair may not care, but your dean may be happy to have someone building a credible presence for the Faculty in new media.
- What do I do if the chair who hired me (and advised me on the digital work I am doing) steps down and is replaced by a chair with whom I have no history?
Set up a meeting and tell them what you do. Start developing a history of understanding. If you have documentation from the original hiring and the first chair's expectations then they should be honoured by subsequent chairs.
- What do I do if I'm asked to help run a lab and fix colleague's computers?
Ask for teaching release or release from other service to run a lab. Ask for help to run the lab too - ask for a budget line to hire students or technical staff. As for fixing colleague's computers, you should not do it, except as an occasional favor to friends. Unless it was written into your job that you have X percent of your time allocated to technical support, avoid the expectation by colleagues that you will serve them. You are a peer - a colleague, not a convenience.
- What are some good venues for getting my digital work reviewed?
See the links page. There are more and more online journals that have credible and well documented peer review processes. There are venues like Vectors that can support interactive submissions if accepted.
- What are some good conferences for presenting research based on digital work?
There is an annual international Digital Humanities conference every year. It alternates continent each year (Europe and North America mostly) and fairly general. There are terrific conferences that are more narrowly focused. The MLA Convention has just about as many papers about digital media as a dedicated conference.
- I've been asked to provide names of senior reviewers for my work and tenure case; how can I figure out who to put forward?
You should know. If you don't then you haven't been showing your work at academic venues and interacting with senior colleagues, which is another problem. One reason to be attend conferences is so you get to know the community and can identify people who should understand your work. Otherwise you can check online conference programs and online journals to find people.
- Is it worth it to write grant applications early in my career before I'm tenured?
Write smaller ones that will genuinely advance your work. Be willing to "apprentice" on larger ones led by experienced colleagues, but don't lead large ones yourself unless very well supported. The work coordinating a large one is significant and the chances slim.
- I didn't get a grant the last time I applied and I'm discouraged. What can I do to get support for my digital work?
Apply again and with an improved proposal. Everyone gets rejected the first times.
- I don't know much about instructional technology evaluation, but I have a teaching and learning project that I would like to have assessed. How can I get help designing an assessment strategy?
There should be a unit that supports teaching and learning on campus.
Questions for Evaluators
- I have no idea how to assess this digital work before me; what can I do in a reasonable amount of time?
- I need the names and contact information for senior colleagues to review a case before our department; how do I identify the right sorts of external reviewers?
- I have just started as a new chair and I have a junior colleague coming up for review with a portfolio of digital work I have no experience with; what can I do to educate myself and advise the junior colleague?
- We are hiring someone into the first position with a digital component for the first time into our department. How can advertise the position; how can I write an appropriate ad; and how can we assess the suitability of candidates?
- A junior colleague needs funding to pursue a digital research project, but I'm afraid that writing grants will distract him when he needs to publish to get tenure. What should I suggest?
- A colleague who has developed teaching and learning materials for his courses wants these to count for tenure and promotion; how can I assess these as research, if at all?
- A colleague spends a considerable amount of time blogging and wants this count as a research contribution; how should the department assess such a contribution?
- We are a small department and have one junior colleague with strong computer skills who supports our student lab and office computers; I worry that this is taking time away from her research, but we can't function without her. How should this be recognized and how can we support her?
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