Guidelines for conversations with tenure-track faculty

Tenure Track Years 4-6 Basic Scientists

Primary focus: Writing senior- authored papers

“You need senior author papers – little else matters.”

~ Robert Doms, M.D., Ph.D. Chair, Department of Microbiology

By now, tenure-track faculty should no longer be writing papers with mentors from their fellowship as senior author. Likewise, they should avoid too many papers with a well-known senior scientist unless they have a sufficient number of additional papers that do not include that person. Their focus now should be on securing a place for themselves as senior author.

All this being said, mentors should not discourage their mentees from any collaborative papers. In fact, effective collaborations can greatly accelerate mentees’ research and make it easier for them to move into new areas, giving them both scientific and funding diversity. However, mentees should make sure that they have clearly defined roles on papers and that their individual contributions to the science are clear.

When tenure-track faculty are evaluated for tenure, the School of Medicine COAP will look for assurance that the candidate has provided for substantial research funding into the foreseeable future. Historically, this has translated into having two R01’s or a renewed R01, along with another grant such as funding from the VA or foundations. While the NIH RO1 remains the gold standard, the School recognizes that, beginning in 2005, overall NIH funding has plateaued. As a result, other sources of peer-reviewed funding, in a time of NIH restriction, take on added importance. If a candidate, at the time of tenure review, has funding that will be ending in the next few years, it is advisable that there be a number of applications listed as ‘pending’.

Letters from external reviewers play a critical role in evaluating faculty for promotion. Standard text for letters soliciting feedback from reviewers follows in the box below.

Cultivating a reputation in the scholarly community

“After I’ve attended a conference, I consider it a success if I can point to at least one person I’ve spoken with who didn’t know me beforehand.”

~ Glen N. Gaulton, Ph.D., Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Vice Dean, Research and Research Training.

As indicated in the box above, the School of Medicine COAP asks reviewers to evaluate the extent to which candidates are recognized in the larger scholarly community for distinctive and significant intellectual contributions. This means that faculty need to get their name “out there” in the larger scholarly community. At professional meetings, they should take advantage of opportunities to discuss their scholarly interests with other attendees. They should be working with their mentors on finding opportunities to create a high profile. Some specific ways in which mentors can help mentees get their names established in the larger scholarly community follow.

Ways to help mentees get their names established in the larger scholary community
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Recommend your mentees for study sections. Serving on study sections will offer them the opportunity to demonstrate the clarity of their scientific reasoning to prominent scholars in their fields.
Call your colleagues at universities throughout the country to solicit invitations for your mentees.
Invite the top names in your mentees’ area of expertise to give seminars. If they accept, make sure your mentees get some individual face-time with visiting scholars.
Find opportunities for your mentees to organize or participate in high-profile conferences.
Help your mentees identify the key professional societies in their area of biomedical expertise and secure membership in them

Service on study sections

Invited lectures

Meetings with visiting scholars

Roles organizing conferences

Memberships in professional and scientific societies


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