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ICYMI: Professors seek to stop use of Academic Analytics in tenure process

Spring 2016 Semester Recap

<p>April 2016 | David Hughes, a professor in the Department of Anthropology, said using Academic Analytics reduced the work a professor does to a simple number.</p>

April 2016 | David Hughes, a professor in the Department of Anthropology, said using Academic Analytics reduced the work a professor does to a simple number.

“Audit culture” should not exist for professors seeking tenure at Rutgers, David Hughes of the University’s faculty union argued early in the semester.

The AAUP-AFT protested the University’s use of a new data mining tool called Academic Analytics, which the school licensed in 2013. Over four years, the University is paying $492,500 for the database.

The database tracks professors' journal articles, citations, books, research grants and awards, and then compares those numbers to national averages. Hughes told The Daily Targum that the database is often inaccurate and does not track “publicly engaged scholarship.”

The School of Arts and Sciences faculty passed a resolution on Dec. 14 regarding how the University uses Academic Analytics. The resolution asks that the University not use Academic Analytics in tenure and promotion decisions or in allocating resources among departments and grant-writing.

The resolution also asks that Academic Analytics data be distributed to each faculty member in order to increase transparency.

“(Academic Analytics) is part of what we call 'audit culture,' where everything is reduced to a quantifiable variable and measured and compared in order to rank people," said Hughes, a professor in the Department of Anthropology. "It's equivalent to high school testing."

On Dec. 16, Hughes met with Rutgers—New Brunswick Chancellor Richard L. Edwards and other Rutgers administrators to pass a memorandum of agreement on Academic Analytics, asking the school to not use Academic Analytics in the promotion or tenure of faculty. The University did not agree to the memorandum.

Signing the memorandum was unnecessary, Edwards said, because the University already uses citation indexing and considers the quality of journals during the promotion process.

"Promotion standards change over time, the bar gets raised, someone who got tenured or promoted here 10 or 15 years ago might not be promoted here now because the expectations are different," he said. "We are looking at a variety of things in terms of output."

This article is part of our Spring 2016 Perspectives edition. Find the full issue here.

Avalon Zoppo is the managing editor of The Daily Targum. She is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science. Follow her on Twitter @AvalonZoppo for more stories.

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