Let me be clear here. My department, despite the many flaws of the larger institution, is a really good place to work (for those of us privileged to be on the tenure track, at least). The teaching load is a humane 2/3, and the minimum publication requirements for tenure are a very humane four major articles (there are more recommendations that surround that baseline, but still, that's the baseline.
By June now, I have begun the early steps of the tenure process.
Step One: Introducing Myself to the Committee
So that they could begin to choose evaluators, the committee that covers tenure and promotion required a brief paragraph from me to determine good matches. As my work is eclectic in subject matter and ecumenical in approach, and worse, constellates around a book project that will NOT be part of my tenure file, this was not an easy task. But there it is. Short story? I do modern drama. Longer story? I do modern drama and performance studies as it relates to gender studies, life writing, narratology, contemporary British literature, cultural studies and (occasionally) composition pedagogy.
Step Two: assembling the list of external evaluators.
So BRU doesn't offer an honorarium to evaluators, and because of some hitches in the way that our Evaluation Committee (EC) (which handles both annual evaluation and T&P) is constituted, we get a late start on collecting names of potential external evaluators. Which means, with nothing bu good will to offer in return, we call evaluators late in the game, after they've often already agreed to review sometimes multiple other cases. This means that the luxury of choosing a few really wonderful outside readers is mitigated by the likelihood that the most wonderful readers very well may decline the request.
So the process is this: The (EC) and I both submit lists of potential external evaluators. In the past and elsewhere, I've heard that each body gives 5-6 names, and the chair collates those lists, and after I vet them for any material conflicts of interest, gets them approved by the Dean. Once the list is approved, he calls down the lest to secure between 3-6 external evaluators of the case. Because of the likelihood that those requests might be denied, though, both I and the committee were asked to assemble much larger lists of possible readers (somewhere around 40-45 between the two lists). This means that the bottom of the list ends up with people much further afield from my work than I might like, and also that the list inevitably includes those few people on the list who, for whatever reason, don't like me, or my work, or my approach, or (relevantly) the fact that I'm a man doing feminist studies in performance.
But, as of the end of May, I understand that both lists were generated, collated, approved by the Dean, and that readers were secured.
Step three: Assemble packets for External evaluators.
This would seem straightforward, but there are two parts, and questions about each.
- Part One: What to include. So obviously, I include the major articles, and the components of the edited collection that I wrote or co-wrote. But. Do I include the entire collection as evidence of the editing work? Do I include minor articles (10 pages or shorter?) Do I include reviews? Book reviews and/or performance reviews? Do I include multiple incarnations of radically different lengths of material published under the same title (ie short draft for online journal, expanded significantly for collection)? The book reviews gesture toward that empty center of my work that would otherwise be occupied by the book project in process. The performance review and minor article overlap very closely in subject matter and even primary argument. Current talley: iterations of same article yes, book reviews yes, minor article yes, performance review no.
- Related question: An article has been accepted for a collection that has not yet found a publisher. I know I can't include it if it's not under contract, but do I a) hold off sending out the packet to see if a contract comes through? b) pull the article from the collection and roll the dice on a journal? c) just send out the packet without the article? I seem to have, by inaction, settled on c).
- Part two: The framing letter. So I write a letter to tell my evaluators what they're reading. The big questions here are twofold: a) how to explain the collection which represents a significant portion of the page count they are reading, but is only tangentially connected to my stated field. b) how to explain the book project as the nucleus of my work thus far around which all the other pieces revolve as satellites, without looking like a slacker, or intellectually ADD.