Glasgow to rate ‘collegiality’ for professorial promotions

University believes new criteria rewarding selfless behaviour will ‘focus minds’

October 31, 2019
people helping each other to climb wall
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Becoming a professor requires having not just a sharp intellect, but equally sharp elbows, it is often claimed.

That kind of pushy and self-centred behaviour may, however, prove detrimental to those hoping to become a professor at one UK university that has introduced new promotion guidelines that require senior staff to demonstrate how they have helped others to succeed.

From this month, the University of Glasgow will ask all internal candidates applying for a professorship – as well as those professors seeking a higher professorial grade – to show their “collegiality” in each of the six areas in which their promotion will be assessed.

That might include producing evidence that applicants helped others to gain credit on major research projects, explained Tanita Casci, Glasgow’s head of research policy.

“We want to see how many careers you’ve supported, so that might mean you have given someone a co-investigator credit, rather than just being a sole principal investigator yourself,” said Dr Casci.

“And, while we are pleased if you can list any prizes or awards you’ve been given, we also want to know how many times you’ve nominated someone else for an award too.”

Other examples of collegiality might include helping others to secure keynote speaker slots at conferences, offering co-authoring opportunities or acting as a second supervisor for junior colleagues supervising their first PhD students, Dr Casci told Times Higher Education, who believes it is the first time that a UK university has formally assessed collegiality in promotions.

“The word ‘collegiality’ has been in the preface to our promotion criteria for a while, but nowhere had we stated how people might demonstrate this and how we would reward it,” said Dr Casci.

The new promotion criteria are part of a wider initiative to re-evaluate the university’s research culture, including how Glasgow should recognise different contributions to research that are not measured by journal impact factors or grant success rates.

It could also incentivise collaboration between researchers, Dr Casci added. “Research funding is increasingly coming in bigger grants and this will require people to come together,” she said.

Glasgow’s new promotion criteria come amid a growing debate about what should be considered as excellence in research. Last month, Wellcome Trust director Jeremy Farrar launched a consultation on “reimagining research excellence”, saying that the “emphasis on excellence in the research system is stifling diverse thinking and positive behaviours”.

On Glasgow’s new policy, Dr Casci hoped it would reward existing collegiate behaviour already happening, but also encourage this behaviour too.

“We hope it will focus minds – even if people aren’t going for promotion, it might help them think about how their actions influence the wider institutional community,” said Dr Casci.

jack.grove@timeshighereducation.com

POSTSCRIPT:

Print headline: Help others to help your career

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Reader's comments (1)

How to ruin a good idea; collegiality is important, but to demonstrate, to count how many times, etc. etc. it's the usual wrong stuff... Does it include also university-issued guidelines for settling disputes over whether the help to get an invited speech was significant (or unsolicited)? Whether jokes are funny enough?

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