Tenure and Promotion Policy - Department of Psychological Sciences

Tenure and Promotion policies for Kent State University are described in Chapter 6 of the University Policy Register. There are three general categories considered for tenure and promotion: (a) Research, (b) Teaching, and (c) University Citizenship. The University Policy describes the criteria for assessing the quality of scholarship and citizenship in general terms but individual departments articulate the relative weight given to each category and the specific criteria to be considered by the department's Ad Hoc Promotion and Tenure Committee. This document provides information only on the Department’s particular manner of specifying the criteria for tenure and promotion. 

The same general criteria are applied in evaluating candidates for tenure and promotion. In addition, the general criteria applicable to promotion to Associate Professor and Professor are the same for both ranks, although they are weighted somewhat differently. The major difference is that full Professors are expected to meet promotion requirements at a substantially higher level. Additionally, for promotion to Professor, emphasis is placed on scholarly accomplishments since the candidate’s promotion to Associate Professor. As will be seen, research accomplishments are essential for tenure and promotion for all Faculty. A description of the three areas considered in assessing a Faculty member for tenure and promotion follow.

  1. Research

    The Department puts the highest value on research in evaluating candidates.  This policy is consistent with our belief that a University must be a place that generates knowledge, rather than merely a place that disseminates a product.  We believe that active involvement in research enhances the quality of information presented in the teaching context.  In addition, research provides a valuable contribution to public needs and promotes the visibility of Kent State University.  No Faculty member in Psychological Sciences should expect to be tenured or promoted if he/she is seriously deficient in the broad area of research.  All candidates are expected to publish empirical research in refereed journals.  Integrative review papers that appear in journals such as Psychological Bulletin and the American Psychologist are also highly valued.  The Department has long recognized the importance of applied research and, at least in psychology, the best applied research is theoretically driven and can be published in appropriate refereed journals. 

    In evaluating the credentials of a candidate in the area of research, the Ad Hoc Promotion and Tenure Committee considers the following factors (see Table V.1):

    1. Publications

      The quality, quantity, and rate of publication of peer-reviewed journal articles, including empirical articles and theoretical and review articles, are important considerations in arriving at a decision to tenure and/or promote.  It is the Department’s expectation that the candidate’s scholarly record will include a significant body of empirical research.  Although quantity can be evaluated rather simply, the judgment of quality is more complex and involves a number of factors.  Only work accomplished since the Faculty member was appointed to the faculty at Kent State University is counted, unless explicit credit is given for previous academic or research experience.  Only publications or “in press” material are counted; items that are under review or in preparation are considered but given very little weight. 

      In general, the highest value is given to empirical articles in referred journals.  An integrated series of studies in a single article is more valued than piece-meal publication of single empirical studies.  Theoretical and review papers in peer-reviewed, prestigious journals are highly valued but candidates for tenure should also have articles reporting empirical research. Obviously, publications in journals having stringent reviewing policies are more valued than publications in journals that are less rigorous in their editorial control.  The contribution made by publishing a book is judged, in general, on the level of the book.  For example, professional books that make original contributions are considered more valuable than undergraduate textbooks.  Convention papers are encouraged, but because of their relatively narrow range of dissemination and sometimes superficial reviewing policies, they represent a more nominal level of research accomplishment.  Unpublished research reports or technical reports that are distributed locally or informally are not considered to be "publications."  In evaluating research activity, degree of contribution, not just authorship, will be considered.  Candidates need to specify the degree and nature of their contribution to co-authored publications.  For research activity that was begun before but finished after his/her appointment at Kent State, the amount of work completed since appointment also should be specified.  Since it is difficult to specify typical criteria for tenure and promotion, consultation with senior colleagues may be helpful.

    2. Research-related grants

      The ability of a researcher to support his/her own research program with external funding is a factor that reflects favorably on a candidate's research credentials.  Candidates who have grants that are not funded but have a positive evaluation from competent peer judgment can present that evaluation as a credential that works in favor of tenure and promotion.  Evidence of sustained attempts to obtain research grants is essential for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor and for promotion to Professor.  Obtaining external funding to support a Faculty member's research adds considerably to the case for tenure and promotion, particularly for promotion to Professor.  A very significant factor in assessing research accomplishment of Kent campus Faculty is a consistent pattern  of submitting grant proposals and even more significance is associated with essentially continuous external support.

    3. Professional activity

      Faculty members in Psychological Sciences are expected to be active participants in the profession of psychology.  Some evidence of outside professional activity is necessary for tenure and/or promotion.  Examples of such activity would be reviewing for journals, attending professional meetings regularly, holding office in a professional organization, serving on professional committees, etc.

    4. Reputation

      A person's scholarly reputation is a reflection of the quality, extent, and creativity of his/her research output and is, therefore, an issue that is carefully evaluated.    To receive a positive recommendation for tenure and/or promotion, a candidate must provide evidence that his/her work has provided an impact on the discipline of psychology.  Although international eminence is not required for tenure and/or promotion, it is true that a measure of scholarly reputation is needed.  Indeed, a particularly outstanding reputation in research can serve as an overwhelming mandate for tenure and/or promotion.  Reputation is typically evaluated by letters from investigators in the candidate's area of expertise, number of citations of his/her research, invited colloquia, book chapters, and special honors of any type, including editorships of journals.

  2. Teaching

    Quality of teaching is a very important consideration in evaluating a Faculty member.  Research on teaching can also be included in this area.  No one should expect to be recommended for tenure and/or promotion unless he/she can present solid evidence of good teaching.  Poor teaching can be a basis for denying tenure and/or promotion of a Faculty member who might otherwise exceed the criteria for tenure and/or promotion.  Teaching excellence is a concept that covers a variety of areas, described below (see also Table V.1):

    1. Classroom instruction

      Performance of the Faculty member in the classroom is an important part of teaching evaluation and includes such characteristics as coherence, interest-level, organization, etc.  The quality of course content is also critically important.

  3. University Citizenship

    This category includes service activities not necessarily tied to one’s special field of knowledge which make significant contributions to the advancement of the educational, scholarly, and governance goals and missions of the university, college, campus, or unit. Faculty members are expected to serve on Departmental, Collegial, and University committees as part of their ordinary responsibilities. [Regional Campus Faculty are expected to serve on committees at their Regional Campus and, when elected or appointed, on those in the Regional Campus System.]  It is also desirable for Faculty to make use of their professional competence in service to the community.  When such University and public service is truly exceptional it can contribute toward tenure and/or promotion. Service can be provided in a variety of ways, such as chairing committees, consulting, etc. 

    Service will be evaluated using methods similar to those used in assessing teaching or research activity.  For example, letters of recommendation and explanation from people from whom the individual has provided service will be obtained as practical.  Thus, both quantity and quality of the person's service contribution will be carefully and thoroughly evaluated.

    1. Quality of contribution

      Holding a position in the University or as a consultant is not,   by itself, a particularly strong credential toward promotion.  The candidate should also provide evidence bearing on the quality and extent of the contributions that have been made.  Examples of excellence in service-related activities would be recognition by professional groups such as ABEPP, awarding of Diplomate Status, etc.

    2. Service-related grants

      Just as research grants reflect on a candidate's scholarly quality, so do service type grants reflect on a candidate's performance.  Within the service category, a higher rating is given to service-related grants that are awarded in a competitive context and are based upon competent peer judgment.

  4. Expectations

    A Kent Campus Faculty member must meet expectations in all three areas (research, teaching, and service) to receive a positive recommendation for tenure and promotion to Associate or Full Professor (see Table V.1).  For tenure and promotion to Associate Professor, the quality and number of publications, and grant activity in the form of grant applications and external grant support, will be primary concerns.  However, excellence in research cannot compensate for poor teaching or a lack of quality service; such a profile would not result in a positive recommendation. 

    Because tenure implies a life-time commitment to a Faculty member, the potential of the Faculty member to make a positive contribution to the discipline, Department, University, and community over the long term is carefully assessed.  To that end, it is possible, in rare instances, that a Faculty member may not have the potential to be a positive influence in the Department, even though research and teaching accomplishments are adequate.  In such cases, the detrimental influence of a Faculty member would be grounds to recommend against tenure.

    As noted in the University Policy, promotion to Professor necessarily requires significant accomplishments in the area of research. In evaluating candidates for promotion to Professor, a substantial record of accomplishment in publications, grantsmanship and professional contributions are key considerations.  However, greatest weight is placed on the Faculty member’s scholarly reputation in evaluating a candidate for promotion to Professor.

    TABLE 1  Criteria for Tenure and Promotion of Kent Campus Faculty*




    [1] Exceptional performance in research may be justification for considering a candidate for early Promotion and Tenure.





    Professional Activity



    Substantial number of first authored publications in high quality journals since hire

    PI on multiple

    major grants

    Typical examples  

    include editorships,

    officer in professional organization(s)

    Outstanding external letters, evidence of substantial  

    impact (e.g., citation counts,

    high caliber publications,

    special awards, editorships)



    Evidence of an independent program of research that is resulting in a clear record of empirical publications in

    quality journals

    PI or Co-PI on a  funded major grant  or sustained effort to obtain major  extramural grants

    Typical examples  

    include ad hoc journal reviews, presenting at meetings, serving on professional committees

    Strong external letters, some evidence of  impact/

    recognition (e.g., citations, publication outlets and reviewing)


    Sporadic publications; and/or lack of evidence of an independent program of research and/or lack of quality publications

    Lack of sustained effort to obtain major extramural grants

    No engagement  in profession

    Lackluster external letters, minimal impact


    [1] Note that reputation is weighed much more heavily for promotion to Full than for Tenure and Promotion to Associate






              Classroom Instruction

                        Student Supervision [1]


    Evidence of outstanding teaching (based on  peer reviews from Ad Hoc P&T committee    and student evaluations); teaching awards

    Exceptional mentorship as evidenced by productive graduate students (excellent progress, publications) and enthusiastic evaluations by supervisees



    Solid evidence of  good teaching (based on   peer reviews from Ad Hoc P&T committee    and student evaluations) 

    Has attracted graduate students to lab, evidence of active and effective research and/or Clinical Psychology supervision as evidenced by student progress and supervisee evaluations


    Consistent evidence of  poor teaching performance

    Consistent evidence of poor quality mentorship and/or supervision 


    [1] For faculty who participate in practicum supervision, their performance in clinical supervision is also considered here.


    *For a complete description of criteria, please see Tenure and Promotion Policy.






    Extensive, high-quality service; leadership roles, outreach activities

    Meets Expectations

    Consistent and responsible service on departmental and/or University committees


    Minimal and/or low quality service