Written and Unwritten Publication Requirements

This is an excerpt from Dr. Robert Lussier’s book Publish Don’t Perish, The Top Secrets to Get Published.

Some schools have written requirements that specify the number of publications (quantity) that are expected per year and the specific conference proceedings and journals (quality) you need to publish in to attain tenure and promotion. If the school doesn’t have written requirements, ask the dean, department chair, senior faculty, and people on the tenure and promotion committee what the unwritten requirements are.

The general publishing trend has been giving less importance to proceedings and greater importance on refereed (peer reviewed) journals, to top tier journals, and more recently some schools are measuring the number of citations for your articles. Make sure you are meeting the school requirements before you submit your work—know where to send your work.

Can You Meet the Requirement? —Don’t Perish

Meeting the requirements is obvious, but it is often easier said than done. Before you take a faculty position, find out the publication requirements and do a “realistic” self-assessment to determine if you can meet the requirements. For example, if you are expected to publish in top tier journals (such as the Academy of Management), can you realistically publish in this level journal? Even if you say yes, once isn’t enough. Most schools only consider publications within the last five years, so the one-time home run is forgotten, or it’s the old ‘what have you done lately?’ that matters.

If You Can’t Meet Requirements, Leave Before You Perish Without Tenure

If you are doing a job search, try to find a school at which you can meet the publication requirements. If you know you can’t meet the publication requirements, and there are no other jobs take it. But go into it not expecting to stay and keep searching for a job that is a good match. If you thought you could meet the requirements, but you can’t, realize it and do a job search. Although you should not need them to know if you are meeting the publishing requirements, most schools have pre-tenure reviews. If you are not meeting the requirements, you are better off leaving before you are denied tenure.

Don’t Fool Yourself

I’ve met and heard about several early stage faculty members who just don’t get it. My tip is don’t fool yourself. Here are some examples:
I Can Do It. Even though they get pre-tenure reviews stating that they are not meeting the publication requirements, they unrealistically tell themselves, “I will meet the requirement next year.” Only to end up being denied tenure.

They Will Count Proceedings

I know a man through a conference who told me of his concern that his school had increased the publishing standard after he was hired. The new requirement was to publish one refereed journal article every two years. He had never published any journal articles. I suggested to him that he stop going to conferences just about every month and focus on a journal article. He was fooling himself into thinking that the school would accept 10 or 20 proceedings as, or equal to, one refereed journal article. When he went up for tenure, he couldn’t believe he was denied. Others could clearly see it coming, so why was he fooling himself?

Like 10 master’s degrees don’t equal one doctorate degree, 100 proceedings don’t equal one refereed journal article. Five refereed journal articles in low level journals don’t equal one in a specified top tier journal.

My Teaching Will Save Me

I’ve meet people who are great teachers who get excellent student evaluations. Students love them and they win teaching awards. They seem to think that great teaching will take the place of publishing.

Unless you have it in writing from the provost and dean, don’t believe it. I know a woman who is a great teacher, but has a weak publishing record. She was denied tenure at two different schools. She took a job as a new MBA director thinking that her publishing could slide as she developed the program. Now in her fourth job she told me that she finally gets it; she found a mentor that can help her publish refereed journal articles.

My College Service Will Save Me

There are people who like to serve on college committees. College service is often a requirement for tenure and promotion, but it will not take the place of publishing. Some people combine the good teaching and college service to replace meeting publishing requirement, in vain. Let’s face it, service on committees takes time away from publishing. Which is more important at your school? Put your time and effort where it counts— in most cases publishing.

If you are going to serve on a committee, find one that doesn’t do much work and doesn’t meet often. Like with many publication listings, they may count equal to committees that do a lot of work.

Leaving is Not Career Failure

If you haven’t been denied tenure, you haven’t failed. You have gained some experience, but you are not at the right school for your career. Do a job search and find a school at which you can meet the publication requirements, and you will be happier and have a successful career.

I met a man at a conference who told me he taught at Yale University. A couple of years later, I asked him how things were going at Yale, and he told me he is now at a different university. Although he had a number of publications, he didn’t meet the requirements of Yale so his pretenure review was not good, so he looked for a job with lower publication requirements.

He received a good recommendation from Yale because they knew he would succeed at the other university. The other university was glad to have him, as he is one of the top publishers for that school. Needless to say, when he was going through the experience it was very difficult. But after the move, he realized that things worked out for the best. Although he is not at a prestigious school, he is near the top of the publishing ranking, rather than the bottom. His worries about performance reviews and getting tenured and advancing through to full professor were gone. He is happy.

The lesson? Match your publishing ability to the school’s requirements.


Dr. Robert Lussier’s book Publish Don’t Perish, The Top Secrets to Get Published includes 175 + secrets designed to have your submissions accepted – not rejected. Dr. Lussier has been the publish don’t perish expert for more than 20 years based on his bestselling books and being a prolific author of 440+ publications including ET&P, JSBM, FBR, JSBED, JME, JSBS, and several other journals.

Over one million people globally have used his 12 publication, entrepreneur, business leadership and team building books, earning him an unsurpassed national and international reputation as an author and keynote speaker. He has helped hundreds of institutions and individuals in over 75 countries get published. Presentation highlights include numerous universities, professional associations and conferences including USASBE, NAMS, NEBAA, EAM and SBI (awarded highest honor of Small Business Institute® Fellow).

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