9.171 guidelines for computer-related work

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Tue, 19 Sep 1995 18:22:48 -0400 (EDT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 171.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)

[1] From: Bettina Huber <bettina_Huber@SMTPGWY.MLA.ORG> (150)
From: Ian Lancashire <ian@epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: Guidelines on Computer-Related Work in Tenure
Decisions (fwd)

[The following was sent to me along with a note giving permission for
it to be circulated. Some of you will remember that Humanist was founded
in large part to advance the debate about academic recognition for work
in computing. Perhaps discussions on Humanist over the last 8 years
have in fact made some difference, by applying pressure if not contributing
ideas. Now we have an open invitation. --WM]


Evaluating Computer-Related Work in the Modern Languages:
Draft Guidelines Prepared by the MLA Committee on Computers and
Emerging Technologies in Teaching and Research.

The Statement on Computer Support, adopted by the Modern Lan-
guage Association in 1993, highlights the importance of new elec-
tronic technologies for the humanities and provides the basis for
departmental and institutional support of modern language faculty
members who use such technologies and integrate them into their
work. As the statement notes, "Generating, gathering, and analy-
zing texts electronically is becoming a necessity for all educa-
tion, especially for the contributions made by the humanities."
As a supplement to the 1993 statement, the following guidelines
address means of evaluating the research, teaching, and service
of faculty members who study, develop, and use electronic tech-
nologies in their work.

Because the role of computer technologies in the study of
language, literature, and writing is evolving, departments wish-
ing to hire and retain faculty members centrally concerned with
the application of these emerging technologies to the humanities
need to consider the tasks, support, and evaluative procedures
involved. And faculty members who pursue computer-related work
as part of their formal assignments should be prepared to make
explicit the results, theoretical basis, and intellectual rigor
of their work, as well as its relevance to the discipline. The
following guidelines, which deal with both the hiring and promo-
tion processes, are designed to help departments and faculty mem-
bers build productive working relations, effective evaluation
procedures, and means of disseminating the results of computer-
related work.

Guidelines for Search Committees and Job Candidates

When departments seek candidates with computer expertise or
when candidates wish to have such work considered an important
part of their positions, there should be an initial understanding
of the recognition given to computer-related work and of what
electronic facilities are available or planned.

Departments should ensure that computer-related work can be
evaluated within their tenure and promotion procedures. In par-
ticular, candidates need to know

how the department evaluates research and publication in
computers and the humanities,

what importance is attached to the development of new
software and what criteria are used to evaluate such soft-

what credit is given for the integration of electronic
technologies into courses,

what recognition is given to professional activities
relating to computing, and

what criteria are used to evaluate faculty members who
provide computing support to colleagues, staff, and stu-

As candidates discuss the teaching, research, and service
responsibilities of an academic position, it is important that
they ask questions, such as the following, about the role of
electronic technologies in the department and the university: Are
technical support staff members available to the department's
faculty members and students? Does the department plan to
undertake initiatives in the use of electronic technologies?
What access do faculty members and students have to computer
facilities and resources?

Guidelines for Reappointment, Tenure, and Promotion Reviews

Computer-related work, like other forms of curricular innova-
tion, scholarship, and service, should be evaluated as an
integral part of a faculty member's dossier, as specified in an
institution's guidelines for reappointment, promotion, and
tenure. Faculty members are responsible for making a case for the
value of their projects, articulating the intellectual assump-
tions underlying their work, and documenting their time and
effort. In particular, faculty members expecting recognition for
computer-related work should ensure that their projects remain
compatible with departmental needs, as well as with criteria for
reappointment, tenure, and promotion. Periodic reviews provide
an opportunity to assess the match between a faculty member's
scholarly and pedagogical development and the department's needs
and expectations.

Because appropriate roles for computer technology in the
study of language, literature, and writing are still emerging,
faculty members should be prepared to explain:

what theory informs their work.

why their work is useful to the discipline.

the evidence of rigor and intellectual content in their

Documentation of projects might include internal or external
funding, awards and professional recognition, and reviews and
citations of work either in print or in electronic journals.

For subsequent evaluation of professional service, faculty
members should maintain a record of the duties involved in
activities such as organizing and managing a lab facility,
increasing the meaningful use of electronic media in instruction,
training student aides or faculty colleagues, and moderating an
electronic discussion group.

Pedagogy and research involving technology often entail col-
laborative or interdisciplinary work. Departments need to find
appropriate ways to evaluate the faculty member's role in such
work. This process may include finding evaluators with expertise
in both specific disciplines and computer technology; these
experts are best qualified to evaluate and translate accomplish-
ments in a rapidly changing field. Sources that may help depart-
ments choose appropriate evaluators include the editorial boards
of computer-related journals (e.g., CALICO Journal, Computers and
the Humanities, Computers and Writing, Hypermedia), the com-
mittees focusing on electronic technologies in appropriate
scholarly and professional organizations (e.g., the MLA, CCCC,
ACTFL, the AATs, NCTE), the courseware review sections of modern language
journals (e.g., CALICO Journal, Computers and the
Humanities, Computers and Writing, Foreign Language Annals,
French Review, Hispania, IALL Journal, IDEAL: Issues and Develop-
ments in English and Applied Linguistics, Language Learning
Journal, Literary and Linguistic Computing, the Northeast Con-
ference Newsletter, the Institute for Academic Technology's
Newsletter and Research Reports, TESOL Journal, Tongues Untied,
Unterrichtspraxis), Humanities Computing Yearbook (Oxford UP),
and the latest edition of the CALICO Resource Guide (Durham:

Members of the MLA Committee on Computers and Emerging Tech-
nologies in Teaching and Research welcome suggestions for revi-
sion and change of these draft guidelines.
Comments may be sent directly to committee members or to Bettina
Huber; MLA; 10 Astor Place; New York, NY 10003 (bet-

Members of the Committee on Computers and Emerging Technologies
in Teaching and Research (1993-95):

Helen Schwartz (chair); Indiana University-Purdue University at
Indianapolis (HSchwart@indycms.iupui.edu)
Elaine Brennan, ATLIS Consulting Group (elaine@brownvm.brown.edu)
Paul Delany, Simon Fraser University (delany@sfu.ca)
Frank A. Dominguez, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Joel D. Goldfield, Fairfield University and Plymouth State
College (joel@funrsc.fairfield.edu)
Gina L. Greco, Portland State University
Janet Murray, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Susan Belasco Smith, University of Tulsa (smithbs@utulsa.edu)
James J. Sosnoski, Miami University (sosnoski@tigger.cc.uic.edu)

June 1995