Academic Reward Systems

For the last 15 years, I have been involved in the study and reform of academic reward systems. Academic reward systems are fascinating to study because they reflect assumptions, values, goals and aspirations held by institutions and fields. Academic reward systems are important to reform because scholarship, like other forms of work, changes over time. Methodologies, topics, boundaries between disciplines, and audiences evolve as new scholars and fields enter the academy. If reward systems do not similarly evolve, greater autonomy, resources, prestige, and power go to those who conduct scholarship exactly as their academic parents did, thereby devaluing and shutting out faculty engaged in newer forms of scholarship. 

I have studied academic reward system change in such areas as redefining scholarship, post-tenure review, stop the tenure clock, and efforts to appraise new and diverse approaches to scholarly dissemination.

I believe academic reward systems should ensure that faculty making excellent contributions to scholarship, teaching, and service should be retained and advanced. Yet what excellence looks like in 2013 will differ from what it looked like in 1960 and 50 years from now. Diverse voices and perspectives are needed to evaluate and achieve excellence. Reform of promotion and tenure policies should improve the ability of the academic reward system to acknowledge and support the diversity of individuals and contributions. Such reform does not lower a bar, or compromise the quality of scholarship deemed excellent. Instead, it opens up more ways, for more scholars, to make a case for the excellence of their work, work that should be held to the highest standards appropriate to their form and content. My research, and my own engaged scholarship helping campuses reform their promotion and tenure policies are aimed at understanding such change, and making it work in practice.

Select Academic Reward System Articles, Chapters, Book

O’Meara, K., Eatman, T. & Peterson, S. (2015). Advancing Engaged Scholarship in Promotion and Tenure: A Roadmap and Call for Reform. Liberal Education, 101(3). http://www.aacu.org/liberaleducation/2015/summer/o'meara

O’Meara, K. (2011). Inside the panopticon: Studying academic reward systems. In J. C. Smart, M. B. Paulsen (Eds.), Higher education: Handbook of theory and research, 26 (pp. 161-220). New York, NY: Springer. View PDF

O’Meara, K., & Rice, R. E. (Eds.) (2005). Faculty priorities reconsidered: Encouraging multiple forms of scholarship. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

O’Meara, K. (2010). Rewarding multiple forms of scholarship: Promotion and tenure. In H. Fitzgerald, C. Burack, & S. Seifer (Eds.), Handbook of engaged scholarship, volume 1: Institutional change (pp. 271-294). East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Press.

Saltmarsh, J., Giles Jr., D. E., O’Meara, K., Sandmann, L., Ward, E., & Buglione, S. M. (2009). Community engagement and institutional culture in higher education: An investigation of faculty reward policies at engaged campuses. In B. E. Moely, S. H. Billig, & B. A Holland (Eds.), Creating our identities in service-learning and community engagement. (pp. 3-29). Advances in Service-Learning Research, xiv. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

O’Meara, K. (2006). Encouraging multiple forms of scholarship in faculty reward systems: Have academic cultures really changed? In J. Braxton (Ed.), Analyzing faculty work and rewards: Using Boyer’s four domains of scholarship (pp.77-96). New Directions for Institutional Research, 129. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

O’Meara, K., & Rice, R. E. (Eds.) (2005). Faculty priorities reconsidered: Encouraging multiple forms of scholarship. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

O’Meara, K. (2005). Principles of good practice: Encouraging multiple forms of scholarship in policy and practice. In K. O’Meara & R. Rice (Eds.), Faculty priorities reconsidered: Encouraging multiple forms of scholarship (pp.290-302). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

O’Meara, K. (2005). Encouraging multiple forms of scholarship in faculty reward systems: Does it make a difference? Research in Higher Education, 46(5), 479-510.

O’Meara, K. (2005). Encouraging multiple forms of scholarship in faculty reward systems: Influence on faculty work life. Planning for Higher Education, 34(2), 43-53.

O’Meara, K. (2004). Beliefs about post-tenure review: The influence of autonomy, collegiality, career stage, and institutional context. The Journal of Higher Education, 75(2), 178-202.

O’Meara, K. (2002). Uncovering the values in faculty evaluation of service as scholarship. Review of Higher Education, 26(1), 57-80.