The Higher School of Economics was one of the first Russian universities to adopt the tenure-track system. Founding Director of the Centre for Advanced Studies and the Honorary Professor of the Higher School of Economics, Martin Gilman explained how the review procedures are implemented at our university. Full text can be found in The HSE LooK 4(11), April 2014.
What are the steps on the tenure track at HSE?
- We hire assistant professors from the international job market on a type of “publish or perish” contract, beginning with an initial three-year contract leading to an interim review. If all goes well, it is followed by another three-year contract which leads to a major, or tenure review. This is very closely modeled on the American university or the British university system.
- What does a tenure-track professor need to do to get tenure?
- To get tenure one has to publish academically important research in good peer-reviewed journals and good international university presses. HSE does not use quantitative targets for this assessment. Rather it relies heavily upon the assessments by the external reviewers. The purpose of the three-year review is to assess if the person is really on track for tenure. It doesn't mean you have to publish all this within these three years; that would be rather ambitious. But the external reviewers (who are tenured faculty at major international research universities) have to be convinced that you could be considered to be on track.
- Do criteria differ for academics coming from different departments?
- It's quite clear that in social sciences or economics peer-reviewed articles are critical. If you look at history or philosophy, for example, books and monographs published by major university presses probably become more important. If you have a book in philosophy published by Oxford University Press, it may well have more of an impact than a number of good journal articles.
- Who makes the decision?
- The interim review relies heavily on the opinion of external reviewers. There are two of them. One is proposed by the candidate, and another one is a reviewer selected by the committee. In this sense we are probably closer to a British system than the American one. The American system tends to rely more on quantitative targets, whereas ours is more subjective and is heavily weighted towards the opinion of the reviewers, rather than objective criteria such as the number of publications. That is true even at the time of the major review for tenure, where there are four external reviewers. We rely very much on their views. And if the reviewers disagree, then there has to be consultations to reach a consensus among them.