Biological Sciences Division Definition of Scholarship

We define scholarship as creation of knowledge.  This knowledge can in be in any domain (e.g., education, administration, outreach, clinical, technical, leadership), not just research or "discovery" scholarship.  It can be at the laboratory bench, at the bedside, on the computer, in the library, in nature, in the community, etc.  It can be empirical or theoretical, hypothesis-driven or experiential.  Making novel connections within pre-existing knowledge ("scholarship of integration") or between research and practice ("scholarship of application") receive credit.  In any event, for the knowledge to become genuine scholarship, it needs to be public (i.e., shared with the scholar's peers), reviewed by the scholar's peers, and a platform on which others have built.

Our sole concern when evaluating scholarship for academic appointments is with the quality and significance of the scholarship, and not its type, domain, or format.

Scholarship is becoming increasingly collaborative or team-based.  We accord individual and collaborative/team scholarship equal weight -- as long as the individual's contribution to collaborative/team scholarship can be established.

Not every appointment or promotion case involves tenure – but when it does our expectation is that the scholarship will be more than incremental and routine.  Rather, it should be a significant departure or advancement from pre-existing knowledge in a field or area [the phrase "breaking new ground" is sometimes applied], and (b) significantly impact pre-existing knowledge or practice in a field or area [the phrase "transformational" is sometimes applied].

We try not to apply the yardstick of one discipline to another when evaluating scholarship.  For example, in some fields selection of a work for a platform presentation at a major meeting, even without peer-reviewed publication in a classical journal, is becoming customary for excellent scholarship.  In others, the number of times a computer program is downloaded from online has become a metric of scholarship.  Some forms of scholarship are not eligible for NIH funding, and so NIH funding cannot universally be used as a metric. 

An extended version of this statement is supplied to those who write confidential letters in reference to appointment, promotion, and tenure cases.

Content of this page is presented for information purposes only, is not intended to create any contract or agreement, and is subject to addition, deletion, and change without prior notice. For definitive information regarding processes, procedures, and policies, contact the BSD Office of Academic Affairs.