You are not using a standards compliant browser. Because of this you may notice minor glitches in the rendering of this page. Please upgrade to a compliant browser for optimal viewing:
Internet Explorer 7
Safari (Mac and PC)
Post Archive
2020 (0)2011 (1)
January (1)

Et tu Odysseyus?
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
2010 (37)
December (5)

First most influential paper
Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Twelve (minus one) Months of pondering Blather
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'll save Tideliar the trouble
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thinking differently
Friday, December 3, 2010

Music Warz! - The Maccabees
Thursday, December 2, 2010
November (6)

Standing out in a crowd: An addendum
Monday, November 8, 2010

Standing out in a crowd
Friday, November 5, 2010

Ripping your arms off
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Tea Party explained
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Words of wisdom for prospective graduate students
Monday, November 1, 2010

Grant advice
Monday, November 1, 2010
October (10)

Planet of the Apes
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Too many postdocs?
Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oh! Rats! [UPDATED]
Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rethinking Education
Monday, October 18, 2010

Elephant man, rabies and leprosy
Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Over-priced mochas and syphilis
Sunday, October 10, 2010

DonorsChoose - give early and give often. [UPDATED]
Friday, October 8, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What I would be doing if I weren't doing science
Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Time spent reviewing
Monday, October 4, 2010
September (6)

Dear PI's who wrote the NSF proposals I am now reviewing...
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Funding Illusions
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

FIve years ago today
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A (temporary) cure for vortices of suckitude
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Things that make Odyssey grumpy
Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What I wish I knew before starting my faculty position
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
August (10)

Flying 101
Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Don't panic!
Monday, August 23, 2010

One to Rule Them All
Friday, August 20, 2010

The NSF review panel process
Thursday, August 19, 2010

Peer review, schmeer review
Friday, August 13, 2010

Hypotheses: The most disposable of lab supplies
Thursday, August 12, 2010

How much do you need to want it?
Monday, August 9, 2010

Sunday, August 8, 2010

REPOST: How Many Papers for Tenure?
Thursday, August 5, 2010

Checking it out
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Rate This Post
Total votes: 0
Blogger Profile


I'm a molecular biophysicist in a biochemistry department. In a college of medicine. And I'm funded by the NSF. Not too sure my dean likes that... I'm here to blather on about things that interest me and to raise the average age of the bloggers here by at least 1.2567 years. And I'm Australian.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

Blog RSS Feed
RSS Add to My Yahoo Add to Google
Recent Comments

Haha the comment above is funny! Research before hypothesis! . . .Read More
Aug 09, 2012, 1:48pm
Comment by Tim in Peer review, schmeer review

Good article! "Do proponents of this system have any idea just how hard it is to find reviewers under the current system?" I've just stumbled across this artcile, so my comments are. . .Read More
Oct 13, 2011, 5:20pm
Comment by Tideliar in Standing out in a crowd

Rules of the Internets, #3"Don't necro dead threads n00b"Corollary Rule 3.1"If the best you can add is content-lite, don't fucking necro dead threads n00b"Corollary Rul. . .Read More
Jul 06, 2011, 5:48pm

anyone interested in helping my kindergarteners? Check out http://www.donorschoos. . .Read More
Jan 25, 2011, 10:47am
Comment by Anonymous in Standing out in a crowd

Thanks for the post! Very helpful. - Reshmi . . .Read More
Jan 13, 2011, 12:44am
Awesome Stuff
Wikio RSS:


Site Meter

Locations of visitors to this page

Oct 15, 2014, 6:55am
Jan 26, 2014, 10:58am
Feb 29, 2012, 10:31am
Nov 19, 2011, 4:38pm
Feb 17, 2011, 9:40am
Feb 11, 2011, 8:27pm
Nov 07, 2010, 4:50pm
Thursday, August 5, 2010

While I get my stuff organized, here's a post from my old digs (originally posted Jan. 22, 2009). The title comes from a Google search that led someone to my blog. "How many papers for tenure?" and variations on the question are the number one Google search terms that lead people to my old blog. "Sweet Loretta Fat thought she was a cleaner" is number two...


How Many Papers for Tenure?

The title of this entry comes from a Google search a recent visitor to my blog used.

Good question.

I can't answer it.

The only people who can give you some kind of answer to this are senior faculty in your department (and possibly college), and yourself.

But you absolutely must know the answer very early in the tenure-track process. Preferably before you officially start your position. At the very latest six months in.

So how do you find out how many papers you need? You need to do two things:

1) Ask. Ask early and often. Ask the senior faculty in your department. If you've met some, ask senior faculty in related departments within your college (e.g. within medicine, or within arts and sciences). You may not get a straight answer. You may get several different answers. Hopefully you will get some kind of answer.

2) Look it up. Find out how many publications the last few people who made tenure in your department had. No one tenured in the last few years? Look up the publication totals of recently tenured people in related departments within your college.

Once you've done both of the above, take the largest of the answers you've found (they may not match up).

That's the absolute minimum number of publications you are aiming for.

Absolute minimum. You want more. You may need more.

The answer to the question "how many papers needed for tenure?" is not set in stone.

[UPDATE] Do apply some common sense to the above. Let's say your senior colleagues provide you with a consensus estimate of X publications, and the last three people to get tenure in your department had (X+1), (X+2), and (X+10) publications. Take (X+2) as your minimum goal.

This post has been viewed: 2148 time(s)

Blog Comments

Guest Comment
I hate that fucking question, because it doesn't seem to have an answer. I've heard everything from "four", to "one per year" to "at least ten, half in glamour journals". I think a lot has to do with where your papers end up and how well regarded they are by the letter writers that review your tenure packet. It truly is a nerve-wracking experience...

Guest Comment
Odyssey, congrats on your new home!

The best way to go about is look at peer institutions and see how many papers recenlty tenured people in your field have per year, and then extrapolate. Usually the first year on TT will be slow, but from there on you should have a steady annual output.

In my field (applied physics/materials science) a rate of 5-7 papers/year over most of your TT is a very good rate for a decent R1 university. If you are at a top 10 school, the rate goes to 10 per year or more and the impact of journals should be high. (I have no idea what the rates should be in biomed or chemistry fields.)

Of course, the number of papers scales (nonlinearly) with the size of the group and the composition (how many postdocs vs how many students).

Guest Comment

Guest Comment
Argh. Stupid html.

Age Less Than papers ought to do it.

Heh heh my word verification was secret jerking.

Rate Post:

Like 0 Dislike
It's all very field and institution dependent. And no department/college/university ever has an official number. Where I am 5-7 senior author papers total in decent journals (IF of 4 or higher) will do it. And they have to all be from work done while on TT - prior pubs from grad school and postdoc work don't count. Non-senior author pubs (e.g. with collaborators) are viewed in a positive manner, but don't contribute to the total count.

I like GMP's approach - I suspect it will give similar numbers to those obtained by looking at what recently tenured people in your department had when they went up.

And it never hurts to aim for a higher number.

biochem belle
Rate Post:

Like 0 Dislike
In a recent conversation, one person commented that a department at a mid-size university was discussing a requirement of 30 (presumably last author) papers over the course of 5 years to be considered for tenure. This number seemed kind of high to us, especially for new labs. I guess in some ways, it's good to have a hard, fast number to cut down on variation of answers Namenzia refers to. But I also can't help but wonder if having hard numbers might also affect the quality of papers being put out.
Add Comment?
Comments are closed 2 weeks after initial post.