During the summer recess many nursing faculty will be deciding which activities are most fruitful for career advancement. Should I spend the summer developing my courses for next year? Should I write for publication? Should I maintain or develop clinical skills? Should I begin work on a textbook? Should I develop computer software? These are important questions.
The decision is often made based on the type of activity you will get the most credit for during the customary promotion and tenure review of the college or university in which you are a part. But, the criteria used for these reviews may not keep pace with changing times.
Scholarship includes the generation, application, transmission, and integration of knowledge. Promotion and tenure committees are forced to grapple with the issue of what constitutes evidence of scholarship. The narrow definition, traditionally, has included only published research mainly because it has undergone peer review. Some faculty committees and administrators have not, as yet, reached the understanding that developing computer programs to aid students' development of critical thinking skills and judgment requires creative scholarship and should be considered as scholarship evidence.
As any faculty member who has developed software will attest, there is a large research component. The same argument about whether a textbook should be considered as meeting teaching or research criteria for promotion can be made. If the textbook or computer program contains new state-of-the-art information, integrated in an original manner, it should be considered as meeting criteria for evidence of and contribution to original scholarship. If it does not, then these activities should be considered to be in the area of teaching effectiveness.
It is important for faculty to know the rules of the particular institution in which they are aspiring to climb the tenure-track ladder. However, it is also important for faculty in a given school of nursing to understand that scholarship entails more than the traditionally accepted and narrow interpretation of published research.