Putting mathematical scholarship in perspective

At our college tenure decisions (as well as other personnel and salary decisions) are made by an all-college committee with faculty members from a variety of departments. There must be at least one faculty member from the sciences, but there may be no mathematician on the committee. Thus it is extremely important for the chair of our department to educate the committee on what scholarship is appropriate in our discipline. Topics that we are sure to mention are: papers with multiple authors list authors alphabetically, joint work is very common and it is often impossible to name a “lead author,” we typically write papers and not books, we publish fewer papers than faculty in the sciences, and the quality of a paper cannot be determined by the length.

I just discovered this wonderful collection of documents prepared by the AMS Committee on the Profession. Each document is a single page and they address these points and others. This will be a great resource for mathematics department chairs when making personnel recommendations.

Information Statements on the Culture of Research and Scholarship in Mathematics

In 2004, the AMS Committee on the Profession decided to create a series of information statements relating to the evaluation of mathematicians. The goal of this series of statements on the culture of research and scholarship in mathematics is to highlight the ways in which the traditions in mathematics differ from those in other disciplines, especially other sciences and engineering.

2004 Statement: “Joint Research and Its Publication” (pdf)
2005 Statement: “Directing Ph.D. Theses” (pdf)
2006 Statement: “Rates of Publication” (pdf)
2007 Statement: “Postdoctoral Positions” (pdf)
2008 Statement: “Funding” (pdf)