The faculty members in the Department of Physics unanimously endorse the guidelines for evaluation of our scholarly engagement presented in the document Research and Scholarship in the Natural Sciences Division, which was unanimously approved by the faculty of the Natural Sciences Division in September 1999.
We believe that document provides comprehensive and specific guidelines useful to Kenyon physicists as they plan their careers, as well as to those charged with our evaluation. In particular, we support the relative rankings of the values of various scholarly activities included in those guidelines, while recognizing that such listing and their rankings are likely to be incomplete, leaving room for interpretation and for the possibility of circumstances arising that are not explicitly covered.
In addition to endorsing the guidelines of the Natural Science Division for ourselves and our evaluators, we augment those guidelines with the following observations, based on conditions in our discipline. It is by no means expected that every faculty member will engage in each of these types of activity. When a faculty member does engage in one or more of them, though, their work makes valuable contributions to the scholarly culture of our department.
Student Research. Undergraduate research is a high-impact learning experience for students; therefore engaging Kenyon students in research is an especially valuable form of
Just to be clear, we do not anticipate that every faculty member will necessarily engage in research with student collaborators. There may be instances where a faculty member’s research is inaccessible to those with only undergraduate training in physics and mathematics. There may be times in a faculty member’s career when he or she is focused on scholarly activities that preclude student involvement for other reasons. We value those types of scholarly
Collaborations. Several Kenyon physicists have established productive collaborations with scientists at other institutions. Indeed, it is increasingly common for physicists to participate in such collaborations, which range from one-on-one collaborations to large-scale, distributed collaborations with participants from many institutions across the country or around the world. This strategy gives us and our students access to expertise, ideas, and equipment beyond that available at Kenyon, creating enriched research experiences for all of us.
Work within such collaborations may at times occur off campus, as when a faculty member participates in data collection at an off-campus facility or makes an extended visit to another institution to work with collaborators, or when a student spends time doing research in the lab of a collaborator. Such activities do not detract from the value of collaborative research to Kenyon’s Department of Physics. While the Natural Sciences scholarship guidelines rightly highlight the importance of developing an on-campus research program engaging Kenyon students in research with faculty mentors, collaborative work with those at other institutions is a valid and increasingly common way to achieve that goal. In such cases, the physics community at Kenyon will benefit most from such collaboration when the scholarly work generates local colloquium talks, student research and/or honors projects, and other manifestations of research activity at Kenyon.
Pedagogy and Curriculum Development. There has been growing recognition within the physics community that careful research on physics pedagogy and the development of curricular materials aligned with findings from that body of research are valid topics for scholarly publication by physicists. Indeed, physics education research has become a recognized subdiscipline represented in the physics departments of many research universities. We value this type of scholarly activity when it is validated by the wider physics community through peer-reviewed journal articles and externally-reviewed grant awards for pedagogical innovation in our classrooms and outreach programs that address the needs of our community.
Consulting and Other Unreviewed Research. Occasionally physicists conduct research or engage in scholarly activity that falls outside of the standard peer-review process. Examples of such activity include professional consulting for a private corporation and engaging in classified research for a government organization. In such cases, it is the responsibility of the physicist under review to provide evidence of the quality of such work, usually through a confidential letter of evaluation solicited by the Provost’s Office from a scientist who is knowledgeable about the project.
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