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Tenure September 8, 2006

Posted by gordonwatts in physics life, university.

Chad, over at the uncertain principles blog is going up for tenure this year. He has several posts on it (I’m sure we’ll see more), my favorite being the picture of his tenure milk-crate. Good luck!

Him gathering up his materials reminds me of what happened when I was putting together mine. Part of the tenure review process at most universities is the tenure review committee wants a copy of every single paper you are an author on. For a particle physicist this is a bit ridiculous. SPIRES currently has 236 listed for me (I’m sure that list isn’t 100% accurate, but it is probably close).

I asked, but they told me I still had to get a print out of every single article. I had the brilliant idea that I could download all the PDF’s, put them together, and then print out one massive document. So much simpler than printing each one, one at a time. Most of the articles are PRL or PRD, so I logged into the web site and dutifully downloaded every single one. I was up late.

The next day I came in and realized I’d missed one very very old article. So I went back to the PRL site to grab it. The web returned with the message: “Sorry, web access from the University of Washington has been shut off due to illegal usage!” Hey! I managed to shut off access to the journal for all of the University of Washington! See what tenure can do!?

Fortunately, a few emails later it was rectified. But in a quick conversation with the journal web guy told me that I’d done more than 1000 times the normal data bandwidth usage from UW. If I downloaded 200 papers then that means less than one paper is downloaded a day. I’m not sure if that says everyone uses arXiv or something worse (it’s the former)…



1. BB - September 12, 2006

Wow! A paper every three weeks for the past 14 years! How do you do it?

2. gordonwatts - September 12, 2006

Ah, but that is the key, I didn’t. We are a large experiment — some 600-800 people, and we work together. We help each other, and our names end up on each others papers. 🙂 So, for my tenure decision all those papers weren’t really what they wanted (I tried to tell them that, but they said, nope, send it on anyway). They really wanted the papers I was directly involved in or had some leadership with. That is a much much smaller number.

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