Academic criteria for promotion and tenure in faculties of biomedical sciences: a cross-sectional analysis of 146 universities release_fjt2rdl3njgzlhqre6htuda5c4

by Danielle B Rice, Hana Raffoul, John PA Ioannidis, David Moher


Objectives: To determine the presence of a set of pre-specified traditional and progressive criteria used to assess scientists for promotion and tenure in faculties of biomedical sciences among universities worldwide. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Not applicable. Participants: 170 randomly selected universities from the Leiden Ranking of world universities list were considered. Main outcome measures: Two independent reviewers searched for all guidelines applied when assessing scientists for promotion and tenure for institutions with biomedical faculties. Where faculty-level guidelines were not available, institution-level guidelines were sought. Available documents were reviewed and the presence of 5 traditional (e.g., number of publications) and 7 progressive (e.g., data sharing) criteria was noted in guidelines for assessing assistant professors, associate professors, professors, and the granting of tenure. Results: A total of 146 institutions had faculties of biomedical sciences with 92 having eligible guidelines available to review. Traditional criteria were more commonly reported than progressive criteria (t(82)= 15.1, p= .001). Traditional criteria mentioned peer-reviewed publications, authorship order, journal impact, grant funding, and national or international reputation in 95%, 37%, 28%, 67%, and 48% of the guidelines, respectively. Conversely, among progressive criteria only citations (any mention in 26%) and accommodations for extenuating circumstances (37%) were relatively commonly mentioned; while there was rare mention of alternative metrics for sharing research (2%) and data sharing (1%), and 3 criteria (publishing in open access mediums, registering research, and adhering to reporting guidelines) were not found in any institution reviewed. We observed notable differences across continents on whether guidelines are accessible or not (Australia 100%, North America 97%, Europe 50%, Asia 58%, South America 17%), and more subtle differences on the use of specific criteria. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that the current evaluation of scientists emphasizes traditional criteria as opposed to progressive criteria. This may reinforce research practices that are known to be problematic while insufficiently supporting the conduct of better-quality research and open science. Institutions should consider incentivizing progressive criteria. Registration: Open Science Framework (
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Release Date 2019-10-21
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