Sunday, February 11, 2018
Robert Anderson (Pepperdine), Scholarly Residuals for Faculty Compensation:
In many law schools and other university departments, faculty are recruited, evaluated, and granted tenure largely based on their research productivity and influence. That system works reasonably well to motivate faculty members prior to tenure, but degrades after that. The best faculty members often are recruited by other institutions and have little incentive to stay other than a "match" by the home institution. Some other faculty members embark on a decades-long "transition" to retirement. One problem is that the compensation of faculty is often not adjusted directly, regularly, and contemporaneously according to scholarly performance to create optimal incentives to maximize output and tie faculty members to the original institution.
In this post, I outline a proposal for compensating faculty based on scholarly productivity and influence based on a "scholarly residuals" model. The model is loosely based on the residuals concept in the entertainment industry, compensating faculty each time their work is cited as creators and performers in films and TV shows are compensated when the film or show subsequently appears. The proposed system will (1) create strong monetary incentives for performance, (2) tie compensation more transparently to performance, and (3) enhance a school's ability to retain productive faculty members. Although there is merit in also tying compensation to teaching performance and service responsibilities, I leave those matters aside in this post. ...
I propose that schools develop a clear, transparent, and fine-grained compensation system tied to citation counts, which I call the "scholarly residuals" system. For each citation to each article or other scholarly work published during a faculty member's time at School X, the faculty member would be compensated monthly according to a formula. The value of citations would be weighted according to the influence and visibility of the citing article, rather than merely counted. The payment system would cease once a faculty member leaves. ...
Many might find the scholarly residuals compensation scheme crass, in that it proposes to reward faculty members based on objective metrics. Get over it. This already occurs; it just occurs inefficiently. A more important objection is that of course citation counts are an imperfect measure of scholarly impact, and an even more imperfect measure of scholarly quality. However, subjective judgments about the quality of work by deans or committees are imperfect too. Equally problematic is that they are not transparent, which decreases incentive for effort and increases rent seeking.