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Retention, Tenure, and Promotion (RTP) Standards - Department of Literature and Writing Studies

Definition: Standards governing retention, tenure, and promotion process for faculty in the Department of Literature and Writing Studies, College of Humanities, Arts, and Behavioral Sciences.
Authority: The collective bargaining agreement between the California State University and the California Faculty Association.
Scope: Eligible Department of Literature and Writing Studies faculty at California State University San Marcos.
Responsible Devision: Academic Affairs
Approval Date: 7/12/2017
Originally Implemented: 7/12/2017
Signature Page/PDF: View Retention, Tenure, and Promotion (RTP) Standards - Department of Literature and Writing Studies


A. Goals of this Document

This document specifies general principles and criteria for three purposes: (1) to establish the personnel performance principles for maintaining a high quality faculty and program, (2) to guide individual faculty members to pursue a successful career, and (3) to assist the Peer Review Committee (PRC), the Dean and/or University Promotion and Tenure Committee, and the President’s Designee in their review.

1. This list of principles is intended to describe, broaden, and expand the understanding of success in LTWR Studies in relation to the University and CHABSS RTP documents.

2. This document will explain common conventions within our field, per the “Guidelines for Department RTP Documents,” which states that department-level documents provide clarification “with respect to the practice and standards of a particular department/discipline/field.”

B. Advancement from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor

In order to move from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor, the candidate should show sustained high quality achievement in teaching, service, and research/creative activities. This achievement should include commitment to and effectiveness in teaching, service to the department, the college, the University and/or the profession, and sustained achievement in research/creative activities. Faculty members must document these achievements in the WPAF and explain their value, either as a deepened or developed commitment to their area(s) of expertise, or by expansion into new and related areas, or by both.

C. Advancement from Associate Professor to Full Professor

In order to move from associate to full professor, the faculty member should show substantial and sustained growth in teaching, service, and research/creative activities. This growth should include continued commitment to and effectiveness in teaching, service to the University and/or the profession, and substantial achievement in research/creative activities. Faculty members must document these achievements in the WPAF and explain their value, either as a deepened or developed commitment to  their area(s) of expertise, or by expansion into new and related areas, or by both.


A. Relevant Teaching Elements to Be Covered by WPAF

LTWR candidates for advancement should cover the following relevant elements in their WPAF narratives in order to show the “sustained high quality achievement” in teaching required for tenure and promotion and the “substantial and sustained growth” and evidence of substantial achievement required for advancement to full professor:

1. The faculty member should demonstrate successful teaching through syllabi that reflect knowledge of the course subject matter and appropriate understanding of the needs of students at relevant academic levels.

2. Success in the classroom should be shown by a variety of assessment vehicles and not just student teaching evaluations (the statistical nature of which is marred by many subjective factors), as is already noted in the CHABSS RTP document.

3. Through the WPAF narrative, the faculty member should demonstrate an appropriate degree of reflection on student concerns and evaluations.

4. Due to the diverse range of courses offered by LTWR, faculty should, when relevant, reflect on the variety of classes taught and highlight the student populations served.

5. Faculty must include, when possible, student evaluations for all courses taught in order to reflect the range of feedback received for different kinds of courses.

B. Relevant Principles Regarding Teaching

The LTWR Faculty believes that the following principles (rationales included when relevant) regarding teaching must be kept in mind both by candidates for advancement, and reviewers, when considering the “sustained high quality achievement” in teaching required by the University RTP document for tenure and promotion and the “substantial and sustained growth” required for advancement to full professor. Also, we recommend that candidates and reviewers, for all of the following reasons, note the nature, size, purpose, and any unique elements of the student populations enrolled in a course.

1. Teaching in LTWR Studies includes a range of course types that are all of equal value towards meeting the department’s mission and the larger college and campus missions for student learning.

2. We regularly teach courses that are lower division general education classes (LDGE), upper division general education classes (UDGE), courses specific to our major, and courses in our graduate program.

3. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of teaching and scholarship in LTWR Studies, sometimes our faculty will also teach courses in other departments or teach courses that are cross-listed with other departments.

4. Teaching at all these levels is necessary to sustaining the department and helping students develop the necessary skills to meet a range of graduation requirements.

5. Given the wide range of courses LTWR faculty teach, certain factors in the student evaluation process should be acknowledged by both candidates for advancement and reviewers. In particular, faculty teaching LDGE (such as LTWR 100) face specific challenges because such courses enroll students from all disciplines and academic levels, including both freshman and graduating seniors. As a result, feedback on student evaluations can be quite polarized, with responses ranging from “very interesting” to “very boring” and from “an eye-opener” to “nothing new.”

6. Special consideration may be necessary when considering evaluations tied to courses that contribute to the general education requirements on campus. The range of features can lower a faculty member’s numeric score.

7. Other methods of assessing teaching success, such as assignment sheets or other examples of class work or activities, are equally or more relevant than numeric surveys.

8. Courses in LTWR are writing intensive and thus are also grading intensive. The number of students taught per semester frequently reflects the classification of a course, whether the course is a general education course or for majors, an intensive writing workshop or a graduate course.

9. Enrollment capacity reflects the amount of work involved for the faculty member, and the value of a course should not be determined entirely by the number of students enrolled.

10. Writing workshops are capped at 25 students because these courses include even more writing than our usual offerings and involve multiple occasions of detailed feedback on student writing.

11. Additionally, graduate courses enroll fewer students because these courses are labor intensive for both faculty and students and require more reading, as well as substantial writing. The writing that graduate students complete requires substantial mentorship from the faculty member to ensure that students are professionalized and prepared for both academic and career success.


A. List of Relevant Research and Creative Activities

Because LTWR Studies recognizes that prestige and impact can take a variety of forms, research and creative work can appear in many different kinds of venues. The LTWR Faculty suggests that “sustained high quality achievement” required by the University RTP document for tenure and promotion and the “substantial and sustained growth” and “evidence of substantial achievement” required for advancement to full professor can be achieved by a candidate for promotion in any and/or all of the following ways, and should be noted by the candidate when relevant:

1. Book-length studies of scholarship in literature and writing, and books of creative work.

2. Essays in peer-reviewed academic journals (the most common and traditional form of scholarship in LTWR Studies).

3. Publishing in peer-reviewed online journals, small presses, or other kinds of new publishing venues that represent the growth of the digital humanities as a respected scholarly discipline. Just as valuable as publication in conventional print journals, these innovative approaches to where and how one publishes are often crucially connected to new intellectual developments in the field and are therefore significant.

4. More traditional forms of LTWR scholarship include but are not limited to book reviews, review essays (review essays are often substantially longer than book reviews, often article length, and also comment on the state of the field), encyclopedia entries, book chapters in edited collections, and editions of primary works for scholarly use, as well as editorial projects of various kinds.

5. Pedagogical/instructional materials (i.e. textbooks, instructor manuals and guides). Such materials often follow and/or parallel individuals’ scholarship in the field of composition studies or rhetoric.

6. Collaborative research. In our field, the order in which names appear on a collaborative publication does not necessarily indicate the degree of participation in the research (as is often the case in the sciences).  More often in the humanities, the work is wholly collaborative.  In our department, colleagues who publish collaboratively are encouraged to mention their involvement in the collaborative research in their research narratives.

7. Relevant forms of creative activities include publications in anthologies (either print or online), journals (either print or online), chapbooks, and a variety of visual and aural literary art objects (such as literary broadsides, visual art objects with literary components, published sound recordings, and other such objects) as well as book publication.

8. Conference presentations, literary readings, public performances and other kinds of public presentations of one’s academic and creative work also constitute valuable contributions to the field, because the development of new knowledge is one of our primary goals.

9. Because publication and public presentation formats change so quickly in the field of LTWR Studies, new formats not covered by this document may become relevant to the field. Therefore, other formats not listed on this document may also count as significant to the record of any given faculty member. The faculty member should explain new formats in the field of LTWR in the WPAF narrative.

B. Factors to Consider in Faculty Research and Creative Achievements

1. The time it takes to develop ideas and produce work in the fields of literature and writing (in which most publications are single-authored) varies with the nature of the issue(s) being explored. LTWR suggests that candidates describe the nature of the research topic and its development over time.

2. Faculty producing research and creative activities in Literature and Writing Studies often have few opportunities to secure external funding to assist them in the completion of their projects. The lack of external funding can lengthen the time to publication for many projects LTWR Studies recommends that junior faculty apply for internal funding at CSUSM to assist them in reaching some of their research and creative activity goals. Candidates may also describe efforts, if any, at securing external grants or funding.

3. Given these conditions, and given the department’s commitment to the idea that quality is more important than quantity, “sustained high quality achievement” does not require a specified number of publications, either per semester, per year, or over the whole period of time in which the faculty member has probationary status.

4. More important than number of publications is the case that the faculty member makes for why the work they have published matters.

5. Quality of achievement in LTWR Studies and other fields in the humanities is not an objectively measurable one, and instead is determined by standards that vary based on the LTWR subfield and whose rigor is maintained by the peer review process. In the WPAF narrative, the faculty member should make a case for the significance of their work to the field(s) of which it is a part, detail when possible or documentable the research/creative activity venue’s impact factor or significance within the field, and explain the relationship the work has to the faculty member’s teaching or service profile and to the role they play in LTWR Studies.


Principles for Identifying and Describing Service

The LTWR Faculty believes that the following principles regarding service must be kept in mind by candidates and reviewers regarding the “sustained high quality achievement” in service required by the University RTP document for tenure and promotion and the “substantial and sustained growth” required for advancement to full professor:

1. Although LTWR Studies recognizes the value in a faculty member having performed service at all three university levels (i.e. department, college, university), faculty members may and will have different balances in the amount and type of work they do for each level.

2. When possible, the faculty member should report on the specific achievements of a given committee, or the faculty member’s work on the committee.

3. A faculty member’s contribution to any given committee is best measured by the report the faculty member makes, in the WPAF, about the achievements of a given committee and/or the faculty member’s work on the committee (as mentioned in IV.A.2.). The success or failure of any committee does not constitute a sufficient ground for measuring the importance of an individual faculty member’s contribution to that committee. Since committees are group endeavors, and involve business of importance to complex social and institutional systems, often with differing or competing goals, the success or failure of a given committee is rarely the result of the work of a single person. The value of a committee contribution is best determined by the faculty member’s description of the work done on the committee.

4. Candidates and reviewers should also recognize that the structure of the LTWR department requires extensive work from department-level subcommittees.

5. LTWR recommends that in the WPAF narrative, committee members should document what they have achieved in specific department committees, individually or collectively, to ensure that reviewers outside of the department see the value in this service work.

6. This documenting will also show that department-level service for some subcommittees can be comparatively labor intensive in LTWR Studies.

7. LTWR considers service to the community and to the profession as potentially important additions to the service work of any faculty member. Faculty who wish such service to be considered relevant to their files should describe this service work in their WPAFs.


The LTWR Studies department is committed to the idea that there is no one-size-fits-all standard for tenure and/or promotion. We would like to articulate formal support for flexibility in interpreting the college RTP document.

A. Achievement in Teaching, Research and Service

“Sustained High Quality Achievement” in teaching, research, and service for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor is important, as is “substantial and sustained growth” for promotion to Full Professor, but LTWR Studies does not expect to see similar achievements in each of the three criteria for each faculty member. Individual faculty members may put somewhat greater emphasis on one of these areas over another so long as the details of their commitment to all three are documented in the file.

B. Variability of Achievement within the Department

Variability of Achievement relative to the three defined criteria is not only expected, but more valuable to the department and its variety of needs than a single standard for all faculty members. More important than fitting a single standard is the case that the WPAF makes for the value of the faculty member’s contribution to CSUSM.