Scholarship, Leadership and the Academic Promotions Project at the University of Wollongong, Australia

Wednesday, 1 August 2012: 2:10 PM

Kylie M. Smith, PhD, BA (Hons)
Faculty of Health and Behavioural Science, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia
Patrick Crookes, PhD, BSc (Nursing), RGN, RN, RNT, CertEd
Faculty of Health & Behavioural Science, School of Nursing, Midwifery & Indigenous Health, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Learning Objective 1: identify the major issues to the development of career pathways for nursing academics.

Learning Objective 2: present possible solutions to their workplaces to ensure scholarly activity is rewarded.


Researchers in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health in the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Science at the University of Wollongong, Australia have been working on a number of ways to address the problem of academic workforce succession planning. All of these strategies are part of an umbrella project called the Academic Promotions Project. Now adopted by the whole university, the project looks at Ernest L Boyer’s model of “reassessing scholarship” to rethink the way in which academic work might be recognised and rewarded.


We conducted extensive literature reviews and external consultation to ascertain what processes and methods other universities have in place to deal with these issues. We then surveyed 30 senior University of Wollongong academic and human resources staff about their concerns around promotion and for their thoughts about performance standards in a number of scholarly areas. We then developed a set of recommendations for the university to adopt which involve making some small changes to promotion processes and adopting new decision supporting documentation.


Interviews results indicate that significant barriers exist to the reward and recognition of the scholarly activity being undertaken by clinical or practice discipline staff in particular. Of significant concern is the apparent bias towards research in a traditional form (ie, by journal publication or grant income) which does not recognise the varied and important work undertaken by clinical or practice discipline staff. Our recommendations and documentation set out scholarly activities and outputs that should be considered of equal value for staff working in non-traditional academic areas.


By developing clearer sets of expectations, we have been able to articulate clearer career pathways for nursing academics and assure staff that their scholarly work will be recognised and rewarded.  In doing so, we provide active leadership by and for nursing academia.