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Guidance for Supporting the Career Autonomy of Junior Faculty

For a department to thrive, faculty at all levels need to feel that their contributions with regard to scholarship, education (e.g., teaching, supervising, mentoring), and service (e.g., administration, patient care) are acknowledged and valued. For junior faculty to advance and be promoted, they need to be effectively mentored and have their growing professional autonomy supported. These contributions may differ depending on the context (i.e., scholarship, education, service). However, senior faculty who mentor their junior colleagues also need to have their contributions to the work recognized. In many senior faculty-junior faculty pairs, labs, clinical service teams, and educational programs, etc., there is a comfortable process in which junior faculty feel supported and that their growing autonomy is acknowledged in terms of authorship status on papers, roles on grants, educational and service titles and roles/responsibilities, committee appointments, etc. Most research lab directors and educational and service leaders are very generous and foster a good environment for their junior faculty, encouraging their growth and development and helping them begin independent careers.  However, there can be other dyads and research, educational and service contexts where this process could be done more effectively.

A series of meetings were held with faculty at all levels of professional development to develop informal guidance for faculty members with regard to supporting the career autonomy of junior faculty, while simultaneously acknowledging the contributions of senior faculty. This guidance is not meant to be proscriptive, but rather to serve as a guiding framework.

This document begins with a description of an optimal culture within the department aimed at fostering faculty autonomy and acknowledging appropriately the contributions of all parties. What follows is a discussion of expectations for mentoring relationships. Then we offer recommended best practices for authorship, grant processes, educational endeavors, service endeavors, and navigation of the transition from mentee to mentor.

Culture

  • All members of the faculty value and support developmentally-appropriate levels of career autonomy in their colleagues and convey an appreciation for the fact that as individuals move forward in their careers they need more independence and power
  • Junior faculty are responsible for initiating their own growth and independence, albeit with the support of their more senior colleagues Both independence of scholarship and team science should be promoted
  • Senior faculty and mentors openly convey pride in their junior colleagues accomplishments
  • Junior faculty actively recognize their mentors/senior colleagues contributions to their scholarly, educational, and service endeavors (e.g., ideas, guidance, materials)
  • Open dialogues occur with regard to career autonomy, during which the parties acknowledge and attempt to address different perspectives on this matter and agree to seek consultation when needed 
  • Differences about authorship status, roles on grants, educational and service roles/titles are most effectively resolved within the specific dyad/team/group itself, but when this is not possible, then consultation should be sought from appropriate senior faculty or the Department Conflict Management Subcommittee
  • Annual faculty review sessions serve as a medium to address these issues as well  
  • Regular outside “audits” of all mentoring relationships are a standard within the department
  • To optimally support the career development of junior faculty researchers, the Department will strive to offer them appropriate start up funds, independent space, and leadership roles/responsibilities (educational, service), etc., which will help empower junior faculty

Expectations

  • From the outset of the mentoring relationship, junior faculty member, with guidance from their mentors, lay out a trajectory for an independent field of inquiry, educational endeavors, and service activities, that emerges from or is related to the mentor’s area of expertise, with acknowledgement that this trajectory may be revised as the junior faculty member’s interests evolve
  • Discussions are held at the outset of a mentoring relationships or relationship between and senior and a junior faculty member with regard to expectations for career autonomy and appropriate credit for both parties and efforts should be made to ensure a collaborative matching of such expectations
  • Discussions are held at regular intervals for mentoring relationships and senior-junior colleague relationships with regard to changes in expectations related to career autonomy and appropriate credit for both parties and efforts should be made to ensure collaborative matching of such expectations as they shift
  • It is appropriate for one or both parties to consult with another colleague (e.g., Vice Chair for Faculty Development, Vice Chair for Research) in order to seek guidance and assistance with resolution and there should be no retribution for seeking such consultation

Best Practices

Authorship

  • Background – Authorship is way of both assigning responsibility and giving credit for intellectual work. Decisions about authorship should reflect honestly the actual contributions to the final product. In practice, a variety of factors have led to authorship practices that are not consistent with the aforementioned standards. For example, junior faculty may believe that including senior faculty members on the publication will enhance the chances of successful publication, regardless of whether or not these individuals actually substantively contributed to the work. In addition, junior faculty may be reluctant to not include their senior colleagues, because of the power they hold over them vis-à-vis their employment, funding, and other professional opportunities. Further, senior faculty may feel pressured to have their name on more publications so that they are seen as productive scholars, even if they do not directly contribute to the work. Sometimes senior faculty believe that they should be listed as authors because of the logistical, financial, or administrative support they provided for the work, even if they did not contribute intellectually. Sometimes, disagreements or disputes arise in terms of authorship credit and order. These differences often reflect communication problems between or among colleagues, which may either be prevented or addressed by open discussions and agreements about standards for authorship.
  • The research team reviews the Collaboration and Team Science Field Guide (http://teamscience.nih.gov) and discusses up front the Questions for Research Collaboration that have been outlined by the NIH Office of the Ombudsmen (https://ccrod.cancer.gov/confluence/display/NIHOMBUD/Collaborative+Agreement+Template) and may craft a Prenuptial Agreement for Scientists (http://ori.hhs.gov/education/preempt_discord.shtml)
  • In collaborative research endeavors, publication credit and order is discussed up front and frankly and in an ongoing fashion, with differences of opinion acknowledged and addressed
  • Individuals only have their names on papers if they have actually performed the work or made a substantial, direct intellectual contribution to the work (i.e., conceptualization, study design, data analysis, interpretation of findings)
  • Everyone who makes a substantial intellectual contribution to the work is an author 
  • While there are a variety of ways to determine authorship order, authorship order accurately reflects the scientific or professional contributions of the individuals involved, regardless of their relative status, and such order is decided by the authors collectively  
  • People who make other substantial contributions to the work (e.g., provision of funding or services, such as patients or materials), without an intellectual contribution, are acknowledged in an acknowledgment section, but not be included as an author, as providing funding or services may not be sufficient for authorship credit 
  • No one is too junior to be first or last author 
  • Everyone who is listed as an author shares in the preparation of the manuscript by either writing it or reviewing drafts and approving the final document
  • Differences about authorship status are most effectively resolved within the research team itself, but when this is not possible, then consultation should be sought from appropriate senior faculty or the Department Conflict Management Subcommittee
  • Manuscripts are reviewed by co-authors within a reasonable time frame (i.e., approximately one month) and if a co-author cannot complete his/her review within a reasonable time frame, the other authors may choose to remove him/her from the publication after giving a warning

Grant Processes

  • There are many similarities with regard to investigator status with the authorship issues noted above under Authorship Guidelines. Currently, Emory guidelines suggest that each investigator who applies for tenure should serve as principal investigator on at least 2 major grants (R01 or equivalent).  It is in the best interest of senior faculty to have their mentees succeed at Emory, and it is in the best interest of junior faculty to participate in grants as early as possible. 
  • There is a discussion up front with regard to who should be the Principal Investigator and who should be included as an Investigator 
  • If a junior faculty member contribution to the scholarship that laid the foundation for the grant proposal, he/she is included as an Investigator on the grant 
  • If a junior faculty member is an expert on the work associated with the grant, he/she is given the opportunity to serve as the Principal Investigator, especially for non-center grant applications which often require senior faculty for success 
  • The roles and responsibilities of all parties are discussed at the outset and as needed in an ongoing fashion over the course of the project and it may be helpful to have this in writing 
  • There is some dialogue up front about authorship related to publications that will emerge from the grant and this will differ depending on the nature of the grant (R, K, etc.) 

Educational Endeavors

  • Junior faculty are given the freedom and encouragement to develop new educational programs and should be appropriately credited 
  • Junior faculty members are supported in modifying and improving upon existing educational programs and should be appropriately credited 
  • More senior faculty relinquish as appropriate educational leadership roles to more junior faculty
  • Junior faculty give appropriate credit to senior faculty for their contributions in educational endeavors

Service Endeavors

  • Junior faculty are given the freedom and encouragement to develop and manage new service programs and are appropriately credited 
  • Junior faculty members are supported in modifying and improving upon existing service programs and are appropriately credited 
  • More senior faculty relinquish as appropriate service leadership roles to more junior faculty
  • Junior faculty give appropriate credit to senior faculty for their contributions in service endeavors/programs

Navigation of the Transition From Mentee to Mentor

  • As junior faculty begin mentoring students or trainees, the traditional arrangement with their mentors may need to change.  For example, if a junior faculty member begins supervising a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow, it may be appropriate for the student to be first author with the junior faculty being senior author for publications arising from that work.  Also, the junior faculty seeks guidance from senior faculty before taking on trainees of their own. 
  • As junior faculty begin the transition to mid-career faculty, it may no longer be appropriate for their mentors to be included on their publications and their grants, as it is essential for promotion that one demonstrate independence 
  • As junior faculty assume more major roles in education (e.g., training director), a more senior faculty member who previously held the position needs to move toward an as needed consultant, rather than to continue to try to direct or lead the program
  •  As junior faculty assume more major service roles (e.g., unit or division director), a more senior faculty member who previously held the position needs to move toward an as needed consultant, rather than to continue to try to direct or lead the service.