Aims This paper discusses the issues facing the nursing academic workforce and the
development of a project at the University of Wollongong in Australia which
attempts to address this problem.
Background The project draws on Boyers work around scholarship reconsidered
to enable new ways of thinking about the nature of research and how the work of a
diversifying workforce can be recognized and rewarded within institutions.
Methods We conducted a series of interviews with senior university staff to identify
key issues around academic promotion processes. Feedback from these interviews,
along with extensive internal and external consultation and benchmarking, will be
used to redraft promotion documentation that includes discipline-specific
Results Interviews revealed a number of perceived and actual barriers to promotion
of academic staff who did not conform to a traditional view of research
expectations. It was widely felt that unspoken expectations about research
performance were being used to judge applications for promotion, and that this
disadvantaged people from practice or professional backgrounds, or people who
had heavy administrative or clinical roles.
Conclusions Internal university processes need to reflect the reality of a diversified
workforce. Practice and professional disciplines have responsibilities beyond
meeting traditional research output measurements. More flexible and transparent
expectation guidelines and career development pathways are needed to build
holistic schools and faculty and enable maximum staff productivity.
Implications for nursing management By redefining scholarship, schools and
faculties are able to meet the multiple demands of the government, the institution,
individual staff, students and the profession. Not everyone can do traditional
research all the time, and staff involved in other scholarly work should be able to
rewarded and promoted. By taking the lead in this issue, nursing as a discipline can
set its own agenda, and pave the way for other disciplines. It can also go a long way
to solving issues around the dwindling academic workforce.