However, independence is not specifically stated or defined in the APM or CALL, and is often misunderstood to mean that faculty must work alone. On the contrary, collaborative efforts are strongly encouraged and are becoming essential for the multidisciplinary, high technology research that characterizes modern biomedical science, for instance, and also are commonplace among many other fields of academic pursuit, including the humanities. CAP recognizes that a faculty member’s entire scholarly productivity may be as part of a collaborative team, in which case evidence of a unique and essential contribution is considered equivalent to independence.
CAP is mandated to evaluate a candidate’s academic achievements that can range from examples of their solo creative work and completely independent research to various forms of collaboration leading to co-authorship. In the latter cases, reviewing units are expected to clearly identify, fully delineate, and specifically assess the specific intellectual and creative role of the candidate. Supporting documents can include the candidate’s self-statement, the Chair’ letter and the ad hoc committee report. CAP emphasizes that only with professional clarifications that disaggregate and frame the candidate’s contributions to collaborative projects the Council can fulfill its mandate to focus on the candidate’s unique and essential achievements.
The nature of such collaborations, contributions, and their presentation in dossiers varies considerably across disciplines. In order for CAP to make an accurate assessment of a case, information provided by units must include such focused clarification. A possible first step would be for departments to generate an example of a “best practices” approach that fits their discipline’s customary intellectual productions and publications and best breaks down and communicates each individual’s independent contribution to collaborative efforts. Such a clarification could guide external reviewers, such as members of CAP, who are not in that discipline and are unable to accurately assess the particular intellectual attainment or degree of independent contribution represented in specific promotion cases.