Date of this Version
Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 2016).
Research in honors has become a priority for the National Collegiate Honors Council, and the phrase presents the honors community with an interesting ambiguity about the appropriate focus for future studies. Potential topics might include the progress of honors students in comparison to their non-honors cohorts; the criteria for selecting honors faculty; and the relationship between honors and its institutional context. The best methodologies might include statistical studies, qualitative analyses, or both. Future research in honors might reflect past practices or set a new trend in both topics and methodologies. As the NCHC launches its next fifty years, the time is right to take a careful look at where research in honors should be heading and to note that the horizon contains much that is promising.
A humanist by training who specializes in European history, I know that my research program colors my ideas about research more generally. In my discipline and at my institution, what counts as research in tenure and promotion decisions involves publication in professionally recognized outlets, e.g., refereed journals, books, and proceedings. Scholarly publications include specific elements: establishing the historiography of a topic, i.e., “reading it up,” laboring in archives, and analyzing texts. To research competently in my field may also require specialized training in disciplines such as paleography, diplomatics, languages, and any number of other fields. What counts as research among my colleagues is specific to their fields: for those in the natural sciences, research and publication might require experience on a rock face, in a lab, or in a rainforest. Social scientists might work with field surveys and data sets. Research in any field, including mine, requires convincing specialists in other fields, as well as one’s own, to recognize the work as worthy of tenure and/or promotion.