Talk:Assistant professor

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Proposed merge with ProfessorEdit

Absolutely no reason to have a separate article for this. Randykitty (talk) 13:47, 2 October 2015 (UTC)

This was discussed previously and the consensus was to have separate articles for commonly used academic ranks. As pointed out before, we have separate articles for a whole bunch of academic ranks, e.g. Reader (academic rank), Senior lecturer and so on, not to mention the hundreds of articles about military ranks (for example, there are around 200 separate articles on military and paramilitary ranks of just one country, Germany). Assistant professor and Professor ("full Professor") are completely different ranks, having them in just one article would be equivalent to merging lieutenant and general. If we merged Professor and the far lower rank of Assistant Professor, there would be no reason not to merge all other academic ranks into the same article and just have one gigantic article on academic ranks. That would not be a good solution, as it would be a very unwieldy article. Assistant Professor is a commonly used rank and it is helpful that it has its own article, which can be linked to directly from e.g. biographies, instead of (confusingly) being redirected to an article about the full Professor rank. Bjerrebæk (talk) 15:54, 2 October 2015 (UTC)

  • The comparison with military ranks is completely inappropriate. While a general has several lower officers beneath him and is empowered to give them orders, this is rarely the case for academics. An assistant professor is just a junior professor and generally not under he "command" of a higher placed professor. Assistant/associate/full professors generally fulfil the same tasks, with full profs perhaps having a bit more responsibility in the faculty than assistant profs. Same for lecturers and such. There's no reason whatsoever to separate these ranks in different articles (and unsourced ones at that). I doubt that there exist sources that discuss assistant profs but not at the same time full or associate profs. --Randykitty (talk) 16:24, 2 October 2015 (UTC)
    • Assistant professors are not professors, they are assistant professors, a completely different rank for a junior academic. The fact that both titles contain the word "professor" doesn't mean they are the same or should be described in the same article. As far as one can claim that professors and assistant professors "fulfil the same tasks", the same could be said of all academic ranks. The point is that they are different ranks and that Professor is a rank that usually requires decades of scholarly work and accomplishments at a much higher level than assistant professor (US) or lecturer (UK etc). If the American, junior rank assistant professor was to be merged into the article on the full professor rank, then the equivalent Commonwealth rank of lecturer, and all the other articles on academic ranks, would also have to be merged into the same article, and it would have to be retitled "academic ranks" or something. As far as I can remember, the previous discussion rejected this idea, and I still think it is a very bad idea, and I can't see why all material on academic ranks should be squeezed into one big unwieldy article, while we have hundreds if not thousands of articles on military ranks (instead of just one article called "military ranks"), and countless articles on noble ranks (although an Earl and a Viscount also "fulfil the same tasks") and all sorts of other ranks/hierarchies. Bjerrebæk (talk) 21:03, 2 October 2015 (UTC)
  • You have it exactly right: the only difference between assistant/associate/full prof is seniority. That's easily explained in an article on all of them together. The same goes for lecturer and such. All these people do similar things with the difference between them only being the name (lecturer vs associate and such) and the seniority. together with all the brief country articles (insofar they can be sourced), we might be able to get professor up to an acceptable standard, but what we have now is an absolute mess. What is being done with military ranks, which are completely incomparable, is immaterial (at worst, WP:OTHERCRAPEXISTS applies). --Randykitty (talk) 21:54, 2 October 2015 (UTC)
  • I invite you to see what a mammoth the article was before the split: [1]. fgnievinski (talk) 05:23, 3 October 2015 (UTC)
  • That is indeed a horrible article. But it would be much less of a mammoth if it were appropriately edited. Note, for example, how often the article explains what an emeritus professor is or how often the difference between assistant/associate/full prof is explained. And those are just two examples: it is full of repetitive stuff. There's a lot of trivia (mostly unsourced), and so on. Paring that down, reorganizing the stuff in a more logical way, will make this a more useful article. Just cutting the fluff and moving it to separate articles doesn't solve the problem, it just moves it and makes things more difficult. For example, if someone is interested in how different countries do things, they now have to look that up in a couple of dozen different articles. Much better to have one article that clearly explains the general principles first and then, where necessary and sourced, explains where some other countries differ. --Randykitty (talk) 08:18, 3 October 2015 (UTC)
I don't think it would be possible to merge all academic ranks into just one article and achieve an article that is not a monstrosity, like the former state of the professor article illustrates. I don't know of any other comparable topic when all ranks from bottom to top, and in all countries, are squeezed into just one article. The scope of the article would become so extensive that the article would by necessity be enormous, if it were to cover only a fraction of all the material that ought to be covered in an article with its scope (all academic ranks, in all countries, with no in depth articles on e.g. specific ranks). Academic hierarchies are so complex that widely used ranks such as full professor should have their own articles. The point of having these articles on commonly used ranks is in fact to explain the "general principles" to the extent possible; I was the one who opposed having only articles like "academic ranks in (country)". For example, full professor is a rank that is found in most systems and that is roughly comparable. Other ranks can be found in several countries, but not everywhere, e.g. reader. Bjerrebæk (talk) 09:30, 3 October 2015 (UTC)
It would appear to me that the high repetitiveness of the article that Fgnievinski linked to argues for the opposite. Many countries have similar systems, often for historical reasons (such as many countries following the British of US systems). The differences are often superficial (i.e., giving the same rank just a different name). Academic hierarchies are, in fact, relatively simple, once you see past the superficial differences. --Randykitty (talk) 09:37, 3 October 2015 (UTC)
Actually, I've spent a lot of time comparing academic hierarchies in different countries, and there are a lot of differences, at least to the extent that we could still have a separate article on e.g. the Commonwealth rank of reader. There are a number of widely used "main systems", but not all countries belong to either of them, and in a sense each country has its own system.
Also, an article, or rather a list, of all academic ranks already exists. I think we should definitely have (ideally) an article providing an overview of the concept of academic ranks and the main systems, but that we should also have in-depth articles on specific commonly used ranks (as we already do and have always done) and country in-depth articles. Many of the articles still leave a lot to be desired, but I don't think we would solve anything by getting rid of articles on specific ranks. Bjerrebæk (talk) 09:50, 3 October 2015 (UTC)

Repeating point made under Professor: Splitting off "assistant professor" and "associate professor" is also complicated because these terms have different meanings in different contexts. For instance for a PhD in Norway there are only two ranks: Associate professor or (full) professor (some with a PhD are promoted to docent based on research and teaching merits combined). In Sweden, "docent" is used for the position between associate and full professor. So it is a bit difficult to describe these terms in separate articles as they can only be understood in the context of the system as whole. So I think the main problem with splitting and keeping separate articles, is that for instance "associate professor" is not the same in different contexts - what applies to "assistant professor" in the US, applies to "associate professor" in Norway. Strictly speaking there are no "associate professors" in Norway, "associate professor" is a convenient translation to US/UK terminology, the actual meaning of "associate professor" depends on context. I don't have a quick fix to this problem, but I realize that keeping separate articles that precisely describes the rank in most or all countries is difficult. Norwegian "førsteamanuensis" partly corresponds to "assistant" partly to "associate". — Erik Jr. 18:30, 3 October 2015 (UTC)

Indeed, one reason for the academic ranks by country series was because the Anglosphere's ranks were oversimplifying the idiosyncrasies of each country; e.g., adjunct professors are tenured in Latin American public universities. So I propose we start improving overview articles on academic ranks and professor. Then, if it gets good enough, we can consider merging the various professorial ranks into separate sections of professor. I still think the academic ranks of each country would be best merged into the respective higher ed by country page, where it'll likely attract more attention from knowledgeable and interested editors. To get started, according to Template:Academic ranks, there are two main academic ranks in the Anglosphere to be described: North American system and Commonwealth system. fgnievinski (talk) 19:28, 3 October 2015 (UTC)
I think we should keep (and improve) both the academic ranks by country articles, and separate articles on commonly used ranks that are used in many countries. I do think we should have a separate article on the full professor rank, because this is probably the best known rank and used in virtually all countries in some form. I do not think an article on the full professor rank should be merged with the US rank assistant professor, because then there would be no reason not to merge the British/Commonwealth rank lecturer (which corresponds to assistant professor in the US), and all other ranks, into the same article, and it wouldn't be an article on the full professor rank anymore (the full professor rank is the only rank which is called professor in most Commonwealth and many other countries). Bjerrebæk (talk) 08:25, 4 October 2015 (UTC)
That can be usable compromise. Than the article must be explicit something like "Professor (highest academic rank)". The article still needs to specify differences across systems/countries. In Norway for instance the requirement to become a professor is "according to international standard" (similar to most countries), the number or proportion of professors is not limited (as in some countries with alimited number of professor chairs). What I am missing however is some kind of systematic comparison of academic ranks and systems. — Erik Jr. 22:02, 4 October 2015 (UTC)
(0) Why can't the various professorial ranks be sections of Professor? (1) Improving all the individual countries' ranks is beyond any single editor's abilities; the best we can do is to bring that content to the attention of knowledgeable editors who would hopefully care and/or be annoyed enough about it so as to improve it. (2) The distinction between highest- and lower-ranking professors is not as important in the North American system as it seems to be in the Commonwealth system (e.g., most undergrad students in the U.S. have no idea what is the professorial rank of their instructors), so it's problematic to insist that "professor" is to be understood necessarily as full professor. (3) Maybe the Academic ranks redirect should re-targeted from the current target List of academic ranks to Faculty (academic staff), which could host the much-needed overview. fgnievinski (talk) 23:34, 4 October 2015 (UTC)
(0) Because lower ranks than (full) professor are not considered "professorial ranks" in most countries, and because then the article would by necessity become an article on all academic ranks rather than an article on the (full) professor rank, and would also have to be renamed academic ranks (replacing the already existing list?). The full professor rank exists in the U.S. as well and I don't see the problem of having an article specifically on a rank that is used in just about the entire world (in some form). Also, we already have Academic ranks in the United States, which is where such a system would really belong; we can and should of course mention in the article professor that the word professor is also used in titles of lower ranks in some countries (as we already do). Bjerrebæk (talk) 09:13, 5 October 2015 (UTC)
(0) Agree with Bjerrebæk. While in some countries there are various types of professors (and "full professor" is only one of them), in other countries there is only a single type of professor (the highest academic rank). In Norway we informally say that associate professors (førsteamanuensis) are on the "professor track/ladder", but they are never referred to as professors (except perhaps by exchange students). In Norway there are also various types of "university teachers" that in other countries may be called professors (such as "assistant professor"). The university act states that the title "professor" can only be used for the highest positions. So from a Norwegian perspective it is confusing to include university teacher under the heading "professor". --— Erik Jr. 15:06, 5 October 2015 (UTC)
(2) In Germany the distinction between (full) professor and other ranks is still very important (perhaps changing). In Norway (and perhaps other Nordic countries) the distinction is still important, although less than used to be. In fact until 1990 professors were appointed by king-in-council (the official cabinet meeting) - professors were accordingly senior civil servants (and not merely civil servants), and there were a fixed number of professors. Still it is a privileged title. Many students of course dont know (or dont care). To maintain a globale perspective I think it is problematic to include other academic ranks under the title "professor", this is a question of terminology as well as substance. One solution can be to use the article title "Professor (highest academic rank)". Regards --— Erik Jr. 15:13, 5 October 2015 (UTC)
So what do you suggest we do with the various merger tags? fgnievinski (talk) 15:29, 5 October 2015 (UTC)
I think the tags should be removed per this and the previous discussion we had. As of today, I can't see an alternative to the current solution. Bjerrebæk (talk) 10:14, 6 October 2015 (UTC)


My (talk) 13:57, 24 September 2022 (UTC)