The tenure track, a pathway for professors mostly associated with universities, has slowly found its way into research institutions. The pathway aims to offer permanent positions of a few years for researchers and provides starting researchers with systematic support and guidance. The Finnish Geospatial Research Institute (FGI) adopted the system last spring and, now, Nicola Linty, an up-and-coming doctor, has started as an associate professor in the Department of Navigation and Positioning.
“Currently, the tenure track is a fairly typical system to recruit professors, both at universities and at research institutions. The Department of Navigation and Positioning was looking for a new permanent researcher, above all, for practical reasons when a few senior positions became vacant”, says Sanna Kaasalainen, Director of the Department of Navigation and Positioning.
Kaasalainen says that professorships are highly attractive positions among researchers. The department set high standards for the new professorship, as permanent positions should be filled by top talents. In this way, the level of the department’s research activities remains high. Therefore, the new researcher must be able to truly move their research field forward.
“New researchers need to meet high requirements, also during the tenure track. We want to give potential professors access to a pathway, through which they can become research professors at FGI. This system helps us to test new talents in specific focus areas”, says Jarkko Koskinen, Director General of FGI.
From goals to results
In practice, the tenure track is binding on both parties: FGI and the new researcher. During the first steps of employment, the parties define a group of common goals and supporting interim goals. These are fully based on the current situation. However, goals usually concern funding, student guidance and scientific publications. The number of texts published in scientific journals is normally a yardstick to measure the progress of researchers.
“Feedback discussions are held regularly, while a more systematic evaluation is carried out every three years to analyse the researcher’s progress in more detail. This discussion works in both ways”, Kaasalainen says.
Nicola Linty, the new associate professor, says that the tenure track process has gotten off to a suitably peaceful start. The researcher, who started in spring, has started to work on his goals, supported by the director of the department. The most important goals focus on Linty’s research.
Research and teaching
Linty says that his research focuses on satellite positioning and, in particular, on European Galileo satellite navigation system and its security aspects. Specialised in positioning, Linty has worked in the area of this theme for several years and already on three continents: in his home country in Italy, in Canada, the Netherlands and the Antarctic – and now in Finland.
“In addition to furthering my research, I am also interested in sharing information”, Linty says.
Currently, Linty is guiding the research institution’s students. He also hopes to give lectures at universities in the future. He feels that teaching offers good support for research, as simplifying different themes and putting them into different blocks also helps him to understand them.
“I believe that lectures given by our researchers are an important form of cooperation between universities and FGI”, says Kaasalainen.
The tenure track is a versatile system of many stages. It helps FGI to offer an overview of a researcher’s work and a professor’s obligations. When successful, it produces benefits for fresh researchers, FGI and the entire research field. Kaasalainen says that everyone has accepted the new system with a positive mind. The modern pathway is driven by quality and research – just like high-quality research.
Associate Professor Nicola Linty, associate professor, +358 50 476 9498, firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Department Sanna Kaasalainen, +358 50 369 6806, email@example.com