August 02, 2005
Bloggership & Tenure
Posted by Christine Hurt

From time to time, the question is asked (mostly by me to myself) whether blogging is a worthwhile endeavor for assistant professors.  A related question is whether blogging is scholarship.  In my annual review package this year, I even included under the heading "miscellaneous" printouts of meaty posts here at Conglomerate since last November.  Just in case.  Yesterday, the Provost issued the tenure standards memo for next year.  I am only up for my three-year review next year, but all untenured faculty were given the memo.  I immediately noticed this paragraph, under the heading of "Scholarship":  (N.B. -- I checked, and the memo is not confidential and I am allowed to share.)

Some creative works will fall outside the boundaries of traditional outlets (e.g., scholarly journals and books). In these instances, please provide a thorough and comprehensive review together with supporting evidence. Work is not necessarily creative or original simply because it is non-traditional. When presented as grounds for tenure and/or promotion, creative work must be subject to rigorous peer review by professionals. Furthermore, since this peer review is not standard, the process itself must be clearly explained.

I immediately emailed the head of our P&T committee -- Does this mean blogging? Apparently, we're looking into it. I think the general assumption in the blogosphere is that blogging is just bonus ("lagniappe" as we would say on the bayou). If schools do start considering blogging as scholarship, I would be interested to see which ones start. Innovation does not always start at the top. Schools in the middle have a lot to gain from academic blogging, so incentivizing junior faculty to join in the blogospheric dialogue, as well as the law review dialogue, may be a smart move. But I do like the reminder that what is not traditional is not always creative or original!

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