Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Blogging and Tenure

A post from Daniel Drezner several years ago:

So Friday was a pretty bad day....

This Friday was a less-than-great day for two reasons.

First, the Red Sox got swept in the playoffs.


The political science department voted to deny me tenure. Next year at this time, I will no longer be residing in Hyde Park or teaching at the University of Chicago.

[Wait a minute, you can’t leave it at that. What happened? What the hell happened? Why didn’t you get tenure? Was it your failure to anchor yourself within a clearly established theoretical paradigm? A lack of respect from peers in your IPE subfield? Too much output? A declining respect of your subfield by your tenured colleagues? The departmental turn away from mainstream political science scholarship? Your political orientation? Jealousy of your public intellectual status? WAS IT THE FRIGGIN’ BLOG??!!--ed.] My answers in order: I dunno, perhaps, probably not, maybe, I guess so, a little, could be, I seriously doubt it, and who the hell knows? Any decent social scientist must allow for multiple causes, so it’s not necessarily an either/or question. At the moment, I simply lack the data to confirm or deny any explanation. I may garner more information in the days and weeks that follow, but the fact that I was genuinely surprised at the outcome suggests that my ex ante intelligence gathering was piss-poor.

[So what will you do now?--ed.] Look for gainful employment to start in June 2006 – a fact that will no doubt amuse readers who have disagreed with my take on the effect of offshore outsourcing on job creation. At least I have some lead time.

[How are you feeling? Are you bitter at the U of C?--ed.] I’ve felt better. And -- duh -- yeah. That said, I will miss the students. The undergrads have been wonderful, and the grad students have been razor-sharp. At the moment, my biggest regret about all this is the knowledge that I’ve taught my last class at the university.

[Speaking of regrets, let’s go back to the blog.... er… any regrets?--ed.] The very first words I wrote on this blog were: "I shouldn't be doing this. I'll be going up for tenure soon." This is a theme that I’ve touched on several times since then. The point is, I can’t say I didn’t go into this with my eyes open.

That said, if one assumes that the opportunity cost of blogging (e.g., better or more scholarship) was the difference between tenure and no tenure – an unclear assertion at best – then it’s a tough call. From a strict cost-benefit analysis, one could argue that the doors that blogging opened could have been deferred for a few years in return for the annuity of a tenured position at Chicago. That said, if I did things only for the money, I never would have entered the academy in the first place. And I’ve enjoyed the psychic rewards of blogging way too much to regret my choice.

[Just this week you said, "The academic job market, as I've witnessed it, is a globally rational but locally capricious system." Still believe that?--ed.] Well, I’d posit that the second half of the hypothesis has received another data point of empirical support. We’ll see how the first half holds up as the job market proceeds.

Blogging may be slower than usual for the next couple of days.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education, more by him on the question of whether or not blogging can derail your career.

Another essay, this one asserting that some blogging academics have been tenured, though others, fearful, have chosen to be anonymous.

It's a GoogleFest. More thoughts from someone who is not Daniel Drezner on tenure and blogging.


Anonymous said...

Jealousy? About public visibility? Surely not!

Anonymous said...

If professors are afraid to buck political correctness on those rare occasions when it does not coincide with their own views, why would you expect them to show courage in any other respect?

....J.Michael Robertson said...

Dear anon: Spoken like a man on a rich pension with many investments -- mostly T-bills, I reckon -- ensconced in a gated community.

Anonymous said...

It is scarcely the same thing to put a man on the moon as to put a bone in your nose.