Your scholar-blogger links for today
My co-author Henry Farrell has an excellent essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the ways in which blogging and scholarship can complement each other. Without saying his name, it is certainly an excellent rejoinder to one Mr. “Ivan Tribble.” The key paragraphs: Many young academics who are thinking about blogging share [Duncan] Black’s ...
My co-author Henry Farrell has an excellent essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the ways in which blogging and scholarship can complement each other. Without saying his name, it is certainly an excellent rejoinder to one Mr. "Ivan Tribble." The key paragraphs:
My co-author Henry Farrell has an excellent essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the ways in which blogging and scholarship can complement each other. Without saying his name, it is certainly an excellent rejoinder to one Mr. “Ivan Tribble.” The key paragraphs:
Many young academics who are thinking about blogging share [Duncan] Black’s dilemma. Is it a good idea to blog if you’re on the job market or have a nontenured position? Tenured academics who blog face relatively little risk when they express controversial opinions — they have job protection. It’s a different story for academics without tenure who want to blog. They may worry that their colleagues would find their blogs objectionable, damaging their career chances, and either blog under a pseudonym, like Black and the law professor “Juan Non-Volokh,” or not blog at all. Younger scholars may also worry that blogging would eat up time that could be devoted to publishing articles or working on a book. Few if any academics would want to describe their blogging as part of their academic publishing record (although they might reasonably count it toward public-service requirements). While blogging has real intellectual payoffs, it is not conventional academic writing and shouldn’t be an academic’s main focus if he or she wants to get tenure. But to dismiss blogging as a bad idea altogether is to make an enormous mistake. Academic bloggers differ in their goals. Some are blogging to get personal or professional grievances off their chests or… to pursue nonacademic interests. Others, perhaps the majority, see blogging as an extension of their academic personas. Their blogs allow them not only to express personal views but also to debate ideas, swap views about their disciplines, and connect to a wider public. For these academics, blogging isn’t a hobby; it’s an integral part of their scholarly identity. They may very well be the wave of the future.
Meanwhile, for those who believe that the academic life is a cushy one, go click over to Dan Nexon’s post about the poli sci job market at Duck of Minerva. The highlights:
[O]ver the years I have: 1) Written at least sixteen applications for post-doctoral fellowships, only two of which were successful; 2) Sent something on the order of a hundred job-application packets to institutions of higher learning, out of which I received a handful of interviews and a miniscule number of offers; 3) Gone mostly bald. What, then, is my advice? Let’s start with the obvious. There will always be people who are smarter, better credentialed, and much more attractive than you are. Many of them will be applying for the same jobs as you. But take heart in two facts about the world. One, almost no one can physically occupy the position of assistant professor at two institutions. Two, life is unfair. Between these two laws of nature, you just might get a job offer… or even many, many job offers. Now, the bad news…. The academic job “market,” in other words, is nothing of the sort. It is penetrated by informal and formal ties of friendship and influence. Short-lists, interviews, and offers are made on the basis of many collective and individual decisions, including search committees, departments, and various high priests of the academy (e.g., deans and provosts). In aggregate, these decisions can take many surprising and unpredictable directions. Bottom line: it is foolhardy to invest your ego in the process.
I’m simultaneously more pessimistic and optimistic than Nexon. On the pessimistic side, the fact that no single person can occupy all the jobs proffered to them does not mean the market will clear. Among top-tier institutions, it is far more likely that departments will simply adopt a “wait ’til next year” approach than hire their second choice. At which point the process repeats itself — a lucky few snap up all the job offers, everyone else waits until next year. For aspiring academics that want the really plum jobs, this can be like repeatedly banging your head against a wall in the hopes of obtaining a result different than your head hurting — a textbook definition of insanity. On the optimistic side, I don’t think old-boy networks warp the hiring process as much as is often posited. This is what I said in “So You Want to Get a Tenure-Track Job…”
This process has two parts; getting an interview, and then getting an offer. No doubt, letters of recommendation and phone lobbying can help to get you an interview; that, however, is as far as this kind of influence can carry someone. At the interview stage, the quality of your work and your presentation determines whether you get the job.
The academic job market, as I’ve witnessed it, is a globally rational but locally capricious system. Some people will undoubtedly slip through the cracks — but on the whole, talent is recognized and rewarded.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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