Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Would you include your blog in your T&P file?

What's the difference between a blog and a book, as far as "publications" are concerned? It's not quality -- it is not much harder to get a book published than it is to write the equivalent material in a blog. So if you are happy to list a book in your Tenure & Promotion file, would you also include your blog?

I know of people who have done it, like our former science librarian John Dupuis (his excellent blog is here). But I expect John is the exception rather than the rule.

I see a couple of things holding most researchers back from using their blog professionally.

First, John's blog is obviously professional: he is disciplined about posting regularly, and his posts are of professional interest. But like a lot of researchers, my blog is "for fun" -- I basically use it to blow off steam and write about what's on my mind; if I'm busy, I don't want to feel guilty if I go a week or two without posting. I'll post about research, but from time to time I'll also post about funny, mundane, and personal stuff. I don't think this is a bad thing; I like reading a mix of the professional and personal in other blogs. But if I had an eye towards T&P, I probably wouldn't write posts like this or this.

Second, let's turn the tables and consider it from the perspective of a T&P committee. Books, papers, and other publications are familiar to other researchers, but it's still a rare researcher who writes a personal blog. If a researcher submitted a blog, how would the committee evaluate it? Pageviews? Comments? Would they have to go through and read each post? My department's T&P document -- rewritten two years ago -- never uses the word "blog", so the committee would be within their rights to disregard it; moreover, it's unclear which category a blog would fit under: research, teaching, or service. Without answers to these questions, submitting a blog for T&P would be to court controversy in a process that the applicant wants to go as smoothly as possible. But forward-looking departments should be considering this question.

So would you submit your blog for T&P? And if you were on the other side, how would you evaluate a blog?


The Phytophactor said...

My blog stats are included in my annual productivity report, but under the category of Public Outreach, which is part of "service" that we public university faculty are supposed to engage in. My chair said they didn't know how to evaluate a blog, and my response was "Well, 500 to 700 people a day read each of my blog posts; how many read your last publication?"

Andrew Eckford said...

That's an excellent point! But I'm not sure pageviews should be the true measure of impact -- it's too easy to game (like any metric, I guess).