Blogging and Tenure

One of the things that has come up in a few offline conversations I’ve had lately has been about the value of blogging in a tenure environment. The obvious answer: it doesn’t count. But there is an emerging question: what is the role of altmetrics in tenure?

Having worked at two institutions that granted librarians faculty status: officially named “librarian faculty” with contracts of increasing length at one and “continued appointment faculty” with similar contracts at another, it comes up. Again and again.

It comes up because if you have publishing requirements, you have to put time into that process. Blogging takes time. If you have a limited pool of writing time, and blogging is occupying a lot of the space, when will you get that scholarly research done? (I know I haven’t done any of the formal writing I had planned to do this month.)

Yet, blogging can influence the field in some pretty significant ways. I’d guess that this blog has had more of an impact than the one true peer reviewed article that I’ve published has.  Even though that article is referenced in a fairly influential work of its own.

So is it influence that matters? Peer review? Entirely original ideas? Something else? And who is to say that peer review doesn’t happen every time someone comments on any work, blogging included?

All that being said, in these recent conversations we keep coming to a place where the blog has value unto itself, and is a good thing to do if you have things to say. However, it seems the safest lens to use, and that the most people seem to use, for the faculty review process is that the blog is better as a platform to build a professional reputation that opens the door to other scholarly activities.

And I’ve certainly seen that in my own blogging. This space has opened doors to partnerships and collaboration, opportunities to contribute writing, and invitations to speak to different groups. The work I’ve done in those spheres has often been more rigorous and in many cases had a more formal tone, but it was only an option because of the writing that took place here.

So to blog or not to blog? I’d say there’s still value, even though you’ll occasionally come across posts that indicate Twitter’s the way to go now. The bigger question is what do you have to say (and how will you make time to say it)?

4 thoughts on “Blogging and Tenure

  1. Nice post! I remember about 8-9 years ago, when I interviewed for a couple of academic jobs. I met with the tenure committee, and asked them “what about my blog?” And received blank stares back. Or a “well, it counts, but you don’t get as many points for it as you would for a peer-reviewed article.”

    Hee – maybe there’s a reason I work in a public library :-)

    I won’t change the tenure process here, but I think it really depends on how you look at a blog. Is it a personal journal or a regularly-updated publication? Some blogs have a readership that equals or surpasses some journals.

    The whole blind peer-review thing I’ve always found funny. No, my blog does not have traditional peer-review, but I sure know when I get things right or wrong on my blog! Because my peers let me know (or let me have it). Which I “think” is what peer review should be, anyway. Not just a “no, your article can’t be in this journal” but more of a back-and-forth.

    One more – you mentioned citations. Some of my blog posts have been cited in peer reviewed articles. To me, anyway, it’s sorta funny that the article itself would “count” for tenure, but the original source (ie., my blog post) would not count.

    Oh well – just thinking out loud! See you in a few days at ALA 2013!

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