Why I Won’t Try to Publish as I Move Towards Tenure

I believe in science, but I spend almost no time reading the academic literature where the science of my craft (journalism) has traditionally been published. I spend even less time trying to craft research that would get published in those outlets.

For most normal human beings, this is not a controversial stance. As a tenure-track professor, this cuts against the grain of how you are normally told to proceed. In the Academy, professors traditionally are expected to do research and then publish that research in one of a number of peer-reviewed journals.

A growing number of faculty, including myself, have begun to reject that road to tenure.

The reason: the academic publishing system is built around a 1-2 year publishing process that requires the best and brightest minds to turn over all of their intellectual property without any compensation for that work.

Before I came to the Academy, I was a digital journalist. I worked briefly for Wired before moving to Wired.com, where I first made my name. Eventually I left and helped places like Yahoo! Games and Variety launch their blogs while I finished my first book. My last job before becoming a professor was running MIT’s Technology Review‘s online operation.

I loved each of those jobs, but I would never have worked for any of those places had they not paid me for my work. Now that I’m a professor, I have yet to see a compelling reason to publish in academic journals that neither compensate me for my work, nor give me the right to keep and control the distribution of that work.

Outside the obvious ethical issues I have with this business model, the closed business of academic publishing stands against everything that science represents. At best this system makes it very difficult to parse through data, find relevant science and information, and drive innovation. At worst it works directly against these three.

This has prompted me to finally make concrete what I have danced around for several years:

In my last pre-tenure year as a professor, I’ve decided to see how serious the Academy is about re-evaluating how we disseminate information to our colleagues, our students, and the beyond.And I’m interested to see how other faculty respond to a junior faculty member who decides to explore new, emerging ways to distribute creative scholarship and leave behind the notion of publishing in closed academic journals.

The Academic Journal Cartel

Professors have long been at the mercy of big academic publishers. The tenure system, rightly built on the idea that scholars must add to the collective knowledge of their discipline in order to demonstrate their worth, demands that academic publish results of their research so that others might evaluate it.

Until recently, pre-tenure faculty had little choice in this system. You were expected to shut your mouth and toil away at your research, collecting data, and writing up your conclusions. Once finished, you would ship those findings off to journals, which would send those manuscripts out for review.

If the paper met the criteria of the publication, it would be published.

The culmination of this long process came with the realization that your work was going to reach a limited audience.In fact very few people could afford access to the very best journals, which meant counter-intuitively the more prestigious and important your finding, the less likely it would find a wide audience.

Everyone claims to agree that people should be encouraged to understand science and other academic research. Without current knowledge, we cannot make coherent democratic decisions. But the publishers have slapped a padlock and a “keep out” sign on the gates.

For years, academics had no other option. If they wanted to distribute their research, they had to go through the academic journal system. Thanks to the Internet, the Web, and the mobile Web, there are now have alternate ways to distribute their work.

The California Universitiesare encouraging faculty members to only publish in open-access journals, which make the dissemination of information the priority over the construction of lucrative business models.

Getting published in a prestigious scholarly journal is a big deal in academia because it’s one of the ways that universities decide who will be promoted and receive tenure.

But in this traditional publishing process, authors usually sign away exclusive first publishing rights to the journal. The journal makes its money by charging subscription fees to university libraries and others, and doesn’t allow the research to spread outside of its publication for a year or two.

The reason for this switch: faculty are tired of being held hostage by these journals that use the system of tenure as a way to get professors to turn over their work for no compensation.Harvard University faculty have said that “major publishers had created an ‘untenable situation’ at the university by making scholarly interaction ‘fiscally unsustainable’ and ‘academically restrictive’, while drawing profits of 35% or more.”

As these major institutions push back against the cartel of academic publishers, the doors are opening up for the distribution of ideas.

The Process of Getting to Science

Since I first stepped on the tenure-track line at Northern Kentucky University in 2008, I have been bothered by the idea that the Academy had no real mechanism for incorporating emerging media and digital scholars.

I’ve been “the digital guy” since 1984 when I was in 8th grade and helped teach the computer programming class to 7th graders when my math teacher got sick. Everywhere I’ve gone since then that moniker has followed me. (My first collegiate award as a professor: innovative use of technology.)

I’ve long ago gotten past the fact that few people understand what I do on a practical level. What concerns me is that they haven’t yet grokked the importance of tinkering. The people who play on the edge offer a valuable window into what’s coming next.What those people who tinker with emerging media, software tools, and communication technology allow us to do is peel back science to the pre-research level.

Tinkers get their hands on tools before they become commoditized. They get the chance to take them apart, put them back together, and see how theymightbe used. Computer scientists build the digital tools, but the tinkers create the artifacts and experiences that researchers study.

To put it another way: I believe in the scientific method, but I also believe in the process of getting to the scientific method.

My Year of Blogging Academically

Academic journals are, in general, built around science and research.

While I’ve earned a graduate degree in journalism from UC-Berkeley and a graduate certificate in human-computer interaction (HCI) from Indiana University, I am not a trained researcher.

I’ve spent a good deal of time around scientists in my adult life, and I can say without hesitation that I am at this point in my life incapable of even the most basic scientific research.

What I bring to the Academy is that I’ve spent my life tinkering on the edges of technology. Along the way I’ve pulled together a Web of connections that span the globe, I’ve done a series of big-scale projects with students, I’ve experiments with digital publishing and storytelling in real and virtual spaces, and I have been lucky enough to serve on advisory boards at South by Southwest Interactive and Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center.

All of these elements combined with my experience with technology has allowed me the opportunity totinker with tools and to interact with really smart people who are helping make the future.

What those things don’t lead to are academic publications because those things aren’t science.

  1. The Soho Theater Project may have brought playwrights together to learn how to tell transmedia stories, but it didn’t result in any scientific research on my part.
  2. When I can talk toEvan Ratliff about The Atavistbefore it goes live or talk abouttransmedia storytelling with Andrea Phillipsbefore most folks are having discussions about that, this is the business of exploration.
  3. When I stand on stage with Guy Kawasaki, Chris Sacca, Mark Suster, Tim Draper, and Bob Metcalfe, I’m gettinga front row seat to where innovation is happening.

I suspect that tinkering with all of these has helped me open a window into what might be happening in the next few years for my students and my colleagues.

This is what I do, and so I’ve decided that my academic life is best served by pursuing that exploration as the expense of pumping out academic papers that support a business model that is, in my opinion, the antithesis of what science and knowledge represent.

Let’s Not Get Dramatic

I’m not overly concerned about the tenure process. One of the reasons I have valued my time at Ball State University is that I believe my colleagues value my contribution to our college.I am also fortunate to work at a university that considers creative scholarship on par with traditional scientific research.

Knowing that, I’ve decidednotto spend my last pre-tenure year scrambling to write and publish several traditional papers and create posters for small new media conferences.

Instead I’m going to focus on writing on this blog each week. I’m going to explore how I’m approaching teaching journalism in an online graduate program, unpack the creative projects I’m working on, develop open-access course syllabus creation, and bring to the blog some of my friends who are working on building that future I’ve talked so much about.

It’s a self-ethnography, of sorts. A self-referential experiment that I hope focuses less on me and more on the results experiences around it.

Along the way I hope this becomes a conduit for conversation about teaching, technology, and storytelling. But that’s the thing about tinkering: you never know where it’s going to take you.

You may also like


  • Carrie Brown-Smith September 1, 2013  

    Nice. While I haven’t given up on it entirely, I’ve consciously decided not to make this my biggest priority for similar reasons and as time goes on and I learn more about how the system works, I have less and less respect for it.

    • Brad_King September 1, 2013  

      Thanks Carrie. I was actually thinking about you quite a bit when I wrote this because I know we’ve had this discussion over time. I suspect I’ll continue to publish papers as a second or third author. I enjoy working with people who do science. However, that isn’t what I do…and I’d rather focus on areas in which I am proficient.

      • Carrie Brown-Smith September 2, 2013  

        I enjoy doing science as well, but the problems you have identified in terms of access and ethics are serious ones, I think. And I also have come to believe that there is more potential for serious and rigorous peer review online than the current one-way system most journals use that I have come to see as flawed. There is no real way to challenge comments you might get on a paper saying something like “I don’t know why I should care about how black people use social media,” as more than one told me, for example, and that’s just one example of feedback I’ve received that I find unhelpful (some that clearly fundamentally misunderstand how Twitter works and just don’t like it, etc. etc.)

        I’m reading the book 1491 right now, and what is most striking to me is not the history but how fundamentally DECADES of science published in prestigious journals was literally dead wrong and fundamentally influenced by politics and flawed assumptions. Not that I find this surprising, but the sheer scale and volume of it is pretty incredible. It’s not, of course, the scientific method that’s the problem, but our system of publishing, verifying, and reward-giving. There are academics that built entire careers around theories that are just false and took down many people who were right but had theories they didn’t like. I’m sure they all still contributed to the slow march of knowledge, but it all makes you think.

        Sorry, I should write my own blog post not blabber on yours. πŸ™‚

        • Brad_King September 2, 2013  

          I love that you are commenting here. Too often we forget to converse in the new media sphere (and I’m sure there will be a blog post coming from you soon).

          What I am fearful of with this post is that people will mistake my critique of the academic PUBLISHING and TENURE system for a critique of science and the scientific method. They are not the same, although they certainly overlap in terms of functional operation.

          Your point is absolutely true re: publishing and politics. In an open world, there certainly must be a better way to create peer-reviewed scientific research while incorporating creative scholarship. I do believe we’ll get there, but it’s going to take time to figure out how to do that in a measured way.

          Until then, I’m grumpy old new media guy!

  • D. Lawson September 2, 2013  

    A refreshing take on things, that clearly outlines some of the problems with the current system. I’m at a smaller school that expects publication in major journals. Great in theory — but no one outside the department seems to understand the 2-3 year backlog problem. It is definitely helping me reconsider my priorities and where I want to be in the next three years.

    • Brad_King September 2, 2013  

      Thanks for reading and commenting, and I’m glad this got you thinking. I’d love to hear how you are reconsidering your work!

      I am lucky to be at a university that both understands creative scholarship and builds that into its core documents. However, I know that not everyone believes that creative endeavors should count in the same manner as traditional research. I’m in a unique position on campus in that as a junior faculty member, I’ve been given some non-traditional responsibilities (i.e. chairing committees, running a program). Because of that, I’m less concerned about going up for tenure next year; I am more concerned that others with less visibility have the same chances I do.

      Plus this is a time of great upheaval in the university system, and I believe we need to embrace those who are experimenting and building new “things.” The culture of innovation should be part of the culture of education.

  • John Saddington September 2, 2013  

    I applaud this perspective, one that needs to be shared by more academics. it’s a shame that the best and brightest thinkers can feel chained to a system that limits the sharing of such life-giving work.

    as you put it, “counter-intuitive”… although that’s a nice way of saying… “bullshit” and “epic fail.”

    • Brad_King September 2, 2013  

      Thanks John. I don’t believe this is a unique position on my part (judging by the response I’ve received today). I do think people think the “system” is too large to take on. And I know many junior faculty members get institutionalized in their thinking.

      as for counter-intuitive…well…I plead the fifth πŸ™‚

      • John Saddington September 2, 2013  

        when so many institutions are headed into the digital space and even giving classes away for free (like Stanford and many others) it just seems odd to continue to restrict certain media and release others…

        • Brad_King September 2, 2013  

          I was one of the first people to write about Napster at Wired back in 1999. There were a handful of folks paying attention to file sharing as we’ve come to know it in the modern world. The one lesson that we continue to learn: in a world of infinite, a business built on scarcity doesn’t work.

          But that shift is scary for folks. And we must also be careful that we don’t lose everything this is good about science, peer-reviewed findings, and research. These things matter a great deal, and what I am speaking about just makes the exploration of questions from a practitioner part of that process.

          I’m certainly not calling for a revolution because I don’t think we need one. We just need a restructuring of how we think now.

  • Brad_King September 2, 2013  

    Thanks Brad. This has actually been a bone of contention with me since I first came to academia. It’s taken me some time to get my feet underneath me enough to speak out in some public forums about this idea.

  • Leonel Morgado September 3, 2013  

    Here’s what would happen at any Portuguese institution should most colleagues take this stance:
    – When positions open for associate or full professorship, all other applicants will get better placement because the jury is typically conservative and by law composed or members external to the university (this means that people taking this stance will not have a shot at power and will be made hostage to the views of whomever gets it);
    – When regular assessments come by the national agency of their institution and their programmes, they would fail most likely, because the main scientific output for the official forms (journals) would be empty.
    – Their research centres would also fail evaluation (and not get public funding), or eject them for lack of recognized productivity. Evaluators are typically an international panel and quite conservative.
    – Bright PhD candidates would likely get a low mark from the national agency on their “supervision conditions” when applying for PhD grants, should they wish to be supervised by one such colleague, because the non-publication CV wouldn’t stand a chance against evaluation panels.
    – Applications for European-level funding would also most likely fail if headed by any such colleague, for lack of adequate CV.

    In short, one individual may just be able to make it, in close concert with his/her higher-ranking colleagues and administrators (and even so, becoming hostage to their opinions), but for more than that… even institutions would be at stake (or junior colleagues simply would get into trouble). For significant change, things need to change at the national and federal/European level.

    • Brad_King September 3, 2013  

      Hello Leonel:

      Thanks for reading, and taking the time to comment.

      First: Let me say that we are in agreement that for any substantive change to happen, it would need to happen across institutions. In the U.S., some universities have adopted a model that puts creative exploration and creative research on par with scientific research.

      Second: It’s a radical interpretation of my piece to say that I don’t believe in publishing. I said in multiple places that my goal in this is to INCREASE the venues for publishing by including the types of exploratory creative research done by non-scientists and non-researchers, which oftentimes leads the way for research coming behind it.

      The problem for many academics like me is that while I contribute to the body of knowledge we have, I am not a researcher. This means I have no way to contribute without partnering with researchers, who may (or may not) be interested in what I am exploring.

      Certainly there are journals where this type of work is published, but many of these are nowhere near the top tiers. Functionally this takes my career out of my hands, and places it in the hands of friendly researchers who might want to help me out.

      The point of my little experiment, then, is to begin exploring alternate (not replacement) venues for the type of exploratory and hands-on experimentation that many of us do. By separating that out and expanding how we present science, I would hope we would INCREASE the value of publishing and INCREASE the value of open access journals.

  • Sue Ellen Christian September 3, 2013  

    I look forward to reading your blog, Brad. My department had to restructure its governance document when it decided to hire me, a professional journalist with years of experience at major metro dailies. Because of this wise and necessary broadening of the scope of activities considered to earn tenure, my mix for getting tenure included creative activity, the likes of which you are already doing in spades. I have found that the obvious professional connections you have and leadership you have shown can be less recognized in the academy, as it oftentimes prides itself on standing apart from profit-making ventures — which of course, it is too.

    • Brad_King September 3, 2013  

      Thanks for reading and commenting Sue Ellen. I have had a similar experience with department documents, and I’m lucky that I teach at Ball State University, where creative research and projects count alongside traditional research.

      My concern is actually less for me (I expect to get tenure, if my previous committee reports are to be believed), and more for others coming later. The reality is this: even if a university acknowledges your work, if the Academy as a whole does not, then you are limited in your options for work. (In this case, I am also worried about this for me. I am hardly altruistic!)

      I also believe that as we teach and use the scientific method for research it’s important to expand our understanding of that to include the creative endeavors that oftentimes LEAD to research opportunities. I have run 3 projects that have been researched by others; those publications about my projects have generated Vita hits for researchers, while not generating any for me.

      By the Academy’s standard: I have not contributed to the body of knowledge. But I would argue that I have.

      Fundamentally that last point is what drove me to writing this, and I think it’s been why thousands of people have read and responded. They agree with this point (on some level).

  • Brad_King September 3, 2013  

    Radical in the sense that you began by saying if everyone followed this advice, what would happen. My piece is very specifically about my decision, and my belief that creative, exploratory research should sit equally next to the scientific, peer-reviewed research.

    While I didn’t address this, I will here: Peer-reviewed science DOES have value in that you are eligible for grants from places like NSF, NIH, NEA, and other places that require science. So while you may not receive direct compensation from a journal, that work does have a value.

    If you are a creative researcher, there are far fewer grants and those grants are not dependent upon you publishing in a journal. Therein lies the issue: creative, exploratory research have no real monetary value (for you or the Academy) and no publishing value (unless you turn over your idea for no reason).

    What I believe is important is to find a way to tie the exploratory with the science…to extend the continuum of what we value. This doesn’t mean EVERYONE can do ANYTHING. (I’m certainly no Relativist.) It does mean I think we should reconsider how we evaluate “impact” and “importance” in the Academy.

    But – and this is a big BUT – I believe in science, peer-reviewed publishing, and the Academy. I simply believe we have been too narrow in how we approach assessing value.

    Also: thanks for reading and continuing to comment. I find this dialogue extremely helpful and insightful. I appreciate your thoughts!

  • digidave September 3, 2013  

    Coming as somebody outside of Academia (who has glanced its side once or twice) I value this position. I often wonder about the papers that professors produce – rarely does anyone outside of academia see it. Even if they do – the structure/language/tone of it all is obviously not meant for people in the field practicing – but for academia itself.

    Will be curious to see how the Univ. reacts. I am routing for you.

    • Brad_King September 3, 2013  

      Hey Dave πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading and commenting. My university is extremely supportive of this type of work, and many others are as well. The problem is that this isn’t universal so you are limited with what you can do in terms of moving, receiving grants, etc.

      There is a great value to peer-reviewed scientific research (in front of and behind paywalls), but there is great value to unpacking how we approach the idea of creative exploration. I can’t speak to whether CS and Biomedical journals should own your IP (I only have an opinion on that matter), but with so few outlets for creative scholarship, the idea of turning over that work to a company that may limit its exposure makes no sense to me.

    • hardaway September 3, 2013  

      Totally, Dave. Believe me, it’s all bullshit.

      • Brad_King September 3, 2013  

        I think a blanket statement that it’s all bullshit is wrong, and it’s certainly not my contention. Peer-reviewed science is the foundation of much of Western Civilization, and I’m happy to be part of that. What I think has happened is that we have forgotten that the exploration of ideas (based in theoretical models, maybe, but certainly with new tools) in creative research is an important part of the scientific process. At the moment, we have no real way to quantify that as we try to expand knowledge.

        But I do recognize that the system causes people to throw up hands and declare “Fuck it” because it seems to monolithic. This is a serious problem.

  • hardaway September 3, 2013  

    Thank you for this. I fought through the tenure stuff, published three books I consider worthless, and left for a career in entrepreneurship. I’ve never looked back, and now that I am teaching one class in Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University, I don’t have that pressure as an adjunct and that’s just fine.

    • Brad_King September 3, 2013  

      There’s a wonderful book called ACADEMICALLY ADRIFT, which tracked some of the least helpful degree programs. MBAs traditionally scored low on the list in terms of larger, knowledge-producing skills. The point (in some way) is that some systems, like building a business, may require more hands-on knowledge, while others require theoretical and science-based knowledge.

      The tenure system is based around one to the exclusion of the other. Even for people like me who are supported in my creative research, my ability to switch jobs or move through the Academy is limited by the types of schools that support creative exploration.

  • Dean Landsman September 3, 2013  

    On a lighter note, you could refer to this as “The Year of Blogging Dangerously.” Not likely, though, that Mel Gibson’s people will option the script.

  • Pingback: Weekly Meanderings, 7 September 2013 September 6, 2013  
  • Robert Talbert September 9, 2013  

    Thanks for this post. I gave up tenure 3 years ago to go from a small liberal arts college (read: tenure was based 90%+ on teaching) to a regional state university where the criteria for tenure and promotion are not settled, to say the least, and I started back at square one in the tenure process (by choice).

    I believe my university values a diversity of scholarly approaches (which is good, because after 10 years in a liberal arts college the chances of me doing significant pure research in my field is pretty dang small) but the thing we’ve wrestled with the most is peer review. The thing about, say, blogging is that anybody can do it — and therefore sheer quantity of output is not a reliable measure of quality. When we start to discuss ways to verify that a person’s scholarship is high-quality, the process of doing this for nontraditional outlets gets so complicated that anybody who isn’t passionate about this sort of thing wants to just give up and go back to counting only peer-reviewed publications as scholarship, just because the verification of quality is built in to the system (supposedly).

    So I was wondering if you had any thoughts about the role of peer review in what you’re doing.

    PS: I say “supposedly” because the last pure research article I submitted languished in the reviewer’s inbox for four months (it was supposed to take six weeks) whereupon my co-author and I got a one-sentence rejection letter (“Your article doesn’t meet the standards of our journal”). So I am not a big believer in the almightiness of peer review.

    • Brad_King September 9, 2013  


      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate the thoughtfulness.

      One idea that I’m realizing didn’t come through in this piece is the role of science and publishing in determining knowledge so I’ll try to clear that up here.

      I believe in the scientific process and the scientific method, and I believe that peer-reviewed academic publishing is vitally important to that process. I even understand why closed academic journals exist. Scientists who publish into that realm have ways to advance their careers (and their fields) by publishing in those journals.

      For me — someone in the creative arts — that closed process doesn’t make sense as I’ll never monetize my work through NSF grants or other corporate sponsorships. I’ll also never have the chance to demonstrate my value to another institution because I don’t have a PhD and I don’t do scientific research.

      That is the trouble area I was trying to explain.

      The work that I do, by and large, is creating large-scale projects using emerging technologies to explore how people can and might use these tools in the future. (You can read about two of those: http://www.thedudeman.net/tag/transmedia-indiana/ and http://www.thedudeman.net/tag/sohotheater/).

      What I would like to see is for peer-reviewed journals to open up their pages to those who are doing creative scholarship meant to inform the science that comes later. (For instance: both of those projects were studied by researchers and published in journals. However, I received no credit or acknowledgement for that.)

      Certainly I don’t believe blogging should be considered academic work but there are few outlets for creative scholarship in journals at the moment. This leaves few spaces for this type of work to be done. (Say what you will, but I find poster sessions at conferences to be a ridiculous waste of time.)

      I do think that blogs by Dr. Henry Jenkins at USC (http://henryjenkins.org/) are the archetypes for what we should consider “academic, creative publishing” that informs the field. I do think that type of publishing should have a home next to the science it informs.

      In sum, my argument isn’t that blogging should be considered academic publishing. I do not. However, I do believe that the best of those academic blogs can serve as the argument that we must begin to consider opening the doors to academic publishing farther down the line in the scientific process to include the creative research that inspires research.

  • Nan Zingrone September 10, 2013  

    Fascinating: I’m subscribing to your blog and heading into your archives.

    Good luck with the tenure and promotion committee at your school. I hope they understand what you’re doing. If it’s anything like the ones I’ve seen operate vicariously while at Duke as a grad student in the late 1980s/early 1990s and at Edinburgh in the late 1990s/early 2000s, and my brother’s experience at a small off-the-tier state university last year, tenure and promotion committees are still focused on published articles and the potential of a tenure-track individual to publish widely thereby making a name for the school. Sometimes that’s just code for we don’t like you personally or we don’t value your contributions that are not publishing related, but other times they really do have traditional academic publishing as a minimum criteria that they won’t move beyond in considering your overall worth. So seriously, I hope your committee understands new media and sees the value in what you’re doing.

    My own situation is that I’m not tenured, never have been, and have only occasionally been an adjunct (my two most recently university appointments have been as an administrator at a teeny tiny mostly unknown online school with one degree, and as a research professor — read only doing research/writing, no teaching — at a controversial unit in a prestigious university) so a complete transformation of the tenure system doesn’t frighten me in the least. And I applaud what you’re doing to highlight that. I just know what my commitment to following my own heart has done to my ability to get or keep conventional jobs, not to mention my bank account. Marching to your own drummer has risks even when change is coming.

    As for academic publishing, I am totally with you there: predatory journals and the predatory academic publishing model, what a bad idea! By predatory I’m talking about journals that engage in the outrages you mention above like charging authors to publish and/or retaining all copyrighted uses to the resulting article (American Psychological Association journals come to mind in the latter case — having to ask permission to make your own work available on your own website, that’s a outrage if you ask me). I’d much rather contribute my work to journals that aren’t predatory, online or in print, because of the indirect and direct but intangible boost it gives to my work and because I’m verbal and like to contribute. Not interested in paying to publish or getting tied up in knots by the publisher in any case and when I was a journal editor for a few years, I helped institute very open and non-predatory practices for authors. I wrote a lot of letters that started “Actually, if you reread your copyright assignment agreement, you’ll see you don’t need to ask us for permission to ….” I wish more journals were like that.

    But, I’m just not sure how many of the intangibles of publishing in journals, open source or not, will also accrue from print and video blogs. I’m trusting that they will at the moment.

    • Brad_King September 10, 2013  

      Hello Nan:

      Thanks for reading and replying. This subject clearly has touched a nerve with lots of folks.

      As for our P+T system at Ball State: Creative endeavors and scholarship are definitely counted just the same as publishing. It’s codified into our documents. The real problem for me (and others like me) is that while I may have the ability to teach here, it’s increasingly difficult to show other universities a value if they haven’t codified that type of scholarship into their documents.

      More broadly: We have reduced the idea of science down to simply the end results of a study. For instance: three projects that I created have been studied and written about, but none of those count on my CV as scholarship because I was not the researcher.

      So the question I come back to is this: Does my contribution to the process of science not count? The answer in traditional publishing circles is “No.” That approach to the importance of science doesn’t seem correct.

      • Nan Zingrone September 10, 2013  

        I agree with that last sentence too!

        Well all across the history of science what counts has always been changing.

        Back when Henry Oldenburg was managing the correspondence for the Royal Society (17th century), having a correspondence with Henry was really important for recognition of your work. Then publishing got more formal as time went on. Certainly no one would have told Darwin that “Origin of the Species” was just a book (and you hear that sometimes in scientific circles — but where’s your peer-reviewed articles, that’s just a book).

        We’re morphing into something new that’s for sure! Great blog!

        • Brad_King September 10, 2013  

          I appreciate your thoughts on the matter, and I appreciate that you understand the difference between On the Origin of Species and an ordinary blog πŸ™‚

          My argument was confused on this point, it seems. I don’t believe all writing informs science, but certainly some does…and you rightly point out.

          • Nan Zingrone September 10, 2013  

            Just saying that when Henry Oldenburg ran things it was more important to be corresponding with him than publishing in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, and when Darwin published “Origin of the Species” academic journals were just starting to have the power they have had since the 1890s, say, so a book in the era when Darwin published “Origin” counted for more as an academic document more than it does in modern science. These days books, because they are not peer-reviewed, are considered a lesser form of academic writing in certain disciplines.

            So basically what counts as “important” or “appropriate” academic writing has changed repeatedly over the history of science.

            • Brad King September 10, 2013  

              Yes, yes. I was agreeing with your point!

Sign Up, Download A Free eBook
This newsletter is the outgrowth of The Downtown Writers Jam podcast. What that means is I will collect information about the authors I interview, book happenings around the Web, and other literary events that I find interesting. Without you, I'm just a crazy guy sitting in his office furiously screaming on the page for no reason.
Never display this again