On Her Profession’s Secret (Blogging) Service

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I received an invitation the other day to join a new academic blog in my area. I would be emailed news clips and items of interest by a coordinator and produce 1-2 posts a week.  My first reaction was that while 2 posts a week is insane, I might be able to do one. Yes, I thought, I could do this. And we really need a blog in this area! And how nice to be asked! And isn’t this great! I drafted an immediate affirmative response. But something happened (my dog was probably trying to eat someone again) and…

Thank God I did not hit “send.” It’s true that I love to blog. I am blogging right now! About blogging! But if I took this on, I would be in the following ridiculous situation: I am a member of a professional academic organization, I review article and conference submissions for them, and I blog for them. But I have never actually published a peer reviewed article in their journal.

I asked myself if the fact that I truly support academic blogging and that I truly believe we need a new blog in this (feminist) area means I am being hypocritical not to sign up. But I have to look at my own situation. I’m an academic for whom academic writing is a tremendous challenge. And not just a challenge, but, if I’m honest, the area of my professional life in which I am the least accomplished and (this is very hard to admit) underachieving.

Adding a professional blogging gig to a c.v. that is strong in other (traditional) respects is a great idea. But I know myself. I’ll spend a few hours a week on that academic blog, and tell myself it’s just like research. But to the powers that be, it’s not. I would not be able to list my blog posts under “research” when I submit my materials for promotion in a year because they are not peer reviewed. At best, they would go under service, an already unnecessarily (but satisfyingly) large section on my c.v..  Or maybe under “teaching” to the extent they engender discussion, especially among students and grad students. Perhaps the separation of teaching, research, and service, already artificial, is downright absurd when it comes to new media.

That said, the requirements for promotion are not artificial. They are real, and unchangeable in the short term. So, for now, no professional blogging for me.*

Rohan Maitzen of Novel Readings has thought a lot about the status and function of blogging in academia, for example, here, and here. And so this post isn’t totally negatory, here’s a link to Cathy Davidson’s helpful suggestions for making digital publications matter.

*But Jessica, the savvy reader (okay, my subconscious) is thinking, here you are blogging at this blog, right now.  What’s the difference? Answer: (1) I spent about 25 minutes on this post.  On a post I  would write for Prof Blog? Upwards of two hours or more. (2) This is fun. I am sipping a glass of pinot noir and doing an MST 3000-stye viewing of the dreadful (truly bad. Have you seen this movie lately?) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service with my spouse.  That’s not exactly the way “professional” blogging would go.

8 responses

  1. Awww. I love On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I have a soft spot for (Australian) George Lazenby (or, as Iike to call him, ‘the forgotten Bond’) and I think it’s the most romantic of the Bond films and aseveryone knows, I’m a sucker for romance. I haven’t seen it for years and years. I probably won’t watch it again in case it doesn’t stand the test of time, but I do have very fond memories.

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    • To my shock, I discovered that 007 fans rated OHMSS #1! I agree there is romance (although the ostensible romance partner is absent for a good hour while Bond gets it on with the fembots!) the ending is bizarro-superb, but I mostly found the film, especially Lazenby’s performance, laughable. Maybe I need to be more of a Bond expert!

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  2. In my experience, I’d have to agree. Blogging is not taken as “writing” or research in academia, and in fact one of my professors told me once it was negatively affecting my academic writing. I definitely think there’s a place for academic blogs, but it’s not something that will get you tenure.

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    • I don’t know how I would react if a member of my peer committee said that to me! Its kind of unfortunate that, unlike colleagues who might log hours watching basketball or hiking, I have a public hobby anyone can check up on, but luckily I don’t have to care.

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  3. Oh, that’s a tough decision, but I think you made the right one. For all the reasons you’ve laid out and linked to. There are obviously people who have done very well via academic blogging, in that they’ve gained standing outside the academy in their area of expertise without losing their spot within it. But it’s hard to do, and I think it’s especially hard for women in male-dominated fields (probably women in all fields, but certainly in the former).

    Until some disciplines come up with a way to integrate blogging into the scholarly part of the CV, it’s going to be closer to professional service and networking, unfair as that is in terms of recognizing the substantive output.

    There are still a lot of people who think writing time spent doing anything but academic writing and research is wasted time.

    Like Kaetrin, I have a soft spot for that movie, but I’m not revisiting it. I’ll leave my memories as they are. 😉

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    • I really do hope one day that academic blogging has a place on a c.v.. I think what’s so hard is that it can be teaching, service, or research and I know I have written posts in all three areas. Just very hard to evaluate, especially by someone outside social media.

      Oh you have to watch it again… just for Bond’s puffy shirts!

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  4. That said, the requirements for promotion are not artificial. They are real, and unchangeable in the short term.

    This. I am trying to shed a few obligations this year, and so far it feels great.

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