scio11: blogging on the career path

Jan 16 2011 Published by under Conferences

Sheril Kirshenbaum, Janet D. Stemwedel, Greg Gbur and John Hawks

This post is somewhat real time, but less stream of consciousness. The members of the panel all had very positive results from blogging. They got new collaborations, the blogs helped their tenure case, speaking gigs at conferences, and book/column offers. Three of them were anonymous or at least didn’t tell their work about the blog initially. They didn’t try that hard to hide it and their bosses ended up being very supportive.

How to put a blog in a tenure package? Janet selected her best posts, printed them, and introduced them. For her institution, global reach is a goal so she did indicate that she had readers and commenters from other countries. Greg put in page views and links from other blogs.

John says to read the university’s mission statement, and use that to explain how what you’re doing online supports the mission of the university. You should show how you are connecting with the local community. Use your blog to build communities (scholarly communities in smaller areas) where there wouldn’t be otherwise. He also indicates that, although his blog isn’t all that popular, he has more hits than public outreach efforts intended for broad audiences. He put a chart showing the comparison in his package.

Question from the audience about being on the job hunt. He tested the water first by mentioning other chemistry blogs, and that didn’t go over well. Janet answered that there are crap blogs in every topic area, so that might be part of the problem. If you are doing a thorough job, and are doing a good job explaining things as you would explain them to students, then . From John: the job market is tough, and you’ll have a 95% chance of encountering an asshole. That person will hold many things against you, so you really can’t prepare. If you say right off this is what I do, then you won’t have put them in the position where they’ve already said they don’t get blogs. If your research record is not what they’re looking for, then there’s nothing blogs can do to help.

Greg points out that many departments are starting to encourage blogging as a recruiting and outreach tool. (my doc program has started a blog).

From the audience, Tom suggests efforts to understand the culture of your institution  - this was jumping off of a question about weighing teaching and outreach with research while job hunting. It really does depend on the institution and even department if the outreach stuff will be of interest.

From the audience, a university PR person said that they were trying to locate the bloggers. Please contact your communications office  - they’d like to meet you.

John does keep his new ideas from his research area off his blog. Things he has mentioned on his blog have ended up in other people’s grant applications. He writes more about adjacent areas. Greg includes his blogging as part of his broader impact discussion. Janet was invited to join a grant application because one of her posts was on a topic of interest.

The sum up was basically that if everything else is going well – you can bring in money, you are published, and everything else – then the blogging won’t help or hurt.

As to the question about blogging while actually at work, as long as you are getting your work done. Also if you’re doing a lot of work at home anyway, just blog when you can. There are some caveats: if you are making money or if you are very political, these are things that could cause conflicts at work.

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