Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Political Science Blogging

Herr Fuchs sends this link, to an article by the estimable John Sides of the also estimable Monkey Cage.

In one part of the article, John asks, "Should Junior Faculty Blog?" I think his answer is a bit too optimistic. If your blog is invisible, why waste time on it? And if it is successful, and you become known for it, you are taking a pretty big chance when it comes time for promotion. Either way, I'd say, "no," at least until your fifth year or so in a TT job.

On the plus side of blogging, I blushingly refer to this article on "Truthiness" and political blogging, in a special issue of PC edited by blogging stalwarts Drezner and Farrell.

(Yes, it's gated. Send me an email and I'll send you a PDF, if you don't have access through a library).

UPDATE: On some comments. if you played Russian Roulette and won, that doesn't mean that it is a good idea to play Russian Roulette. So the fact that some people start a blog early, and still get tenure, is not proof it is a good idea.

Good of Dan D to write a comment also. Now, I don't think that the blog was the reason Dan did NOT get tenure. But I (and Dan) will always wonder a little bit whether it had some negative effect.

Dan wrote about it here... Seems like a long time ago now. Dan is fine, still cute and perky. But we'll never know.


Ari Kohen said...

I generally agree ... especially since I didn't start blogging until just after I put together my P&T file.

But I wonder what you mean by "invisible" here; in other words, how would you define successful and how quickly would one need to become successful? After all, we're all invisible for a bit and, for someone who's still pre-tenure, some of that invisibility might mitigate the big chance you speak of the person taking if the blog is successful...

Mungowitz said...

Well, that's the "start in your fifth year" thing. Your blog is really good, Ari, and you spend some time on it. The articles and the links are thoughtful, and useful.

I worry that someone in their second year might spend too much time trying to make the thing good. Or so little that it's not worth any time at all.

It takes a year, or more, to build any kind of following. This blog took from 2004 through 2009 to get 500k views. But it will go from 500k views to 1 million views in just 18 months.

The real problem, now that I think of it, is that I worry people will be like me, and write a bunch of juvenile, silly stuff.

So, my revised rule is this: If you are serious and smart like AK, start a blog whenever you want, but don't spend too much time on it. If you think penis jokes are funny enough to use them in your blog (as I do, routinely), don't start until you have tenure.

Dan Drezner said...

You said "penis".... heh...heh..heh

Andy Bechtel said...

I blog about my field -- journalism generally, but especially editing. I started the blog between my first and second years of teaching.

It's mostly serious. I do have occasional posts about pop culture and the media, though. I also have students write guest posts as an assignment.

I was recently approved for tenure and promotion. I included the blog on my CV and provided information about how readership grew.

In my case, the blog was an example of my "creative activity." In other words, the blog "counted," but probably not for too much.

Ari Kohen said...

Flattery will get you everywhere, Mike...

But, yes, in all seriousness, Tofias tried to get me to start blogging a couple of years earlier and I kept putting it off. I think I've probably really only started doing it in earnest -- mostly writing my own long-winded posts -- over the past six months or so. It takes a lot of time and my department -- at least at the moment -- doesn't count it as research (or even, as far as I can tell, as service).

But a fair amount of the stuff I write will end up in something I clean up and publish ... and then it will count. So it's a great way to toss out ideas and see if they get any traction right away.

It's not for everyone and, like you, I wouldn't advise a first or second year assistant professor to spend the time it takes to do it seriously.

Jacob T. Levy said...



yeah, I got nuthin'.

BR said...

Score one for the benefit side of the "tenure" concept?

Jeff said...

I'm a little late to the party, but your thoughts would be welcome.

Blogging is widespread at GMU. Bryan Caplan's thoughts on blogging as a professional:

I think an important part of the analysis is *when* you start blogging. Graduate students need to make a decision. The concern of the authors you mention is one of a negative signal. At GMU, many students (especially the Austrians) keep blogs and/or actively participate in protracted discussion on social networks (also publicly visible).

If you can hit the job market with a blog (successful or not) and two or three working papers, and perhaps a forthcoming piece, I doubt blogging would be a negative signal to tenure committees! I think overall, blogging, like teaching, is a long-run complement with research, but there is a short-run substitution effect (borrowing Steve Horwitz' analysis of teaching). I suspect Bryan would agree.

Your job is to credibly signal that you can be productive, despite a substitution effect! The signal is less credible if you start a blog after being hired.