Inspired by this blog post: http://andreweckford.blogspot.ca/2012/10/would-you-include-your-blog-in-your-t.html and the ensuing twitter conversation: https://twitter.com/andreweckford/status/260737094056542210 I decided to write a more in-depth response on my blog.
Compared to the rest of the group in the twitter convo, I am probably the most junior being a grad student still (the others are librarians and professors in various stages). The general consensus seems to be that while a forward facing department may consider a blog in their criteria, there are not clear cut rules to support blogs in the process and most people would not include it.
When I get to that stage in my career, however, I’ll try my best to shoehorn it in somehow. I’m of the opinion that any modern academic department should be considering blogs and even social media accounts in the T&P process. These types of things show how engaged an academic is with the public. We need more engaged professors and research students. The general public pays for our work (for the most part) and we should make them aware of what they are paying for.
As mentioned in the twitter conversation, the benefits of blogging and social media alone in terms of connections and collaborations with other researchers end up showing up on the resume anyways with publications and projects. However, I think there is also value in the quality of a blog itself.
As for the less professional posts, I think these also have some value. As long as they aren’t the type someone should be embarrassed about, I think they also still add value. They humanize the professor for the students and the general public and make the professor more approachable. Sometimes its also nice to read these peoples’ opinions on issues outside of their expertise.
My blog has been going for about three or four years now, and while I think the quality of the posts are not as good as the others in the Twitter conversation, it has some value since it has documented some of the journey through grad school, some of the work I’ve done and some of my thoughts that would otherwise just disappeared into the ether. Clearly this is something people are interested in since I regularly get around 2500 hits per month on the site. These types of statistics may be the type of thing to include in T&P files. The number of hits, followers on twitter, retweets, “klout” – all show the level of engagement of the professor. On the other hand, this could just lead to a race to the bottom of constant meaningless social engagement, but I’d still prefer a prof who tweets too much to one who is alone in their bubble.