Tuesday, June 7, 2005

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492326* words later....

Readers may have detected a somewhat harried nature to my blog posts of the last few weeks. The reason is that I was preparing to hand in my tenure file -- the packet of information that is sent to external referees asked to write about my case. A tenure file consists of:

A) Updating my cv;

B) Compiling hard copy versions of everything that's mentioned in the cv that I want my betters in the field to actually read with a careful eye (i.e., no "occasional publications," op-eds, or blog posts);

C) A statement that encapsulates the underlying themes of my research and teaching to date.

If this sounds like all it would require is a cloistered weekend and some toner, well, that's what I thought six weeks ago. I then discovered, however, that writing a statement of research and teaching is the equivalent of writing a ten page cover letter saying, "Look at me!! LOOK AT ME!!!" You'd think with my blog and everything this would be easy to write, but you'd be wrong.

Then I decided that this would be an excellent opportunity to revise my book manuscript and polish all of the draft articles I have in the wings. Not surprisingly, this took a bit longer than expected, and distracted me a hell of a lot more than my lovely wife expected.

I handed in the file this morning. As I sank back into my chair, I began to wonder just how many words I had printed out. In a fit of sheer bloody-mindedness, I opened up every document, did a word count, and added it all up. Which is where I got the title to this post.

[What's with the asterisk?--ed. Because that word count, while accurate, is nevertheless inflated. Like every other political scientist, I publish my scholarly work in both article and book form. Many of my articles are simply book chapters that have been hived off into stand-alone essays. Similarly, I have sometimes published more accessible forms of my research in policy journals. So while the word count is pretty high, there's a lot of duplication. How much duplication?--ed. I'd say that buried beneath that word count are about three big ideas, four pretty big ideas, three smaller ideas, and some nice moments of criticism.]

Anyway, it's off my desk and out of my hands -- so I'm now off to do some serious drinking.

After the whole process is over -- i.e., in early 2006 -- I might be motivated to post something about the political economy of getting tenure. For now, however, political scientists should click over to Henry Farrell's informative post about how to get your conference paper accepted for the American Political Science Association annual meeting.

posted by Dan on 06.07.05 at 03:25 PM


Best of luck, Dan. I wish you well.

posted by: Horatio on 06.07.05 at 03:25 PM [permalink]

Yes, good luck Dan--all the best...

posted by: bp32 on 06.07.05 at 03:25 PM [permalink]

Do "ringing endorsements from the comments section of your blog" count? Because I'd be glad to throw something into a supplemental.

Good luck!

posted by: jim dandy on 06.07.05 at 03:25 PM [permalink]

Good luck, Dan. You know that from the standpoint of the U of C denying tenure to a titan of the blogosphere would be a major act of hubris. The Larry Summers flap at Harvard last year was nothing in comparison.

I know what you mean with respect to writing about oneself. I hate that, just hate it. I've known other people on the tenure track who've had to go through just what you are right now, and have no idea how they did it.

posted by: Zathras on 06.07.05 at 03:25 PM [permalink]

Good luck!

Would you be able to list the ten big, pretty big, smaller ideas for us? It would be very useful to see this snapshot of your thinking.


posted by: Jack on 06.07.05 at 03:25 PM [permalink]

Best wishes.

posted by: Richard Heddleson on 06.07.05 at 03:25 PM [permalink]

I'll second Jack's remark and request. :)

posted by: Mike on 06.07.05 at 03:25 PM [permalink]

I know things can go awry but when someone goes for tenure, do they have a pretty good idea what their chances are? If you need to be looking for a new job next fall, I would hope they (whoever they may be) give you ehough advance warning to start mailing out your resume.

Where were you doing your serious drinking - Jimmy's? Is Jimmy's a wireless hot spot? Once you have tenure and can dedicate more time to blogging than to mundane academic affairs, can you take a lap top to Jimmy's and seriously drink while blogging?

posted by: Martin on 06.07.05 at 03:25 PM [permalink]

I thought you already were tenured.
But seriously, at what point will blogs need to be considered for publication credit for purposes of tenure? Ann Althouse at the UW Law School has gained more notoriety for her blog, I suspect, than for her scholarly publications...and with every mention in the Washington Post comes attention to the law school.

As I told her, the answer to the above question is, "Sooner than tenure committees want it to."

posted by: art hackett on 06.07.05 at 03:25 PM [permalink]

Just out of curiosity:

Does U of C have a policy on how many peer-reviewed articles in top journals you need to get tenure?

posted by: ab on 06.07.05 at 03:25 PM [permalink]

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