Publishing Advice

I remember (and have recently re-read) the post where I wrote that I knew I needed to get published and that I should be writing and that I had no idea how to do those things. Trial and error teaches a lot–at least to some people.

Recently I explained that “life long learner” means I have to keep re-learning the same things in different ways. 🙂

That said, there was a good post on the CHE about what publishing means for a lot of places. Even though I am not in one of those places and do not want to be, I know that I am behind in publishing and presenting. Certainly if you use the metrics of the post I am behind (as in, I never got there).

While it does not apply to me per se, there are many nuggets of wisdom hidden in the carefully sifted advice. (Now I am thinking of chocolate chips and brownies for some reason.) Without further ado, advice from the brilliant at the CHE:

You have a special challenge in that you need to keep up a publication record as if you were at an R1 while coping with a heavy teaching load.  The model I was taught to aim for was 2-2-4: two articles and two smaller pieces every year, and a book every four years.  Now, I actually think most people fall short of that.  But if you want to move, you’d want to aim for an equivalent of that, in the most streamlined and efficient way.  The first advice I’d give is to drop the second “2” — the smaller pieces (generally book reviews, can also be encyclopedia entries or whatnot).  Those are a luxury.  The articles and books are the most important.  So here are the rules as I see them:

1. Piggyback your current research on your last research.  Use the same kind of materials, but viewed from a different angle or expanded.  You can see the prolific scholars doing this already.  For instance, the first book will be about Lincoln’s White House staff, using the appropriate archives.  The second book will be about women in Lincoln’s White House, using the same archives.  The third book will be about Lincoln’s ideas of hierarchy, using the same archives. In every case, pick only an idea that’s interesting to you, but pick strategically.  Also pick something in which you don’t have to embark on a whole new set of secondary reading.

2. Don’t put every single thing you learn and think on the subject in the book.  Save self-contained nuggets of findings for separate articles.  For my last book, I finished the book and then wrote a spin-off article in three days. I had all the quotations right in front of me and knew the material so thoroughly that it just flew onto the page. If you can get four or five extra articles out of your book, that would be excellent.  Don’t feel the need to jam it all in; use this to plant articles in good journals.

3. Make every piece of writing earn its keep.  Don’t publish in edited collections; they count for less on the CV. Submit every article to a top-tier journal and work your way down the food chain. Position your book for the top presses.  Don’t make my mistake and give your book to lower-tier presses just because they ask for it and you think, “Phew! Someone will publish this!”  Try all the top-tier presses first.

4. Find the CVs of the top people in your field and keep tabs on them. Keep track of how you measure up. 

5. Minimize the busywork your job asks for as much as possible.  Where possible, give assignments that are swift to grade; streamline teaching prep; keep extensive records so you don’t have to redesign your classes every year. 
Then try to get in 90 minutes of academic writing every workday; 45 minutes should be your minimum.  Don’t save it all up for a long weekend stint, which may or may not be possible when the time comes.  The research shows that the most prolific people write for shorter periods and often.

6. Take Sundays off; ideally Saturdays too.  Do not stay up working till midnight.  Burning yourself out won’t get the job done and also makes the job not worth doing.  Your goal is to work smart, not exhaustively.

Best of luck!

hegemony. “Re: Posting Hall of Fame–Reply 2409.”,9 March 2011,,30991.2400.html.

T&P Portfolio

For the next little while my uni is doing the tenure and promotion portfolio online.

My boss said the essay for teaching should be about 20 pages. Mine is 84.

Scholarship is supposed to be 5-7. Mine is 35.

Service is supposed to be 5-7. Mine is 32.

No wonder they moved them online, since they were getting so bulky. Right now my t&p is 173 pages long…

Hmmm. My teaching portion is only 4x as long as they said, while my scholarship is 5x as long. Maybe I need to expand my teaching section.

Note: I went to the CHE fora and found that other SLACs have 500-1000 pages. Maybe I am missing something.

A Class on How to Live Wisely

I would take that!

I would also love to teach it.

“How to Live Wisely” in the New York Times

A number of campuses have recently started to offer an opportunity for students to grapple with these questions. On my campus, Harvard, a small group of faculty members and deans created a noncredit seminar called “Reflecting on Your Life.” The format is simple: three 90-minute discussion sessions for groups of 12 first-year students, led by faculty members, advisers or deans. Well over 100 students participate each year.

Then Richard J. Wright describes the 5 exercises.

Maybe we should have this class for 50-somethings.

Tenure and Promotion Portfolio

Eight days ago a senior colleague told me that my portfolio was due this year. The deadline for that is tomorrow.

So I stayed up late and worked on it and got up early and worked on it.

Then I found out that, no, it is not due until 2016. However, I thought that since I had already started it, I should just keep going.

My goal was to get it finished by the time it was due and then send it to some folks for review.

While it is not perfect, I think it is much improved over last year. I certainly took the recommendations to heart and worked on significant improvements.

So today I sent the link to folks to have them look at it. Hopefully it will be what people were looking for. (I thought it was last year when I did my pre-tenure review, but it wasn’t.)

Medical School Lures English Majors

NPR on May 27, 2015 has a story by Julie Rovner on a medical school revamping requirements to lure English majors.

Dr. David Muller is Mount Sinai’s dean for medical education. One wall of his cluttered office is a massive whiteboard covered with to-do tasks and memorable quotations. One quote reads: “Science is the foundation of an excellent medical education, but a well-rounded humanist is best suited to make the most of that education.”

At first it is about Mount Sinai’s own program. Eventually, however, they get to the relevant parts for non-Mount Sinai students:

The effort has worked so well, in fact, that Mount Sinai is expanding it, opening it to students in any major from any college or university. Eventually half the class will be admitted via a slightly reconfigured program, which has a new name: FlexMed.

The more often you tell me, the less I believe

Okay, I don’t think this should be applied to “I love you,” but other than that, yeah, I am starting to be a believer.

The more you tell me that “everything is awesome” and “we will have some storms,” the more I am sure the boat is leaking and a hurricane is coming.

Just saying.

Rhetoric of everyday.

“Summers Off”

Summer is a time when many academics do not teach. For some of us, particularly adjuncts, that is a time of financial hardship. But even for adjuncts without paid instructional work, and certainly for those in full-time positions, no teaching does not mean we have the summers off.

Academic work is judged on teaching, publications, and service or publications, teaching, and service–depending on the type of institution for which you work. Either way publications are an important part of the equation. Even community colleges, given a surfeit of applications, use publications to determine who to interview and hire.

Since teaching is a (sometimes more than) full-time job, work on publications is often shifted to the summer and Christmas break. We research and teach during the school year and write and submit over the summer. Or we revise and resubmit over the summer.

This summer, I have two book chapters, an article R&R, and a book to finish.

I also have to prepare my tenure and promotion portfolio.

No teaching does not mean I have summers off.

Academic Publishing

Hybrid Pedagogy begins its discussion of the digital humanities and the future of academic publishing by saying:

It is not enough to write monographs. It is not enough to publish. Today, scholars must understand what happens when our research is distributed, and we must write, not for rarified audiences, but for unexpected ones. New-form scholarly publishing requires new-form scholarly (digital) writing. Digital academic publishing may on the surface appear as a lateral move from print to screen, but in fact it brings with it new questions about copyright, data analysis, multimodality, curation, archiving, and how scholarly work finds an audience. The promise of digital publishing is one that begins with the entrance of the written, and one that concludes with distribution, reuse, revision, remixing — and finally, redistribution.

Digital publishing is a field worthy of rigorous research and deep discourse. In a post-print environment, for example, social media — Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, WordPress, or Tumblr — have supplanted the static page as the primary metaphors for how we talk about the dissemination of information. Digitized words have code and algorithms behind them, and are not arrested upon the page; rather they are restive there.

The most fascinating part of the article, and the one I really want to spend some time dwelling on at some point = “Traditional academic publishing is aimed at a scholarly process that is private and gradual, deliberate and uninterrupted by the memes and news of the day. Digital publishing is public work, packaged and poised for ready distribution.”