My thanks, I think, to colleague Julia Fox who gave me a copy of an article in The Chicago Tribune about a political science assistant professor at the University of Chicago who was recently denied tenure. The headline reads "Did blogging doom prof's shot at tenure?" You can read the article online--it's written by Steve Johnson--by clicking here.
Basically, it ponders whether the blog of Daniel Drezner could have been the reason that he was denied tenure. Tenure can be (and usually is) a time of great self-doubt for junior faculty members. You are critiqued by members of your own faculty (so, in my case, members of the Department of Telecommunications) who vote on whether you have done exemplary work in three areas: research, teaching, and service. After the 'local' faculty vote, the tenure case works its way up the chain--to the college level, then the university level, and finally to the Provost/President/Board of Trustees.
Every University is slightly different, but the general path is the same--from the local department where you are known as much as a person as by your paper vitae--to levels where you are only known by your accomplishments. Although in Drezner's case, it seems that he was denied at the local level--which may speak to other reasons beyond the blog--I can't help but expect that at the upper levels people who serve on, say, a College committee on Promotion and Tenure, might try to learn more about the candidate "as a person" by visiting their website.
And, in Drezner's case as well as mine, there's the blog in all it's glory. Or tarnish.
In fact, in my case the blog is the first thing they see. You'll notice that the "my research" link is over there small along the right margin.
Now my research is all peer-reviewed, which means it is put under a microscope of peers who don't know who I am. They critique it, comment on it, rip -it-apart, and. . . in the end. . .make it better. I've said many times that--as much as I respond with disdain upon receiving a Revise and Resubmit letter from a journal editor, I have NEVER had it result in anything but a stronger piece of research. And, I think (and hope) that this is what I'll be judged on.
But, my blog. . . my blog is rough. It's human and it's from the hip. Right now I'm sittin' on my couch in my bathrobe watching ESPN Sunday Countdown. And, I'm writing this blog. Should it be considered in my tenure decision. No.