Friday, October 31, 2008
[By Bill Henderson, crossposted to the ELS Blog]
Over the years, a lot has been written about the risks of blogging during your pre-tenure years. See, most recently, Verity Winship, "Blogging without Tenure." Well, I blogged quite a bit as an untenured faculty member. And fortunately, earlier this week I was recommended for promotion and tenure by my Indiana colleagues. It is unlikely that blogging damaged my career because (I am told) the vote was unanimous.
As a blogger, I want to publish the following section of my P&T personal statement, so that others that come after have at least one concrete data point to consider:
My inclusion of blogging under the scholarship heading is not meant to test the proposition that blog posts are scholarship. Rather, blogging has generated a wide range of professional opportunities for me and enhanced my visibility among legal academics. Since the spring of 2006, I have been a regular blogger with the Empirical Legal Studies (ELS) Blog. In June 2008, I also joined the Legal Professions Blog. Collectively, I have more than 200 blog postings, a substantial number of which discuss issues related to my legal scholarship. Many of my ideas for scholarship originally appeared in some form on the ELS Blog and were further refined by reader comments. Several references to my work in the mainstream media were the result of reporters perusing the blogs. I believe that blogging has been a very good investment of time and has generated increased visibility for Indiana Law. A complete list of my posts is located in Attachment 7.
So there you have it. I blogged because I wanted to be fully engaged in the world of ideas. I also followed a few simple principles, which I will continue to follow: (a) don't post half-baked ideas that attack serious ideas -- bake them fully, and then post; (b) blog about ideas I want to specialize in (with a few exceptions), which creates synergies with serious scholarship; (c) treat other people will respect and be ready to concede when someone else has the better of the argument or evidence -- getting it right is more important than being right.
Of course, Dan Drezner remains a cautionary tale that goes in the other direction ... though Dan came of the process with his self-respect and a tenured job at another school within few short weeks. Despite the folklore, intellectual timidity is not necessarily the best strategy for getting tenure or, more importantly, being comfortable in your own skin.
Two of my valued colleagues at Indiana who joined the faculty with me in 2003 also got the good news this week -- we went 3 for 3!