Blogging: What is it Good For?

Jobs and blogging.

July 11, 2013

I missed this post from over a month ago that cited one of my blog pieces and talks about how academics shouldn’t blog, at least, not if they expect ever to get a job or get tenure.

It’s weird that people are talking about me “behind my back” even if it is to leap to my defense. It’s flattering to know that my blogging has reached a lot of different people, for better and worse, too. The blog post linked above does, however, raise some good points against academic blogging, at least in terms of being aware of why one blogs, what their purpose is in blogging. I’m a huge proponent of academic blogging (I have a collection of academic blogs about academic blogs, and I helped start the Academic Blog Projectadd yours today!) but I think that I do need to add some caveats.

One of the things about my blogging is that it is generally about higher education from the perspective of someone who is off the tenure-track. It is also a teaching blog, but it is not a research blog (I do have one, it’s just a little...underused). So it’s not surprising to me that this blog hasn’t helped me in any way to secure a tenure-track position in my field, especially given how outspoken I am, and how highly many faculty still view teaching and pedagogy (read: not very highly). And maybe I am “wasting my time” blogging when I should be cranking out peer-reviewed publications in prestigious journals. But the community I have built through blogging, here at the University of Venus, on my home blog, at Academic Coaching and Writing, and elsewhere, has been so much more enriching, both personally and professionally, than any peer-reviewed publication has ever been. I have also never received private messages thanking me for any peer-reviewed piece I’ve published, but I have received numerous after various blogs I’ve published here and on my old site.

I honestly never set out to blog my way into a tenure-track position; it started as a way to find my voice when I was unemployed for a period of time, and it evolved into a commentary on being contingent in higher education. It just so happened that I also started looking for a tenure-track job and blogging at the same time. I never set out to blog my way out of ever getting one, either, but that’s perhaps what’s happening. I don’t mean that in a bad way, however. My writing has opened up other types of opportunities that I would not have had access to otherwise. The support I have received from my blogging peers has also helped me to feel confident enough to try other opportunities both inside and outside academia. I take my role as a voice for those who may be voiceless very seriously, and I try to make sure that I use my platform to promote other bloggers who may otherwise get lost in the vast expanses of the internet.

But there had been other advantages as well. I am increasingly confident in my writing, rediscovering a confidence in my own voice that I had lost to a certain extent in the feedback I would receive on my more formal academic writing. There does seem to be a counter-intuitive result reported from academics who blog frequently: anecdotally, many say that blogging has made them more productive in their more formal writing and work. A good research blog (which, I again admit, mine is not) can help track your work, work through ideas, get feedback, and establish a good writing routine. And it may lead to a tenure-track job.

Or it may take you places you never imagined. That’s ok, too. It’s better than ok; it’s fantastic.

Morehead, Kentucky in the US.

Lee Elaine Skallerup has a Ph.D. from the University of Alberta in Comparative Literature. She has taught in two Canadian provinces and three States, and is now branching out as an edupreneur. You can visit her blog at  College Ready Writing and follow her on Twitter (@readywriting). Lee is also a member of the editorial collective at University of Venus.


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