Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Hidden Scholarship: reported achievements of academics

It seems like forever ago since I've read this article by Maha Bali on ProfHacker on Hidden Scholarship†. It's actually been on my radar for a while, but between work and class the mind space for this was not available.

In any case, if you haven't read this brief post on ProfHacker it's worthwhile reading. Maha writes about things that go under-reported, or not reported at all when it comes to scholarship by academics.  I think that a lot of things go under-reported, and I think part of it is that they aren't valued as much by our peers out there. One of the things that Maha mentions is peer review.  I am actually pretty happy that an academic social media platform (Publons) is working on this and their social network is based on creating some sort of record of peer review. You can see my profile here as an example. That said, it's really up to the peer reviewer to submit/forward their receipts from peer review systems and then the Publons system will work out whatever they need to work out to verify that you did indeed do the peer review for that article and list it on your profile.  That still leaves a lot of hidden scholarship (if you've been peer reviewing for a while anyway). Luckily (in a sense) I haven't peer reviewed much so I didn't have to think TOO hard about everything I was asked to peer review‡ so it was fairly easy to remember most things I did.

I agree with Maha as well that collaboration isn't always valued by peers at the same level (at least in my own contexts).  It seems to me that co-authored works tend to get fewer "points" in faculty reviews as compared to single authored works.  On a similar note, I find - again in my own contexts - that conference presentations are given fewer points than published papers. It seems to me that some works that might be more ephemeral in nature (like some conference presentations) should not be given short shrift because of their medium.  I think that those are just as valuable as a paper published in a peer reviewed journal.

Blog posts were something mentioned in the comments to the article as well.  Blog posts in general don't have the cache that other, more established forms, of scholarly work have - especially if you only post on your own blog! I've been asked several times in the past to contribute blog posts for different organizations and sites♠.  One thing that comes to mind - for me - is why drive traffic to your blog with my blog post, when I can just as easily post it on my blog.  I don't receive any peer review for it, so might as well keep it on my own playing ground.  In the past I had submitted blog posts to - now defunct - sites and those blog posts are lost for the most part (luckily some I had the foresight to keep the text for).  Some of those sites may argue that it could drive readers to this blog, but I don't have any aspiration of aggressively growing my readership.  I blog as a way of sharing what I know, to process new knowledge, and to engage with people¤. I think organic rather than forced readership is much more valuable. That said, I wouldn't mind having a byline on ProfHacker one of these days ;-)

One of my own contributions to this list of hidden scholarship is student advising. I don't think that academics get much credit for this.  Most academics stay up to date with their field. They read the contributions of their field, and they in turn incorporate that into any research they do, and they help guide students toward it that may not be at the right spot yet to be able to navigate there on their own, but for whom the research is important nevertheless.  I think that student mentorship (real mentorship, not just the quick 10 minute advising session each semester) is something that academics need to be recognized for as scholarship. Relating to this academic mentoring is helping/mentoring students to grow as professionals and researchers in the field.

What are items that would go on your list of hidden scholarship?



NOTES:
† just a quick date comparison indicates that it's been over two months at this point in time! Wow! Took a long time to respond to this :-)
‡ I am open for peer review gigs if you need a peer reviewer - just saying ;-)
♠ I prefer to not name them, fwiw.
¤ engage through twitter, facebook, google+, and on comments - generally speaking
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