Monday, November 24, 2008


Effective managers know how important it is to get people to take ownership of the organization's goals. It is not enough that people know what their jobs are, nor even that they will be fired if they don't do them: people have to identify with the tasks they are assigned at some deeper level.

In academia, one of the most important tasks is publishing. Academics have little difficulty identifying with tasks that involve data collection, reading, thinking, and even writing. But they sometimes have a harder time identifying with the aim of publishing their results.

This is actually strange. Publishing is something that researchers have a major stake in. In fact, a substantial list of publications offers a considerable amount of freedom to academics. It is very much a way of building "equity"; it increases the value of your academic credentials. It makes your career portable by making your qualifications objective.

Being published makes it easier for you to apply for research grants (to reduce your teaching load). It makes it easier to grant you tenure (or equivalent forms of security). It makes it much more realistic to think about looking for jobs at other universities. It also makes it easier for your peers at other institutions to invite you to come and visit them for an all-expenses-paid semester as a visiting scholar.

It is not to satisfy your adminstrators that you should publish. It is to improve your own position in the world, and the ease with which you move around in it. And I haven't even said anything about the intrinsic importance of having a readership yet.

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