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Author Topic: How important is a 2nd book?  (Read 7280 times)
shouldbewriting
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« on: April 20, 2012, 11:42:25 AM »

I am tenured in a book-driven humanities field at a school that is just barely a Research 1. (My section of the school is far from Research 1, but some other units are heavy hitters.) I enjoy researching and writing articles for peer-reviewed journals in my field. I did not enjoy writing my first book. I also find administrative work worthwhile and suspect I'll end up chairing/asst. or assoc. deaning at some point.

My question is, how important is it that I publish a second book? If I could do anything I want, I would keep publishing 30-page articles, try out some administrative work, and keep teaching. Does the second book make a career difference? If it makes a difference then I'll buckle down and do it. I think I could make full professor here with enough articles, and if I move to another school I imagine it would be for an administrative role, not as a publishing superstar.

I would appreciate any thoughts, suggestions, and/or advice!
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aprilmay
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« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2012, 11:44:33 AM »

 The question is important for what? Important if you want to move to an R1? Then yes. Important if you want to stay there, then probably not. For tenure? It sounds like you really do not want to do it.
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shouldbewriting
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« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2012, 12:01:28 PM »

The question is important for what?

I should have been more clear. Is the second book important for an administrative position? It doesn't appear to be required, but does it help? Does publishing a second book offer benefits or opportunities beyond a raise (at some schools, not mine which hasn't had raises in years) and professional recognition? My university allows us to apply for one-semester sabbaticals every six years or so, meaning that we don't get much release time to write.

I'm not seeing many benefits for publishing a second book, a task I suspect I will find very arduous. But perhaps I'm missing something? What does publishing a second book confer?

Thanks for asking!
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janewales
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« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2012, 3:17:05 PM »


If you are happy where you are, and seem to be able to pursue the administrative path you want without that second book, then there's no need to write it if you don't want to do so. If, however, you want to be mobile, and in particular, if you want to be able to move up, then the calculation is different.

At my well-ranked research university, you would definitely need the second book to get to full, and even if your ambitions are administrative, you would need to be a full professor in order to be considered for most serious administrative positions. So, it's not exactly that you need an amazing research profile in order to carry out the duties of associate dean fill-in-the-blank, but rather, that in order to be an associate dean, you need to be a full professor.

Other institutions will of course vary.
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seniorscholar
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« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2012, 3:19:08 PM »

The second book in my department and in many other R1 English departments for which I've done outside evaluations for promotion is THE precondition for promotion to Full Professor: articles won't do it. Now many associate deans and so forth have never published much at all -- likeable, hard-working, not-publishing, not-so-great teachers are often shoved into administration -- but that kind of administrator seldom gets any respect when holding forth on academic issues or, worse yet, approving/denying people's promotions or raises.

One year when we were on strike and negotiating the final pieces of a deal on equity raises for people suffering from salary compression -- the administration team demanded some measure of quality, not simply time served -- and someone suggested that "everyone should be eligible who has published more than the university president."  Turned out that person had called a friendly librarian (since faculty on strike can't use the university's facilities) and discovered that the president had published one article . . .

This is no doubt an insulting answer to your question, but it aroused that particular memory and made me smile.
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janewales
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« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2012, 3:25:40 PM »

One year when we were on strike and negotiating the final pieces of a deal on equity raises for people suffering from salary compression -- the administration team demanded some measure of quality, not simply time served -- and someone suggested that "everyone should be eligible who has published more than the university president."  Turned out that person had called a friendly librarian (since faculty on strike can't use the university's facilities) and discovered that the president had published one article . . .


That IS a good story. Our president was and continues to be a prolific publisher (I'm not sure how this is possible, in fact, given the scope of the job!); I wonder if that explains part of our institutional expectation that administrators should have been excellent researchers before entering admin (I say "should have been" because some administrators do tend to set their research aside once they enter administration).

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shouldbewriting
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« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2012, 3:43:18 PM »


One year when we were on strike and negotiating the final pieces of a deal on equity raises for people suffering from salary compression -- the administration team demanded some measure of quality, not simply time served -- and someone suggested that "everyone should be eligible who has published more than the university president."  Turned out that person had called a friendly librarian (since faculty on strike can't use the university's facilities) and discovered that the president had published one article . . .

This is no doubt an insulting answer to your question, but it aroused that particular memory and made me smile.

Your story made me laugh!

It sounds like I'd better look carefully and see if people in my field really have made full at my university in recent years without a second book. Thank you for the cautions.
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ruralguy
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« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2012, 5:12:33 PM »

I think that is the critical issue. That is, how do people at your University and similar ones progress to administration? Does progress to administration require that one be promoted to full professor? If so, doe full professor require that you write a second book?
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bookishone
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« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2012, 6:11:05 PM »

I agree with seniorscholar that the lack of a second book might hinder your ability to command respect as an administrator, especially if you're thinking of changing to another R1. Seems unfair, but there it is.
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fiona
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« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2012, 9:00:16 PM »

At our uni, only full professors get to vote or pass on promotions from associate to full.

Therefore, anyone who's not a full cannot be a dept. chair, dean, or hold any other administrative position with any power (or budget).

Write the second book and become a full, and then you'll have options as an administrator. Without it, you may be limited forever.

The Fiona
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The Fiona or Them FionŠ or Fiona the Sublime

Professor of Thread Killing, Fiork University
cranefly
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« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2012, 7:54:58 AM »

At our uni, only full professors get to vote or pass on promotions from associate to full.

Therefore, anyone who's not a full cannot be a dept. chair, dean, or hold any other administrative position with any power (or budget).

Write the second book and become a full, and then you'll have options as an administrator. Without it, you may be limited forever.

The Fiona

+1.
Think of the book as a bunch of 30-page articles and just write one at a time, then put them together ;)
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Oh yeah--Professor Sparkle Pony. "Follow your dreams, young genius, and you will meet with success!" Students eat that up.
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