April 11, 2006

Dilettantes Need Not Apply

by PG

I love the fairy-tale beginning of this e-mail about tomorrow's law teaching workshop:

Long ago, law schools filled entry-level faculty positions based on credentials such as law school grades, journal experience and other badges of accomplishment. Although formal credentials remain important, increasingly in recent years, appointments committees have sought candidates with a scholarly track record that shows promise of blossoming into a full-scale set of research projects. If and when you try to obtain a law teaching job, you will be expected to have a "research agenda," i.e., a set of themes or topics that connects your initial and future projects in a way that will, if all goes according to plan, establish you as a legal scholar with a distinctive voice and something to say. This session will focus on how you develop a scholarly agenda -- or at least how think about having one -- before you have had a sustained opportunity to work as a legal scholar.
This is slightly disheartening news for those who plan to explore a diversity of areas within the law, implying as it does that the author of a scattershot of articles will be less tenurable than the author of a focused stream of thought, though their respective outputs may be equal in number and quality. However, it does somewhat excuse a tendency a friend has frequently bemoaned in his research in narrow legal topics, that of professors to write much of the same article over and over. After all, what better proof of "a 'research agenda,' i.e., a set of themes or topics that connects your initial and future projects" than to repeat and cite onself? (Meanwhile, I'm still working on a Law Revue song idea I had during first year orientation: a parody of the infamous Divinyls hit that would be called "I Cite Myself.")

April 11, 2006 02:26 PM | TrackBack
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