Should Writing for Pop Media Be Part of the Tenure Track?

Should Writing for Pop Media Be Part of the Tenure Track?

TRANSLATION, PLEASE: Faculty often have knowledge in their fields of expertise that could benefit society, but they’re not incentivized for sharing their findings in a way that the public can understand or make use of them. This month the American Sociological Association shared a report titled, “What Counts? Evaluating Public Communication in Tenure and Promotion.”

The report advocates for including public communication—different from the academic-speak found in scholarly journals—in faculty evaluations. If a computer science professor wrote a story for “Popular Mechanics” today, those efforts likely wouldn’t be considered in her evaluations for a promotion or tenure.

In an article for The Conversation, Amy Schalet, director of the Public Engagement Project at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, shares why it’s important to translate academic work for a lay audience: “Crucial research-based information on, for instance, housing discrimination, health impacts of chemicals in our everyday environment or the causes and consequences of health inequities, remains largely unknown to the outside public and politicians. This is information that could inform and have an impact on policy.”

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