Book chapters

Apr 24 2009 Published by under Uncategorized

I have just been asked to write a book chapter on a topic that I worked on extensively as a post-doc and that I remain interested in. Though I think it might be a good opportunity, I have always tried to avoid book chapters like Don Cherry avoids good taste in clothing. They tend to take more time that they are worth and often are out of date before they even hit the press because of delays in the publishing process. I have two grants I am going to write from scratch due in July, so I would not be able to start the chapter until after that. At the same time, it would not be due until the end of September and I don't currently have any writing projects on the go that are not directly related to funding, but I'm hoping that changes with the new data we are gathering. What I don't have a good handle on is how a book chapter is viewed in the grand scheme of tenure evaluation. There seem to be conflicting views on chapters in general, but a quick survey of my hallway indicates that it would be viewed positively in my department. I guess that means I should probably say yes, but I'm feeling a bit like I should should stick with my priority scheme for this year of 1) Grants, 1a) Data papers, 2) Opinion / review pieces, 3) My grocery list, 4) Book chapters.

9 responses so far

  • Ink says:

    Book chapters are viewed quite positively in my discipline! That's great that you have the opportunity, should you decide to accept. 🙂

  • chall says:

    Guess there is differences in disciplines? in mine I would think it depends on which book. To be fair, I think a scientific review is rated as high depending on the editor of the book. I mean, I can think of a few names that would make a book look "very good and better than scientific papers". Especially in the context of "value as a teacher/lecturer" ... Then again, the tt thing in my country is fairly strange with equal or at least almost equal thinking about publishing and showing good teching methodology...

  • Comrade Physioprof says:

    When you agree to this kind of shit it seems like no biggie. When it starts to become dude, you smack yourself in teh fucking face and say, "What the fucking fuck was I thinking when I agreed to do this shit!!!?!?!?!?"

  • Patchi says:

    At my husband's institution the T&P packet divides publications into subsections and it looks better if one has examples in as many of them as possible. Book chapters/monographs are one of the subsections. Review articles go under peer-reviewed articles, unless they are invited reviews, which have their own subsection.You might want to look at how the T&P packet is structured at your institution just in case your higher ups care about this bean-counting b*s*.

  • Anonymous says:

    DON'T DO IT. Spend that time writing something else, ANYTHING ELSE.

  • Anonymous says:

    You have to realistically evaluate how long it will take you to write the chapter. If it seems reasonable and you likely have sufficient time then go for it. But in the likely event that it will detract from your quality of life, not amount to much, and will get published in 2015, then work on your grocery list and hang with your kid. I handed in my last book chapter in 2004 and it is supposedly getting published this year, we'll see.

  • qaz says:

    In my discipline, book chapters are basically throw-aways. But they are published and they are citeable. So a lot of people use them for data that they can't get published elsewhere or for data that they don't want to fight with damn reviewers over. Basically, they become review + a little new data that you can point to and give to friends and colleagues. Generally, if you don't do too many and if you know what you're going to say, they're worth it. If it takes time away from writing a peer-reviewed journal article, it's probably not.

  • Phagenista says:

    In my experience, your P&T committee won't look on a chapter as positively as a peer reviewed review paper, and the latter doesn't take that much more time to write. However, if the editor of the book, or some elder statesmen will be anticipating your participation, then not writing the chapter could hurt your standing with some of your external reviewers in some way (might not be as effusive in a tenure rec, might not invite you to be a symposium speaker, etc).

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    I'm going to talk to a few more of the tenured profs in my department and see how the chapter would be judged later. It is on a field that I know front to back, so I don't think it would take too long, but these things are always killer with all the extra background one needs to provide. I could probably have a solid draft together in a couple of weeks if it was all I was doing, but as I have learned this year there is no such thing as concentrating on only one task at this level.

Leave a Reply