Terry, over at SmallPondScience, has a post up about the misuse of the term "deadwood" and how many who are labeled as such are still deadicated to their jobs, but have inadvertently drifted away from what we consider productive colleagues. These colleagues have become driftwood.
You might be driftwood if your teaching relies on concepts that date back to your grad school days more than what you’ve learned since then.
You might be driftwood if you have trouble publishing an article because no solid journal thinks that the topic is important.
You might be driftwood if you are uncomfortable telling your students “I don’t know” because you fear that you are supposed to know.
You might be driftwood if you’re avoiding a specific research agenda not because you lack the tools but because you lack the information.
You might be driftwood if you find yourself disagreeing with most of the junior faculty about research standards or contemporary teaching approaches.
You might be driftwood if you rely on skills you learned in grad school that aren’t being taught in grad school anymore.
I am not the type of person who thinks productivity is strictly based on publications and grant money. I think PIs who give up the grant game and take on other departmental responsibilities are critical to a well functioning department that values education. If one of my less research active colleagues steps up to teach a course that a well funded colleague needs to move out of to maintain their research load, I believe that's a good departmental model. But that's not always how it works, is it?
While I think Terry's assessment might be true for his experiences, I don't think it is universal. Nor are mine of course, but across several research-centric institutions I have witnessed some fairly blatant abuse of tenure privileges. I've certainly seen people who could be described as "mailing it in", but I doubted they would take the time to find a stamp*. To me, those deserving of the deadwood label put no effort into any aspect of their job and cause students to file complaints on a regular basis. While I agree with Terry that there are fewer of these people than legend would lead one to believe, they are not "rare".
So allow me to get the ball rolling:
You might be deadwood if you spend more time on your various litigious activities against the university than any scholarly pursuit.
You might be deadwood if your vacation schedule mirrors that of the undergrads.
You might be deadwood if you haven't updated a lecture, submitted a manuscript or proposal since 19somethingorother.
You might be deadwood if people wonder aloud whether your office is still occupied.
You might be deadwood if you fiercely defend your lab space that hasn't been entered in many years.
You might be deadwood if you haven't had money for research since the first Bush administration, but fight to take on graduate students every year.
You might be deadwood if you accept service responsibilities (under pressure from above) and then never perform that function.
I'm sure readers will have some other definitions.
*While "emailing it in" might be more appropriate to the effort level, it's not clear if these folks know how their email works or even check it if they did.