Thursday, October 21, 2010

Publication: Professional or not?

The Author questioned on her blog whether blogging is a publication credit for an author.
My answer: It depends.

If you head off to a different realm of publication, one finds scientific, peer-reviewed journals. There is a distinct quality issue here. One can't get 'published' unless one convinces the journal of the quality and value of one's work. This is no different superficially than publishing at Bantam or Vintage. One difference, as I understand it, is who does the 'approving'. These journals get reviewed by others who do the same type of research, who are therefore better able though not perfect to identify the scientific quality and value.

I am never going to "get published", to use the phrase as scientists do. My thesis research isn't really all that great, especially in the absence of about 1/2 of the data I wanted. Hypothetically my adviser could include me as a "secondary author" when he publishes the bigger research project which mine leads into, though I can't imagine him doing so.

This is an option I only notice on scientific journals: primary authors and secondary authors. The primary author's name is first, and if it's the first name, it's the primary author. Everyone else gets listed after that. I don't know if journals have a rule about the order. I did get included as a secondary author once, many years ago, and it wasn't alphabetical. Actually, the list was:
VP of R&D,
Worker with More Hours, and
Worker with Fewer Hours (me)

I see novels and non-fiction published with more than one author, but I have the impression that there are simply more names listed, and the first name is likely chosen for marketing value.

The key factor in my decision to include a blog under 'publications' on my resume would be the same as any other item: how relevant is it to the job requirements?
If I was applying for a job which required extensive writing of any kind ...? Yes I would include my blog.
If I was applying for a scientific job, and I thought my blog was scientifically fantastic, I would include it only if I thought it was make me look good.

The catch -for me as a professional looking at the healthygopher blog- would be how much profanity or socially unacceptable things I had made. I write my blog for purely personal enjoyment that might not always be appealing to all readers. While I don't go whole hog with obscenity, I do occasionally use it. This -again for me as a scientist- is really unacceptable. I really can't imagine mentioning it on a scientific job application because of this reason alone. Similarly, if it was a scientific blog, I would completely refrain from profanity and make an effort to be more objective in my writing. More professional, basically.

I guess at the end of the day - if you consider it a professional method to distribute your professional writing... it's a publication. Perhaps the question isn't the method (internet), per se, but how the method is used. Are you making and maintaining your blog as a professional tool? For you, the answer is yes. For me, the answer is no. Therefore you're publishing and I'm not.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"I see novels and non-fiction published with more than one author, but I have the impression that there are simply more names listed, and the first name is likely chosen for marketing value."

When there is more than one name listed as the author of fiction or non-fiction, they are co-authors, both responsible for writing the book. The order usually is: first name is the one who did the most work or has the most knowledge (expert, for example, in non-fiction), and the second is the one who worked on the book or some aspect of it and deserves credit. For example, my cousin has asked me to co-author a non-fiction book she wants to write. She's already told me that both are names will be on the cover and we'll split the money 50-50. I've told her that she's the expert in the field we're writing in and therefore, her name goes first. Eventually, we will codify our discussions in a contract (early next year I hope). She writes the first draft and I edit/rewrite with her approvals.

Bringing the scientific journal/publication aspect into the discussion is interesting. Such a different perspective.

While writing on the internet is not peer-reviewed, much of it goes through an editing process. For example, the articles I write for Demand Studios got through editing before they are approved for publication at the website.

I'm concerned about quality at my blog and have from the beginning approached it as a professional publication on the internet. However, blogs tend to not have a reputation as being "professional" and so the question does come up about publication credit. So I think it depends on the blog, the writer, and the purpose of the blog.

I've included my blog in my publication credits! (smile)