Sunday, July 29, 2012

More Than One Areas of "Expertise"

Alissa asked me to explore the issues pertaining to having more than one area of expertise, specifically within the same discipline.

While I always have been envious of those who have a very specific (narrow sounds pejorative) area of expertise, many of us have multiple interests. It is naturally for many of us to be curious about multiple topics, theoretical lenses, ect. While on one hand having a diversity of interest can be viewed as being expansive in your thinking and being able to apply scholarly analysis to more than one issue, there are several concerns with being spread thin that can impact us while on the job market and at others stages of our careers. This may even be true if your interests are in the same field.

First, tenure and promotion committees want to see a focused area of research and scholarship. Having too many interests makes it difficult to show expertise in more than one area. I have heard senior scholars over the years lament about a young scholar not having enough "focus."

Second, and related to the first issue, if you have more than one area of expertise, you have to prove that you are an expert in more than one area. This means that you are going to have to publish more than someone who has a more focused, singular topic. If you go up for tenure and/or promotion with three areas (which I did when I went up for promotion to Full Professor, so much for making things easy on myself), then you have even more "expertise" to demonstrate.

If you have multiple areas, you want be able to is be able to tell the "story" about how each of your areas are related. For instance, I can demonstrate an overlap between my interests in masculinities and transnational issues with my publishing about undocumented immigrant men. Look for cross over areas and make these centerpieces of your publication agenda.

If you have multiple areas of interest, you really need to publish in all areas or publish across areas. If you are not yet so prolific, you may want to hold off on publishing in some ancillary areas until you have firmly established a publication record in one area. This is not always easy to do, and at times feels less than satisfying. Look for connections and crossovers. If you cannot find them, talk to your mentor about it.

Again, the amount you have to publish in a given area is predicated on the type of university you wish to work at, or do work at. Also, if you have diverse areas that can demonstrate your ability to teach across the curriculum, this can be very valuable at universities that value teaching at great deal.

I am curious- does anyone have examples of crossover publications that bridge more than one area of their research and scholarly interests? If so, do post a comment here.

No comments:

Post a Comment