Historically, publish or perish was the constant chant heard by wanna-be tenure candidates. Today it seems that even though universities are not hiring as many tenure track professionals, sessional instructors are learning that publish or perish is important for their CV as well.
You’ve been working for five years as a sessional instructor, picking up the 100 level courses that the tenured faculty don’t want to teach. Along the way you’ve applied for more permanent positions but haven’t impressed anyone enough to hire you. Finally someone on a hiring committee lets it be known that your publishing record is somewhat lacking. That’s the reason no one has hired you! Despite your feeling of inadequacy as a ‘mere sessional’ you still need to put yourself out there in the journals. While you may be staying current with your research so you can keep your course materials relevant and engaging, the hiring committee won’t necessarily know this. You have to publish, and enlist the support and encouragement from the tenured faculty in your department of interest. Everyone knows that faculty have huge egos (come on, admit it) and they love it when someone comes to them for advice. These are the same people who will be on your hiring committee, so who better to know about your publishing journey.
Publish, publish, publish…wherever you can. The big name journals are the most desirable of course and the most difficult to get into, but lesser known field relevant sources are often just as good. Start small, and build a portfolio and pretty soon your list of smaller published articles are being referenced in articles by others. Even blogging in your research area of interest is citable in others’ articles. When you’ve built this base, its easier to get published.
On your CV, list your successful publications, but don’t forget to list the papers you have submitted, that have not yet been accepted. List your blog site as well, especially if you are gaining views and community support. All of this tells the hiring committee that you are staying current in your field of study.
Final words of advice; don’t forget what you learned in grad school…citing accurate references! Keep an active reference list as you write, and e-copies of the articles or chapters is you can; keep this in a database for future reference as well. There is nothing worse than writing an article, citing sources throughout, and not keeping a reference list at the same time. Trying to build a reference list by locating these sources later is a nightmare. Even worse is giving this task to your research assistant who doesn’t know if you are referring to Smith 2016 the journal article on bee-keeping or Smith 2016 the book chapter on the importance of bees in the environment. A best guess can be a misleading reference that can come back to haunt you with questions of ethics.
Publish or perish still persists, and the reasoning is sound. Actively engaging your students means staying current in your field and bringing this to the classroom.