Headline blues

May 7, 2015

Your Careers Intelligence piece about getting media exposure for one’s scholarly research (“Don’t bore us – get to the chorus”, 30 April) is right about the “thrill” of seeing one’s research getting headlines in the newspapers, but it would be misleading to suggest that this necessarily helps academic careers.

Newspapers have printed a number of articles based on my research. One on police censorship of literature, for which I used previously unpublished government files, was flagged on the front page of the Sunday paper that ran it. Another research-based piece made the front page of a newspaper in Iceland. I have twice had articles that were published in smaller circulation journals written up in Sunday newspapers. My books have been reviewed in The Times and in other newspapers, and I also had an opportunity to speak about my work on BBC radio.

And what pay-off did I get from all this exposure? When I applied for an academic post, no one bothered to take up my references. The combination of what the appointment committee could tell from the newspapers about my research record and what might be deduced from the fact that the referees I had named were ultra-eminent academics (some had knighthoods) seems to have had an adverse effect on my prospects.

A. D. Harvey
London

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