Thursday, July 05, 2007


I am under the impression that most law schools that have summer research grant programs now tailor them so that payment, or at least some of it, is made when an article is finished or accepted for publication. I have also heard about bounties for placing articles in different levels of law reviews. In effect, payment is for services rendered. In a sense it’s a form of post tenure review, an admission of how imperfect tenure decisions are, and an indication of how widespread shirking is or is thought to be. It is also, at least to me, sad to see the ideal of a community of scholars each working at his or her full potential give way to a piece work mentality.

The piece work approach suggests a general belief that an “honor system” is not working – professors must be taking the money and giving little or nothing in return. The question is why do school administrators adopting a version of the piece work believe the honor system is working in every other facet of the job.?

Is it likely that those who shirk when it comes to scholarship are not also shirking when it comes to teaching and service? I do not know, but why take the chance? Why not go to a full piece work arrangement? For example, in teaching shouldn’t professors teaching 12 hours of large classes be paid more than professors teaching fewer and smaller classes.? Put differently, if Deans want to convince professors to teach large sections of mainstream courses, pay them for it. If it works for scholarship, shouldn’t it work for teaching?

While we are at it, why not have professors punch in and punch out. More time in the office makes for higher pay and it is hard to see the downside as far as productivity. (This reminds of another question for wannabe law profs. Have you ever held a job that required punching in and punching out?)

I guess I am not seeing the principled distinction between scholarship and every other facet of the job.


Blogger Jim Chen said...

Hi Jeff. Just catching up. Yes, indeed, I have held jobs that required punching in and punching out. Here's one to try with your next batch of recruits. Ask, "Do you know what ASVAB is?" Many of your students -- and mine -- emphatically do. It defined their lives the way the SAT, the GRE, and the LSAT defined many of our lives, here in the rarified, elite corners of academia.

7/09/2007 4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff,
I'm generally with you - shirking is bad! But make profs punch in and punch out, or record time, and, well, the best folks will go back to practice. And face time doens't equal real scholarship time. So your idea is provocative, but not really in a good way.

7/14/2007 5:58 PM  

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