Yesterday, I saw a link to advice against editing a collection. I was about to type a few words of response either at the original post or where I saw the link, but instead found myself with more I wanted to say. So here we go. See, I’ve co-edited three collections and am currently working on a fourth. I’ve gained a heck of a lot from the experiences, professionally and personally. Consider this post a defense of the oft-maligned edited collection, with pictures of some really good ones to further make the point.
Let me start, though, by agreeing with the injunction not to edit a collection if you really think of it as a substitute for publishing work that you have written yourself. Edited collections won’t get you tenure or promotion by themselves, and they take time and energy, so if you have very limited reserves of each, you would be better advised to spend them elsewhere.
However, if you’re paid full-time to be an academic, unless you work a 4/4 load with lots of advising hours and you’re a slow writer, or unless you’re not working full-time, you very likely do have extra reserves. Which means that telling someone not to edit a collection because you could instead be writing a journal article is kind of like telling someone not to watch television because it’s important to read books: the fallacy lies in thinking you can’t do both. All three of my edited collections were compiled while I was writing monographs and journal articles.
As for tenure and promotion, I’ve seen numerous people across the humanities get tenure at top notch schools with the formula of one book + a strong selection of journal articles + another large project. That “other large project” is sometimes a second monograph (written or in progress), but it can also be an edited collection. Even directly, therefore, edited collections do and can matter – they aren’t fetishized as are monographs or articles at leading journals, no, but they still matter. Read more…Tags: edited collections, editing