A young philosopher writes:
I’m an assistant professor at a small private university in the south. I recently told the chair of my department, along with another associate professor, of my forthcoming book. As you might imagine, I was proud about it and thought it would be a great bit of information to share. When they learned that four of the ten chapters had previously been published as articles, they expressed serious concern over having these articles republished in a book. In fact, they even went so far as to say that my tenure may be in jeopardy because of it. They said that it was a terrible idea to “recycle” my work like this and that this is not the way scholarship is done nowadays. I thought this was odd and sought advice from my old dissertation advisor as well as a couple other professors I had worked with at other institutions. They said that the chair and the other member held a professionally confused view. My advisor said that he had just finished reviewing a manuscript for Oxford University Press in which all of the chapters were slightly modified versions of articles that had been previously published. He said,
If a publisher’s reviewers think a previously published article is worth publishing in a book, this is a strong endorsement of the quality of the previously published article. It shows that a reviewer in the profession thinks the article is worth a wider audience.
I’m worried that writing this book may really be detrimental to my getting tenure. I wonder what your readers think about this. Is what the Chair and this other member have said is true? Receiving tenure is obviously more important than anything else at this stage in my career. Any advice is most welcomed.
I confess the reaction of this assistant professor's senior colleagues strikes me as bizarre. Republishing or reworking material for a book is done all the time, and typically gets one's work greater attention. I suppose if one simply republished verbatim 10 articles as a book, the tenure "credit" for that would not be as great as for writing a monograph from scratch. But that isn't even the case here. What do readers make of this? Signed comments preferred.