Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Robert Axelrod on Academic Rumor Mills and Gossip Blogs

In a message sent to Political Science departments, Robert Axelrod, APSA President and eminent political scientist, writes:
In discussions with APSA colleagues, I have learned that a number of private web sites and blogs have emerged recently that are widely used by political scientists, particularly graduate students, to discuss the academic job market. In their best form, such sites afford a new vehicle for the "grapevine" discussions that have always accompanied the academic labor market. However, I have also been shown anonymous postings on these lists making racist, sexist, and homophobic attacks on political scientists. The context makes clear this language is coming from within our discipline. There is little we can do to respond directly to these anonymous postings. We can speak out however. I urge you to stay attentive in the departmental communities you lead to gauge whether there are incivilities in the exchanges among your students and colleagues. Where you hear evidence of them, directly or indirectly, confront this behavior in whatever ways you consider appropriate and best. I truly believe these events are infrequent and at the fringe of our community. But the integrity of our professional exchange is the bedrock of our community. I hope you'll agree with me it is our obligation as leaders of the discipline to sustain the respectful and civil treatment of colleagues.
We heartily endorse Professor Axelrod's concerns. We hope that we have made the IR Rumor Mill relatively free of such vices, and that faculty-members and graduate students will, in recognition of our efforts, continue to aid us as we seek to provide accurate and timely information about developments in the IR job market. We also hope that APSA, or some other institution, will eventually render websites such as our own obsolete by setting up procedures for departments to report on the same information we post here.