Are reputations earned and questions answered on Stack Exchange community considered as worthy publications?

Can they be included or considered as publications?


2 Answers 2


Useful work in academia (I'm coming from a US perspective; perspectives elsewhere I think follow similar trends but may differ a bit) falls into three broad boats:

  • Research
  • Teaching/education/mentorship
  • Service/outreach

Publications fall under the category of "research". Stack Exchange participation definitely does not fall under this category (except perhaps in the rarest of circumstances; I don't think those circumstances are much worth considering in any general answer given how rare they are).

Teaching/education typically considers activity within the university. That's the stuff that students pay for (or more generally, the university receives some compensation for the benefit of the students).

Service/outreach includes all the "extra" stuff academics do: it includes participation on faculty committees (service to the university) and also includes service to the broader community. If, for example, an academic volunteered at a local primary/secondary school, that would fall under "service".

Service is almost certainly the least appreciated of the academic trinity, and service to the whole world is probably not weighted as heavily as service to the local community. Service in a local community or to the university itself is more easily justified to other stakeholders, like government officials who control university budgets. That doesn't mean it doesn't have value, just that it has the most chance to be undervalued.

Stack Exchange participation might, at best, be seen as a form of Service.



In academia, only publications in traditional academic venues count as publications. Publications might have the same content as stack exchange answers, such as in https://math.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2970/papers-that-originated-on-math-se

  • 3
    Well, still, there are "publications" in the sense of peer-reviewed, and then there are literal publications, as in making things public. It seems that nowadays, in math, things on arXiv potentially have some weight, especially if one is already an established person... Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 4:10
  • Not just "potentially"! They don't have as much weight as Annals papers, obviously, but arXiv preprints are definitely considered seriously in hiring and promotions decisions—not for bean-counting purposes, but for the more important purpose of evaluating the quality/taste/impact of a candidate's research. I'm downvoting in disagreement with the second paragraph.
    – JeffE
    Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 14:26
  • @JeffE arXiv is from 1991; it's a "traditional academic venue" compared to Stack Exchange. Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 2:08

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