This might be a really silly question, but I am wondering whether the chances to land an academic position can be improved by extra-academic activities. Say, people who are famous in their fields, but not for scientific contribution, but for say having a famous podcast on the subject or having written popular books on the subject?

I would assume that these researchers are attracting more students, but I am not sure how important that really is.

Of course we are not talking about a bad researcher, but imagine a choice between two candidates for an academic job: all things being equal, would this be a factor?

  • In the U.S., "outreach" is sometimes a significant factor in federal grant funding-or-not. It is generally a plus for faculty hiring (e.g., at my R1 university), although at the same time some people would be skeptical of the "seriousness" of a person who allocates time+energy to such things. – paul garrett Apr 2 '17 at 22:55
  • It can be a double edge sword: most academics are rather conservative when it comes to internet, blogs, self publishing etc. Many blogger actually publish anonymously , because they afraid for professional reputation. Are they correct or not - it shows a general concern about if blogging is enough serious activity for a scientist. – Greg Apr 3 '17 at 0:30
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    If it is not mentioned as something they want and are looking for, then it's probably one of those "some people will like it, some people won't care, and some won't like it". It's more or less impossible to say what the net effect will be, across dozens of job searches and the hundreds of people in committees during a job search. If what you do isn't negative, then it becomes either a minor extra bonus or neutral. But the time to do these things well has to come from somewhere, "no free lunch", so you'd have to be sure you weren't sacrificing from a category where you know people care. – BrianH Apr 3 '17 at 0:36
  • I can't imagine doing something good like popularizing science actually doing something bad like reducing your chances of getting a job in academia. But I can't imagine it increasing them either, so I think ultimately it doesn't matter. – Yordan Yordanov Apr 3 '17 at 11:18
  • Example: Richard Dawkins, below average scientific credentials before his popular science books, would have never got tenure, unless he had powerfull friends, but after some books and debates became so popular that he got a professorship. And substantial monetary benefits from his book sellings on the go. – Hjan Jun 3 '20 at 20:41

I have chaired and served on a number of faculty search committees, so from the perspective of a potential employment assessment (though I do not know your discipline)... If the non-academic activities are related to your topic of research, I would highlight that you have been successful in disseminating your research to non-academic audiences. For instance, I have given a TEDx talk on my research that is in layman terms and has received accolades from potential employers and upper administration at my institutions. I have also written policy briefs and reports for policymakers and providers that are technical, but not "academic." I have highlighted how this increases the relevance of my research. You could do the same and it would most likely be viewed as positive - as long as the non-academic activities do not overshadow or start to take the place from the academic ones.

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