Edu-Profs: Hot or Not?

University professors used to be held to the old adage, publish or perish.  But things may be a little different for those in the education policy space, thanks to an interesting new ranking from the always provocative Rick Hess.  Last week, Hess offered up his RHSU 2010 Edu-Scholar Public Presence Rankings.

The premise is simple.  Take a pool of university-affiliated academics and researchers, track the number of times they appear in the education media, newspapers, blogs, and the Congressional Record.  Sprinkle in extra points for the books they publish and the rankings they secure with booksellers like Amazon.  And let the fun begin.  It’s like the Roman gladiators, only with Blackberrys and standard deviations.
What does Hess find?  Stanford and Harvard Universities are the top breeding grounds for edu-scholars.  Stanford takes four of the top 10 spots, with Linda Darling-Hammond at number one and Rick Hanushek at number two (Nel Noddings and Anthony Bryk also made the top 10).  Harvard offers three in the top 10 — Paul Peterson, Dick Elmore, and Roland Fryer.  
Private institutions do much better at turning out the edu-scholars than their public brethren.  Only six of the top 20 come from public universities (Wisconsin with two, U.Va., Arizona, Michigan, and Washington). 
It is always interesting to see the civil war that is Stanford University ed policy play out in these sorts of rankings.  For every Stanford University School of Education’s Darling-Hammond, we have a Hoover Institution’s Hanushek.  Guess that means there is room for all thinkers out on the Farm.  And it is surprising to see how well many of the edu-scholars affiliated with the National Education Policy Center did on the rankings.
How do the scholars do in the individual breakdowns?  Darling-Hammond is tops on Google Scholar scores, followed closely by Hanushek.  Peterson is tops for Book Points, with Noddings on his heels.  Colorado University-Boulder’s Kevin Welner (with NEPC) gets tops for Highest Amazon Ranking, with Darling-Hammond and Elmore close by.  Darling-Hammond is queen of the Education Press Mentions, but Hanushek is close to storming the castle.  Fryer gets top marks from the Blog Mentions.  Hanushek is tops for Newspaper mentions (though Darling-Hammond is just a fraction behind).  And Darling-Hammond, Harvard’s Thomas Kane, UPENN’s Richard Ingersoll, Vanderbilt’s Camilla Benbow, and Arkansas’ Patrick Wolf win bragging rights for Congressional Record Mentions.
Of course, Hess has to be onto something when he faced some criticism out of the gate during a holiday week for his rankings.  Diane Ravitch seemed upset that she wasn’t included (since she isn’t affiliated with an academic institution).  And other “scholars” with think tanks, advocacy groups, research organizations, and the like are likely to share her frustration.  Perhaps Hess can offer up an affiliates rankings, where all the non-academic academics can square off for bragging rights.  (But can Hess put himself in the mix, or does he need to step out, as unofficial commish?)
Personally, Eduflack would like to see these edu-scholars actively campaign for higher scores in 2011.  With the change in political landscape and the focus of Congress, I think Hanushek has a chance to take the top spot, particularly with the Hoover PR machine helping his campaign.  And it would be great to see the “ivory tower” edu-scholars (measured mostly by the book numbers) separated from the “main street” edu-scholars (measured by blogs and newspaper appearances).  And, of course, it would be terrific for someone to spring for the VMS data so Hess can include radio and television appearances in the scoring.
And while I’d prefer to see the metrics work out to a nice 100-point scale instead of a system that best looks like NFL quarterback rankings, I understand you just can’t always take the research out of the researcher.  So I’ll let that go.
Kudos to Hess for the 2010 Edu-Scholar Public Presence Rankings, and congrats to this year’s winners!   

3 thoughts on “Edu-Profs: Hot or Not?

  1. As an officer of JALT, I felt verylucky to be published in the academicarena in Japan.But, long before I left to go overseas,realized that the pressure on academicsto publish or perish produced someinteresting and lengthy manuscripts which as a student I wondered if theywould be read, appreciated and thoughtworthwhile. In my chapter, there wereseveral academics who I think when returning to their home countries willhave a great deal to say about this..The idea of a points system is a bitstrange to me, but if it makes a systemfair and eliminates the write forjobs sake and not for the sake ofscholarship, well maybe a good idea..

  2. A further note on the subject of publish or perish. As a grad student,I was glad to have to read professors’papers. I was a night time commuter with little contact with them exceptthe classroom. So, I was glad to seewhat they thought and it gave me anidea of how to respond to them. Didnot see it as vanity publishing orreading, just a good way not to endup with the other masses of materialsin the stacks…If professors and instructors are required to continually publish, itmakes sense that their work should beread…and those brave enough to takethe heat, should allow comments, seminars, debates from students…As many mature students are now inclassrooms, there should be a livelydebates….

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