by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.
When I was a graduate student learning about the job of being an academic, my advisor gave me some good advice. He told me to teach my classes, minimize my service, write everyday, and keep up with the literature. Teaching innovative classes using technology and active learning takes more time than lectures and seminars did. I became a department chair, which automatically increased my service duties. I still write, nearly everyday. What I do not have time for is keeping up with the literature. And I feel guilty about that. Instead, I read the emailed table of contents of a handful of journals and might read a couple of articles if they grab me. I skim through the two or three journals to which I subscribe. And if someone posts an interesting link on a listserv or Facebook page, I may skim it. If I’m working on a particular topic, I’ll try to find everything that has been written on that narrow thing (computers make it possible to find this information without having to “master” it). But in no way do I “keep up with the literature.” And I haven’t been able to since day one.
Yes, I feel like I am shirking my scholarly duty. And this may be one of the most hidden secrets of academics, as it seems like most of us do not keep up. In a meeting the other day, my colleagues in other disciplines mentioned that they also do not keep up with their respective literatures.