Showcasing Faculty Scholarship

So, I just received some more reprints in the mail, and a couple of weeks ago, received a request from the library of the school where I am visiting to remember to turn in the reprints so that they can be nicely arranged into the faculty scholarship display case. My guess is that these display cabinets are pretty standard at law schools all over the country. Inside the cabinet there’s a little name tag, or perhaps even a nice picture, and then a nice little pile or stack of articles or books are placed next to your name.

Now, sometimes it looks like someone’s “padding” because they’ve written the introduction to the book but the whole book goes into the case (busted!). Other times, it looks like faculty members will put in something only because it has a pretty cover. The current display for my work is thoughtfully arranged so that the cover of the front law review article will match with the jacket I’m wearing in the picture (red), even though the article is extremely short.  Still, it’s nice to match. And, perhaps most important, this type of display case is low maintenance.

However, aside from matching and maintenance, are these really the most important factors we should take into account? I guess my question is whether this kind of scholarship display case does a good job in communicating the research portion of our job to our students or to other visitors, alums, or community constituencies? The answer in my opinion is, no.

A display case is a passive method of knowledge acquisition.  What if, in addition to a display case, users could use a screen to call up copies of a faculty member’s scholarship on SSRN? Or see a video in which a faculty member presents a summary of their recent article or debates their scholarship? This type of interactivity might also be useful for school websites, to give prospective students a sense of a school and the research projects that the faculty are engaged in. Since active learning leads to positive results in the classroom, i.e. more engaged students, better learning outcomes, etc., maybe we need more of an active and engaged sense in describing our scholarly work as well.  Of course, as we ease into the weekend perhaps passivity isn’t always a bad thing…

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2 Responses

  1. Don’t most websites have links to SSRN or selected works? Certainly on faculty pages. I think an SSRN kiosk would go completely unused; while potentially misleading and mostly useless for real engagement with scholarship, the displays at least give the visitor a sense of the size and participation of the faculty in scholarship.

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