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Friday, July 26, 2019

Junior Prawf Book Projects

Hi folks. This is the third in a series on being a junior, interdisciplinary, multi-subject prawf—you can find the first two posts here and here.

Following up on my last post (and on some emailed comments from other junior prawfs) I thought I would say more about one of my current publication projects: an edited volume for Cambridge on qualitative empirical approaches to studying gig work regulation. I’ll preface this by acknowledging that undertaking an edited volume in year 1 of a TT position is unusual and not necessarily something I would recommend. I hadn’t planned on doing any kind of book just yet, and I only let myself do this on the understanding that it would be in addition to the article projects I had already planned. As earlier Prawfs posts have suggested, a book—especially an edited one—probably counts around the same as a good article, so it’s not the most efficient use of one’s time. I also wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t already written a handful of articles in the area. That, along with the process of creating an online bibliography related to gig work regulation, made me feel like I had a tolerable if constantly-catching-up grasp of the field.

The impetus for the project was this: scholarship on gig work regulation has been especially informed by qualitative empirical research and a volume dedicated to that intersection of method and topic would speak to two of my “selves.” As my first post suggested, keeping multiple flames burning is a perennial concern of mine so when this idea came to me I decided to run with it despite the slight risks involved. The process of assembling contributors has also helped me reconnect with existing scholarly friends and reach out to new folks doing exciting and relevant research.

It’s gone pretty well so far. Some of the contributors are housed in law schools while others are in disciplinary and interdisciplinary departments. I also have contributors who, for lack of a more elegant term, I’m calling “industry experts”—non-academics who have also learned immensely from conversations, interviews, attending panels and town-hall meetings, etc. This is somewhat unusual but given how much legal scholars who study gig work have relied on long-form journalism and think tank research, I felt an edited volume that excluded their insights would artificially present the field as solely the province of academics. (There was also a bit of “in for a penny…” thinking behind this choice.)

I can see now just how much doing edited projects (whether books or journal issues) requires a particular skill set. It’s about people management as much as it is about scholarship, and at this stage in my career it mostly involves managing people who are in various degrees of seniority to me. Although that’s probably one of many reasons to avoid this kind of undertaking early on in a TT position, I also think the timing has its benefits. You get an early sense of how to design and execute a project involving many people who have their own ideas about how things ought to be done. You learn how to tactfully guide or collaborate with others from a position of far greater equality than the law review editor/peer reviewer or junior-asker-of-advice roles you’ve probably inhabited to that point. You get a relatively low-stakes taste of the academic publishing world that will come in handy if you’re likely to pursue monograph projects later on. And you make editor contacts that may prove even more handy later on.


Posted by Deepa Das Acevedo on July 26, 2019 at 05:05 PM | Permalink


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