In a comment on a recent post, Jeff Ollerton notes that “self promotion” means different things to different people in science, and that its meaning has changed over time as well:
The “self promotion” issue really is an interesting one, in part because it means different things to different people. To some, having any kind of public profile as an academic amounts to self promotion: a colleague tells a great story about his PhD supervisor taking up a junior post at an Oxbridge department in the early 1970s. On his first day he was taken to one side in the Senior Common Room by a couple of older colleagues who said “We see that you publish your research. That’s not the sort of thing we encourage in this department…..”
Clearly those days are long gone! But what actually constitutes “self promotion”?
Good question Jeff! Let’s ask the readership, to get some discussion fodder. Below is a little poll asking your views on various activities that might be considered “self promotion”. It’s very quick–for each activity you just have to indicate if you approve (i.e. you don’t consider it “self promotion”, at least not in a bad way), disapprove (i.e. you consider it “self promotion” in a bad way), or have mixed feelings. (UPDATE: Several commenters have quite reasonably objected to the way the poll defines self promotion as a bad thing. I struggled with how to handle that without making the poll over-complicated; see the comments for details. Perhaps I blew it; sorry. It’s too late to redo the poll, but let me just make clear here that one of the things I hope we’ll talk about are the ways in which self-promotion can be a good thing rather than a bad thing. And let me also emphasize that I’m genuinely curious what folks think about that issue and don’t have super strong opinions myself. This poll was emphatically not intended as a “push poll” to try to steer readers towards the view that “self promotion”, however defined, is always and everywhere a bad thing.)