Does your academic institution have a written policy on faculty and staff blogging, social networking, etc.?

If so, could you please e-mail it to me or put the URL in the comments section?
I realize that this request might have gotten all caught up in my lengthy post the other day where I spoke about the case of Dr. Doug Bremner at Emory University.
Bora Zivkovic noted that a reader had sent him a draft proposal from a “Big Research Institution” in April 2009 and they had a nice discussion on his blog. Among the unrealistic provisions of that policy was that the institution reserved the right to the intellectual property of faculty blog content.
However, I’ve not received any other input from the multitude of you who are at academic and/or research institutions around the world (yes, my friends, I can see your IP addresses! – but I don’t use them for any other reason than feeding my medium-sized ego).
My attempts at Googling for, “university policy on blogging social media,” have brought back largely irrelevant returns with the exception of result #16: my post from Monday. I also don’t easily find such information at The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Personally, I don’t use my real name here (though it’s easy to find) nor my academic affiliation since I have operated Terra Sigillata for almost four years as a hobby. It might be nice to use my real name – maybe even promote my university, too. But heck, the Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has his own blog – surely there are institutional blogging policies out there.


12 thoughts on “Does your academic institution have a written policy on faculty and staff blogging, social networking, etc.?

  1. I have been relieved of my job at a major institution in part because my blogging annoyed people. Subsequently, I have been hired as a consultant at the same institution to help them develop “social networking” for use in education. There is no official record here to refer to.
    Policy wise, we are required to not link to any outside web site from any site inside the institution. That policy is widely ignored but then selectively applied when someone gets mad. A blogger at this institution was asked, about a year ago, to unlink his outside blog from his institutional web page because he had annoyed people in expressing his political views.
    The institution I work for (which is probably in the top 20 or 30 in size in the US) has created a blogging platform that anyone who works here can use as though it was “blogger” or whatever, no strings attached.
    But, if you work for the institution and start a blog that criticizes institutional policy you will be asked quietly (and not according to policy) to move the site elsewhere. This happened recently to a colleague of mine.
    I know you are interested in policy, but I thought some other info would be of interest.
    Please do not release the details of who I am or where I work.
    Do not trust the institution. Good luck with whatever you are doing with this.

  2. I’ve worked at four labs so far, two in universities and two in research institutes. There’s the general policies about confidentiality of research results and personnel data, that the lab head should be made aware of intended publication and so on.
    But I’ve never encountered any policies about blogging specifically. If what you write doesn’t fall within the general guidelines above then I doubt anybody cares. At my current position other people are blogging too, and more about the work here than what I do, with no ill effects.

  3. The best thing to do is buy your own space on a server which costs about 100 dollars a year for your own domain and then you dont have the issue of commenting on the behalf of your university. Then you can put a statement in your ‘about’ page stating that your opinions do not represent those of your university (or do not represent medical advice or whatever). After that, based on my case, you have the right to identify yourself as a faculty member of your university. Howevever, if you dont have tenure your rights are limited. If you do have tenure they can only get rid of you for cause, like you did something really bad. In the case of Ward Churchill they did a bogus inquiry and eventually found something. The courts ruled in his favor, but it is on appeal.

  4. Doug Bremner | July 17, 2009 12:44 AM “If you do have tenure they can only get rid of you for cause, like you did something really bad. In the case of Ward Churchill they did a bogus inquiry and eventually found something. The courts ruled in his favor, but it is on appeal.”
    Ward Churchill is an example of someone who never should have had tenure. In my considerable experience, the majority of people who rely on tenure are those who are beyond the pale of civilization, or who have (early) retired into a sinecure.
    To be fair, I do know one chemist who properly used tenure to keep his job (because he turned his expertise from research to public/environmental considerations). I don’t know how one balances those rare individuals who truly require tenure, against the majority who are sociopaths and/or slackers. Tenure is a noble idea that is fraught with unintended consequences.

  5. I’ve been working at my university for three years, and have yet to be informed about a policy regarding blogging or social media. A quick web search didn’t turn up anything, either.
    I know that other departments have blogs and Facebook pages, and I haven’t heard of any problems arising from them. When the Facebook guru from another school within the university gave me an informal lesson in building my department’s FB page, she said that the feeling among the staff right now is that they should go ahead and put this stuff up before the higher-ups decide to issue any sort of formal policy. She expected that one might be forthcoming as part of a major web overhaul.

  6. All three universities where I’ve been have public relations/news offices that ask faculty members to request approval before giving any interviews or quotes to the traditional media. It seems that this policy can be taken too far such that any time I want to tweet 140 characters about my university, I’ll have to obtain advance approval.

  7. Here’s an interesting story: Stanford’s school of education apparently doesn’t have a blogging policy, but wanted to penalize a student for her blogging activities.

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