There are a bunch of things that people in the course of their normal work lives have to do in a timely fashion in order to stay in good standing in their jobs, but about which there is, let’s say, greater variation in academia. This observation was prompted by a query from Tom Donaldson, received in the Daily Nous inbox a, er, couple of weeks ago:
Philosophers differ radically in their email response times. Some philosophers seem to reply to every email within an hour or two. Goodness knows how they manage it. Some ignore emails for days or even weeks. So here’s my question: What is the upper limit on what is acceptable?
Obviously it varies a good deal from case to case. Some emails are very urgent, some are not. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for a rule of thumb. My proposal is that in normal cases one should reply to each email before the end of the next working day. So if you receive an email on Monday, you should reply before the end of Tuesday. Weekends and holidays don’t count as working days.
Sounds reasonable, but it would be interesting to learn what others’ practices and expectations are.
And while we’re at it, we can take a look at some other matters of timeliness in professional responsiveness: meeting deadlines for submissions, being on time for class and meetings, returning comments on work you’ve agreed to look at, and so on. Where are the problems? What are the appropriate expectations? And how do we get people to comply?