Many of my senior colleagues will not write articles for academic encyclopedias. I understand why. Writing these articles require a certain style that is as far from imaginative prose as one can possibly get. They require a lot of searching for bibliographic references and biographical information such as dates of birth, etc… It is not always easy to write 1000 words on a subject that you know a great deal about. And, finally, they do not pay well. (Although as a graduate student $50 to $100 per entry looked pretty good).
Nevertheless, I continue to say “yes” when asked to write such articles. For whatever reason, I view them as part of my responsibility to my profession and discipline. Today I have been working on three entries for the forthcoming Dictionary of Early American Philosophy, edited by my friend and former colleague Steve Wilson. The work is tedious, and I am late in delivering in these articles, but it is good to refresh my thinking about early American Presbyterians such as Samuel Davies, Francis Alison, and Jonathan Dickinson. Steve, if you are reading this, the entries are almost on their way!