Careful With the Working Papers You Post:

The St. Petersburg Times reports (thanks to How Appealing for the pointer):

In 2004, the woman who would become legal writing director at Florida A&M University's law school posted a working paper online [using Berkeley Electronic Press] so legal scholars nationwide could see her work....

But [the director's] paper was so riddled with grammatical errors and mangled writing that some FAMU law students are now using it to help build a case that [the director] is not qualified to teach and was hired primarily on the strength of her personal ties....

Pat Daniel, an English education professor at the University of South Florida who reviewed [the director]'s paper at the Times' request [which has since been removed from the service -EV], said in an e-mail that it was "sloppily written, in need of serious proofreading." ...

Fast Facts: Excerpts from the paper

* "This reports served as a welcome-mate to concerned groups seeking to resolve potential conflicts regarding international environmental concerns, thus allow disputing parties the opportunity to be heard in an agreeable dispute resolution procedure."
* "This inherent conflict between economic development and environmental protection needs and interest and the focus of managing environmental disputes for sustainable results is the cause of a 10-day delay in productions and obligations."
* "Such an institutional framework would include implementation of sound sustainable development strategies and international treaties by countries should contribute to improved socioeconomic and environmental conditions, and help reduce potential sources of conflict between countries."
* "International environmental disputes can involve parties who hold very strong feelings that they are right and other parties are wrong present unique challenges if fundamental values are in conflict."
* "Borrowing from the environmental dispute strategy of the local threats and the focus of Agenda 21 with the sustainable development flavor it is dispute settlement that is one of the key elements to ensure that the environmental dimensions of security can be maintained."

My quick take: We should cut people some slack with their working papers. Such working papers aren't intended to be final versions, and my sense is that most authors edit the papers fairly heavily after they put out the first working paper draft.

Still, you'd expect that a working paper that's circulated to law reviews, to be considered by editorial boards in competition with other papers, would be at least decently polished. [UPDATE: Also, some might expect, as commenter Anderson points out, that a skilled writer wouldn't produce those sentences even on a first draft, though I'm not positive about that.]

I surely wouldn't advise firing someone, even from a position in which she teaches writing, simply because she didn't adequately edit an earlier draft. But such inadequate editing does say something about how careful the person is, and what her editing habits are. And, more broadly, I would advise people to make sure that articles they expose to the world as thought-through scholarship (rather than, say, off-the-cuff mailing list posts or even blog posts) are at least moderately well edited.