A prolific essayist and commentator on books and ideas, Scott McLemee writes the weekly column "Intellectual Affairs" for InsideHigherEd.com and contributes to The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsday, Bookforum, and The Boston Globe, among other publications. In 2004, he received the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle. He has been an invited speaker at numerous university campuses and scholarly conferences.

From 1995 until 2001 he served as a contributing editor for Lingua Franca. "Invisible, Inc." (his account of Thomas Pynchon scholarship) was named by the editors as one of the top ten articles in the magazine's history. He then worked for The Chronicle of Higher Education from 2001 through 2005, where he was a senior writer covering the humanities. A number of his pieces have been included in anthologies, and a few have been translated into French, German, Spanish, and Vietnamese. A large selection of his work is available at the website McLemee.com.