Participants in the seminar held last weekend were asked to address how new faculty members can continue to participate in scholarship in the midst of so many demands on their time.
The transition from graduate school researcher to full-time professor is not an easy one. In grad school, colleagues share their cutting edge research and devour and discuss the latest works in various sub-specialties.
When we begin teaching, few people care about our research, our new colleagues are consumed with their own busy schedules, and the demands on our time from a full load of new courses, student advising, and committee responsibilities drain our hope of having anything like a balance between research and teaching.
Here’s what I’ve learned about participating in scholarship in the midst of a busy teaching schedule:
- Write regularly. Set aside a specific time and stick to it. Don’t depend on an upcoming break to get a project started. If you’re not writing regularly, you won’t write when you get a large chunk of time. Use breaks to keep writing, don’t depend on them to start writing. I’m in the midst of a busy semester, but I write from 5:00-6:15 each morning. I’m a morning person and that’s the time my brain is freshest. Over the last two months I’ve gotten loads done. Some mornings I write 500-900 words. Other mornings, I touch up a few paragraphs and do some reading toward what I’m writing. In the Spring my schedule will open up dramatically and I’ll have more time. But if I stick to this schedule, I’ve found that I can make quite a bit of progress.
- You need to protect your writing time because no one else will. Block it out in your schedule and regard it as time that is dedicated and that cannot be taken for student advising or anything else. And if you think you’re being selfish, just imagine that the satisfaction it gives you allows you to give to others your best self.
- Publish your work from your dissertation as soon as you can. You have lots of options, but get to it as soon as you can. If you wait around on it, you won’t get to it. You can publish it as a monograph, or break it up into articles and re-write the entire argument in a more popular format. But my advice is to publish it in the first year or two of teaching and then move on to a new (even if related) area of research.
- Keep up with your field by doing book reviews. Aim for about four or five per year. Some journals want short reviews (400-500 words), which allows you to provide a brief overview of the work and perhaps place it in the field within which it’s written. You can easily do several of these throughout the year. Others look for extensive reviews with intense engagement, and you can aim for perhaps one or two a year of those per year. Write to book review editors of academic journals and let them know your interests. Or, if you want to engage a new release, write to a review editor or two and ask if you can review it for them. Book review editors are sometimes desperate for reviewers, so put yourself on their radars and give yourself this great opportunity to keep up with the latest in scholarship.
Any other wisdom out there for keeping up with scholarship while maintaining a busy teaching schedule?