Monday, April 19, 2010

Research recoil?

I am transitioning from the Service component of tenure-track life to the Research element for a few posts to examine the balance of Research at a Teaching institution. Research weighs heavily on many tenure measures and I believe it should--it keeps us abreast of new developments in our disciplines and can push us to explore new pedagogical areas. I love doing research, but finding time to COMPLETE the research projects I've begun has been an ongoing challenge since starting on the tenure track. I've enjoyed the data collection and analysis, but find that partnering (co-authoring) has been a very helpful path to push many projects toward completion. The problem, some institutions do not weigh a co-authored article the same as a single-author article. This is understandable in many respects, but it does seem to push academia into more of an isolated, individualized endeavor. For me, collaborative work which crosses disciplines is very engaging and informative. I struggle with the potential recoil of the Research element when at a teaching institution.

Most teaching institutions carry a heavier load of teaching per faculty member. At mine, I often carry a 4/5/3 or 4/4/3 (anything above a 4 would be an "overload" based on the need for additional courses due to high enrollment or demand). With classes bearing 30-35 students each, the grading and energy required for instruction easily draw me away from the intellectually-intense research writing. I've been seeking advice from senior colleagues and new faculty members as well to explore the nebulous area of balance in the tenure track and found a few great guidelines to help us stay focused on a balanced tenure picture:

- Set deadlines and give incentives to meeting the deadlines (my advice, move deadlines up by two weeks to allow for the unexpected and work with mini-deadlines on larger projects).
- Work on having something "in the pipeline" so that you don't experience stagnation between projects.
- Determine boundaries on your teaching time (this is one where I struggle) and protect your writing/research time.
- Connect with others on the same timeline and consider peer reviewing /editing or simply meeting to support each other's research work.

What are some tips that have helped you, whether at a teaching institution or research institution? Feel free to post, email, and explore concepts together.

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog - couldn't agree more with whatever you said. Keep up the good work!


    CCIE Training