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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Putting research 1st

On Putting research first. Here are some particularly well expressed ideas:
The goal is to actually put as much time into it as my contract stipulates, namely 30% of 60 hours or 18 hours per week.
I always thought that research was just part of the job, the reason you were there, really, but in other ways just a normal part of the job. It was only after becoming a professor that I was told it was not, but that is an old tale from earlier years of this weblog. Now one is back to feeling one has a right to research or rather, a right to be a person who does research.
It seems to me that saying that one should put in the research effort stipulated by the contract is a wonderful approach. Then when someone questions your commitment, or priorities, all you have to do is say that you are fulfilling the terms of your contract. For me, for example, the amount of my effort going to research is 40%. So really, I should be working 40% of the time on this, just as I should be working 40% on teaching and 20% on service. If your contract doesn't spell that out, then you would have to find another approach, I think. For example, what weight is given to research in hiring / tenure / raises. I also like the twin emphasis on "part of the job" and "the reason you were there." It is part of the job, not something added on to it as an extra. But, in some sense, it is the reason you are there on a deeper level. If you are a chemist, that has to come before being a teacher of chemistry, logically speaking. What you are teaching is what you have learned, whether through original research or the research of others.


Clarissa said...

At our university, we get to decide which percentage of our time we want to dedicate to research and service every year. 50% automatically goes to teaching and the rest of time has to be broken down by each faculty member. And then we get merit raises based on how well we fulfilled our own plan.

I think this is a great system because people can decide for themselves whether they want to do more service or more research each year.

Jonathan said...

That is great. You know what your effort is supposed to be, and you have some control over that.

Clarissa said...

Of course, the first thing I did was ask, "So what is the minimum amount of time I can assign to service?"

"To research, you mean," the Chair corrected.

And then she got to know me better and understood.

:-) :-)

Jonathan said...

What was the answer? I assume you can't be zero percent in any category, but if you choose 50 / 40 /10 then you are in a good position to be competitive with anyone at an R1 university.

Clarissa said...

"if you choose 50 / 40 /10 then you are in a good position to be competitive with anyone at an R1 university"

- That's exactly what I chose. :-) And I never repented. People said it would affect my salary negatively because it's easier to prove service than research. But I don't want easy. I want interesting and important.

Jonathan said...

Well, it is actually easier to document research. Number of articles accepted / published. Service is much more nebulous to demonstrate. After all, not all service assignments are of equal weight.

Clarissa said...

"Well, it is actually easier to document research. Number of articles accepted / published."

- That is if you actually have articles. :-) Many people create an illusion of research by mentioning the conferences they attended as listeners, articles they keep writing but never see in print, etc. I've heard some pretty inventive stories about how people pretend to do research.

Jonathan said...

Well, if you don't have actual publications, that technique will stop working after a while. The illusion of research can only be held up for a few years before everyone sees through it.

Anonymous said...

OK I had a chance to say this, "it is part of my contract," today -- it was utterly appropriate -- but would not have gone down well. But it is a sentence that should be said aloud more often.

Anonymous said...

I have just had another flash about this. At both the jobs I have had at non R1/R2 places, there was a fairly large research percentage (cf. my 30% now). Yet at both places I was and have been repeatedly told, disapprovingly, that "you are paid to teach, not to do research," in multiple, often rather threatening variations. I never brought up the question, when do you expect me to fulfill this part of my contract, then? But I would bet a lot that if I had, they would have said, "In the summer." So, this would be where students get the idea that research can only happen in the summer.

Jonathan said...

Well, if your teaching evaluations are fine. Then I can imagine this conversation;

"You are paid to teach, not do research."

"In fact, 25% of my contract is for research. My intention is to fulfill all of my professional responsibilities."

Then just keep repeating that. They can't deny what your contract says, or tell you not to fulfill it in any official way. The problem is you can be told that only teaching matters and still be denied tenure because you haven't done enough research. You could be screwed over for doing research or for not doing it, but in the first case at least you have your research.

Jonathan said...

Or better yet, ask naively what your allocation of effort is.

"Oh, I don't remember the exact figure. What percentage of my effort is supposed to be for research?"

If they obfuscate, then whip it out and say, "Oh, it looks here like I'm supposed to be doing 30%. Has that changed? If so, I need to have it in writing from the Deans."

Of course, this is fantasy, because if you are actually told these things you are being bullied and legalities might not matter.