Self confidence and the publication cycle

The publication cycle in my field is slow. Very slow. “Fast” journals proud themselves on 3-month rounds of reviews. An average round takes 6-9 months, with 12 months not being unheard of. Papers almost always go through 2, occasionally 3, rounds of review before acceptance.* On top of that, an additional 1 year can easily go by between acceptance and publication. This means that the papers I’ve had in press this year are ones that I did the work for and presented at conferences around 2010-2011, as a shiny new graduate student.

I’ve been thinking recently about how this delayed feedback loop has affected my self-confidence as an early career researcher. These days I am starting my second year as a postdoc, in a place where I am pretty much left on my own. I started a few new projects when I got here, and have been writing up some results over the summer. It’ll soon be time to finalize a couple of papers and decide where to submit them. I’ve been able to present this work locally and get some feedback from colleagues, but my schedule has made it impossible for me to travel to present the work at conferences. This means that I am going to be submitting this work semi-blind, and that’s made me wonder: how do I know if it’s any good? I don’t even have feedback yet on the work leading up to this research, aka my dissertation research, because of how slow the publication cycle is.

So, where do I go from here? Continue reading

Beginnings

Each year we welcome new faculty to campus. Some are beginning the tenure process, some are visiting (including postdocs, adjuncts and folks on sabbatical) while others are making a mid-career transition. Hopefully when you arrive, orientation helps you understand the culture of the place. The topics tell you what is important to the institution. Hopefully you can start to get a sense of what is expected of you by many different constituencies – the administration, the faculty, your department (and chair), the staff, your students (both in courses and those whose research you supervise) and your advisees.   Orientation also can help you understand what kind of support you can expect from these same people.

So what do you do if your institution does not have support structures in place that you think you might find helpful? Most institutions have someone designated to mentor faculty development.   It could be a vice-provost, dean, associate dean or head of a teaching and learning center. It might make sense to check in with this person and ask what is possible. Would you like a mentor outside your department? Would you like to set up weekly lunches with a group of junior faculty? Would you like to have a writing group that helps keep each other on task and productive?

Here are a couple of suggestions to start the teaching year, especially for those on the job market or tenure-track: (1) set up some peer observations and (2) make plans for formative assessment. Continue reading

10 Ways that Academia Has Made Me a Better Athlete

I’m an academic with a serious time (and money)-consuming hobby – I like to run and bike and swim. I like to obsess about workout schedules and how fast I can bike 25 miles and how that changes depending on hills, road surface, and how my legs – and lungs – feel today. I like to do races, and this summer I have been training for a triathlon*, which means I’ve had a lot of time to think while running and biking and swimming, and what I keep coming back to is this: Academia has made me a better endurance athlete**.

There is a lot written about life lessons from running; and what-I-learned-about-X-from-sports. But my experience is the opposite – I’m not a natural athlete***, I have medical issues I need to constantly deal with in order to work out consistently, and I didn’t train for anything athletic until I was a postdoc. instead of learning about life from running, many of the lessons and strategies that have made me a better, tougher scientist are things that apply equally well to endurance events.

We don’t often think about the skills we learn in academia as applicable to much else (although it does and we should emphasize these transferable skills more), so here is a top 10 list of how academia made me a better athlete. Continue reading

Welcome to Tenure, She Wrote’s new bloggers!

In our most recent call for regular contributors Tenure, She Wrote received many amazing applications, and it was hard to select just five new women.  We selected new members who will increase the diversity of voices represented here at Tenure, She Wrote, and we can’t wait to see what they have to say. Here they are:

CaptainTenure is an associate professor at a small private institution.  In addition to her teaching, research and service duties, she is responsible for faculty development at her college.   She has been a big fan of Tenure She Wrote since the beginning and is honored to join the team.   She tweets at @CaptainTenure.

Dr__Klotz is a tenure-track faculty member in English at a community college in Northern California.  She is interested in social justice, community literacy education, and digital pedagogy. Aside from settling into a new full-time teaching load, she spends her days hiking, reading science fiction, and drinking California wine. She tweets at @Dr__Klotz.

QTChimie is a smiley genderfluffy queer who loves science enough to make it a day job, interested generally in human disease. Q spent a few years working in the real world after undergrad and is now running back to academia for a PhD. They are also an artist and maker in media ranging from pencil to steel to cloth. They enjoy dismantling the patriarchy by being confusingly sweet, educating folks about healthy relationship dynamics, and taking really cute photos of their pet rats.

PunkeeProf teaches literature and writing at a small liberal arts university in Iowa. She likes it when she makes food that people enjoy, when laughter is the dominant noise in a room, and when students exceed her expectations. She hates very little, but it’s almost always warranted. You can follow her @ThePunkee.

Sciencella is a postdoc at a large public university, working in a social science field that combines experimental work with fieldwork. She has lived in 4 different countries on 3 different continents in the last 10 years. When she is not working, she enjoys watching trashy TV shows, drinking beer, and cooking. She tweets at @DrSciencella.

Reflections on blogging for TSW

As one of the founding members of Tenure, She Wrote, it’s been a little over two years since my first post and I find myself reflecting on what blogging for TSW has meant to me. This is my first foray into blogging and so when I started, I was fairly uncertain about what the experience would be like.  Over the past few years, I have used the blog as a way to work through various challenges that came up in my life–both the good and the bad.  (See here for a full list of my previous posts.)  TSW started up in my first year as a faculty member…a fortuitous time since I was experiencing a lot of new things and had a lot to process!  I was able to use the writing process to provide clarity about the issues that had previously been bouncing around my brain. It was terrifying at first to expose my thoughts to the world*, but also liberating because it reminded me that I am not alone in this experience.  Over the past few years, I have learned that if I am having an issue, then often many other people are too.

But blogging is not without its own set of stresses.   Continue reading

No access to travel funding: does this make cent$?

As a later-stage graduate student, I’ve been trying to make sure that I attend a few conferences per year. There are lots of reasons to go to conferences, some of which we’ve discussed here before, including meeting people who do similar work, becoming inspired by others’ work, learning about new ideas in your field, networking for future job opportunities/grant collaborators, and more.

But after coming back from a conference earlier this summer, I’ve been thinking about the costs. Not the direct costs per se, although there are great reads written by others on the high price of attending conferences these days. That’s not even considering the carbon footprint of academics jetsetting all over the planet. No, rather I’ve been thinking about how much graduate students in my lab group pay to attend conferences, while the PI pays nothing. Continue reading

Foregone conclusions, redux

July 2007 (Vintage SciWo

I will not be a foregone conclusion.

Sometimes I get depressed when I read the blogs of other women scientists – particularly when the topic of children vs. an academic career is the topic du jour. The short version is that many of us seem to think we have two choices: (1) Have a career and no children, or children we never see; or (2) Give up our plans for t-t/research academia in order to raise a family. That we can’t be both academic researchers and fantastic parents seems to be a foregone conclusion.

Well, I refuse to be a foregone conclusion. Continue reading