Sunday, January 30, 2011

What Is This Scholarship Plan You Speak Of?

We're back down to Defcon 5 in the Absurdist Household. We're all sick with some weird thing that comes and goes, and I've talked with the Head Teacher at Tot's daycare and remember why we put Tot in her care. It's not that I like the daycare (or that I don't); I like her. Since he is due to graduate from her room probably at the end of the academic year, that might be a natural time to take him somewhere else, if in fact we're going to do that. Basically, if there's one more problem, then we'll pull him.

But one thing I've found as we're all sick and have very limited downtime is that I'm enjoying using that free time to think about research. But in order to turn that thinking time into progress on projects, I need to figure out which projects I'm working on, what to do next, etc. I've gone ahead and proposed a writing group, but I need to be more specific with myself, both about times and plan of attack.

Times: I only have three days that I can realistically think about writing/working on scholarship: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. Two of those days are also big teaching days in which I might, might occasionally be able to swing an hour on one or the other day, but not both days in a given week. I think my goal is going to have to be something like doing four hours per week, tops, one on one the days I teach and three on the non-teaching day. Maybe I can do some work at home too. I think whereas other people fare better if they pick a definite time, I will be better off if I pick a certain number of hours per week. But doing so begs the question: how much time should I be spending if I work a 40-hour work week? It's been a while since I looked at the faculty handbook, but I don't think it divided our jobs into percentages or anything. Though from every single report I've heard at Specialized U, the important issue to focus on for tenure is research. Even without those anecdotes though, there are still very clear signals in the structure of my job that research is important. But how much is enough? How many hours per week on research is appropriate considering its perceived importance in terms of structural elements and its actual importance to my bid for tenure (which, yes, I'm obsessed about, but only since I got ever closer to my requirements recently, as I dream about my much-improved-from-last-year annual report -- yes, I am a nerd)?

From the perspective of the importance of research to my tenure bid, I'd say I should spend at least one-third of my time on research, which would be 13 hours/week.

From the structural stuff, I would think that there's an expectation that I'm going to spend 25% more of my time on research during an entire year. But more than what or whom? Someone who has tenure. And what's that expectation? I just don't know. If it were 1/3 of the time, then instead of 13 hours, it would be 16 hours. (I think. I've had a long full day and math is not my strong point.)

Of course, I do get other time off, so it's not like during teaching quarters is the only time for me to get that work done. But truly, I have, maybe 5 hours per week to write right now. Sure, I do other things, like do searches and write emails and search for conferences and all that stuff in the in-between hours, but I can't write in 5-minute intervals or bleary-eyed end-of-days (but I apparently can make my plans then -- though in looking back over this in the morning, I've had to fix tons of typos). So, I think my goal is going to be 5 hours of focused stuff: writing and reading. (I say this, and actually I've been reading a scholarly book and writing long emails and things in the in-between hours, but I haven't gotten any writing done. Should I focus this time on writing? Probably, though that would never actually fly because I need the reading as a transition.) So I'll try to do one hour on one of the hard days, and then three hours on the easy day and maybe try to dig up another hour somewhere. So I'll try for four hours initially.

Now, there's the matter of my projects:

  1. Article for Fave Journal: I've been talking about this since the beginning of time. It's getting to feel like this work is, for me, a bit historical. And I kind of hate that feeling, because I did so much work and have recently read the Second Edition and have done other things in the same area. But right now I'm having a problem. Basically I argue for this cool new idea/concept/area of Turnip Studies. But whereas before I didn't distinguish between whether Turnip Studies was to prevent badness or promote goodness, as if in preventing badness you're also doing goodness, now I think that distinction may be an important one, one where you can't say that in preventing badness, you're promoting goodness, because there's a difference between not doing badness and actually doing goodness. There's that whole area where you're not doing bad, but you're not doing good either. And I can't figure out whether it's enough of an argument to develop Turnip Studies just to prevent badness. I also really want to draw connections between Turnip Studies and doing good. Yes, I think that's the problem -- and maybe my challenge. That's what I need to make sure to do more: draw connections between Turnip Studies and promoting good. That's a goal. I can do that research. Then I also really just need to revise what I have and get cracking on the revision ideas I already had.
  2. I've been invited (how cool is that -- yes I mentioned this before but I'm still totally jazzed about it, especially as I start to scratch the surface of research) to write a chapter on something that puts two of my interests together in such a way that is so cool, yet makes me need to do a ton of new-to-me research. This thing doesn't have a publisher or anything, so it's not on the fast track or anything. But I would like to collect research for this -- and already have. So really, first I have to find the stuff I need, then write about it and sift through it for the good stuff to write about, then do the focused study. I don't think I'm going to bother with focused study until the thing is contracted and has a deadline (which I have no doubt it will be -- just with whom and when, etc), but I do want to collect the material and sift through it. So that takes up some research time: the finding, the reading, the writing.
  3. Conference paper due in March. I haven't started but I've got serious ideas -- and think that whatever I write there is sufficiently different and useful enough that I should think about another article coming out of it. Part of this paper is theory, which I've covered before elsewhere and just need to craft, but part of it is also going to be a study, and that's the part that once I've started, I might as well go ahead and flesh out for an article. Be that as it may, the conference paper's got to get written -- and it's already the end of January.
  4. Conference proposal due in April. I want to go to a certain conference I don't usually go to, and while conference proposals are usually not really difficult for me to come up with, this one may well be. So I'm going to have to devote some time to a newer side project, because my usual work doesn't fit into their call.
That's a lot. I know I should work on that conference paper due in March. I always leave these things to the last minute (though I was done editing my last conference paper on the plane to the conference, which is a record for me lately) and the paper suffers for it. And this conference is so cool that I'd really like my paper to be pretty decent. But I also feel like if I continue to put off Project 1, I'm never going to get it done. So I think I need to figure out a way to work on both Projects 1 and 3 at the same time -- and as the conference gets closer, I'll do less and less on Project 1 and focus on Project 3. But for the next two weeks, let's say, I still need to make some small headway on Project 1 because I just haven't made any since classes started. Just none. And no matter how things are livening up for me publishing-wise, that doesn't feel good to have this article I've wanted to write languishing for so long. I just feel like I'm never going to get this article out. So I must do something on it -- and soon.

I'll also continue to collect Project 2 stuff; I already got something ILL'd to me that looked really good, though I shouldn't spent the time I'd like to reading the entire book. I should just read the chapter that matters.

And I'm officially putting Creative Work on the backburner: I've gotten two rejections in the last two weeks -- and I'm thinking that my Creative Work just isn't very good. Though I'm simultaneously thinking that whether my CW is good or not is not a reason to stop writing it; my job is not to evaluate the work, but to keep plugging, writing it and sending it out. But I have no time or energy to work on it right now. I will try to send it back out though. When? In those mythical in-between times.


Sisyphus said...

Hooray for writing planning! Yay!

I was looking through my _Revising an Article in 12 Weeks" book and somewhere in there she suggested that revising an article should take around 60 hours of effort. I remember that totally not being the case last time, and right now I am writing a new article rather than revising, but it might be a good benchmark as you map out the rest of the semester, to see where you should be etc.

Earnest English said...

Sis, here's an example of how sick and stupid I am right now. I read your comment and thought 60 hours, okay. So if I work 5 hours a week, how many weeks is that? Uh let me figure that out and it turns out duh: 12 weeks.

I'm not going to be focusing exclusively on Project 1, but I really want to get it done by June 30, just for my own peace of mind. There are 21 weeks, I think. (Tot interrupted me.) So surely I should be able to get the thing done, even taking out 4 weeks to focus on the conference paper. It sounds good, doesn't it?

undine said...

I like hearing about your plan, EE, which sounds not only doable but inspirational.

Unknown said...

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