This being the last week of class, it seems appropriate to reflect a bit more on the semester just finishing. Bluntly, this has been an awful semester for me in terms of things that count toward reappointment, tenure, and (nonexistent) merit raises. If you don’t want to hear me whine a little about the suckitude and where that puts me going into the summer, then don’t click through.
- After two rounds of painful reviews, I had a paper rejected. I’ll resubmit it to a lower tier journal, but not without another round of revisions. I have never liked this project.
- I missed the deadline for a special issue of a high impact factor journal, and I still don’t have the paper done.
- Even though I had no new preps, I still felt like classes took in an inordinate amount of my time.
- I got one grant rejection, one funded (yay!), and none submitted.
- I had a PhD student start and a few weeks later, quit, after telling me that she wasn’t interested in my -ology specialty after all.
- An untenured colleague and I shouldered all of the work for a (successful!) search with very, very little guidance from senior faculty. And we all know that service counts for very little in the tenure game.
- I poured heart and soul into a project that was important to me personally and professionally and which sapped all of my available research time for about a month. That project went absolutely nowhere with no hope of revival or redeeming spin-offs.
In the fall, I have to submit a reappointment packet to Mystery University, and right now I am not a shoe-in for reappointment. Principally my weakness is publishing since arriving at MU. In fact, its looking very likely that I won’t have any pubs in 2009. This is not a good thing in a place that highly values bean-counting publications.
So over the summer I’ve got to get my act together on the research front. I have a new M.S. student starting field work on a new project, so that will take a lot of time, but also be my first serious on-the-ground data collection effort in Mystery State. But I’ve also got to get 3 papers into the review mill: (1) rejected paper revised and resubmitted; (2) lingering post-doc project that needs to be finished and written; and (3) project presented at AGU needs to be finished and written. I’d like to get 1-2 collaborative grant proposals submitted, and I’ve also got a bit of travel on the calendar. Plus, for reasons that I can’t get into on-blog, I need to spend fewer hours at work.
Thus, I need to step up the research while tamping down the work hours. That means only one thing: no more Mrs. Nice ScienceWoman. For a while I’ve got to set aside my 2009 theme of sustainability and invoke a new one: “ruthless.” There’s no point in sustainability in this job if I don’t get reappointment, so I must be ruthless in prioritizing and completing my work in the time available and neglecting the time-sucks and distractions.
I’ve recently realized that in both my personal and professional life, I tend to avoid the hard things and that this tendency contributes to filling my days with busyness rather than productivity. So I am confronting the hard things this summer – getting publications into and through review. Hopefully I can emerge from the summer feeling much better about my reappointment (and tenure prospects) and with new productive work habits, and I can return to seeking sustainability in balancing research, teaching, service, family, and self. For now, though, its time to be ruthless. So a-paper-revising I will go…
This post is in response to Katherine Haxton‘s CFP for the May Scientiae. She asked us for a snapshot of spring 2009 in our lives. There’s still time to get posts in. The deadline is April 30th at midnight (time zone unspecified). Directions for submission here.