Thursday, August 13, 2009

Finding Time and Resources for Scholarly Work

Here are comments from survey respondents describing how, if at all, they have dealt with the issue of finding time and resources for scholarly work.

  • Enlist students as research assistants or make assignments that can be both educational for the students and contribute to my research.
  • Summers. Begging for money. Paying out of my own pocket (many thousands of dollars each year). Making contacts in hope of getting connected to financial resources. This summer I have a free apartment in Greece for two months because a Greek colleague likes my work and wants me to talk to his colleagues, students, etc.
  • We try to take advantage of summer professional grant funds, course reductions, and extended sabbaticals whenever possible. We also have a regular philosophy colloquium at which we discuss each others' work, and this motivates us to write papers for these events.
  • Matching research and scholarly pursuits to teaching assignments.
  • I haven't.
  • Purposeful use of the summer vacation period! And regularly applying to the college's professional development fund, which rather generously supports travel to participate in conferences. Also, relying on interested colleagues in other departments to form reading groups, writing circles, etc.
  • Looking for external funding but very difficult with no critical mass in the department
  • As noted above, if I want to engage in scholarly work, I have to take a quarter off at my expense. This entails losing my health insurance and 25% of my annual salary. Other than this extreme measure there is absolutely no support for scholarly work although we are encouraged, but not always funded, to attend conferences.
  • This is the chief battle for all of us at the college. We are looking to create space for us to teach a regular upper-level courses in research-active areas. Some of us have met with our grants officer to find inside and outside support for scholarly work, which might make full-year sabbaticals possible. (I hope you will find a way to publish the variety of answers that others give to this question. I would be very interested to know.)
  • We simply leave during summer; vary our timetables according to teaching demands.
  • Don't teach summer courses or overloads.
  • Sleep less
  • External research funding in support of limited release from teaching; working in interdisciplinary groups whose administrators take up the 'grunt work' of reporting, filing travel expense claims, etc.; shutting the office door, writing at home, recognizing the difference between students needing guidance vs chatting relatively aimlessly; resisting the temptation to view small-town, mid-sized university life as early retirement.
  • I never, ever, teach during the summer. And I make sure that people above me are well aware when I publish an article or receive a speaking invitation.
  • This is the main problem for me. Even at 4 classes per semester I had ample time to work on my own projects. But at 5 classes it's a totally different story. I'm still trying to figure it out. Short projects are doable, but serious articles and books are pretty much out of the question.
  • This is the hardest question on your survey by far. I have no answer, it's too difficult.
  • Sigh.
  • Make final papers due 3 weeks before the end of the semester, and have all grading done well before the end of the semester, apart from presentations or multiple choice tests. Saying NO when people ask you to do things like create outcomes assessment for the major.
  • Teaching classes in blocks and teaching all classes on either a MWF or T/Th schedule helps create long stretches of time that can be used for other things. Jealously protecting the summer also helps, and that's of course when most writing gets finished.
  • see earlier comments re formative assessments and getting students to take more responsibility for their own learning. Sometimes, I have had to take annual leave as the only way to get some research done without the impact of teaching responsibilities.
  • Not a concern.
  • Summers are the only real time of the year that I can dedicate to research. I did have a sabbatical a few years ago, and that was a wonderful experience! Perhaps in a couple of years, I can apply for another.
  • Most difficult aspect. Little or no time during the semester. Have to work on scholarship during the summer.
  • Nothing to offer you here. We beg and borrow, spend our own money - usually thousands of dollars a year of our own funds - and we look for grants wherever we can.
  • This is taken out of one's hide.
  • Try to say "No" as often as you can get away with it.
  • The $64,000 question...
  • Still working on this. To the extent that I can I try to integrate my current research interests into upper level classes, but this is only incompletely helpful as it normally is the foundational aspects of my current work not the more contemporary discussions around the issue(s).
  • This is my first year out of graduate school, so I am still learning how to do this. I did better in the fall, when my three classes included only two preps. I began each day by working on research and fit teaching into what time was left over, which meant that I was occasionally underprepared for class, but not significantly so. This spring, I taught three preps that I had never taught before (but expect to teach many times again), and I was going to on-campus interviews since I am on a one-year visiting position here, and I failed miserably at finding time for scholarly work other than during spring break.
  • Still trying to figure this one out.
  • I had a sabbatical once, and once attended an NEH summer seminar. I read as much as I can during the summer. Otherwise it's hard. I publish quite a bit (about one paper a year and four books in the last ten years), but I don't have time or the right circumstances (graduate students to teach, knowledgeable colleagues to bounce ideas off) to do really great work.
  • Apply for funding for time off.
  • Have adjusted research to topics that are directly related to courses teaching (pedagogical issues, etc.). Focus on writing instead of presentations since presentations are more expensive. Make presentations at local conferences when possible.
  • Do it mostly in the summer!
  • Apply for research leave grants.
  • Be sure to take my chair's reduction (1 course per year) and try to accomplish something during that time!
  • I try to streamline teaching and administrative duties as much as possible. Also, almost every semester, I teach an upper division honors seminar that keeps me reading in my areas of interest, thereby integrating teaching and research. I'm fortunate to be able to do this. Actually, a properly structured program can foster this well. We aren't yet where I would like to be, but ideally, I would have each of the three of us teaching a small, upper division topics seminar each semester that overlaps with our research interests.
  • Try to find research projects that dovetail with what I can teach to low-level undergrads. Hope for the best.
  • again, damn you for asking. Summers are key. Use the summers wisely.
  • We have a very flexible upper-level seminar listing, and I try to teach seminars on topics that connect with where my research is headed.
  • much much more weeping and lamentation
  • Applying for Summer Research Grants. This is about all that's available.
  • work weekends. interlibrary loan also helped a lot.
  • Work on weekends, summers, at night.
  • As for time, I find that I have to simply say no to competing requests. So, I try not to spend too much time working on committees. Really, with such a burdensome teaching load, it is hard to complete quality research. As for resources, my college has above average resources.
  • We are really overburdened with work and so we have virtually no time to publish any scholarly articles. In fact, we are yet to come up with a scholarly journal where we could publish some of our work.


  1. Very interesting and illuminating. A question (either to the blog owner, or to the above respondents): Is not having time for serious research a concern because your college, in spite of not providing you with the resources, expects you to publish for tenure/promotion? Or is it a concern for other reasons (because you simply want to write, or because you want to publish in order to move up to a different department, etc.)?

  2. Scholarship is a requirement for T&P at my institution, and our departmental policies are quite clear; one of the most "objective" set of conditions on campus in comparison to others. It's quite frustating to be told that the paradigm at a small institution is NOT "publish or perish," and yet one must produce something of substance for T&P while teaching a 4/5 load with summer committments and heavy service work.

    Nonetheless, just from my own point of view, I try to find time to do more than what is minimally required. Keeping up with current research and writing is necessary for me to remain sharp and at least interested in my field. I re-tool my syllabi every two years or so, and often teach something new just so I can study and respond to it more carefully.

    I wonder if some of the individuals who voiced complaints about being burned out were those who design a course (say, like History of Early Modern Philosophy or Philosophy of Religion), and just teach the same thing, over and over, for years, never challenging themselves...or their students, for that matter.

  3. One concession that my institution has made to the need to publish while enduring a heavy teaching load is to expand the kinds of scholarly products that count as publications, and not pay a lot of attention to the quality of the journal (so long as it is peer reviewed). Furthermore we don't require that one's publications be sent out to an external referee as is the case at many Research 1 institutions. So, while there is still a demand that faculty publish, adjustments like these are intended to make it somewhat easier for faculty with heavy teaching loads to avoid perishing. Do you find that other concessions are made when it comes to adjusting the publication bar for faculty at institutions with heavy teaching loads?