Academic parents - welcome to the Senior Common Room of Requirement(206 Posts)
Welcome to the Senior Common Room of Requirement. You find yourself in a discreet space with a view over rolling lawns from large period windows, and a roaring log fire, with the College dog asleep in front of it. A number of comfortable Chesterfields and wing-backed armchairs are thoughtfully positioned around antique occasional tables. A selection of reading matter is on the medieval chest near the entrance, including New Statesman, Economist, New Scientist, Nature, Prospect, THES, every conceivable daily paper, Spare Rib and the Socialist Worker. Peters, the College butler (sponsored by a successful alumnus with a top domestic employment agency, so at no cost to the public purse) is on hand to fulfil all necessary demands. This is the place for MNetters of academic leanings, and post docs and student parents are welcome to knock on the door should they require academic or pastoral advice. Sit back, quaff your sherry, Fair Trade coffee or even a smoothie made from fruit grown in the College grounds, and enjoy.
How lovely, don't mind if I do!
<finds the comfiest chair nearest the grub and plonks self down>
<Proffers a sherry>
I say, are they gas filled condoms I see floating out of that chimney there????
(Reference to Porterhouse Blue by Tom Sharpe. Zipser does this as a means of escape from the clutches of a rampant bedder, if I recall correctly).
<backs away from BoffinMum slowly>
I have port!
Let's have a balloon debate and decide which member of the current cabinet ought to be ejected ...
I hate port.
Things always end badly when port is involved.
Is it too early for a large sherry?
<adjusts dusty academic gown>
Qwerty, you could have a pre-sherry?
Now a question. In your institutions, is the period from 1 November 2007 to 31 December 2007 being counted as an interregnum for the purposes of the RAE/REF, with only publications from 1 January 2008 being counted for the next one? I ask because this is the case in my institution, and I can't believe for a minute that this was Gvt guidance.
Can't help with that one.
Any easier starter questions?
Well back from town now, where I was buying bits and bobs for DS1. In John Lewis I bumped into another academic, one of my research heroes and someone I really admire. So what did I do? I started babbling like a moron. "Hello," I said, "it's me, we met recently at xx".
Blank look. Finally came the polite reply, "Oh yes, of course".
I continued in an equally Mr Bean-ish manner. "I have four children, you know. This is one of them."
WTF? I mean, it's like announcing, "I'm 93 you know," or as my mother does when she runs out of conversational opening gambits, "I'm German you know."
So much for sounding cool and intellectually incisive.
I think we're all too knackered to chat but more than happy to settle into the old burgundy velvet armchair by the log fire and put my feet up on the dog. Cheers . That's me for the evening. Do carry on... ...
<muffled sound from under a pile of papers>
Anyone want to share some of this ere marking??
We are starting ref from 1jan 2008.
Shouldn't that port be going round to the left??
So if you have a blinding paper that came out between 31 October and 31 December in 2007 it doesn't count?
Also neither does my colleague's monograph.
That can't be right.
We are doing a dry run, announced this week. It says 1 jan but I will ask our ref guru for you!
If it's 1st Jan I am kicking off as I will have lost one of my best publications because of an administrative convenience.
Ahh but did it have impact ;o)
Do NOT start about the ruddy impact thing!
can I draw up a chair? and look mildly bemused and befuddled as you trade acronyms (I'm overseas, you see - well, only over one small sea, but still). We don't have RIF or RAF, but we do have KPIs and FEC and the now outlawed CLIT (something and legal and information and technology course: it almost got all the way onto the books before anyone noticed ) and RAM and...well, wanders over to drinks cabinet muttering.
In humanities, in Ireland (catastrophic economic meltdown, lost 30% of salary in the last calendar year, piles of pressure coming down the line...different miseries, but miseries none the less) - terrible staff student ratio, very poor admin support (a 1/3 of the number say that Warwick would have, with a student body which is slightly smaller), so although I am now fairly senior (though don't look it, I like to flatter myself) I still do an awful lot of tasks that are basically clerical...
Like many of you, I am finding it hard to balance motherhood and career (DD is 2), particularly the research part.
<<pokes head around the door>>> psst, I've posted a message over on Off the Beaten Track about my research, work and sabbatical options. I fear it's very long and a bit boring, but if anyone feels like hopping over there and giving me their opinions, I'd be very grateful....
Sabbatical - wow, lucky you, and options - that's something I dream about ;o)
My academic life is more like yours DMC (lots of admin, cr*p pay, silly contact hours and virtually no time for research, certainly no money for conference etc). I combine work with being a single mum (eldest just started Uni, youngest doing GCSE's soon) so have no life!
My Uni is looking for 7% in staff cuts (around 50 people in total - doubtless not in senior management though!) - nightmare times for most of us I guess, but espcially those of us in the Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, and those of us at little Unis ;o(
Good gracious, I have found a box of Balgian truffles here. A student must have left them for us. <nom nom>
chocs? I love grateful students . My PhD student who just finished bought me a big box of shortbread as a gift...which I thought was a bit . Oh, I'm too witty for my gown.
the CLIT thing - I think that no-one had the courage to speak up until it was almost too late.
Apparently, all our academic gowns are to be re-designed (long story short - we were part of a number of federated colleges under one degree-awarding umbrella, we are now allegedly autonomous). Wouldn't you just have loved to be on that committee? 'Professor x, don't you think that this deep fuschia would be lovely for the engineers?'
OK here's a little gown tale.
A former female VC of Cambridge allegedly was in first class on the Cambridge to London train a few years back, discussing the VC's gown design at Cambridge.
Apparently when she arrived she was told she could not wear the 'real' gown as it was too grand and it upstaged the Chancellor. Therefore a somewhat lesser gown had been designed to get around this little problem.
However she said, "When life is very tough, I take a moment, put on the proper VC gown, and strut around my office a bit in front of the mirror until I feel better."
Woman after my own heart, I think.
Boffin, hmmm, int-er-esting <strokes chin contemplatively, hoping there are no bristles there> Had this previously been a problem when the VC was male, or was it only a female VC that was in danger of upstaging the Chancellor?
Maybe one or two of the male VCs liked dressing up in academic drag??
Boffin just saw your other thread in Off the Beaten...just wanted to say that if you have had maternity leave in the REF period you are not required to have 4 publications, they have a special 'legitimate career break' category (with a much more bureaucratic name). I have been on mat leave 50% of the REF period and therefore am required to have 2 publications.
3 is still a lot in social science. You only have 3 years to get them into journals, as things can queue for up to 18 months. So if I haven't done them by the end of 2011 I have a problem.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
What/where is Off the Beaten Track?
I have an SCR very much like the one you describe just over the quad. Sadly, I am stuck in my office marking essays.
I could, however, swan around in my gown, but I'm not sure it will help.
Can Peters bring me a smoothie (pg so can't have the sherry) and a dash of inspiration, please. Writing PhD thesis (very slowly) here.
Peters has just tapped my shoulder to tell me that there is a student waiting outside wanting to knowing whether its his arse or his elbow on his arm. Best go
That's probably me, witch. I feel I'm confusing the two quite frequently these days
Got feet up on footstool next to roaring log fire. Peters is giving me a scalp massage. You see, that's the wonderful thing about academe - you are expected to have bad hair so even having it all ruffled by an obliging butler for the purposes of stress relief doesn't make it look any worse.
Here's a lovely quote from Stephen's 'Sketches from Cambridge by a Don' (1865) which usefully reminds us of what we are there for:
"You know the exact point at which he will begin to look stupid; you foresee the look of partial intelligence with which he will received your well-worn explanation, and the stupid remark a little further on which will show that he failed to see the point of it".
So ask the student outside if he's only got one, and see the expression of confusion on his face.
Have to share another Stephen quote with regard to the student population:
"Mankind may be roughly divided here, as elsewhere, into the useful and the ornamental"
I wonder which these people are?
Roll up, roll up, my thread over in Off the Beaten Track is still hanging around like a bad smell (or is that a student?).
iregularregular: it's under 'Other Stuff', and you have to be logged in to see it.
Roary - they haven't yet released the REF guidelines, though (have they?) This is a shorter assessment period than the RAE. I wish they'd hurry up and let us know what the heck is expected of us.
Have posted but don't know what to say, really.
::wanders in from the one child tea room::
Gosh, this looks lovely. And somehow familiar.
::quaffs sherry while stroking chin::
::decides that Peters, although estimable, is less handsome than Mellors, and so leaves::
<flops down in squashy chair> just had a week of ornery
little bollixes contesting grades, including one particularly irritating floppy haired type who kept coming up with really quite incredible excuses (he was always late, because he has to come from the other side of the city - where I live and I am never late). Basically a lot of these kids did no work and now are in shock because they got Fs. FFS. FFFFS, even. Eff off, I say.
ps I'm usually pretty nice to them - but I have a brilliant student doing an MA with me - she's profoundly deaf now and has numerous serious health difficulties. Never late, never misses a class or a deadline or an assignment. It makes me a leetle bit less tolerant of wasters, I must say.
Driving, we have exactly the same issues with ours. The more genuine the woe, the less time off they seem to need.
Can you send Peters over? I am in hospital waiting for day case treatment and could do with a virtual sherry to buoy me up while I am waiting.
does anyone else wonder at the stuff that comes out of their mouths? I mean my relentless moaning and groaning about uppity students/falling standards/ how they don't know anything any more (this last is true, btw). I remember
doddery old smelly men senior colleagues saying these kind of things when I was a Bright Young Thing and thinking 'I'll never say things like that, and if I do it will be time to leave' . There are many ways in being an academic is a bit like being a parent.
We are not boring old farts yet .... are we????
<checks face for smelly beard>
Boffin, erm...the irony is of course, my endless frustration with many of my colleagues (not just the old ones) who seem unable to think differently or innovatively about anything.
Did Peters show up? He's normally very reliable <and the soul of discretion>
Yes, he came with college port, sherry and a selection of fragrant warm, moist towels to mop my brow with.
BTW think yourself lucky it's not 1450. You would have had to have your students sleeping in the same room as you on a trundle bed. Doesn't wear thinking about.
in fact I thank my lucky stars (the unlucky ones can hide their fires - if you 'get' the quote you will work out my area...) every day that I do not live in 1450. I think I would have been hung, drawn and quartered a long time ago, and certainly wouldn't be teaching any students. Slopping out their wee, might be the best I would have been able to aspire to....
I'm off to get all nostalgic with Spare Rib
I don't think I have ever read a copy of Spare Rib. Isn't that dreadful.
Boffin actually, not that dreadful.
Just marking time in here between College chapel (lovely virtual service with a surprisingly all-female choir, no wonder it was so good) and roast lunch in the virtual Fellows' Dining Room. What gorgeous snowdrops we have this year? Must pop over to Anglesey Abbey to the winter garden at some point to see theirs.
Boffin - are we the only people in here? is it the vacation (now there's a word I haven't used since I left Oxford...)
Obv the others are all writing papers.
Oy! You lot! Stop it!
Jolly good show. Pre-prandial sherry?
hello jenny; have a tipple of something tasty. I'm writing a paper (well, essay/chapter) but am not writing it at the same time IYKWIM...avoiding, avoiding. Horribly overdue.
think I might hang around here for a bit and read some articles about the inexorable decline of the humanities...
Still not writing a paper time now. Maybe tomorrow?
ha, ha: 'maybe tomorrow'. Story of my life...
Am writing one now and very exciting it is too!
I wish they had cheerleader-style coaching for paper writing like they do for childbirth. "Come on, just push, it's nearly there, you can do it, tha's right, pant, come one, I can see the introduction coming out ..."
if so i would opt to have all my papers delivered by section.
I would be at least 6 months overdue
At least you'd get a bit of toast afterwards!
and there would be no (or very little chance) that the journal (aka the dad) would reject it once it had been produced!
Did you read that this in THES about the journal of ultimate rejection this week, where all papers are automatically rejected (unsurprisingly).
Boffin - I loved that - you'd have a 100% acceptance rate for articles then, wouldn't you? (if you follow my logic )
now I know why I never get anything done: DD (2) not well for the last couple of days (and a bit 'off' for a week or so before that - cranky, tired) yesterday had high temp, cough, snots so have had her attached to me for much of my 'research' day, only managing to
surgically remove put her to bed about an hour back, at which point she promptly threw up everywhere. Poor little mite.
Has anyone else noticed that the rate of publication outputs goes up for male colleagues with small children in inverse proportion to the degree that they go down for female ones? Or is that just my place? I think they go to work more - or perhaps make better use of their time when they are there? Also very good at using kids as reasons not to engage in numerous tedious, time-consuming, but ultimately essential albeit trivial departmental tasks, hence giving them more time to do research (usually because there is a woman at home who looks after kids full-time). I'm sorry; it's not been a good day - sick child, deadlines looming
spot on, drivingmisscrazy. My male colleagues with kids often have to leave at 4 to be home for bath time, and can't possibly do evening seminars. When looking after the kids, they are apt to bring them to work. The mothers, most of whom are part-time so paid for less hours anyway, never leave early and rarely skimp evening duties. And boy do the dads get fawned over.
"And boy do the dads get fawned over" - yes, here too...aaargh. Drives me nuts (I should add that I am the non-bio mum so have never had any kind of parental leave, and am not entitled to any - possibly also slightly touchy on this point...)
Come to think of it, most of my male colleagues with yong kids do the school/nursery run and disappear off at 3 or 4. Not always online later either. How come I don't get to do that?
I have to as dh is not an academic and it cuts my days in half, making doing anything more than the bare minimum of teaching and admim. v difficult.
I don't have a DH so have had to do a FT lecturing job (including evening teaching) with 2 kids and all the domestic stuff for over 5 years. Eldest now at Uni and youngest just on GCSE's so soon I may have some time to publish properly.
Get very fed up being told I'm not producing enough work. Academia still seems quite patriarchal anyway, and I'm not sure LP's are truely welcome (and not having enough publications puts me in the firing line for the upcoming redudancies at my place).
Time for some rum and coke - sorry but passing on the sherry (not my style ;o)
I think academia still largely runs on the assumption we all have wives to pick up the slack/domestic/index for us. Ok, I do have a female partner, but she is not doing my indexing!
antimony I have a female partner too, and she did once do an index (for cash) for me, not for love...
I was in another SCR in Cambridge yesterday, as a guest. It did make me laugh. It was as though some people had sat down with a list of things that normally find in SCRs, as well as a corporate hotel furniture catalogue, and picked out all the 1980s repro furniture they could find. But get this, there were no fewer than FIVE kinds of sherry on offer! Fab.
Hi there, mind if I join you? Are there any choccys left? Have enjoyed your talk very much. Have been a tenured academic in the past, now a research fellow. Thought I'd pass on something I heard at a staff meeting the other day. We have been undergoing a "restucturing" and consequently cutting our admin staff. Was interested to learn that there are still academics in our institution with their own personal secretaries. Apparently these academics are struggling because they will have no one to go out and buy thier wives/kids birthday cards. Made me feel so sad - poor dears!
Right people, gather round. I have a job related issue and I need as much advice as you can all probably give me. Here is the story.
Currently I am a normal lecturer in a top 25 university, where I have been for 3.5 years. I want to apply for a SL post in the elite university where I used to work, and I have just decided sod it, I am going to give it a go, that's what the fellas do even if they haven't fulfilled all the requirements. I feel like kicking ass and just getting this job, so there.
1. Research record. Have probably 10-12 publications on there now, majority grade 3-4 stuff, but in my most recent job I have been flogged to my knees with teaching so only have 1, possibly 2 items (study leave coming right up though, so expect to be REF ready however).
2. Track record in this dept. It trained me. I won funding for a project there at one point, which I did very successfully. It has a few rather self-obsessed people in there, and a couple of mad alpha females who have gone to the trouble of putting me down in the past (but many more who haven't). It has a reputation for being dysfunctional within the university, but then that is also a characteristic of the subject area.
3. Referees. Current research mentor spends a massive amount of time managing my expectations downwards in a vaguely depressive way. (Not even sure why I have to have a mentor actually).
Advice required: how best to gift wrap myself so I look like a credible candidate. Have already got in contact with one of the panel, who I knew quite well before and who has a reasonable amount of respect for me, what else could I be doing?
Any advice gratefully received.
Definitely go for it.
Be very clear in your CV about what your REF items will be, and why they are 3/4 star. Really spell out your plan of action - where are the articles going to be submitted, how much work needs to be done etc.
Generally, make your CV not just about what you have done/will do, but put in lots of detail about how brilliantly you have done it. Quotes from referees reports, invitations to speak at mega-prestigious events, that sort of thing. I saw a CV recently that was from a candidate punching well above their weight - it began with a couple of pages of bullet points about how fab they were. Very effective.
Also really go on about future projects, grant apps. etc. in your CV (I am sure I am teaching you to suck eggs here).
Think about presenting yourself as somebody who will be going for a chair in five years time - what would you want to achieve in order to do that?
Your track record sounds like a strength rather than a problem. If the mad alpha females try to put you down, surely you will just go up in the department's eyes? In any case, if our place if anything to go by, the dept. has fuck all say in appointments. One, maybe two people on the panel, but it's all about what the Dean wants really.
In my view most appointments are about fit. So make sure your CV and covering letter are all about how brilliantly you fit with the dept and will add value, potential collaborations etc.
Referees - hmmm. Perhaps kick research mentor to the curb? Have you got any international connections who could write for you, or is that not relevant in your field.
Thanks for the advice, Cpn Barnacles. It sounds very helpful.
I just did a huge ERC bid so I bigged myself up in that a fair bit, and could borrow things from there.
I don't really know why the articles are 3/4 star, only that they were assessed as part of a practice RAE in a previous HEI and I was told I would have been entered if I had stayed, and they only entered 3/4 star items. And the two I have had published more recently were a book chapter and a (solid) journal article in a respectable second tier journal, and certainly to my mind better quality than the first batch of 4 RAE articles anyway (journal ranking is not supposed to be the be all and end all in the REF, as I understand it, and if it was, god help my discipline as the top journals really are rather self-serving).
In my current dept they recently appointed two people and binned absolutely everyone who wasn't REF ready (one year into the cycle!!), so didn't shortlist some better candidates (IMO) and ended up hiring a couple of people who while reasonable, were not going to be particularly glittering - for example one indeed had publications, but just joint authored things spun out from a PhD and nothing more in the pipeline. Can I assume this is not the case everywhere? And that there are more criteria applied to appointments elsewhere?
My experience has pretty much been as you describe, if the papers aren't in the bag then they're not interested ...... Which is very depressing. I think all you can do is be crystal clear in the covering letter about the really key things, how you see your REF return panning out, income streams and fit with the department. And then hope someone with clout has foresight!
Would it constitute discrimination if they were applying selection criteria such as producing 4 papers in the 3 years since the RAE even if that had the effect of discriminating against everyone who had taken maternity leave since 2007?
Let me rephrase that. I know they do discriminate, it's a notorious industry for that, but how best to shift things in a favourable direction taking that into account?
Here (RG) they would certainly appoint people who weren't REF ready - books are big in my field, so they often come out towards the end of the cycle. But they would expect a very clear sense of what you would expect to submit.
ERC bid sounds v. good.
I think HEIs that are panicking about REF three years into the cycle are probably the ones who aren't going to get any dosh in the next round anyway ;.)
Hi BoffinMum. I was on a selection panel in 2009, appointing at lecturer level, and I'm afraid REF-readyness was a criterion given to us for shortlisting, as well as being a question explicitly asked by the member of the panel who represented senior management.
This, in itself, is obviously idiotic bollocks and makes me want to throw myself in the river. However: we didn't have any candidate who had (or admitted to having) taken maternity leave in the REF period. Under those circumstances, my assumption is that we would have had to consider those as special cases, and a) consider that such candidates might not need to have 4 outputs for the REF in any case (please God - that's the situation I'm in), and b) take seriously their account of future research to be completed in the REF period.
Sorry if I'm speaking Institutionspeak. It's been a long day of Doing Admin, and I have become a drone.
One more thing - is there any chance you could use this application to try to wangle an SL out of your current institution? Ahem, not that I advocate such behaviour. But, y'know, it's still an idea...
To be fair to the institutions (if we must), there is a certain cynical logic to their thinking. We have been seriously burnt appointing people who were not REF-ready in the past. (None of whom were parents, by the by.) But it's still the right thing to do!
On the REF-maternity leave issue, we were told that there are definitely provisions for people to submit less than four outputs. Our institution, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that it will ignore this and only submit people with four (even if they could submit three outputs of an overall higher quality). Sometimes it's hard to believe they are not doing it deliberately....
PS Totally agree on using your application as leverage for a SL.
Have marked my place (in the befuddled corner).
CapnB, they are actually being discriminatory in that case, as I understand the law.
I think our place has opted to only submit people with four outputs - that's certainly how I'm being instructed at the moment.
Sigh. Time for more port, I think (it's just after 9am, but I've been up since 5 with a fractious toddler, so surely the sun must be nearly over the yard arm by now?). Where's that butler gone?
PG (non UK) with some teaching responsibilities, may I ask a question? Actually I hve two but one is a question about writing at PG level so I should probably keep that over in the students bit.
I'm 32 weeks gone and have 10 classes all with presentations which I'm supposed to assess over the next 5 weeks. I have planned everything so I'll be able to assess at least all of the second years (smaller classes so although the presentations are longer I can fit them all in) and most of the first years however I still have people turning up to my class in week 4 of term. I'm told I have to accept them (fair enough) but AIBU to hold them to the same standards as everyone else who has been there since the beginning regarding the prep work which they have to hand in before they can have a presentation date? Even if this means that they may not end up being assessed by me and by whoever is covering my ML instead?
Also how do I not shout at them?! I'm normally v even tempered person but the blatant lack of respect and the sheer not-being-bothered is really riling me.
Snap, have a sherry.
Just scanned your post briefly but as a rule you can't get in trouble by following the university's assessment regulations to the letter at all times. Usually this means following a set of marking criteria that should stand alone regardless of who is doing the marking, with the caveat that something might need a bit of internal verification or second marking to be on the safe side. If you haven't got a set of marking criteria for presentations because nobody has bothered to write one, I am happy to send you ours.
Do not shout at students, it only gets you in trouble. Just ignore it, it's not your responsibility, because they are adults. If they want to be arseholes and waste their money, that's their problem. If anyone shouts at you, though, you can invoke the university's disciplinary code and by following that to the letter, get your own back that way.
PS I always have one or two students whose attendance is rubbish but who end up beign brilliant and getting firsts. It the law of academe.
Well there's marking criteria that one of my colleagues has and marking criteria that another of my colleagues has, neither of which are particularly clear and certainly nothing which constitutes 'if they have done X then they get 1, if they have done X and Y then they get 2, if they have done XYZ then they get 3 etc'.
How on earth is everybody supposed to know who should get what mark?
You could always merge the two documents, add a few exemplars of different levels, and then dish them out for use as appropriate.
If engagement is supposed to be one of the criteria this needs to have been made clear at the beginning of the course otherwise students could quite rightly complain that the requirement wasn't stated.
It's made v clear to them that they must turn up, participation in class discussions is assessed etc - the course outline for semester 1 made that crystal clear, repeated this semester, both with the warning that they must come to the first lesson because that's when we explain the presentations - but the actual levelling for presentations seems a bit fluid. They're graded on a whole list of things (expressed different on each of the marksheets) but for example one grades A, B, C etc and other other out of 20. But a string of As in content/structure/presentation skills/grammar etc would only ever be a 15 at the most on the other marksheets.
This is why I'm trying to get them all done by me because then at least my groups have been marked to my standards, which should be roughly the same for the course leader of each year because I went along and saw them do it during the first semester.
I'm worried either I'm going to get into trouble or some of my students are going to end up with undeservedly high/low marks compared to the rest of the group. And the last ones to do the presentations will be the ones who have only just turned up....
We always get one or two turning up at the last moment and winging it, sometimes getting reasonable marks too. This is why I don't like presentations as a form of academic assessment. As a life skill, fine, but not as a form of academic assessment.
Anyone know to what extent I have intellectual property in a module I have developed? It was done during work time, so maybe I don't have any ownership over it. I have developed and run a module over the last two years. I'm being made redundant (involuntarily) and was asked to put together a module description so that the module can be taught next year. It just chafes a bit that someone is going to get paid to teach it when I did the work of putting it together and then revising it. Or is this standard?
puts head round door, smiles winningly May I come in for half an hour? I'm an academic administrator, but I'm a very nice one, and I do firmly believe that universities should be researching and teaching, not encouraging people like me to dream up more forms for academic staff to fill in.
<pats chair so bluestocking can sit next to her>
Nickname, you probably share the IP with the university, I imagine. But in such a case I would conveniently forget to leave it with them when you go, and make them grovel ever such a little for petty revenge purposes. mwah hah hah!
Nickname, that's really rotten. I would do as BoffinMum suggests, and quietly resist the suggestion - and make sure you get last year's stuff off any intranet or web course delivery systems so that they can't quietly help themselves.
(& hi, by the way - am lurking as I begin the process of getting my head round returning to my job after mat leave. Looking forward to seeing all my students again & really dreading the wanky office politics and REF neurosis.)
Fight incompetence with incompetence
Oooh, interesting thought.
<<takes off gown and passes sherry>>
I am just dipping in again with some more REF information from our dry run.
There is indeed going to be a special category for maternity leave (probably the same one that applies to new entrants). Our REF person pointed out it is actually unlawful not to have one.
In the RAE I was a new entrant and only had to give 2 publications. The dept chose to send 4, which I had (need I say that this was prior to children). But they submitted plenty of other new entrants with only 2. The university DOES NOT get penalized for doing this. Rather it gets penalized for submitting people with 2 who ought to have 4. Again lawfulness and all that.
boffin I don't know if you are still thinking about applying for the SL job. I have sat on 2 selection committees in different social science fields in the past 18 months (one as the external). REF-ability is everything. You will have to think strategically about mentioning your mat leaves and pointing out you will NOT be required to have a full slate. (Saying something in your letter like: My remarkable 2 (or 3) publications have occurred despite being on maternity leave, and constitute a full REF submission already. Now I have returned from leave I aim to complete the following projects in time for the REF deadline.
Oooh I forgot a bit: apparently the word is that the REF will frown heavily on repeat material (ie, chapters that draw from previously published material). So that is worth knowing.
roary, what is the view about things published between 1/11/07 and 31/12/07, because one of my best ones came out during that period?
Boff apparently this is a known problem and has been pointed out. I am reassured it won't disappear in to the void but don't know what will be done about it.
That's something of a relief. In that case I have two publications already and as I was on maternity leave a year, that may be as much as is reasonable thus far. I have study leave coming up so there's an opportunity to produce another one or two as well.
Roary, all they would have to do would be to say that stuff published between these dates could be rolled forward to 2008 for administrative purposes. A bit of a no-brainer, surely.
Have had a bit of a chat with someone who is going to be on the panel, and who was my PI once (briefly). He has advised me to apply <does little dance> although with the caveat that first and foremost they are looking for someone at Reader level. However he reckons I tick all the right boxes and they don't give a hoot about maternity leave as long as there's been publication before, and a plan for what will follow afterwards. <relief>
<trundles in wearing ancient sports jacket, with leather elbow patches and cornish pastie shoes>
Nickname - on the intellectual property issue.
The last University I worked we had specific clauses about IP and courses developed. Basically, we were allowed to use the material ourselves in any future employment but had to leave a copy and permit use by the lecturer who took over the course after we had gone.
Your college/uni probably has a similar policy as part of your contract. You need to check what your contract says.
<develops inconvenient student crush on BeenBeta who sounds rather like the young, dishy, lecturer with a penchant for his grandfather's clothes she fondly remembers from her undergrad degree>
on maternity leave, but pretending I am finishing my overdue paper in this well catered scr rather than under two sleeping babies interrupted by singing toddler
incidentally, how does one manage to appear professional with three small children? have a meeting in two weeks during which I will have to pop home to bf, and a postdoc in crisis who I need to meet, but can only suggest we do so walking a buggy round the local park. will soon be known as the mad woman with too many kids
Well given that you're on MATERNITY leave I would think that your postdoc-in-crisis (shouldn't they have someone else to call on?) should be fairly understanding about you giving up your time and accomodate the walk in the park. You could always say it's to blow away the cobwebs and you think more clearly when you're moving...
Roary - on the question of repeat material. Do you know what the situation is if I publish, say, article A, and then incorporate some of that material in book B. Is that still v. bad? <quakes>
Re-reading your message, it seems that is exactly what you mean. Oops. But how on earth is one expected to produce a book (essentially 5-6 articles), and three entirely separate REF-able articles in six years, while teaching lots?!
Snap, "blow away the cobwebs" is a good idea. might actually work too!
that the professor who had agreed to look after said post doc has decided he's in a bad mood (for the last 6 months) and washed his hands of anything he doesn't consider fun is a whole other story.
Ahoy Captain. I fear so. But I think they are probably wanting to avoid blatant recycling.
Overlap: It seems likely that the evaluation panel will penalize partial or total overlap between publications.
Quoted from a university email.
A bit of me is quite pleased about the overlap situation, Roary, as one academic I know, who shall remain nameless, has since 2000 sat quite comfortably in her Chair, churning out cloned formulaic publication after cloned formulaic publication based on the tiniest amount of data, all published in journals she is on the editorial board of. God forbid she might have to pull her finger out for a change (I dislike her behaviour as she dumped all her UG teaching on a colleague on the grounds of having to do lots of research, but it's clear to many of us that very little of substance was in fact going on).
MamaChris, see your postdoc on condition he/she babysits for an hour or two in return.
Where is Peters, by the way? He's gone awfully quiet. Ah, there you are, my good man. Any chance of a few college Margueritas for my colleagues here? And a few crab puffs as a pre-prandial amuse-geule?
Yes, I do think some senior academics are absolutely shameless about recycling. But that is the fault of the journals for letting them get away with it. Surely it should be picked up at peer review?
I wouldn't dream of submitting two articles which overlapped. But book/article overlap seems a bit different - and is the norm in my field, where articles often lead to a book. And books are SO much work that writing one of them every six years is a huge ask, never mind producing 3 more articles which don't overlap with it.
What I fail to understand is how the rate of work apparently doubled overnight without anyone making a fuss? We went from 8 years to 4 (OK, now only just 5) with the same publication requirement. The quality of articles in my field has gone down IMO and anyway, I really don't see how a samey sort of safe article reifying existing knowledge is better than a commissioned report that both breaks new ground and leads to tangible outputs within society. I will be very interested to see what the panels make of all of this. Half of them don't seem to write/assess their own stuff anyway from what I have heard, so I doubt they will want to change a system that plays to their advantage. Ah, the plutocracy of the worthy ...
BoffinMum - your post @ 18.48 is something which I have also seen repeatedly.
In my view academic life is and will much more in the future be about the 'haves' with tenured positions and chairs and the 'have nots' who will increasingly be dumped on.
In addition, the 'haves' are already and will increasingly capture higher and higher pay relative to those below.
In my view this will undermine University teaching standards as Professors increasingly never appear in a lecture theatre and those below them are pressured into publishing more while struggling under impossible teaching loads.
Anyone else experiencing this phenomenon?
It does not have to be so.
I was thinking of starting a group along the lines of the All Souls Group to influence things otherwise.
PM me if you want in.
BeenBeta - YES. This is exactly what is happening at my place. Except I wouldn't say that the professors never appearing in a lecture theatre is having a negative impact on teaching standards.
Boffin - what is the All Souls Group? <clueless>
I've just wandered in...this place is lovely! Rather like my actual SCR but with women in it...
A secret society of educationalists, entry by invitation only, where all the national policy and senior appointments are stitched up without any transparency whatsoever. Meet every April in Oxford, no notes, no use of technology, no public membership list.
One of my colleagues said, "It's like Opus Dei except instead of a celice, they have sandpaper inside their leather elbow patches".
Have a petit fours. Peters saved them for us from an extravagent private dinner.
Piece it together ...
I could go on.
<comes in> any room for non-uni research bods in here?
Naturally, have a petit fours.
Yummy. I love it when there's a wedding reception or VCs dinner the night before and we get the left overs!
Thanks, would love one.
I loathe writing papers - prefer doing the analysis (give me numbers to play with any day) but salami publishing is common in medical research too.
Wow, Boffin, I had no idea.
<dons cloak and dagger.
You see, we're all pissing about with the REF when the big business has been stitched up elsewhere. Which is why I thought it was time to seize the reins. Power can be there for the taking if people feel so inclined.
We will make petits fours and nice common rooms obligatory when we have global dominion, of course.
I did a medical paper recently (don't ask) and it was a doddle compared to social science. You hardly had to do anything on top of the stats.
Agree, lots of med research is simple. But not often when radiological physics is involved!
Have some virtual creme eggs, just remember not to touch beer at the same time!
woops killed another thread...
I'll go back and hide again now
Boffin - many years ago I was involved in writing a medical paper and the professor told me never repeat an experiment if you get the right result first time. He also said 3 data points is more than enough to plot a graph but 2 is adequate. He did not use standard error or standard devation either.
Ths man had massive amounts of funding in a top MRC lab. Shocking.
BeenBeta, I could not get away with that in my field.
well I could be pernickity and say the standard error is fairly meaningless with just two samples, but I guess this isn't the place to get into that, right
In social science these days if you get two samples or anything you're probably wetting your pants in excitement.
moonbells - what do you call salami publishing (not aware of the term, sounds... German)?
is it result recycling?
Agree it's quite common - esp. amongst senior staff.
On the topic of the REF - for those who did a mock - did you have to self-assess your submissions?
Publishing the same work in several slighty different forms in multiple journals.
Yup, I have myself a four for everything on the grounds that I am wonderful and it is arbitrary anyway, but cheek! My boss DISAGREED! And talked it DOWN! Probably because I have published two more papers than him.
Mimile at one conference I was at, they described Salami publishing as chopping up the research into as many small pieces as would be acceptable to publish and thus getting more papers out. Or re-publishing it slightly differently. Yes it was a publishing ethics talk... I guess we all have different terms for it!
If I had a paper to referee with only two samples (unless a case study) it would get bounced so fast they'd think it was a new type of rubber...
Hello, can I come and join in? Should be writing lectures as it's Reading Week but have spent an unproductive but enjoyable afternoon browsing Mumsnet due to afternoon-morning-sickness concentration lapses.
How unwise I am to be planning to give a paper at a conference (in the UK) 3 weeks after due date...?
AL* I couldn't have given a paper at that time. I probably could actually have done the talking bit, but finding the time necessary in advance to write the slides, to be able to *think, to attend all the other talks in the session at least, if not the whole conference, and traveling... that I would have found really hard. especially with ds1 who was born a week late, then spent a week in hospital, so we would only have been home a week. are you committed to give the talk already?
oops - apologies for extended bolding - should have previewed
MamaChris I suppose I could get out of it, but would rather not... I shall have to write it all beforehand so that it's a matter of giving the paper rather than engaging brain. Not sure how much of the rest of the conference I shall be attending though!
Heh. I have a photo of me sitting at my desk with 6-day-old DS on lap, fast asleep, while I wrote some abstracts. Thank goodness for email and electronic submission! Luckily due to ELCS he was early so I got them done OK and I'd not been on ML for long enough to drift down into inactive brain fog.
I didn't make the conference though. I was back at work by then, but didn't want to leave DS and go to N America for a whole week when he was only a few months old!
You'll be fine, as long as it's not a CS as you can't carry luggage. Least it's in the UK...
Have donned the burgundy smoking jacket and despite the Ofsted meltdown at work this week am feeling suspiciously happy pass the port and the truffles purrlease...lovely...
So, all those of who of you who finished your PhDs (I'm assuming that's most), what is it worth it in the end? I'm part way through and fantasy everyday about something
useful sociable else!
Er, that would be fantasise, of course.
Good morning chaps.
I have just emailed HEFCE with the following, to email@example.com, about the RAE/REF interregnum issue, in case it's of interest to anyone, or you'd like to do something similar. Depending on the response, I may be bringing it to the attention of UCU and/or starting a resistance movement of some kind.
My HEI has indicated to me this morning that publications which fall after RAE 2008 but before the period to be assessed for REF 2013 cannot be submitted for assessment for REF 2013. This covers items published between 1.11.07 and 31.12.07. Could you confirm to me formally whether this is the case? If so, this apparent interregnum will be of particular concern to many social scientists. This is because we tend to be less prolific than some other groups of researchers, and papers can queue for journals for over a year, a matter over which we have no control. We may therefore have had key papers and indeed monographs published during this period, which will constitute a significant percentage of our total output, but which will not now be counted due to an administrative quirk. If this comes as something of a surprise to HEFCE, and is likely to be an institutional level decision rather than a HEFCE one, or a matter not yet decided by Panels, then I need to know that as well.
If it is the case, that HEFCE have indicated this period must be omitted from both Exercises, I would like to have copies of documents relating to this decision.
I am interested to know more. My best paper came out Dec 2007...
Maybe we should do the same for clarification on the maternity (or equivalent) leave issue? I got a very dusty answer from my research director whan I suggested that there might be some kind of reduction in outputs required, so it'd be good to hear what HEFCE think.
Aherm, Hello there (knocks at the door and peeks in)
Just wondered if anybody would mind providing a few pointers for me... A hopeful candidate for a Sociology & Social Policy degree.
Any hints for preparing for the selection interview? Or any recommended reading material? What do I need to know?
And for those of you who have gone before me, (sociology), what career paths did it eventually lead you to?
I need to work out if I'm in the new RAE. Last time I was RAE ready, but our dept didn't want (wasn't allowed?) to submit the same paper for two people. As my HoD was a senior author on all bar one of my papers, he grabbed the best for his return and I was left with lower IF papers and not entered (in science, so multiple authors is the norm).
This time I'm in a different institution. Does it matter to my career whether I'm entered? Have had two periods of maternity leave since Jan 2008, but one good first author paper, another very good 3rd author (out of 25 or so), and another decent paper on way. Have been focused on renewing my grant within the next four years, but should I also worry about RAE?
MamaC - I'd say that in the current climate, better to return than not.
I'm always a bit surprised about the "no same paper returned twice" rule - it seems incredibly unfair to early career staff. And is it very feasible in big colleges where pretty much everyone research active will return in the next REF / where collaboration is on the up?
Heading back to OTBT to rock in the ivory tower corner. Feels weird talking REF on here - I am somehow paranoid about that stuff!
Response back from HEFCE - basically along the lines of HEIs were told people could submit 'pending' papers and take the risk they might not be counted, so this precluded submitting things from Nov and Dec 2007. Don't quite get the logic of that one.
Anyone been striking this week, btw?
<sits back and pats College dog>
<quaffs smoothie brought over by Peters>
<surveys College daffodil and narcissi display under historic oak tree>
I could get used to this striking malarky.
mmm - I was procrastinating on the Ivory Tower thread. I need some form of intellectual debate which sadly, is severely lacking in my department.
Striking makes my MNing during worktime justifiable. I like it
I have done all my accounts, spent an hour having personal training courtesy of a fit bloke in shorts, found a valid load of work receipts I forgot to claim for (mwah haha), read some of Prospect and <whispers> only answered one email from a worried upset student as That Didn't Count. Good day so far. Wondering whether to pootle off and do a bit more picketing, although last time I put my back out.
I was going to head for the SCR but the roaring fire might be a bit much today.
I'm looking for tips from all the academic mums. I'm applying for a lectureship in my specialty in my dept. It's quite possible that I will only ever see such an advert once in my working life!
I realise that my chances are slim as I have a PhD but no postdoc experience. However, since I am science/humanities borderline, that is not unheard of. But the whole process is also a vehicle to further my ongoing goal of securing postdoc funding.
So any tips on (or what NOT to dos):
applying for a lectureship - what works?
meeting with the new HOD (who I know but not well) about my general future in the dept?
I am always told to remember that there are four aspects to academic applications:
University 'citizenship' (i.e. getting involved with School and cross-uni initiatives)
It is also important these days to flag up impact and engagement. Don't ask me to define them.
Hmm - I don't suppose they use dd's definition - last week dd (5) thought 'engaged' meant pregnant....
I'd add future funding sources, how your research fits with the remits of possible funding bodies etc.
Any thoughts on www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/mar/27/academic-study-big-society this?
I don't know why they don't make us sign up to the Tory party as a condition of employment, if they want us to be this partisan. It reminds me in some small way of the way the National Socialists appropriated the academic and legal systems in order to further their political ends and subvert society for their own ends. I am very uncomfortable, and I speak as someone who has published in the area - if I was forced to, I would stop.
I'm wondering what kinds of contortions people will go through to get a 'Big Society' tag into their research proposals.
It's been very strongly denied by the AHRC, as I understand. Don't know what the gossip behind it is.
Acinonyx - If you're applying for science grants, a lot of them now want your 'pathways to impact' statement, where you talk about outreach / engagement, how your research will get into the wider world, etc. There's a lot of info on the web about your pathways to impact statement. That might be something you need to hint at in applications?
Yup, thanks, putting it all in my notebook.
Slumped in leather armchair having downed most of a bottle of port.
the drunken academic... not a classy look!
but eh, this is black Thursday, known as the Thursday of all rejections, when MRC, BBSRC and the like all join hands to dish out some negative feedback and crappy news.
so here to that:
Oh well that's another rejection to look forward to tomorrow, then <hic>
Just popping on here (Hello all! How convivial to have found you!) to say just how much I
HATE HATE HATE HATE
the software programmes for uploading papers to journals. They hate me as well so the feeling is mutual. Turns a little job that should be a wonderful relief into the seventh circle of hell.
Obviously, I will celebrate by cracking open the marking.
Shit ERC application feedback.
Pour me a gin, someone.
hello all - I seem to have totally lost track of this thread - drowning in essays, papers, cuts, more cuts, etc etc. Things are Bad, Very Bad over here - slashing and burning our non-pay budget (e.g. everything other than salaries) - although I was on a job board elsewhere which was equally depressing. Every applicant who was not already REF-ready was cut off without a second glance (it was an entry level job) - so you end up with highly efficient but incredibly narrowly focussed people (who then of course move up through the ranks and endlessly perpetuate management at the expense of intellectual enquiry). I certainly believe in accountability, and am happy to justify my existence, but I am starting to feel that the regulation of the system is utterly at odds with the primary purposes of the system - namely the production and dissemination of knowledge. Sigh. Time for bed.
This REF thing is now out of hand. How they expect social scientists to produce a top quality paper a year like clockwork is beyond me.
Ironically until now I have not been far off that with sole authored papers in top journals, but the ERC feedback just slagged the journals off. I mean, what the FECK is the point in having an internicine dispute about subjects and their relative status in the middle of someone's research funding feedback????? FECK OFF and READ BECHER you knobs.
comeonbishbosh - glad it's not just me. I hate those uploading gizmos too. The last one got returned to me 3 times because of some ambiguous instruction I had failed to decipher which would have taken 2 seconds to correct at their end but, no, I had to upload the whole blasted lot over and over.
<tentatively steps into the SCR with a bag of welcome doughnuts>
Er, hello, may I join you all? Just back from maternity leave. My department is somewhat lacking in women so I am rather pleased to see you all.
Is the room still open?
Do I need to like port to be allowed in or is a caffeine and green & blacks' addiction sufficient?
How do people working open plan manage? I've just moved into an open-plan office after 10 years of struggling with sharing a teeny tiny office with a fellow course director. Now how the hell am I supposed to deal with students in distress? Ask them to come back in a week after I've booked them a room through our antiquated system?
By the way I should be working on a rewrite of a grant application. Feel free to ignore the moan: it's what's known as a displacement activity.
Hello justagirl. I know, the open plan thing is bonkers and is representative of the parallel world space managers live in. Maybe we should send crying students to them instead.
<proffers feet so Peters can give foot rub>
<swigs from bottle of college port>
Oh glad to know I'm not on my own in the common room. At least here there is some sense of old fashioned values (I believe there's reading material out and about - did I tell you about us having to hide our books behind doors in cupboards because open bookcases are "messy" ).
I know I shouldn't complain, when I've got a job that I still love and find incredibly rewarding. On the other hand DH, who's a government employee, tells me I should be worrying: that this is the first creeping in of managerialism. Next step I'll have to clock in and out as he has to (and he's a professional, for god's sake).
Mind you, if I do clock in and out then I'll insist the clock covers time spent giving feedback on draft theses two days out of hospital post-op when I should have been signed off for three weeks, going to conferences over weekends, responding to students whilst on holiday (yes, I know I shouldn't) and so on. 50 hours a week, but not complaining. Really
I actually have to have a grid on my door with my comings and goings, such is the intrusion into my autonomy.
Hello everybody. Is this chat room still going? I have just been turned down for two lectureships in what felt like BRUTAL terms. Would so welcome somewhere to chat about the trials and tribulations of establishing (or maintaining) an academic career!
I'm up for a chat as trying to get back into academic life. Doing well on short term contracts in quite an up and coming area. Hate public speaking though so have to get to grips with that if want to progress
Hello googlenut, thanks for joining. I can just about deal with the public speaking (if it's not job interview paper presentations of which I've just done two and been comprehensively put in my place)! My biggest issue is networking with other academics. I am quite introverted and I don't feel at all confident about my research or my intelligence really (although I have published in several 4* journals) and I absolutely hate seeking to 'make connections' with people on a really instrumental basis. I just don't even really know how to do it. I'm also in a subject area which is going down a particular road and my research just doesn't seem to fit in. So this job feels really hard at the moment.
Networking I don't mind as find it quite interesting to see what other people are doing but don't like presenting and spend too much time worrying before it. Everyone else looks so confident!!
This sounds terrible, but its rather nice to hear other academics feeling the same way I do. I work in a male dominated discipline, in a male dominated sub-discipline, where all my colleagues have wives to look after their children. Their idea of childcare problems is having look after their offspring on a Saturday for an hour when they rush off to the supermarket.
REF is killing me, and the whole system I fear. I dread going to a job I use to love. It's terrible really. But at least we're all in it together!
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