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Academics Chat Thread

(598 Posts)
LRDtheFeministDragon Sat 02-Sep-17 22:32:08

I believe the old Chat thread has fallen off the front page of this section, and I thought it might be time to reinstate it. I know it's only sporadically useful, but sometimes it's nice, right?

I am a lowly postdoctoral English Lit type. Finished my PhD in 2014, teaching associate for a couple of years, and now part-time while DD is a baby. I'm currently working frantically to get my book manuscript to the publisher by my deadline (October), and also trying to regain enthusiasm for the job market.

Who else is lurking around here?

Hedgehoghogger Sat 02-Sep-17 22:49:43

Grumpily! We chatted years ago I think when we were in OTBT. No idea what my username was then. Had to keep changing through being too identifiable.

Tell us more about the book smile

LRDtheFeministDragon Sat 02-Sep-17 23:03:06

I expect we did! I've been here since very early in my PhD (which explains a lot about my PhD ...).

The book is, thank goodness, under contract, but I need to send the full manuscript in. It's been immensely easier to write than the PhD, so it's helped me stave off having to revise the PhD into publishable form.

I am in awe of you, though. To be a reader at 34 seems amazing to me.

user1494149444 Sun 03-Sep-17 08:44:46

Out of interest why is the book easier to write than the PhD? Is it more general, or something closer to your heart? Or does the fact there is no supervisor involved make you feel more free to write what you want?
I sometimes think my PhD would have been a much more fulfilling experience were it not for my genius supervisor, whose standards in retrospect were "world-class" rather than simply "PhD-class".
But then again, he did give me most of the good ideas, so it probably balanced itself out.

RenaissanceBunny Sun 03-Sep-17 08:50:54

Hey, A just submitted (Friday) PhD in French-English lit to a good uk uni. Looking at the job market as well and feeling the fear. I've no publications, no grants, but lots of conferences, and submitted in 2yr 11 mo. I'm lucky in that i've nothing to tie me down and no one to support but myself but I do wonder how realistic a career in academia is. Currently trying to find the enthusiasm to write a paper in the next couple of weeks, slightly based on thesis but also exploring new stuff. Good job on the book though LRD!

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 03-Sep-17 10:53:27

user - I suspect just because I've done it before, basically. I'm not constantly reinventing the wheel. Of course it helps that I was excited about the project, but I was excited about the PhD at the beginning. But you start your PhD with no idea of how to structure a piece of writing that long (or I did) and no idea of what will hold it together. I don't think it especially helped that I changed supervisors, and in retrospect my second supervisor, though great in lots of ways, wasn't especially interested in that subject or a specialist in it.

Then with the book, I was lecturing at the same time, so I got instant feedback on which arguments made sense and which didn't, and I found that really helpful.

renaissance - yay! Congratulations on submitting. smile I dunno how helpful my example is (as I'm now struggling to find a permanent job), but when I got my first job post-PhD, I had no publications or grants, and I had taken much longer to complete my PhD (4 years).

Summerswallow Sun 03-Sep-17 15:50:40

Happy to join in, one issue is that I also regularly name-change as I write quite frankly, then regret it and change name about three times a year!

I think your PhD feels personal in a way that no subsequent piece of writing does, I've found anyway. Harder to write as a consequence.

OldBooks Sun 03-Sep-17 15:56:00

Hello, giving a wave, persevering with a PhD despite a few of you lovely ladies agreeing (in a thread I started about it) that I was mad. Also working in HE in archives/rare books as name suggests.

GemmaB78 Sun 03-Sep-17 15:58:30

I'm an aspiring academic! Writing my MA dissertation now, with the intention of submitting a proposal for a PhD ready for September 2018. I will be 40. With a 3 year old. I must be mad!

Hedgehoghogger Sun 03-Sep-17 16:33:30

I think we've determined we're all mad 😉

OldBooks Sun 03-Sep-17 17:25:56

hedgehog gringrin

Deianira Sun 03-Sep-17 18:04:14

I'm still lurking (or, sporadically, posting!), and think another chat thread would be great, thanks LRD.

I'm in my current job for another year, but that's definitely final, so back on the hunt this year for what comes next. It's been a reasonably productive summer at least - got an article revised and resubmitted, wrote a review, and have started discussing publication of my thesis with a series editor - so at least I am hunting with some publications to talk about this time! I also have two other things which are waiting to be re-written, which it would be nice to get done soon. It's difficult balancing anything with all the teaching I'm doing - I hope that having some repeats this year will help, but am not hugely optimistic.

PiratePanda Sun 03-Sep-17 18:22:53

Saying hello smile

RG Senior Lecturer in humanities, with a forthcoming 12 month research fellowship to finally write my first monograph (I have done my career entirely backwards to date).

Please tell me off for feeling annoyed that I got the damned thing. I was awarded it at the very last minute, way past the point at which I had given up hope and had started planning my next research steps around other things. I'm not enjoying having to U-turn and revisit an idea I'd put behind me, nor the impending accountability that sent me round the bend last time I had a big grant.

But it's not exactly something you turn down, now, is it? And yes, I know I'm being super ungratful and VVU!

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 03-Sep-17 19:57:11

Well, admittedly half of me wants to reply 'ok then, send the funding over here'. grin But no, you're not really being unreasonable if you expected to hear much earlier and they've been slack with timing. I think one of the really stressful things about academia is the level of uncertainty.

giggleshizz Sun 03-Sep-17 21:00:34

GemmaB I am about to start my PhD. I'm 44 and a single parent to a 4 year old. I go from feeling mad to utter elation as this is a bit of a life ambition. I did my MA when DD was 2 and it nearly killed me. Tons of reading and couldn't fall behind or the reading just piled up. I nearly dropped out but persevered and so glad I did.

giggleshizz Sun 03-Sep-17 21:01:12

*didn't. I appear to have typing issues tonight.

purplepandas Sun 03-Sep-17 21:33:23

I seem to have disappeared off the face of the earth but checking back in. Starting to panic about teaching and just literally finished marking Masters dissertations today. More Masters stuff tomorrow before teaching prep starts.......

I have anticipatory anxiety about semester one, my teaching is v semester one heavy and I have a new module (50% mine).

user1494149444 Mon 04-Sep-17 08:30:49

@Pirate, well done on getting the funding. Does that mean no lecturing for 12 months?
If so, such short-notice is not only unfair to you, but to the department if it has to re-organise teaching.
Was it a case of the funding body finding a stash of cash down the back of the sofa which it had forgotten about.

PiratePanda Mon 04-Sep-17 09:11:24

@user1494149444 yep, no departmental lecturing or administration, and a nice opportunity for an early-career researcher to have a 12-month lecturing contract to cover my duties too.

It's the BA; by all accounts they have been appallingly disorganised this year. I've actually made them push the start date back to January because of the complete impossibility of handing over my duties at such short notice. It's almost like funding bodies don't know what academics actually do in their day jobs.

Sciences are worse though - my DH has to go to nearly a month's worth of scientific meetings abroad in the first month of term, because so much research gets done in institutes now, and not in universities, that organisers aren't even apparently aware that some of their delegates have teaching duties.

bigkidsdidit Mon 04-Sep-17 14:46:01

Hi everyone

I'm glad the chat has started up again! I'm a lecturer in biomedical sciences - ish. Well not really a lecturer - i don't teach much at all and am pure research contract.

I have a very prestigious RC fellowship for five years and two smaller grants. Still trying to get two more grants out this Autumn. Then full pelt for publication- I'm lacking this quite badly recently. I have three papers I need to get on with if I ever get the time! Three MSc project students starting this month won't help...

Yogafire Mon 04-Sep-17 21:11:41

Hiya I was on the last chat thread, or the last section of it. SL at an RG uni but feel quite behind having taken 3 mat leaves. I sympathise with the fellowship thing. I got an award for something I wasn't that passionate about (I applied because it was a new award so higher chance of success and the pressure was on to get funding).

I'm also trying to finish a monograph. Deadline extended to Dec but hope to finish in Oct - with you LRD

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 05-Sep-17 10:29:32

Hi big. Nice to 'see' you. smile

yoga - good luck! We can give each other the occasional kick, perhaps?

pandas, I hope your prep went well.

Hi giggle. What's your PhD on?

I got to the library yesterday (yay me) and the baby let me work (double yay). Let's see if I can get this article kicked into rough draft form by the end of today ...

Godstopper Tue 05-Sep-17 18:05:55

It's strange how things change. A year ago, I wouldn't have envisaged leaving academia, but now I have one foot out of the door and my mental health is improving.

I applied for three teaching jobs this year (that's all that's available) and got two interviews. Unfortunately, both were via Skype, and one in particular was a catalogue of technical errors. Then the job descriptions fundamentally changed, and I realised I couldn't realistically take either job anyway. First time I've ever been relieved to be rejected!

Meanwhile, a project is underway with an invited paper (if the journal accepts the proposed special issue), one paper to revise, and co-authoring one or two others. In short, I'll be doing what I should have done last year until full-time teaching took over.

But ... I'll be doing it on my own terms. No way am I working at a pace dictated by someone else since I'm officially unemployed (though it'll change if we secure funding). I've just had enough of the demands academia makes on my mental health, and if I am slower than others, then so be it. Around that, I am also looking into setting up a small business of my own to bring in a part-time income.

My dept. hired five teaching fellows this year (I was one last year but decided not to re-apply once I saw the crazy teaching load). Several of those people had 10 + publications and multiple postdocs. Now they find themselves taking a temporary teaching post? These people should be applying for lectureships, except there are none - well, perhaps 5-10 in the whole of the U.K over the past year in my area, and they tend to ask for specialisms.

So this is what my discipline has come to: very talented people exploited on temporary teaching contracts with, realistically, little prospects of securing a permanent post. And, of course, people like me just starting out can't compete with these. It's also pretty bad for students, but that's another issue.

This is why I've got one foot our of the door, but I'm not abandoning the subject. I'm just doing things on my terms from now on. It feels disconcerting having been immersed in academia for so long (but therein is a large part of the problem because too many don't really see, or choose not to see, the issues), but mainly, I'm relieved and optimistic. The teaching job gave me the confidence to pursue other things, and if the research project leads to something else, then great. But if not, that's o.k too smile

bigkidsdidit Wed 06-Sep-17 11:59:59

That sounds really positive, God ( grin )

I have realised my post above makes it sounds like I'm skipping in fields with everything going wonderfully. It's not really - the pressure to publish is so high. I've been informally told we won't pass a review to get a lectureship without 3 4* papers as senior author. My review is in 3 years. I feel it all day, every day

sammySammyA Wed 06-Sep-17 12:44:47

3, 4* papers for a lectureship review?! Surely either their internal expectations are wildly unrealistic, or they're massively over scoring in their internal exercises.

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