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Any lecturers out there? RAE stress...!

(49 Posts)
Ellbell Wed 16-Mar-05 20:03:03

Hi there... Just had a fairly crappy day due to careless comments dropped by my boss about my record of publications. I am massively stressed about the RAE and am terrified that my record will let my colleagues down (we are in a very small unit). I heard that I got promoted today too, but these comments have pretty much ruined it for me. Just wondered if anyone else out there is feeling this...?

Aimsmum Wed 16-Mar-05 20:10:12

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miranda2 Wed 16-Mar-05 20:13:45

I'm not now, but i was before my career change to vicar, and I can sympathise! the thing is though, they obviously are happy with your performance and record or they wouldn't have promoted you, so don't worry about it. And remember everyone gets stressed about the RAE, so he was bound to be focusing on publications at the moment. The teaching assesment is also important though, and so is your allround performance which as I say they must be happy with. Congrats on the promotion, anyway!

tamum Wed 16-Mar-05 20:19:01

I am too, but I can't say I'm that bothered really. I just figure I'll have published plenty by the time they do the real one, and I also can't really see how much difference it will make. We are in a 5* at the moment, but I have colleagues in a 4 and they get just as much in the way of electricity, pens and paper as we do. Seeing as that is about the extent of the infrastructure it's not clear what we've got to lose really!

I don't know about your uni, but ours are deliberately trying to put the fear of god into people to try and get them to improve by 2007, so maybe that's where the comment came from. I agree with miranda, they can't think that badly of you if they've just promoted you

Ellbell Wed 16-Mar-05 20:19:19

Wow! I love mumsnet... I went out to put the kettle on and when I came back I already had two replies...

Aimsmum... It must be hell for you! All those stressy academics to deal with (ooops, that'll be me then ).

Miranda... What made you get out? Or was it just a vocation to be a vicar?

I know my boss is stressed about this too, it was just the way he managed to 'congratulate' me on my promotion in a way that made me feel about 2 inches tall. I love my job really, though... it's just a bit 'full on' at times.

Thanks again.


Ellbell Wed 16-Mar-05 20:23:24


I think you're right about them trying to put the fear of God into people. Was in a meeting yesterday where they were saying that if publications are not in proof by NOW then it'll be too late! For the end of 2007?

I'm in a 5* too, but we've had an almost complete personnel change (including me - I've been there 18 months) since the last RAE, so the overall research profile is going to be very different.

Thanks again for the support. I feel better already. In fact, I almost feel strong enough to open a bottle of wine to celebrate the promotion!

Aimsmum Wed 16-Mar-05 20:26:07

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Aimsmum Wed 16-Mar-05 20:28:21

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miranda2 Wed 16-Mar-05 20:37:43

Just a vocation to be a vicar! Still hanker after the academic life a bit -I'm hoping my old department will make me an honorary research fellow, just for the kudos and my self esteem really! I'm v.v.lucky in that my phd has just been published so I'm hoping to swing the RAE fear in my favour because if they make me an honorary fellow then they get to put it on their submission...

zebra Wed 16-Mar-05 20:37:48

I'm not a lecturer, but I am a Reseach Assistant. I reckon my contract is not being renewed partly because of me not working during 8 months last year (on maternity leave), and the RAE (and it's perceived that I cost as much 2 days/week as a junior person working full time... don't ask me where the £11k paypoint is on the scales!). Went to coffee with a junior lecturer colleague the other day & he waylaid a more senior lecturer. My colleague spent the whole time telling the senior lecturer how stressed out & demoralised everyone was about the RAE.

I think I'm glad my contract isn't being renewed, really.

We are a 5* department, too.

mightmove Wed 16-Mar-05 20:47:47

Interesting. I'm in a 4 department and spend too much time thinking that life would be so much better in a 5/5* one. In lots of ways I think it would. But RAE stress sounds as bad for those of you in 5* places. I would probably be under more pressure in a higher-achieving place--here they are just glad I have got my 4 items in the bag.

tamum Wed 16-Mar-05 20:48:20

I guess different subjects go at dfferent speeds in publishing terms, then. My most recent paper was accepted in late December, we had the proofs a few weeks ago, and it will be out in two weeks' time, so that's why I'm fairly laid-back about it all!

Sorry you're not getting renewed zebra. Blessing in disguise or not?

Ellbell Wed 16-Mar-05 22:24:56

Aimsmum. That's awful! I sit on a committee where the ONLY person who ever really knows what's what is ... well... you (or your equivalent), the person from the research support office. Grrrr on your behalf!

Zebra - sorry you are not being renewed. Where I work they are trying to cut jobs to plug a budget deficit at the moment, which is making people more nervous I suppose.

Miranda2 - they should make you an honorary fellow... it won't cost them anything and would be mutually beneficial, so why not? They might even invite you back to do the odd guest lecture, which would be fun!

I agree about different publication schedules in different subjects. I edit a journal and we tend to turn things around pretty quickly (a year to 18 months), but it can vary enormously. I am still waiting to see an article which I wrote in... wait for it... 1997! It was meant to be out for RAE2001...!

Good luck everyone.

OldieMum Wed 16-Mar-05 22:37:10

Oh, God. I turn to Mumsnet to forget about the RAE. I'm not looking too good on that front at the moment, due to a long maternity leave. I'm in a permanent job, but on a part-time contract now and nobody knows how part-time people will be treated in the next RAE.

Teaching is pretty much finished for the year and I will be trying to crank out some papers over the next few months. I hadn't heard anything about the need for proofs now - in fact my Head of Department has wangled an extra term of sabbatical leave for me next year, on top of the one I was due to have, in order to make it possible for me to get some more stuff out. I had been feeling pretty negative about my colleagues before she did this, but do feel more supported now.

A lot of staff will be off on leave next year, in fact, leaving a big hole in the teaching. I'm in a 5* department in a place with a lot of other 5* departments. Students paying high fees to do Master's programmes with us may end up feeling they have lost out to the RAE next year. The whole thing is a ridiculous, bean-counting bit of Stalinism, in my view and it is undermining both teaching and research.

katzguk Wed 16-Mar-05 22:37:22

i'm just starting out on the whole RAE thingy.

but being a lowly PDRA, its not quite as stressful

katzguk Wed 16-Mar-05 22:38:54

should add that i'm joint between two departments one 5* and one just a plain old 5!!

marialuisa Thu 17-Mar-05 10:44:38

Really surprised by those of you who reckon a 4 rated department is just as good an envt to work in as a 5*, my DH would definitely disagree. He is in a 4 dept at the moment having only worked in 5* depts previously and the difference has been huge (Thank God he has a new job in a 5* Dept).

In the 4 rated dept the average lecturer has 40 hours teaching a year, in the 5* it's 15 hours. The 5* rated department has research council funded and industrial sponsored PhD students who are GOOD, the 4 department takes on overseas PhD students who are simply not up to it and who generally take longer than 4 years to complete (to the point where the dept has so many students exceeding 4 years that it is now ineligible for studentships from some research councils).

At the 4 rated department they have to record every letter they send out, charging it to grant accounts where possible, there is a stationary allowance and once you've exceeded your allotted amount of paper you have to buy your own....

This is in a relatively rich Russell Group University. I also work in HE (at the centre) as an administrator, this Uni has an entire faculty where no dept is rated over a 4, we have a university wide early retirement policy to get rid of the daed wood that is strangling the departments. In the mean time those depts are basically "bums on seats" and some (e.g. Sociology) are being earmarked for closure-amalgamation.

It sounds as if many of you are in more Arts/Social Science based areas? DH is a scientist so journal articles are turned round in a matter of weeks (even for the US journals) so publications aren't a problem.

Have to say though that as an escaped academic the attitudes of some lecturers are truly crap and I think it ends up with "The centre" getting frustrated by a few people and then coming down heavy on everyone.

marialuisa Thu 17-Mar-05 10:45:22

PS: Katzguk are you at Sheffield? I start new job there on monday!

zebra Thu 17-Mar-05 12:24:54

Agree with what MLuisa said, I have worked in 5* and 4 depts. and there is no comparison. 4 was, er... (whispers) rubbish

You work in medicine, Tamum, publication times are very fast in your area, aren't they? I've been told already (by a reviewer on a paper I'm writing) it's too late to get things in for the RAE. I work in inter-disciplinary env./social science. Trying to juggle work with kids & baby who wakes up a lot at night with helping out with the school/preschool has been so knackering... if you don't go the lecturing route in academia, you have to be a fantasticly good researcher to make a career of it (and I admit, I am not that fantastic... ). There are rumours about the whole research centre I'm part of being closed down, but I don't know if they said that just to make me feel better. Will take time off for the kids, think about new careers.

ps: Im' quite poorly today, taking a sickie day, which is why I'm skiiving on MN!!

Ellbell Thu 17-Mar-05 12:35:46

Sorry for bringing the RAE into the safety of MN. I just REALLY needed to offload yesterday. Already feel better today. Completely agree with you on how it undermines teaching and research. Not to mention morale! Grrrr...

OldieMum Thu 17-Mar-05 13:15:55

The RAE also encourages horrible treatment of people dedicated to teaching. I'm sure marialouisa didn't mean to be offensive in her reference to "dead wood", but I have seen how soul-destroying it is for someone who has been a dedicated teacher to be sacked because they haven't jumped through the hoops on publications. This thread is making me feel sick, actually. Can we let it go?

Blackduck Thu 17-Mar-05 13:32:50

Dp is a lecturer, (in a 5* dept..) but luckily for him his contract is purely a teaching based one - so no research!! (Oh joy...) I really don't envy you guys, I know via him how pressurised it is...

katzguk Thu 17-Mar-05 13:35:59

maria - yep, how did you know?

Chandra Thu 17-Mar-05 13:53:38

Congratulations in your promotion Elbell. And about the RAE.... well I suppose that one year you may produce lots of writing and then the next one, if you have a lot of administrative responsabilities you really can't expect to be as a productive. DH works in a 5* department, he has not produced many publications this year as he has been busy with other things, but he was the one with most publications in high quality journals in the previous two years so I supose one year makes up for the other.

Now you may be wondering why I have asked you so many questions about supervisors in the past having an academic at home? well, I supose that because he is my husband! and also beause he is in a technological are and sure... he might be biased in convincing me to stay in the same University as he is .

Chandra Thu 17-Mar-05 14:21:14

I have found ML generalisation about "the 4 department takes on overseas PhD students who are simply not up to it and who generally take longer than 4 years to complete" highly unfair. I have been an international student in USA, Spain and here in UK, and to be honest international students came in a similar variety as local ones, you have good ones and bad ones, but normally the rule is that you only get bad ones if you accept them and I have seen some universities to be ready to accept less prepared international students in order to get the extra money they bring. But to say that overseas students are not up to it is really ofensive. In my personal experience many overseas students specially those with scholarsips are very well prepared, while in Spain I had to slow down/hide up my results for a while to avoid problems with my classmates who often complained about how fast I was getting results, the same complaint is the rule with many other overseas students. In the US most of us were in the dean's list and here in the UK... well I'm proud to say that out of the 20 students in my course (in a 5* department) only 2 graduated with distinction, an English girl and a Mexican (me, BTW)

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