Academic common room
PhD done but I hate writing papers!
MsAnnFrope · 27/10/2020 11:13
What can I do??
I completed a funded PhD in social sciences and have worked as an RA in various posts. So I have some publications. I love presenting at conferences and doing the actual research, I will happily write you a summary report but I loathe with the fire of a thousand suns writing papers.
I now working as a researcher in alt-ac so far less pressure to publish (but still some and I hate it). A couple of posts have come up back in University research and I should probably go for them as I've had a shitty time at work due to my line manager lately.
i feel like I'm at a crossroads. I feel morally like i should pursue academia but I'm just not sure im cut out for it??
peakotter · 27/10/2020 21:31
I feel your pain! I hate writing papers with a passion, and it was half the reason that I quit academia. It was impossible to progress in my field without lots of repetitive papers in set styles.
I have friends who have become researchers for companies, where they primarily write reports rather than churning out papers. Would that work in your field?
I do know senior academics who don’t write papers themselves, and are just second author on loads of papers, but it takes a long time to get there in my field.
Poppingnostopping · 28/10/2020 10:41
I don't think morality comes into job choice- it's extremely hard to get a permanent academic job so it's really worth thinking through whether you really want that, another post-doc won't solve that problem I don't think.
It also depends what you mean by hating writing papers- I don't much enjoy writing most of the time and I do put it off and procrastinate and I don't know anyone who does love it (bar one person) but it doesn't stop me getting on and publishing and feeling satisfied when I do. It's not awful enough to stop me wanting an academic career for sure.
I think this is a decision not just about where to jump next, but whether to jump out of academia, and what your chances are of translating another RA/post-doc into a longer term career. As the poster above said, if you like report writing, your skills will be in demand in social research/government.
mindutopia · 28/10/2020 12:55
Honestly, I don't really think anyone likes writing papers. I think it's the price you have to pay to work your way up. You do more supervising and editing of papers once you get higher on the totem pole, if you are happy to pay your dues.
DrDiva · 28/10/2020 12:59
Are there any other ways of disseminating research that your place of work would be happy with? I don’t know the social sciences so well, but for example, we use the peer-reviewed section of researchcatalog.net for artistic research, which gives many ways of uploading practical elements along with the written components.
MsAnnFrope · 28/10/2020 14:00
This is all such helpful advice, thank you for taking the time to reply.
I do lots of report writing in my current role which is essentially social research in the third sector. But I really miss the intellectual freedom I had as a university researcher.
I’ve been juggling a lot with multiple jobs and childcare- when I have time to write up my research I do enjoy it.
@Poppingnostopping you are totally right that this is part of a broader career question. I have worked in public engagement and research management before my PhD. I wonder if I’m a serial mover of jobs(there should be a word for this - dilettante??) and I don’t want to look flaky!
MedSchoolRat · 28/10/2020 20:01
Gosh, that's revelatory. Now I understand SAS...
I find writing articles easy -- or easy enough, anyway.
I'd say proper data crunching is my favourite actual task, but writing is fine.
Public speaking I loathe & that certainly includes lecturing. I dread any kind of formal teaching. I don't enjoy supervision. Grant writing is a particular low. I don't know how I feel about general admin. Editing is ok, but editing a badly written article can be bit soul-destroying.
I do believe you have many possible paths to choose from, OP, especially if you actually like talking to people.
MsAnnFrope · 28/10/2020 21:26
@MedSchoolRat combined we would be grand! I love working with people, teaching etc I’m even happy to review papers
Poppingnostopping · 28/10/2020 22:32
I might be off the mark here, but another way to think about this is- if you weren't juggling jobs and children, would you like writing more? It's easier when you are a bit stretched because of your home life to find admin or teaching easier, it's fun to get away from everything and present, and it's easier to mark or do admin than it is to really do that intellectual hard work that goes with (some) writing. I found that I didn't get my writing mojo back until the children were older and able to fend for themselves a lot more, so I started to get unbroken time, not just the odd hour here and there to write. I don't have to write all the time, I'm in social science and the current emphasis is on quality, not quantity- that can be hard to achieve when in the maelstrom of work and family life. It does get easier though.
MsAnnFrope · 29/10/2020 08:10
Yes @Poppingnostopping I think you are probably quite accurate there. I enjoyed writing my thesis despite the side jobs and baby raising because I carved out time to do it. I’d take whole weekends away to write occasionally but that’s not really practical to do. I’d love to be one of those people who can write an hour a day and get good work done!
Teenageromance · 06/11/2020 07:49
I think writing is a necessary part of the job and most people don’t love the process. I found it a hugely disappointing task though and v time wasteful if you have to reformat for several journals if resubmitting. The payback of the little thrill when published wasn’t enough for me. It was something I was so pleased to leave behind when I moved into a different field away from academia.
MsAnnFrope · 06/11/2020 15:56
@Teenageromance oh gosh yes, the multiple submission he’ll! what field did you move to if it’s not too outing to say?
I was chatting to my old head of department about having been out of a university for a year and they told me the most important things was to keep publishing. And my heart sank...
Teenageromance · 06/11/2020 18:46
More a professional services role but better paid and still very intellectually challenging - in fact more so than a previously pure research role. Absolutely love it and I think there are many roles in universities which are fab but without all the unpaid soulless work of academia.
MsAnnFrope · 06/11/2020 19:33
I work in a couple of universities in PS prior to going back to do my PhD. My PhD felt like unfinished business but now it’s done I’m not sure it was the right move. I’ve been a student/teaching/researching for 9 years now and feel like my options have closed down not opened!
Teenageromance · 06/11/2020 20:48
Definitely think pure research role is a bit of a dead end role - poorly paid and loads of out of hours work to stay on top. Don’t regret the move for one minute - only regret is should have moved sooner.
MsAnnFrope · 07/11/2020 13:48
This may be outing but before I worked in research management and in a widening participation/external links role. I wonder if it’s been too long since I did that to go back? I’m nowhere near as au fait with the research funding landscape as I was. I feel a bit Jack of all trades and master of none! @Teenageromance do you have any tips on transferable skills for ps roles now? I’m tempted to do a project management qualification as I like short finite projects!
Teenageromance · 07/11/2020 19:58
Ask around and see what roles appeal to you. Ask to go and shadow those that interest you. That puts you on peoples radar. It’s a big plus if a vacancy comes up as they have met you and can see if you gel with the team. Also you will be able to see if it fits your skill set. This is harder to do if you are not in the university system but not impossible.
MsAnnFrope · 07/11/2020 20:40
Thanks for the advice @Teenageromance I really appreciate it.
To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.