This is a guest post from Leslie Johns, an Assistant Professor of political science at UCLA.
The Public Choice Society---an academic organization of scholars who study the interaction of politics and economics---recently announced that it has created a new award for scholarly research: the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Prize. The announcement of this prize is provoking an intense reaction because of its name: “The Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Prize”?
Elinor Ostrom was well-known to political scientists, policy analysts, and economists. As a graduate student during the 1960s in the Political Science Department at UCLA, where I work, Ostrom overcame tremendous odds and blatant discrimination to earn her Ph.D. Her reward for this work was being offered a job as a secretary. After decades of climbing the academic ladder and publishing path-breaking scholarship on the regulation of shared resources, it seemed as though Ostrom had finally been recognized for her courage and intellect. Despite the fact that she never received a degree from or a faculty appointment in an economics department, Ostrom was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009. She was the first, and remains the only, woman to win this prize.
Josh’s post on his experience with course evaluations has gotten me thinking about the practice of using course evaluations. Because my personal circumstances differ from
As a grad student, I used to the think longingly about the day when I would finally hold a tenure-track job. I could almost taste the thrill of the teaching and the joy of faculty resources. You mean, someone will pay for my copy of [insert software you’d like to use legally]? And, textbooks will be free? I also fantasized about how wonderful it would be to not be under the thumb of my advisors. Of course, I thought I could live like a queen on a faculty salary, too. The tenure-track position was my white whale.
Three months into the job, however, I wanted to give my white whale back. Everything in my life seemed like a mess – my relationship with my SO was rocky, I hated teaching, I just knew I would never get anything published, and I felt like I had no time for anything fun, ever. I’ve talked to other first year professors over the years and I think this is a common position to be in during the first year on the tenure-track. And, like all the other loads of unsolicited advice I’ve doled out on the Duck, I thought that I’d spread the word about the “first-year” blues. Although everyone – EVERYONE! - I’ve ever met is so thankful for the tenure-track position, a lot of us feel the learning curve is pretty steep. Perhaps if I had had realistic expectations about what to expect that first year, I would have been better able to deal with all of the changes that come that first year.
There are some strategies I’ve heard for improving your transition from grad student to professor. Here are a few of them. Michael Flynn, a current first-year professor at Kansas State University was extremely helpful in providing me comments on this post. His suggestions are also included below. Hopefully, others can leave their advice in the comments section.
As I was traveling back from APSA on Sunday, I completed all of the journal reviews that I had on my desk, ran some regressions for new projects, and then completed all the revisions my coauthors are requesting from me currently. With the remaining few hours I had on the flight, I noticed a Cosmo magazine in the seat-pocket next to me and quickly went to work finding out what kind of female I am and how much I really know about Beyonce. The quizzes got me thinking: we don’t have a lot of personality quizzes for us as academics but – based on my participant observations at this past APSA - we really need some.
Greetings, PhD Class of 2019. Welcome. We are excited for your arrival on campus later this summer. As you enjoy your summer, I thought I’d take this opportunity to write you with some advice for your next adventure. My comments are just based on my personal experiences but I thought maybe they would be of use to you as you start your PhD.
My first set of comments all revolve around one basic point: this isn’t an extension of undergrad. The early course work you do in preparation for your PhD should be thought of as something completely different from your past experiences. Even though the campus might look like your undergrad institution, even though there might be a football team and drink specials on Thursday nights – your days as a high-achieving undergrad are over. For some of you, you might be 10 or 20 years post-undergrad. You might have multiple master’s degrees and real-world experience. For others, you might have graduated just this summer. For everyone, however, graduate school - at this program – is just beginning. There are going to be lots of differences from your past experiences. Let me highlight a few:
As a junior faculty member, I am not in a position to turn down advice. Fortunately, I receive good advice from mentors, colleagues, and friends. I am very thankful. Lately, I have also been getting advice from a few organizations for faculty development. They provide free tips on writing and productivity, navigating the job market, and balancing responsibilities as well as seek to debunk some of the myths about success in the academia. On average, their advice has been fairly useful (I have not signed up for paid services, and I certainly do not have a representative sample here).
But based on my experience, I take issue with the advice industry’s focus on mistakes. A laundry of list of mistakes junior faculty must avoid seems ubiquitous: taking on service, supervising theses, investing too much into your current institution, working on multiple projects at once, not eating healthy, not seeking out mentors, not having work-life balance... Avoid these mistakes!
Academics are generally pretty lucky when it comes to parental leave- at least on paper. Many universities provide more leave than the minimum required by governments (so more than nothing in the US), yet there are several aspects of our careers that cause parental leave erosion. I should say from the outset that I had a generally supportive and positive experience while on leave last year, but I've also found several sources of leave erosion. *I acknowledge that there are many different types of parents taking parental leave, and I'm mainly drawing on my experience, or those of close friends in the field. I'd love to hear other experiences.
1. Pre-leave 'make up' work: This is a typical scenario: parents learn they are expecting, figure out when they are taking leave, and start working overtime to get 'extra' things done before the leave. In some ways this is understandable; it makes sense to want to wrap things up, tick things off a list etc before baby arrives. However, the idea that we need to work extra hard so that the parental leave doesn't 'put us behind' or give some kind of disadvantage places unrealistic expectations on parents. Doing more work before your leave also means you (and your colleagues) treat your parental leave as a reshuffling of work, rather than time away from work. This kind of extra stress is the last thing that parents-to-be need, especially since pregnancy can be really terrible. You might be flat on your back trying to hold down any type of sustenance rather than writing your opus in the 8th month- and that's ok. Parents don't need to 'earn' their leave- and working extra, taking on extra roles etc before baby arrives means you donate time to the university and treat the arrival of the baby as the 'finish line' rather than the starting gate.
2. Parental leave free labor: I blame sabbaticals for this. While on sabbatical staff that are 'away' are still expected to respond to emails (even if it is slowly) and somewhat maintain their visibility and roles in the department. But parental leave is, and should be, different: parents take it because they have a new baby, not because they are focusing more of their attention to one aspect of their job. Also, most parental leave involves a pay reduction- so from a purely economic sense, parents are not getting paid to do their job anymore, they are paid to be parents, on leave. But that's not reality. Most parents on leave end up responding to emails, doing copy edits on articles/books that are in the publication pipeline, writing reference letters, providing annual reports to funders, giving advice or feedback to grad students, and maybe even reviewing. These are tasks that one is almost obliged to do in order to sustain a minimum lifeline as an academic, but it is UNPAID LABOR.
I’m leaving for the Midwest Political Science Association conference this afternoon, a wonderful 3 days since I returned from ISA. I’m a little (*cough*) “conferenced-out” – it wasn’t a good idea to do both conferences so close to each other. I am excited, however, to see all the fabulous IO panels at Midwest.
As I finished up the last of my conference slides this morning, I was reflecting on the “conference-ese” we all use and what our phrases actually mean. To the untrained participant, the phrase might not get noticed. For the seasoned conference participant, however, it is obvious what the phrase really means. Let me translate some of these:
Long ago, Dan Drezner posted about the imposter syndrome. The basic idea is that many folks feel as if they will be found out, that there are other folks out there that are smarter, more informed and that one is just getting away with being less than that until eventually getting found out.
Almost exactly three years ago, Patrick Thaddeus Jackson blogged "Who’s Your Grand-Advisor? Crowdsourcing an IR lineage map" at the Duck. Patrick was searching for an academic family tree website with a focus on international relations:
This piece has been making waves in the academic world (for a much better set of recommendations, see this piece). It gets much attention because it both identifies a real problem and then suggests awful ways to handle it. The latter is easier to deal with quickly. However, first let me be clear--what I am talking about here are the letters that universities ask outside scholars to write as they evaluate candidates for tenure and/or promotion. The basic idea is that these letters serve two purposes (at least):
Editor's note: this is a guest post by Brian J. Phillips, of the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics.
What are the best International
As Jennifer Grose at Slate reported this morning, a paper by Wendy Stock and John Siegfried at the most recent AEA meetings, had some very
Dear Kansas Board of Regents,
Greetings. You probably don’t know me but I’ve been a long-time user of your services. I started my college career
When people lament about how broken academia is now (for example Higgs of Higgs-Boson), I am so tempted to generalize about the olden days:
Given the intricacies of our job and the cushy lifestyle most academics live in, it disconcerting when academics use improper and incorrect analogies to describe the intricacies of their job. The latest is the idea that drug cartels and academia are similar enterprises. While I understand the spirit of the idea, the basic assumptions are insensitive and damaging. They represent the the pondering of a privileged academic stuck in the ivory tower.
What does any faculty member REALLY want for the holidays? It’s not a Lexus, it’s not jewelry, it’s a brand new revise-and-resubmit (R&R) manuscript. It’s really all that is on my list every year. That and, of course, world peace.
How can one get an R&R manuscript? So far, I think R&R decisions are the result of the following four conditions: