In order to improve your job prospects one of the vital things is to publish publish publish. This is true in academic life in all fields all across the world. But is it possible to do this if you have a job which is very teaching-heavy? How do you fit in the research, thinking and writing needed to complete a book if you are spending seemingly every waking hour either teaching or preparing to teach?
In an article in this week’s Chronicle Jonathan Malesic explores the problems faced by those who do an awful lot of teaching but still have pressure on them to publish. He had to think about the topic of his book and choose something that wouldn’t require a lot of visits to archives away from home. He didn’t need to pursue the most prestigious publishers and in fact found that smaller publishers are often better at marketing unusual books.
The biggest problem was one of time. How do you arrange your week so that you get some research or writing done? Jonathan found that if he fitted in some research at the start of the week when he was fresh, he was able to do a bit every day. I have tried doing it the other way round, giving over as many Fridays as possible to my book. However, realistically, this term I have been spending barely one in two Fridays on my writing, so perhaps my strategy isn’t the wisest!
As Jonathan emphasizes, the summer is the key to people like him and me. That time when you can really get stuck into research, when other commitments are minimal and visits to libraries and archives are possible again. Of course this may differ depending on your own circumstances, eg having school aged children at home for the holidays, but for most academics the summer months represent a promised land of extensive research time.
What else can you do? Applying for internally and externally funded leave is a possibility, as is taking sabbatical time if you have been at your institution for a while. But these schemes are often extremely competitive and you have to plan in case those options don’t come off. So, it is possible to do research and writing with a heavy teaching load, but you need to be very well-organized to do it!