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Rehab for (recovering) academics.
pic#111812164 bunsen burner
Originally posted by energyresearch at Why did I bother with this PhD journey?

Whilst there were no illusions of a research career equating to limitless wealth, it is profoundly depressing to read further confirmation that the market value of research skills is less than £ 30k, with the added luxury of a fixed term duration of barely a year:

BioenNW Interreg IVB Research Associate for Pyrolysis Systems – Pyrofabs
Project Manager (2 Posts) Engineering & Applied ScienceSalary: £27,057
to £28,972 Contract Type: Fixed Term (until 30 September 2015) Basis:
Full Time Closing Date: Sunday 17 August 2014 Interview Date: To be
confirmed Reference: R140233

The European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) is seeking to appoint
two Research Associates with a strong experimental background and track
of independent research to work on the thermal processes for biomass
conversion. You will join a world-renowned European Bioenergy Research
Institute and will be working at the cutting edge of interdisciplinary
research problems and industrial applications. The EBRI has developed an
innovative new bioenergy technology that increases the efficiency of
anaerobic digestion by up to 25%. You will be involved in performing the
start-up and preliminary tests of the pyrolysis mobile testing units –
Pyrofabs, in EBRI, and then move to reside in the countries where the
Pyrofabs are to be allocated; liaising with the different project
partners to provide them with the specifications of resources needed for
the demonstration tests; producing a procedure on how to obtain results
from the mass balance calculations and sample analysis; providing
technical advice and facilitate training of BioenNW partner staff on how
to operate the Pyrofabs; producing a Risk Assessment and Safe Operating
Procedure of the Pyrofabs; facilitating the procurement of feedstocks;
organising samples analysis, liaising with external laboratories. The
role will require travelling extensively across Europe between January
and June 2015

You will be a highly a motivated researcher with a proven track record
in delivering solutions for the continued research into pyrolysis
systems. In addition you should have proven expertise in independent
development and designing of specialised equipment and new laboratory
techniques and methodologies whilst having the ability to conduct
independent research and to supervise research staff. Experience of
managing research projects is essential.

You should have a PhD or a similar degree with a strong focus on thermal
processes for biomass conversion.

(source: Jobs at Aston).

7th-Jul-2014 12:53 pm - UK university staff tenure rates
pic#111812164 bunsen burner

A UK higher education agency has published the rates of both open and fixed term staff (the ten most extreme values shown)

The UK average rate of open contracts at UK universities is about 35 %; how does this compare internationally?

4th-Jun-2014 04:20 pm - why and how to collaborate? HELP
Hi All. I have a new, permanent post at a university, and I'm confused about the process of academia, particularly collaborations. What are collaborations FOR and how do I initiate them and get the most out of them? I'm often at a loss when meeting and talking to people who could be potential collaborators. What to say and what to do as a result? I may well sound clueless. I've got this far through hard work and good luck, but I don't think I can sustain this without playing the game better. I love you all, thankyou.
20th-May-2014 11:17 am - Summer Academic Working Groups 2014
Summer Academic Working Groups are now forming for the 2014 season. Working groups are clusters of scholars working in related fields or on related topics who agree to exchange work in progress and feedback on a regular basis during the unstructured summer months. Participants often find that the deadlines provided by such a group are at least as valuable to their summer productivity as the feedback itself.

Participation is open to academics of all levels and disciplines, and there is no charge to participate. More information and the registration form are available at The deadline for first-round clusters is Friday, 30 June, with initial postings due Wednesday, 4 June.

Please feel free to circulate this announcement widely. 2013 participants will also receive an email with this information.
12th-May-2014 11:28 am - Transcribing research interviews
Hi Everyone,

I checked the tags and poked around the site (which I've been watching for a long time), but didn't find anything on this topic, so here goes; hope it's not repetitive.

My experience hiring transcriptionists for my master's researchCollapse )

Since then, however, freelancer-finding sites seem to have proliferated exponentially, and I'm having a hard time figuring out if any are discernibly better or worse or more or less legit than others. I also really feel like I got lucky with my transcriptionist last time, and that things could very easily have gone poorly. So I'm wondering if anyone has had luck with a particular site or service, or has any words of warning based on his or her experience hiring a transcriptionist, or has any other ideas about ways to do this.

Thanks in advance!
5th-May-2014 12:02 pm - Further academic revolution
pic#111812164 bunsen burner

Further to an earlier post, temporary academic professors continue to revolt in order to improve relatively poor working conditions.

Since it has been stated before that the situation of temporary academic staff is not "new" news(!), why is the media becoming more aware now of this scenario?

26th-Apr-2014 09:30 am - Peer review etiquette
During the peer review process, how much revision can be done?

One of my papers is at the 2nd-review stage and the journal's stated that if we don't satisfy the reviewers this time around our paper will be rejected. I'm making the changes that were requested about 'my' sections of the paper and I trust my co-author to do the same for 'her' sections. But here's the awkward bit. For 'my' sections (the stats) I asked advice from a friend who's better at stats than I am. He's given good advice and my own thoughts have moved on, after mulling over the reviewers' comments. My friend also gave advice about other aspects of the paper. Aspects which don't seem to have bothered the reviewers at all.

My friend (who happens to be one of the people who turned me onto R, years ago) gave good advice. I'll use it next time I write a paper. But I'm not at all sure we should make changes at this stage, beyond the reviewers' comments. Would you?
20th-Apr-2014 11:22 am - Walmartisation of academia
pic#111812164 bunsen burner

This post published in 'Hightower lowdown' about the "Walmartisation" of the aspiring academic made for a rather depressing read. Has the state of American academia already spread to other parts of the world? Would unionisation help, or is it merely a minor delay to the inevitable?

Maybe I should abandon the increasingly unrealistic dream...

For those curious, this post was encountered in the 'Diaspora' network; see here

13th-Apr-2014 01:51 pm - Refusal to be a referee?
Hello again, anonymous academics.
Further to my previous post I've just had a rather confusing reply from one of my ex-supervisors. My email to them said "On a separate note, I'm now in the final few months of my post-doc here at Western so I'm starting to look for a new job, ideally one which includes some teaching/lecturing. Are you both happy to be named as referees in any applications I send out?"
Her reply says "Regarding your application, I am afraid I cannot be your referee on this one as I am already the referee for someone else. Good luck!"

Now, either she's misunderstood what I've said, thinks I'm referring to one specific job opening, and feels there's a conflict of interest (seems unlikely, where would she have got that?), or she's refusing to be a referee for me at all, without explaining why (rather out of character; she's usually fairly upfront if she thinks there's a problem, and she hasn't mentioned anything being amiss).

So I need to reply asking her to clarify whether she's unable to be a referee for one particular position, or whether she would prefer not to be named as a referee at all. What's the most tactful but clear way of wording that?
11th-Apr-2014 12:11 pm - Reference etiquette
AA-ers, some advice please. I finished my PhD 18 months ago, and am now in a post-doc research position, but since it ends in six months, I'm job-hunting. I've found a couple of positions to apply for, and hopefully there will be more, but the first two close next week. My current boss has said he's happy to be a referee for me, and I am assuming that my PhD supervisors will too, as they were referees for me last time round. However, I've emailed them to check that that's OK, and so far I have had no response. Apparently they are both quite busy at the moment. One of them tends to respond to email immediately or not at all; once it's off his front page it's forgotten. The other often doesn't read past the initial part of an email, and if it doesn't immediately interest her, she doesn't get any further, and as the email I sent had some other stuff at the beginning, I'm not entirely hopeful that I'll get a response from her either.
So, do I wait and hope, drop them another line getting straight to the point and hoping for a quick response, or send in the applications and let them know they are referees, on the assumption that they'll be fine with it?
25th-Mar-2014 01:41 am - Fun with reviews
Oh no!
I just got some scathing reviews.  Essentially, I had two primate parasitologists fling feces at me.  In a few days, I will be perky enough to start crafting my much more professional, yet even more scathing replies.  In the meantime, I could use some cheering up.  I'll take any stupid reviewer joke you'd care to offer.
24th-Mar-2014 05:42 pm - Using the Wrong Title
Box Dude
A group of us from grad school got together recently to catch up.  In the course of discussions it came to our attention that one of our former classmates was using the wrong title.  This person introduced themselves as professor at a big city community college.  We all were relatively familiar with the college so we knew this particular community college employed a lot of adjuncts but only awards full-time faculty the title of professor or instructor.  The adjuncts are all referred to as adjunct professor or adjunct instructor. Because we were familiar with the college we also knew that this department only has 2 full-time faculty and that the competition to get those slots, when they open up, is fierce. A casual conversation with a mutual friend in the department quickly determined that the person I know from grad school is not a professor, but is an adjunct.  Normally I'd chalk this up mishearing the conversation or something, however they printed their own business cards and have their own website that clearly says "Professor [FirstName LastName] at [Big City] Community College."

Several of us have attempted to point out that it's not cool to misuse a title in this way and that it's a good way to start drama in their department.  This person insists that "it's no big deal" and "everyone does it".  

So, academics_anon, is this a big deal?  What would happen if someone did the same in your department?

[Something similar happened at my university and the department head required all of the incorrect business cards be destroyed. That person didn't have a website but they did get quite a bit of grief (they were staff, not faculty).]
17th-Jan-2014 10:46 am - TT applying for TT jobs
I'm a first year assistant professor in a social science field at X second-tier state research university. My job is okay, but the town I live in totally sucks and my colleagues aren't near enough to my subfield or research interests to be stimulating -- basically, I'm the token X studies person. So, I'm on the market again this year. The perfect job, pretty much tailored for me, has come up at the first tier  R1 in the same state. I'd have amazing colleagues there. One of my mentors is on the committee and the department is recruiting me pretty keenly. I got invited to campus.

Meanwhile, my current department specifically hired me to build institutional collaborations with the R1 and my mentor. Now that the R1 is hiring, there's a lot of speculation in my current department about whether I'm applying for it and some anxiety about me leaving. I'd really like advice on how to handle this. Right now the practical question is, do I tell my current Chair I was invited to campus? Is it fair to ask the hiring department to keep my name off Facebook/twitter/website when they're publicizing my talk? Or should I be above board and anticipate the inevitable gossip machine by being open about going on the market, and risk having to stay in a department where people don't trust me/disapprove of me because I'm not excited about staying?

I'd like some advice on the general etiquette of applying for TT positions once you're already on the tenure-track, too.

(By the way this is a burner account, for obvious reasons.)
7th-Jan-2014 01:07 pm(Weak! No subject.)
purple porcupine
Yay! I have a Skype interview on Thursday, with Big State U where my husband is currently tenure-track! The second-best possible outcome! (After both of us getting offers in a city we'd rather live in, which... is not happening.)

Obviously, the main reason I'm interested in Big State U is because it solves my two-body problem. Obviously, when they ask why I'm interested in Big State U I'm not going to say that.

But they will probably ask me why I'm living in this city while finishing my PhD for Private U 250 miles away. And they definitely know I'm living here, because I taught as an adjunct for them this fall (one of the classes that I know this position would be teaching, so that's good, and it's something I definitely want to talk about in the interview).

When they ask that, there's pretty much no getting around mentioning that my husband is a professor at Big State U. How bad or good is this?

As far as I can tell, BSU has no particular spousal hiring policy, and these departments are in different colleges so administratively there is little incentive for spousal hires. So on the one hand, I'm worried this will give away the fact that this is the main reason I'm interested in BSU and kill my chances. On the other hand, they'll know I'm extremely likely to take the job if offered.

Is there an optimal way to word/handle this to minimize potential damage?
27th-Dec-2013 01:55 pm - Rant
I am writing grant proposals.
Actually, I am delaying writing grant proposals because I am working on a book, that's far more interesting, career prospects be damned.
But the knowledge of the looming deadlines adds to the X-mas blues, so here goes...

We scientists slavishly write grant proposals begging for amounts of money some people spend in a few days.

The said grant money provided by the governments to the scientists is spent in two ways. One, salaries of students and postdocs, whom we train. Most of them will go into industry.

Two, equipment and consumables (chemicals etc.), that are purchased from profit-seeking industrial entities.

Ergo, scientific enterprise is yet another channel via which money flows from the taxpayer to deep pockets of  the executives businesses.
30th-Nov-2013 12:43 pm - Useful smartphone apps?
Hi everyone,
  Out of curiosity, what (scientifically/professionally/academically useful) apps do you learned people have installed on your smartphones? :)
I am in hard sciences, but I am curious to hear from other branches of human endeavor, as well.

19th-Nov-2013 12:04 am - undergraduate journals
apollo and daphne
So -- what does everyone think about undergraduate "journals," and the like? The whole concept strikes me as awful. Is it actually bad for a student to "publish" in such a journal, though, or is it neutral, or even a positive mark of enthusiasm, in your judgment?

EDIT: I'm really interested in what those of you who have served on admissions committees in the humanities think about students who have "published" their writing sample vs. one who has not. It seems that you all view it as a good thing?

Question two, then: what would you think about a candidate for a job, say, whose crappy undergrad student work you discover on googling for them? Do people pass it over as cute juvenilia? But I'm sure there are people who would hold it against the candidate, subconsciously or otherwise. (This is what kept me from even thinking seriously about trying to "publish" my undergraduate thesis, say, back in the day.)

Background: The faculty in my department strongly believe that graduate students are well served by having one publication (in a real journal, obviously), but that even that isn't obligatory, when going on the market. The main thing is to have a good dissertation (minor thing, that). Some of them have been known to say things like "graduate student conferences are a complete waste of time." So they are very "old school" in that regard. Yet my university (including this department) seems to have a strong culture of undergraduate journals. Some of my former students are involved in one of them, and another was considering submission. The concept seemed awful to me because I feel like those students should be developing their academic skills or broadening their horizons instead of playing at "professionalization," but clearly this is a minority view in this community. So thanks for your input -- I can give less snarky advice in the future.

EDIT 2: Thanks to everyone who commented!
purple porcupine
It's job app season! Woohoo! So much fun! Yay!

And I've come to an app that I'm unsure what direction to take on: I am applying to department where I got my undergrad degree. Since then, my training has taken me in quite different directions, theoretically and methodologically, from the department's standard operating procedures. I've learned a lot about sides of our field that I wasn't exposed to as an undergrad. But I see some really interesting connections between what I do and what some their recent (ish, since I graduated over a decade ago at least) hires do, even if we approach it in different ways, so I think I have a decent argument for my work fitting into the dept even if I would also be bringing in some very different views and approaches.

The question is, do I mention my history with the dept in my cover letter? Obviously, it's going to be on my CV. My husband (a TT prof) thinks no, due to many depts' (including this one) rules, spoken or not, about not hiring their own grad students. He thinks that that attitude might also spill over into undergrads and it would only be to my disadvantage to mention that I went there in my cover letter. Yet I'm having a bit of a hard time formulating how to discuss how my work fits in without at all mentioning my knowledge of the department that comes from, y'know, five years of taking their classes and working in their labs and such. It seems like the fact that I know this dept better than someone who just browsed the web page is a good thing, right?

So. I'm applying. It's on my CV. Do I mention it in the cover letter as well, or hope they don't even notice it on the CV?
14th-Nov-2013 02:26 pm - Mistaken identity
cloud chamber
As a young-ish new assistant prof, I keep getting asked if I'm a new grad student. I don't think I should care. But maybe I should spend more time on my hair and wear power suits instead of the usual professor-casual like everyone else? Maybe wear badges on my brownie sash that indicate "I have a PhD" and "I am an Assistant Professor?"

Does this happen to you? Do you care? 
26th-Oct-2013 04:46 pm - open access week World Bank video
pic#111812164 bunsen burner
Originally posted by energyresearch at open access week World Bank video

Have realised that the World Bank seminar event mentioned in my previous post is now accessible (but wasn't available live). Very interesting and thought-provoking. As the finalists of the ASAP commented, getting tenure assessment committees to recognise the extra work required to evaluate open access publishing remains a key barrier to growth in OA.

Off-topic, was impressed that the videos made use of the open source software; this is probably the first time that a non-geek institution has made extensive use of the WebM format (via 'Kaltura', it seems according to the web page source code) to deliver multi-media content. Well done, World Bank!

pic#111812164 bunsen burner

By definition, this post-doc survey may not be directly of interest to tenured academics, but each department is bound to have at one post-doc wondering "what next?".

Having just returned from a post-doc position in South Africa, this survey could equally have been global, not only Canada. Don't see the situation changing which is primarily beneficial to incumbents.

7th-Oct-2013 02:56 pm - the precariat
pic#111812164 bunsen burner

University world news has published a very thoughtful article about the rise of the "precariat". It seems a very accurate portrayal of the state of academia globally, but the question remains, are senior academics prepared to resist these changes? Who else can do so?

28th-Sep-2013 02:36 pm - Checking for plagiarism
Following on from a recent thread on this comm, I wonder what you lovely people do to check for plagiarism. I mark students' work, and I'll be doing more of it now that I'm studying for a teaching qualification. A year from now, if all goes to plan I'll add AFHEA to the alphabet soup after my name. I already teach undergrads and Masters students; soon I'll be teaching A levels too.

My University requires everything that's electronic to go through Turnitin. So far, that app hasn't spotted any plagiarism in the work I've marked. I once spotted a possible case - an essay that changed styles halfway through - and reported it. The buck didn't stop with me, at that time, but in the future it will stop with me. Thoughts?
helpless, alone, depressed, afraid, sad
I've been making a living writing essays for undergrads who couldn't write their own essays. They couldn't write them for one of three basic reasons, as far as I have been able to tell:
1) they were lazy
2) they were rich
3) they were dumb (i.e. not in the pejorative sense of 'stupid' but simply they couldn't express themselves proper)

From category 1, I had about (I estimate here, as I do in all following categories) 15%, category 2 was 60%, and category 3 was 25%.

Should I feel like shit for doing this for so long? Sound off, please....
4th-Sep-2013 08:03 pm - Burning grammatical question
cloud chamber
Jane Doe is Assistant Professor of X at Y.


Jane Doe is an Assistant Professor of X at Y.

2nd-Sep-2013 08:51 pm - Howdy
Frida: Eyebrows In Flight
Hi there. I'm an instructor of English at a community college on a "full time temporary" basis. I've been with this school since 2010. I've been playing with an "ivory tower" group on another social networking site and thought it might be fun to see what LJ had to offer on a similar front. Yep. That about wraps it up for now, I'm looking forward to seeing what the group is all about.
1st-Sep-2013 05:59 pm - Wanted: Feminist Artwork
Hi everyone! I'm pursuing my PhD in Psychology & Women's Studies, and will be teaching Introduction to Women's Studies this fall.

I am on the hunt for "feminist art"*** that I can incorporate into my teaching of Introduction to Women's Studies. Specifically, I'm looking for a home page image to use for my course website, as well as images for slides. Do you have an relevant artwork that I could use? Of course, I would give you credit whenever an image appeared on my slides/sites.

(***Note: by feminist art I mean: artwork produced by feminists; artwork portraying feminist themes; artwork featuring groups of diverse people -- aka anything that's not skinny stick figure men)

More generally, if you've ever taken a Women's Studies or Gender course, I'd love to hear your thoughts. What was the best part? Your least favorite part? Are there any particularly memorable assignments or discussions that stick out?

Thanks and I look forward to hearing back from you!

P.S. Sorry for any cross-posting
29th-Aug-2013 09:13 am - Adjunct title
purple porcupine
Okay, this is such a stupid question. And although I think it's been asked here before, I've dug through the tags and not found it.

I'm teaching my first class as an adjunct tomorrow. I'm currently finishing my PhD (at a different institution). What should my students call me?

Dr Coendou is right out, obviously. My job title is just "term adjunct faculty," so using "Professor" feels weird (though that's what my husband, who is TT at the same school, is telling me to do). But "Ms Coendou" feels like I'm a high school teacher.

For some reason, I am really panicking about this - I think I'm channeling my general anxiety about teaching (I've TAed, but never taught a college-level class solo before) into this one stupid thing.
dr horrible
I recently completed my PhD in a social science this summer and I am going onto the market this year. In my discipline, it is not uncommon to have a dissertation composed of three to four papers/journal articles (or in some cases, more than) rather than a traditional manuscript. I chose the paper route. Two of my four papers will be published in the coming year (one in a peer reviewed edited volume, and the other in a journal with a solid impact factor and high ranking in my discipline).* My main advisor/committee co-chair believes I should revise and clean up my two papers and send them out asap to journals before I start applying for jobs, with the first application being due in mid-September.** I was on board with this plan until recently when I was casually chatting with the chair of different department (I got my MA in that department, so she is familiar with my work). She asked me if I was going to turn my dissertation into a book and while I had considered it, I decided not to go that route. She suggested that I should wait to submit/publish my remaining articles until later in the year or until I begin a tenure-track position (assuming I get one) because it will show productivity and counts towards tenure. She also mentioned that this way I wouldn't have to start right away on a new research project in order to produce more publications.

I should mention that in addition to these two remaining articles, I can potentially produce two more papers/articles based on my dissertation research, one of which could seen as a stepping stone to a future research project. Also, I am not sitting on my thumbs during this whole process. I am going to be working on a research project in my department that can open up a few more doors for me in terms of publications and experience. I also have one other publication in one of the highest ranked journals in my discipline (but I am fourth author on that) and a few book reviews and encyclopedia entries, which I don't think count for much.

I am torn on what to do since both seem to be making compelling arguments. Should I submit both for publication now or wait? Or submit one and wait on the other? Begin writing more papers from my dissertation?

Thanks in advance for the advice! Always greatly appreciated.

* I don't mean to sound like I am bragging or boasting, I just wanted to provide as much information as possible, in case people had questions about where I had published.
**I should mention my advisor came into her t-t position from a post-doc. When she came in, she had four or so publications and a book contract, which was published in her second year in the department. So, she might be solely drawing upon her own experience. 
Hi everyone.

After a long and protracted, as well as a very troubling process that involved being forced to commit authorship fraud by my superior (I refused and didn't back down, but it did cost me), I am finally about to disengage from the nightmare that has been my recent employment. And here comes the rub.

Lab notebooks. I know they belong to the Institute (I work at a private research institute), but, but, but.
One, my understanding was that they also belonged to the laboratory director/PI. I've seen in many places how PIs took their lab's notebooks.

Two, one of my students abruptly quit the lab after two and a half years. Mid-way through the PhD. The student was supposed to go with me to my new place at an internationally renown University. It took me quite some effort to negotiate various administrative hurdles so that the contract for that student could be organized, in part because the place from which we are coming is not well-known. All of a sudden the student announces that they don't actually have to/want to go because of the support promised to them by the institute which I am leaving. So I say that the student can't continue doing this project without me, to which the student replies, let's let the Director decide, because he promised support. Well, my project-my rules, so the end result is that the student is no longer in my lab, but still in the Institute, I am at any rate gone in a few weeks, and there is a written promise that the new topic of the student will not be related to my research topic. The point, however, is that we were working on two manuscripts, that now I have to finish by myself (obviously the student will remain co-author, probably even first author as planned, as they did the significant chunks of the work and in one case already quite some writing), and the information is in the notebooks. And all of a sudden I get this request to make sure that the notebooks are in place, because they are entitled to them, and to the data. Specifically mentioning those of that very student.

So what I am feeling like is, I leave, they quietly give the student back the notebooks and the data is there, and I am left with what? It took me more than three years of very careful data collection (involving proposal-based measurements and national facilities) to get to this point, with this student and the previous Master students; protocol development, etc., etc., and I am supposed to leave all this to them?

Now, Spain is a very particular country. I know a couple of national agencies I could write asking for help, but I don't know if there is a European body that could help me. What I want is either the notebooks, or a formal letter stipulating that the material in the notebooks will not be published by them without my explicit agreement - because I don't want later to be forced to go through a complex process of disentangling  the situation with the editors, who do not like students to get hurt in the process (and neither do I).

I am also a little confused as to what they want to do with the notebooks. If some questions about my research come up, it would be me who'd have to answer those questions anyway.

Questions? Comments? Remarks? Suggestions?
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