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Guest lectures 
3rd-Feb-2013 11:51 am
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If a colleague asks you to do a guest lecture, do you have to do it? I can't say no without seeming like a jerk, right?

How do you respond to unwanted guest lecture requests?
Comments 
3rd-Feb-2013 04:59 pm (UTC)
What is the main objective of the guest lecture? Is it because this colleague really wants to highlight your research in their classroom/department or is it because they don't know much on the topic and don't feel like preparing a lecture? If its the latter, you shouldn't feel that bad.

I think saying you're busy or don't have the time is totally reasonable. You may want to suggest someone else to do the guest lecture if you feel really bad about it.
3rd-Feb-2013 05:04 pm (UTC)
Of course you don't have to do it. How to extricate yourself politely and without consequence is the question. More information is needed to answer that.
3rd-Feb-2013 05:23 pm (UTC)
The 'without consequence' is the hard part.

I know it is unwise (though, true, not impossible) to refuse a request from someone who writes letters for me or is otherwise 'above' me. In this situation I am just complaining, and wondering aloud--do they know this is a pretty big favor, or do they not care?

Refusing a request from a friendly same-level colleague is just tough because I want to maintain friendliness, and when they say 'you pick the day,' the 'I'm too busy' excuse will be no doubt noted and remembered. So again, maybe I am just complaining that people don't seem to realize what they're asking and the obligation they create by the request.

Probably there is no elegant way to get out of a reasonable guest lecture request without negative consequence.

I think in retrospect what I wanted from this thread is just some kind of recognition from peers that, yes, these requests are annoying and inevitable. I would be touched and amused if someone made a comment accompanied by an animated GIF expressing such feelings through a reference to popular culture.

Or maybe there is some larger conversation to be had about the 'best practices' for requesting lectures from others and how to recognize the work that goes into them.
3rd-Feb-2013 05:27 pm (UTC)
I don't find invitations to guest lecture annoying at all. I'm flattered in most cases, because it means my colleague is interested in my work and thinks their students should hear about it (of course, this obviously depends on who is asking and why - but I don't mind colleagues asking me to cover for their classes for a legitimate reason. But it's true that some do it out of pure laziness.). I also think it's good to bank favors with colleagues - guest lecturing and subbing for others means I can expect them to do the same for me when I need it.

So, sorry, no GIFs from me. Try Tumblr.
3rd-Feb-2013 06:08 pm (UTC)
that's a nice way to think about it. I think I'm just cranky today. :)
3rd-Feb-2013 06:19 pm (UTC)
Right, I'm with Max here. More importantly, if you are pre-tenure, you do it with a smile. If you are contingent, you do it with an honorarium. If you are tenured, you do it if you want to.
3rd-Feb-2013 07:35 pm (UTC)
getting paid would be nice but that's not happening. :(
4th-Feb-2013 03:08 pm (UTC)
Totally this!

Edited at 2013-02-04 03:09 pm (UTC)
3rd-Feb-2013 06:56 pm (UTC)
I don't see the "annoying" part.

You strike me as spoiled.

I am not kidding.
3rd-Feb-2013 07:16 pm (UTC)
"I think in retrospect what I wanted from this thread is just some kind of recognition from peers that, yes, these requests are annoying and inevitable."

I'm permanently annoyed, because there are just too many people who request that I lecture. Granted, most of these people are my students, but that doesn't make it any less annoying.
3rd-Feb-2013 07:37 pm (UTC)
so, I think the advice buried in your sarcasm is that guest lectures are part of your job, like reviewing journal articles or being on committees. That is good to know, thank you.
3rd-Feb-2013 07:40 pm (UTC)
My contract doesn't say anything about guest lectures. But then again, my contract also doesn't say anything about grading.
3rd-Feb-2013 08:40 pm (UTC)
If it isn't in your contract, then you don't have to do it.
3rd-Feb-2013 08:59 pm (UTC)
Yay!!!
4th-Feb-2013 12:58 am (UTC)
This thread FTW.
3rd-Feb-2013 10:32 pm (UTC)
Are the requests annoying? I'm sure they could be phrased annoyingly. But at least at my school, it's part of collegiality (and often pretty fun, too.)
3rd-Feb-2013 05:15 pm (UTC)
"Thank you for thinking of me, but unfortunately I have another appointment off-campus at that time."
3rd-Feb-2013 05:23 pm (UTC)
this works well unless they tell you to pick the day... :)
3rd-Feb-2013 05:29 pm (UTC)
oops, busted! You could tell colleague that you are flattered and would like to help, but you have several large, looming deadlines and you don't feel like you're in a position to take on any additional work/deadlines right now.
3rd-Feb-2013 05:36 pm (UTC)
Think harder...how might you phrase that to apply to an entire semester?
3rd-Feb-2013 07:17 pm (UTC)
Sabbatical?
4th-Feb-2013 12:58 am (UTC)
Ha!
3rd-Feb-2013 05:42 pm (UTC)
If it's inconvenient, I say, "thanks, but it conflicts with another activity."
3rd-Feb-2013 06:55 pm (UTC)
Why are you complaining about an opportunity to give a guest lecture?

If you can take a moment to get over yourself, you might realize it's actually an honor.

Be grateful; at some point no one will give a shit and you will never get asked to give guest lectures.
3rd-Feb-2013 10:31 pm (UTC)
This.
3rd-Feb-2013 07:03 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm with those who think you should be flattered by the request, rather than annoyed. Unless it's totally outside your area (in which case, why would they ask you?), it'll be some work but not that much work (since one assumes you've already done most if not all of the research, you just have to prep slides and notes or whatever).
3rd-Feb-2013 07:14 pm (UTC)
IS the guest lecture really a burden? I am typically asked by colleagues if it my specific area of research and they think the students will enjoy it or if they have to be out of town or if a class falls on a religious holiday. Regardless, though, how much work can it be? If they are asking you to do something entirely outside of your area, you just say that you don't really think you are the best person for that since it is so outside your area of knowledge. But if it is in your area, it should not take all that much work and, as max said above, it is ALWAYS a good idea to bank favors for later, not to mention a great idea to expose your colleagues and students to your research expertise.
3rd-Feb-2013 07:40 pm (UTC)
you're right, it's not a huge burden. probably just barely a day's work, counting prep, doing the lecture, travel time.
3rd-Feb-2013 07:44 pm (UTC)
If it is on a different campus from your own, there is typically travel reimbursement, food, and hopefully, an honorarium.
4th-Feb-2013 03:49 am (UTC)
If you are an adjunct you should definitely get paid for doing it.

And sometimes it's hard to fill out the "service" portion of your CV, so guest lectures can be a way to do that.
3rd-Feb-2013 07:14 pm (UTC)
You can, but why would you want to?
3rd-Feb-2013 07:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks everyone, your comments that I should be flattered by the opportunity gives me another perspective on what the people asking for guest lectures might be thinking when they ask.

This thread reminds me how much I still don't understand about the unwritten rules and values of academia. :)
3rd-Feb-2013 08:42 pm (UTC)
Think of it as a networking opportunity and bridge building. Like going to a conference, but on a smaller scale. You don't have to network, but boy is it really helpful down the line when you need someone to contribute to something or they are putting something together that you want to contribute to for the CV.
3rd-Feb-2013 09:36 pm (UTC)
The major way you would beg off is if the request falls outside of your reasonable area of expertise, or if it is a set day/time and you have a pre-existing conflict. If you have been given leeway to choose both topic and day, this is impossible. Sorry.

4th-Feb-2013 02:11 am (UTC)
I am sick of one I have to run every semester for a colleague who just doesn't know that particular software. I am saying no next time, but will offer my materials.

For one off requests, I always say yes, as I usually enjoy them and they provide a fun outlet for me to perform in. (Show off)
4th-Feb-2013 06:36 am (UTC)
how difficult to be asked to impart one's knowledge in a time where so few are able...
4th-Feb-2013 08:41 am (UTC)
"I'm sorry, I have another obligation that day/time" (if true) and "Unfortunately, I don't have the time to prepare a lecture on X in addition to my own research on Y and my teaching on Z" are both completely reasonable answers in my book.

I would be wary about volunteering other people in your place, though.
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