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Rehab for (recovering) academics.
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, afraid, depressed, 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?
6th-Aug-2013 01:51 am - A Questionable Rejection
I just got an article rejected from an important journal, perhaps one of the most important in my field. I'm not crying about it, heck, I'm thrilled that at least one of the reviewers thought it was good enough for publication! The one thing that confuses me are the comments that the second reviewer gave me. (The second reviewer sunk my chances of a revise/resubmit.) First, the second reviewer states that their specialty is X and, thus, they don't know my specialty of Y. Then, second reviewer proceeds to list works that I should consult to make my paper stronger. However, some of the works zhe lists do not even exist or they are clearly not pertinent to my research! I feel like contacting the managing editor and questioning the validity of the second reviewer's review, but I don't know if that would be bad form.

What do I do?

There seems to be some confusion regarding how I stated that the works the second reviewer suggested to me don't exist. They simply don't. Zhe mentioned an author from my home country, who is deceased, but whose family I actually know. I shot them an email and they confirmed that X and Y works do not exist within the author's estate or known bibliography. I also have contacts at the national library and they couldn't find anything within their archives either.

Thanks for your advice. I'm just going to revise my article, send it elsewhere, and hope for the best.
joan and cbg
I'm a PhD student in quite quantitative-heavy social science field and a very occasional fiction writer (for the fun of it, really). Recently, a short story of mine was accepted to a fiction anthology that will be marketed, AFAIK, to both the academic and popular markets. I'm guessing this wouldn't be something that would go on my CV, in order to to avoid seeming seeming "unfocused," correct?

(The story is broadly related to my research interests, but not closely).
purple porcupine
I'm working on my dissertation in an interdisciplinary social science and going on the job market this fall. This means that, at some schools, I could be at home in a couple of different departments.

Is it considered bad form to apply to two different departments within the same university? Does it matter if they are in the same or different colleges/schools?

In some cases, one department fits the research I've done as a grad student, but the other department is a better fit for the direction I want my research to go in in the future. I feel like I'd have an easier time getting hired in the former, but would be happier in the latter. Again, apply to both? And if not, which?
In partial reference to the previous post: How do you tell a student that you can't write them a good recommendation?

I will be applying to grad schools this upcoming fall for 2015 (taking a year off) and am wondering, if I do not meet the criteria to make the cut what can I do to tip the balance back in my favor?
I stand at a 3.4 cumulative, just under 4.0 for classes in my field of study.
My senior research project is a meta-analysis that has the potential to go to conference.
I have found a voluntary assistant research position to stick on the resume.
Know the GRE scores will be vital so am prepping.
Anything else I can or should do?
Any damage control strategies if it’s not enough?

Pie in the Sky Potential Field: Masters in Social Work then on to PhD
12th-Apr-2013 05:32 pm - Cheating at the Doctoral Level
Is there a reason why anyone would get into a doctoral program and then pay someone else to write their PhD thesis? I'm dealing with that right now and I just find it really strange.

I can see why undergraduate students would hire people to write their papers for them. I can even conceive of Masters students getting too burnt out to finish their Masters theses. Hell, I can even conceive of someone hiring a professional writer to clean up his doctorate before he turns it in (or after his adviser told him to rewrite it).

But I always thought that the academic system would weed out the cheaters by the doctorate. Granted, the person I am thinking about is trying to get his doctorate from an online college, but it still perplexes me.

Does he think he's going to get hired as a professor and then hire people to write the papers that he's submitting to peer review journals? Does he think that he's going to be able to teach a subject that he's been NOT learning for 6-7 years?
21st-Mar-2013 09:55 am - Sabbatical research...or not
Freixenet bottles
OK, folks, here's one I haven't seen addressed. I'd welcome input from the hive mind.

I proposed, for my sabbatical project (in the US, and in the Humanities, if that makes a difference), to form focus groups of students who are at various stages of their progress through my university's new general education curriculum, specifically to track their progress through a specific set of courses. I wanted to get the student viewpoint so that I could add to or make improvements or tweaks to our pedagogy and our curriculum where appropriate. The sabbatical project proposal was accepted, and I'm working on it now. Except it came to a screeching halt a few weeks ago, when I got a less than 1% response to my invitations to students to tell me what they think. I've rethought and tailored my approach to these students, changed the venues and the group types, offered different and better incentives for participation (NOTE including a meal), and so forth--no change in the disappointing response rate. So I'm now looking at a real problem: not being able to do the core element of my research project. CRAP.

I did promise as part of this project a review of the scholarship/research to accompany my collection of first-hand data, and I'm obviously going to proceed with that part of the plans. If nothing else, I'll come out of this with a literature review, which is perhaps publishable. Maybe. But without that actual student input, in sufficient volume to represent some sort of valid sample size, I feel like my semester of sabbatical work is going to be completely a waste of time. That makes me feel like I'm not doing what I said I was going to do, and even though it's not really my fault--an excuse I loathe using--I'm at a loss about what to do now. I don't know what if anything I can do to substitute for the missing first hand data, and I don't know how to explain to the Dean that I wasn't able to do this work, and I'm not sure what the implications are going to be for my ongoing research project, for which this was a vital and early step. I had no reason to think that students on this really active campus would not respond to inquiries--one of our pet things here is undergraduate research!--and I had expected to be able to write something that would, with any luck, help get me one step closer to promotion to full professor. So now I feel as if I'm failing, even though I know that that is truly not the case. But there's a lot riding on my project, both for me and for the university, and I'm at a loss.

I'm not sure how to handle this or what questions to ask myself to get back on track. In similar situations, what have y'all done?

ETA: I should have made clearer that one of the changes I made in my pitch for student participation was the creation of an online survey. I'm getting perhaps 10% response rather than 1%, which is certainly better, but not nearly enough.
13th-Mar-2013 07:50 pm - Permissions and "Fair Use"
I know there will be a lot of IANAL thrown in here, but i figured i might ask some folks who have been there for advice.

i am finally... FINALLY... nearing completion of my Master's thesis. It has been a very long haul. As i await my final committee member sign-offs, i am working on the last of my thesis packet in prep for submission. One of the things i am required to submit are permission letters for any graphics i have used in my document.

My thesis is on LiveJournal, believe it or not. My graphic use is pretty small, a few userpics, some image macros, and some V-gifts.

For anyone who had similar graphics in their documents, how did you handle permissions? Did you blanket it under Academic Fair Use? Did you play it safe and get releases from everybody?

For what it's worth, all userpics are credited by username of the person who made them. Image macros are trickier, since a lot of them came from other places, so tracking down their exact creator is hard, so they are listed as "creator unknown." Vgifts are listed as created by LiveJournal.

The image macros are tricky as well, since some of them are Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc. that are copyrighted franchises, but their use here is most likely covered under fair use/satire.

Just when i thought the hard part was over...

Edited to add: The final destination for my thesis is ProQuest, which is who my university uses to publish theses. However, i will be publishing mine under Open Access, so no selling of it will be allowed. (my understanding, at any rate)
3rd-Feb-2013 11:51 am - Guest lectures
cloud chamber
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?
31st-Jan-2013 08:07 am - Reference letter for student
good grief!
Hi. Apologies if this has been addressed here before. I had a look through previous posts and didn't come across anything quite similar.

A former student of mine has asked me, their former TA, to write a letter of reference. I've done this before and had no problem, but this student doesn't really stand out in my memory that much. The only thing I remember about them is that I had worked with them over email one night to help them get a paper done that they had forgotten about (my worst nightmare. Seriously, I still have dreams about this happening to me). Although I suspect that the student had been going through some tough times at the time (they broke down crying in class a couple of times), I don't see how I could write something very helpful for them. I also went back and looked over their grades and they didn't pass the class, so I couldn't even rely on that.

I would like to help this student, but I'm afraid that if I write an honest letter, it won't look good for them. I'm sure they have it in them to be good and, as I said, the fact that they had broken down into tears in the classroom makes me think that they were going through some tough times. However, I wouldn't want to write something like that in a letter. If I'm in a situation where I can't see myself writing a good letter without either lying or leaving a lot out, would it just be best for me to tell the student to ask someone else?

happy in ohsix
Okay, perhaps attack is the wrong word - but I thought this might start some interesting conversation - especially if there are some music fans on this forum. See link to article below:

4th-Jan-2013 12:03 pm - Word count or number of pages?
I'm about to begin another semester of teaching, and this time I'm planning to require an approximate word count for papers instead of number of pages. That's primarily because of many students who persist in composing multiple paragraphs that are rather short and end up having lots of white space at the end of a paragraph's last line, because of those occasional students who just can't seem to get the hang of not hitting return twice between paragraphs, because of a few who indent paragraphs ten spaces rather than five, and because of those who put far too much space at the tops of pages.

What about you? Do you specify a word count or a number of pages?
17th-Dec-2012 08:26 am - Letter of recs
Hi All,

I need some advice on asking for letters of recs.

Is it best to ask in person, or would it be alright to ask via email?
Hello everyone,

I've looked through older entries and didn't see this mentioned. I read an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education that featured academics (mostly from the Humanities) on food stamps.

I'm not an American, so I would like to know how accurate this article is in portraying the situation for academics in America. Has the economic recession badly affected the academic job industry? Is the article just playing up the issue of academics on welfare?
I just got an unsolicited email from an allegedly new 'academic' journal, History Research (published by the prestigious "David Publishing Company" which claims to be based in California but I think is really based in China), offering to publish a paper I recently gave at a conference. They clearly just grabbed my name and the paper title from the conference program online. This has 'scam' written all over it - or at best, perhaps a vanity (pay to publish) journal or something (I noticed "If the paper is accepted by our journal, the author should finance some of the publishing costs" in the fine print at the bottom). Before I delete the email, I thought I'd ask whether it might be worth sending them a paper for publication that I wasn't planning on using otherwise - or does it look bad to have a publication from some weird, fly-by-night journal on my CV? I'm a grad student (and have not finished my PhD, despite them addressing me as "Dr.") and right now the only publication I have is a book review.

Full text of the email for your considerationCollapse )
cloud chamber
Personally I would never expect anyone to be familiar with my work, but I feel that some profs do expect this of others, and I am looking for your advice and experiences navigating this in casual conversation or an informal 1-on-1 meeting.
Perhaps I am over-thinking this, but it seems like a minefield. I had one experience of chatting with a very famous person who I asked, "what are you working on now" and they told me I should just read their work. That question also backfires on people who are no longer research-active.

If I ask, '"what do you work on" then that implies that I don't know who you are and haven't read all your very important articles, and of course some people take offense to that. This is easier if they are in a different area, but if their work is at all related to my area, they might be offended that I haven't heard of them.

So usually, I don't ask at all, but as a result I often end up in very one-sided conversations where they ask me what I (the lowly non-famous postdoc) do and I am too traumatized from past experience to ask them anything about their work.

If I have advance notice I'll be meeting someone, I will usually check out their website so I can come up with something vague like, "I am really interested in your work on X" or "can you tell me more about what you do with Y." But even then, some people have responded a bit defensively like, "Well, as I said in my Z article, ...." And of course there are many times you meet people without the chance to google them first.

[edited for the benefit of the "tl;dr" crowd]
3rd-Nov-2012 04:02 pm - Advice
I graduated in 2010 with a bachelors degree in liberal arts, mostly for lack of direction. I didn't know what else to choose and I had planned to go to grad school for library science anyway, didn't think it mattered. Now getting an MLIS is a pretty bad idea, so I'm investigating other options.

Here is my question-

Would it be more worth my time/money to
a)get an MBA?

b)transfer my credits from my first degree and get a second bachelors in business admin?

c) just do some computer/business associates certificates?

Wicked - Elphaba Profile
This may be an odd question that belongs elsewhere, but I'm not coming up with anything in my research, so I thought I'd come here and ask all of you.

I'm a history grad student working as a research assistant to my department's Director of Undergraduate Studies. Our state recently changed the way it parcels out money to departments; it's now based on student retention rather than strictly on enrollment numbers. I've been tasked to research what other schools in general and other history departments in particular are doing about undergraduate retention. In my search through the numbers, I discovered that our entire university's retention rates are way down, and the only area showing any kind of growth is the College of Basic and Applied Sciences. (I'm guessing this is not a surprise to anyone.)

My question, then, is this: Is this a conversation that is going on at your university and in your department? If so, what kinds of ideas are you all looking at in order to improve retention? Have you implemented any new policies, procedures, programs, etc.? If so, can you tell yet whether or not they are working?

One of the things I've noticed is that some schools are starting to offer "accelerated BA/MA" programs in which students can complete a bachelor's and a master's in five years of study by double-dipping in their senior year. Does your school have one of these programs? How is it working?

If anyone has any suggestions for me as to where I can find people talking about these kinds of things, I'd welcome any information you have. I've checked places like the Journal of Higher Education, the American Historical Association, and various other areas, and I'm just really not finding anyone talking about this. I'm kind of at my wits' end. So, thank you all in advance.
eugene v. debs
NLRB asks for briefs in Point Park University's long dispute with teachers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is worth a read for everyone interested in getting faculty organized at colleges and universities across the U.S. It's a tough battle, to say the least.
10th-Aug-2012 05:13 pm - journal submission etiquette question
Mucha Pirate Girl
Dear all,

Just a quick advice question from a long-time lurker, new academic. I'm a first-year doctoral student at a UK university in a humanities field. During the viva voce examination for my earlier master's this summer at that same university, the external examiner (an academic I particularly admire and respect) was quite kind about two shorter pieces of coursework I'd done and suggested that they might be a good fit for a particular specialized journal in my field.

As I edit the first one, I'm wondering two things
-The cover letter - should I mention that I was encouraged to submit to X journal by Y professor, or would this be seen as obnoxious and name-droppy?

-Translation issues. My (literary/theological) article deals with two texts, one in the original French, one in the translated English (from Russian). I was advised by my supervisor to deal with them both in translation (the journal I'm submitting to is neither a French- or Russian-specific journal); I've thus used a published translation for the French novel I'm working on, noting the original French or supplying my own translation (noted) when the English translation proved insufficient, as well as for the Russian. Am I doing the right thing here, or should I be providing both Russian and French in the original?
chagall.paris through the window 1913
Sometime in the past thirty years, I've read a short story by an American writer that's about a male college instructor teaching a night class at a big-city college, technical school, or university. It might have been by Bernard Malamud, might have been by Stanley Elkin, or perhaps by another author of the 1940s-1960s. It did not paint a cheerful portrait, but offered at least a bit of ironic humor. I'm pretty certain it played some role in causing me to avoid teaching for several years. Any ideas about the title and author?
6th-May-2012 04:31 pm - is this a trick
I am not going to hang out here for too long because I am studying for my final. I have a question about my final and if people are lying to me about it. The TA for the class told me and my lab partner "watch out for professor --'s final" I said "Are the questions taken from the earlier exams?" TA said "no". I asked the professor and the professor said "the final will include questions that are similar or the same to the exams". Is he trying to fucking trick me? What should I do? 
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