Ideas brewing, in public and anonymously.

IMG_0128In 2014, one of my goals is to update this blog on a semi-regular basis (every week? Every two weeks? We’ll see how it goes). I’m starting here by outlining some topics that I hope to cover with the help of guest bloggers in the next few months.

Part of this effort will involve expanding our guest bloggers to include anonymous writers, so that we can try to cover some of these issues with greater honesty. Many people have approached me to say that they want to write something, but have said they are afraid to speak their truths online. I hope that this blog will provide these important voices with some writing space soon. (If you haven’t contacted me yet with an idea because you have been hesitating to put your name on something, I hope that you will take this as an open invitation!).

I’ve already bugged a few people to write some guest posts on set topics, mostly those that I have already had requests for or that I’ve had brewing in my own head for awhile. So these preliminary ideas are somewhat random and haphazard, I admit. The following list is meant as the beginning of a continuing conversation for our work here:

Alt-academic/post-academic careers careers
-What can I do with my PhD besides professing?
-Is it possible and/or desirable to combine research and writing with an alt-academic career? Can I keep up with both?
-Where does one start to look for jobs outside the academy?
-Is a PhD a help or a hindrance outside the academy?
-Will my previous graduate school training help me in alt-/post-academia? If so, how do I communicate this to potential employers?
-Personal and academic community pressures – “why are you giving up?”
-Should I quit?

Book publishing
-What is the best to approach or mindset to have when beginning the project of editing your dissertation and turning it into a book?
-How do you find a publisher? When and how do you approach a publisher?
-How do you formulate a book proposal?
-What is different about writing a book and writing a dissertation?
-Is there a way to make the transition from dissertation to book more organic or smooth?
-How does “the book” play into securing funding/postdocs/interviews/jobs?

Discrimination, Resistance, and Survival – Or, Racism/Sexism/Homophobia/Ableism in the Academy (with apologies for blocking these distinct issues off together)
-Strategies for survival – here is how I cope with daily discrimination at my place of employment.
-The White Man’s University – how does one carve out a space of community here?
-False mentoring – “I will help you navigate this unfamiliar terrain, but with strings attached.”
-On being disciplined – what to do when you are expected not to speak/are punished for speaking up.
-A repeat problem – how to negotiate an ongoing issue with a particular person, especially someone who is empowered over you.

Graduate school
-How do you know that pursuing an MA/PhD is the right decision for you?
-How do you select a program and an adviser? Where do you start and what are the most important things to consider, questions to ask?
-What if you have a fight or difference of opinion with your committee? HELP!
-How do you conceptualize/enjoy/finish a thesis/dissertation?
-I am going back to school after a brief/long layover in non-academic work/because of personal reasons/to have a family. What can I expect and how should I prepare myself?

-Negotiating maternity/paternity leave – “you should be able to write/research/answer emails/meet students while the baby sleeps!”
-Going back to work – “I just don’t care anymore!” or “I can’t wait to get back” or, both?
-The (in)visible disadvantage – “I have to go pick up my kids”
-The fertility race and the tenure race – “are they incompatible?”

Personal life, community, and care
-I am dating/I want to date an academic/a non academic/I have no time for a personal/dating life.
-How can I find happiness and fulfillment as a stressed out graduate student/new faculty member?
-Exercise and academic life – how do you fit it in and stick to it?
-I hate my committee/department/university – how do I carve out a space of sanity for myself? Temporarily? What if I don’t finish/get stuck here?

-I have been teaching part time for X years and I am ready to give up on any sort of academic career.
-The job market is a total mess. What’s the point of going the part-time route?
-I’ve made a career of part-time, precarious employment and this is how I survive.
-I can’t keep track of all the bad advice I am getting from those who are so out of touch with the current job market and the post-2008 economy.

Research and dissemination
-How do you come up with your idea for the next project after your all-encompassing and exhausting dissertation/first book?
-How does one decide how to approach external funding bodies such as (in Canada) SSHRC, CIHR, and NSERC?
-What is the best research dissemination focus for getting a job/keeping a job? How do you know how much you need to produce?

-How much do you have to publish to get tenure? Really? REALLY?
-How do you feel post-tenure? Is the pressure really off?
-How do you approach a tenure/promotion application and what are the most important elements of your academic work, teaching, and service to focus on?
-The Impossible Tenure Stream – what to do when you are set up to fail.
-Should I quit?

If you’re interested in contributing to these or other topics, I’d love to hear from you: facultyorientations {at} If you simply have some ideas for topics you’d like to see covered here, please feel free to leave us a comment or email us with your suggestions. And thanks for your feedback and critiques so far. I appreciate readers sticking with the blog as we work to find our collecting blogging voice and pace here. And thanks to all the guest bloggers who have contributed so far!

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