I’ve started this blog because I have so much free time on my hands.
Over the last couple years, a few blogs of scientists have become a part of my routine, even though I lurk on all of them. Reading blogs has been a way for me to learn from others.
Nevertheless, there is a huge disconnect between these scientists and my daily experience. Some of my biggest challenges and triumphs are endemic to my work at a teaching institution. We have a lot in common, but my experience is different in some fundamental ways. There are so many of us at teaching schools that do (or aspire to do) big-league research, even if it’s on a smaller scale. The strategies we use to build and maintain a research agenda are often different than our colleagues at research institution. I think we all prioritize our students and student training, but it’s really different when your students are all or mostly undergrads, and you teach a lot, and your school cares way more about your teaching than your research.
Many of my junior colleagues – whose work I greatly admire – are now taking jobs very similar to the one that I’m in. I am often asked about how I go about my job, get funded, manage my teaching load, maintain a research program. How I do what I do. This leads me to suspect that this blog will be useful.
I’ve read enough blogs to be able to identify, at least in my view, what makes a good one. That list includes:
- a clear focus with a useful perspective that comes from experience
- frequent entries, at least a couple times a week if not more often
- a community of people who contribute their views
- a greater number of lurkers who never contribute but regularly visit
- high quality writing
If you’ve discovered this early on, input is particularly welcome. My plan is to do this for a little while before I attempt to let people know it exists. I’ve decided against anonymity. This is not common, but I’m tenured and don’t have dirty secrets to hide, and this will keep me from worrying about the attempt to hide details. (When I’m annoyed by something at my institution, which is more often then I could ever mention, I’d be glad if my administration read about it and know that it is from me). I will be able to showcase my research and field more openly, not to mention be openly proud of my students and institution. By being known, I just need to worry about being polite, which is a good habit to be in.