Here at the Research Whisperer, we believe in embracing the full gamut of higher education experiences – the wonderful, heinous, sad, and celebratory aspects, and the many grey areas and contradictory combinations. We’re here in the academic sector for a reason, and there’s much we love about our universities and colleagues. This doesn’t mean that we don’t get scared and anxious on occasion, about small as well as big things.
So, for this end-of-year post, we’re sharing what worries us most about 2018. You should feel free to share your worries in the comments. Studies have shown (!) that sharing your anxieties can help reduce them!
At a global level, I’m worried about the end of the world. I feel that we’re already in societies where it’s becoming more permissible to act with hate towards marginalised or vulnerable groups, and that makes me anxious (that it’ll get worse) and angry (that it can happen at all). The anger works well – it makes me step into messy, contradictory spaces to try to make a difference, to help and protect those that I can. Being part of a research network that enables anti-racist research and creative projects helps me a lot in finding constructive ways to channel the anxiety and frustration.
At a personal level, I’m worried about taking on too many things and letting people down because I’m overcommitted. I have taken some steps to ensure that this doesn’t happen, and been much better at saying ‘no’, but it’s still a constant push back on the invitations and opportunities. I should note that this anxiety is one that I’ve had ever since I’ve been an academic, but it has been much stronger in recent years. I suspect it’s because fighting to fit everything in gets even harder when babies become small children, then older children and tweens…! Anyone who knows me well will know that I usually go about life and work as a fizzing bundle of anxieties. I cloak these relatively well and, as a result, people think I’m rather zen.
At the global level, I’m worried about the end of the age of curiosity. I’m a big fan of curiosity-driven research, and I’m worried that it is being squeezed out of researchers (particularly new researchers) because they have to make every second, every word, every action count. I’m watching the best minds of my time destroyed by management surveillance, focused planned efficient; swimming against the metric tide at dawn looking for an angry KPI (with apologies to Ginsberg).
At the very, very local level, I’m worried about the progress of my own PhD. I’ve just taken three months leave because I’m having trouble with my back, and it is waking me up at 3-4 am. It makes it hard to concentrate (I do not know how Mums with bubs survive). I must say I’m enjoying not being anxious about the PhD all the time. And that is the worry – what if this is just me putting things off, and off, and off…
Thanks to this year’s guest posters
One thing that we aren’t worried about is the health of the Research Whisperer. Every year in our last entry, we list our fabulous guest posts from the year. Our blogging lives are made easier every year by sharing this space with our guest authors – you make the Research Whisperer much more interesting, informed, and sustainable. And you make our lives less frenetic! Thank you!
For 2017, the wonderful guest writers for Research Whisperer are:
- New Year’s resolutions for women in academia by Penny Oxford.
- Coming back from maternity leave by Claudia Szabo.
- It’s time to change the face of psychology by Vanessa Günther, Hannah Rachel Scott and Sophie von Stumm.
- Writing retreats: Academic indulgence or scholarly necessity? by Yolande Strengers and Cecily Maller.
- Ways researchers can be better, different writers by Kellye McBride.
- Why should I bother? by Tim Pitman.
- Choosing balance by Wayne Chan.
- Writing the second edition by Helen Kara.
- A tale of two interviews by Anonymous.
- Research methods vs research approaches by Jonathan Laskovsky.
- Playing the academic game by Dani Barrington.
- Author order and disorder by Debra Carr.
- A manifesto for better academic presentations by Jonathan Downie.
- Getting savvy about online impact by Dennis Relojo.
- What a student wants to tell you about research mentorship by Mary Barber.
- Online research recruitment as a linguist by Liubov Baladhaeva.
- #MelbWriteUp – 18 months on by Jason Murphy.
- Social media: A tool for introverts by Sarah Hayes.
- Vice-Chancellors redeemed? by Muriel E Swijghuisen Reigersberg.
- Write that thing by Rosemary Chang.
- Postdoc pathfinding: Part 1 by Beth Linas.
- Postdoc pathfinding: Part 2 by Beth Linas.
- Calling time on conferences by Dani Barrington.
- Lessons from the Hill by Taylor Winkleman.
- The gift of record-keeping: A tool for future promotion by Bronwyn Eager.
- Supporting scholars seeking a new intellectual home – what can we do? by Eva Alisic, S. Karly Kehoe, Debora Kayembe, Shawki Al-Dubaee, and Jonathan O’Donnell.
This year has been a big one for the Research Whisperers. One of the highlights was working with the Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS) on their ECR Careers Day, held in August this year in Melbourne. We thought it was such a good idea that we’re working with CHASS again, and our buddy Tim Pitman (Curtin University), to run another ECR Careers Day in Western Australia in 2018!
The Research Whisperer will be back on Tuesday 6 February 2018. In the meantime, enjoy some classics from the vault on our twitter stream. Have a great break, everyone!