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Early Career Scholars

 

Update on the Activities of the Early Career Scholars Committee: Focus on the Blog

  by Jeannetta G. WilliamsSt. Edward’s University

Summer is a time for renewal, relaxation, and also reflection. As scholars, we often are so focused on the activities that eat up our time that there may be little time left to reflect on our goals and achievements. What we are working on – the research deadlines, papers to grade, and research to conduct – takes priority over how we do our work and who can support us in these endeavors. For those of us in the early stages of our careers, there is a resource available to help! The Early Career Scholars (ECS) Committee launched a blog this spring to serve as a forum for discussion about the issues, see http://earlycareer.blogspot.com. We designed the blog to help early career scholars to connect with one another, to ask questions and to offer support and feedback.

 

The topics for the monthly blogs have ranged from professional development to personal well-being and balance. As the first blogger, I posed the question of what constitutes good student advising.  I was working on my first “advising philosophy” and sought input from my peers. It seems that advising is an expected component of faculty work; however, it is an area in which many of us received little training during graduate school. I can attest to the fact that the comments I received were invaluable. Our second blog focused on perhaps the biggest issue facing early career scholars, getting promoted. The finish line for tenure and promotion is years ahead, but the preparation can begin much earlier. The blog author, Kim Case at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, and other contributors shared great information and resources for organizing professional development materials and planning for success. Whether it’s your first day on the job or the summer before your promotion materials are due, this blog offers an insider’s perspective to getting ahead without getting overwhelmed. 

 

One of my career mentors advised me that to stay on track for promotion in the early years of my career, I’d need to “work like a dog.” This certainly motivated me to work hard, but also led me to feel guilty when tending to other responsibilities in my life. Michèle Schlehofer of Salisbury University shared a timely blog on balancing our professional and personal demands, while avoiding guilt and exhaustion. Michèle’s  topic garnered a variety of strategies and useful techniques from those who posted comments.

 

It’s summertime. This is when I should be most productive in my scholarship and when I can finally catch up on all of those journal articles that I’ve been meaning to read, right?  Spend your summer as you would like, but there is a better plan out there. According to our May blogger and author of “How to Write A Lot,” Paul Silvia, you can break down your reading and writing projects into smaller tasks, which can be developed throughout the year. The time commitment may just be a few hours per week, but it is important to block out this time in your schedule so that other activities (e.g. students’ questions, committee reports, etc.) do not interfere. This is great advice for scholars trying to avoid “burning out” and who would like to enjoy a well-earned summer vacation.

 

I am eager to read the next monthly blog by Sara Villanueva Dixon of St. Edward’s University on developing a sustained undergraduate research team. I also look forward to hearing from my peers in the blogosphere on how to best prepare students for the rigors of graduate-level research.

 

We are a community of scholars. As such, it is important for us to find ways to stay current on the latest policy developments and research findings, but also to stay connected to another. If you have an idea for a future blog topic or you have comments about the ECS blog, please contact our committee chair Dr. Kim Case via e-mail: caseki@uhcl.edu, or any member of the committee. We look forward to seeing you online. Also, if you plan to attend the APA convention in Toronto this summer, this committee will host a session on August 7th about how you can get more involved in SPSSI.

 


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Research that produces nothing but books will not suffice.
                                                                                                                    - Kurt Lewin