For some reason the Pondering blather blog has hovered at the edge of my vision but never come into full focus until today. My bad. Odyssey has been blogging since 2005 apparently including several topics of interest from the very start.
Such as science meetings:
The talks are often a side show. It's the connections you make and stuff you talk about one on one that really makes for a good meeting. Of course liquid refreshments help with that aspect.
Science as white-male haven:
Of course the winners are not always guys. Mostly guys. Why is that? Don't women do good science? Actually, women do great science. The most dynamic scientist in my department at Big State U happens to be a woman.
The other two? One has published but not managed to get any grant applications funded. Not that he hasn't tried. He's worked like a dog. The other has plenty of grant money, but hasn't published. That I don't understand. But there it is. Neither satisfied the criteria. So they won't be put up. They won't go into the tenure process because, in our collective opinion, they wouldn't make it. Ever had to decide a friend's fate like that? It sucks.
Now, what snapped Pondering blather into full focus for me was this recent post on mid-tenure inertia/complacency.
[my good friend Rising Star Theoretician] turned to me and said, in more or less these words, "Your research program is going nowhere and you're in danger of becoming irrelevant." This was neither easy to hear, nor easy for RST to say. But he was right. Deep down I had known this for at least two years
Preach on. Perhaps not each and everyone of us suffers from the complacency thing at some point. But I have to observe that sabbatical (probably less common now) existed for a reason. I actually didn't appreciate this for a long time because I was in an environment of the grant chase and I just couldn't imagine the type of slowdown the traditional professorial sabbatical entailed. Well, now being a little farther down the road, I understand the need for sabbatical. For taking a pause and thinking about new academic directions. In the case of research Odyssey's points in his post really resonate. I'm uncertain on the 5-year plan thing myself, but I'm going to think about what Odyssey had to say on the subject in the post:
Have a written five year plan. It sounds dorky, but it works, and it should cover all aspects of your academic career. Read it and update it often. Never let your plan fall below the five year mark. If you can't see where your research might be five years from now, start developing a new research project with long term potential. Now.
I mean in some sense the continual writing of 5-yr duration NIH R01 proposals counts, right?
So, I think I've applied some version of the RST quote to at least one colleague, in a nicer way of course. And I have had a version (again, nicer and more subtle) levied at me. Still, I do think that I've been aware of this myself and have been applying the boot to my own behind as well. Things may not move quickly if one has to acquire funding but it is critical to keep the plans for novel directions (no, not "NIH R01 novel", really challenging and stimulating for you) going.
How have you all seen this mid-tenure crisis thing play out?