October 2, 2010

Avoid the clustering effect, they say.  Keep producing publications in a steady stream to demonstrate continued engagement in academia.  Avoid big clumps of publications on your CV.  Spread it all out.

I am staring at stacks and stacks of student papers that demand my grading attention.  There are stacks and stacks of them because I chose to neglect my grading in order to spend much of September working on more research-related things– mostly two articles (well, 1 1/2 since one of them is not a research article but a commentary).  I was sick of them and just wanted to finish them off and launch them into the Great Publication Pipeline (or is it a Vacuum?) so that I can have some ‘movement’ on my cv.   Get out the academic Metamucil.  Let’s get this stuff flowing like well-oiled machinery.

We are advised as newbie faculty to try to avoid the “clustering” or “clumping” effect where everything comes out within the same short time period, and there are large swathes of nothing going on between these publication bouts.  The thing is, I submitted pieces in a steady and regular-ish fashion.  I just have ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL when it comes to how quickly they will be reviewed, returned, re-reviewed, approved, and queued for publication.  All I can do is be diligent about revisions when manuscripts come back to me and send polite queries to irritable editors who may or may not be able to speed things along.  Otherwise, I have to do as the serenity prayer (and Kurt Vonnegut) advises and have the grace not to fret about that which I have no power over.  I just hope that the senior faculty will consider this when I face the dreaded Third Year Review (coming to you this Spring, in a department near you!  See the angst-ridden junior faculty!  Will they or won’t they be renewed!)

And the better the journal, the longer the cycle from submission to publication.  Case in point, I first submitted an article to a respectable journal in March 2009.  This article underwent two rounds of revision, and was accepted after the first round, some time in January 2010.  It is slated to be published round about somewhere in the middle of 2011.  So that is just about 2 years to get an article in print.  Given that I am time-bound to go up for tenure in 2015-2016, that means that everything that will count towards my tenure must be submitted within the next two years.  Scary stuff, huh?

Thus, I have stuck to my guns as I proposed last month and opted to put off the teaching related activities in favor of keeping my nose to the research grindstone.  Did I mention I started a new research project this semester and submitted a large grant in August (with Schnauzer– two tails are definitely better than one), and that I want to finish my book manuscript by February?  I am not short of projects to keep catapulting into the publication pipeline/cesspit, but knowing my luck, if I’m lucky enough to get things accepted for publication, they will all appear within 6 months of each other…. more like a steaming pile of… well, you know, than a string of measured and steady pearls of wisdom.