We are all short on time, so here is my take on how I allocate time so that I can remain research active while excelling in teaching and interacting with the students in my class and my lab. At Allegheny, teaching is certainly the primary focus and there is a high standard for what it means to excel at teaching. However, we are expected to establish a research program that will go beyond providing undergraduates with a “research experience”; rather, independent research is built into our curriculum. In order to meet these institutional expectations, it is necessary that I maintain my own research program that is integrative and not outdated.
As hard as it is, I schedule out a chunk of time each week for research. At this point of my first semester, research for me is less of data collection/analysis and more of manuscript preparation and developing future research seminars. I am lucky enough to only be teaching a single course this semester, so this chunk of time is actually substantial and also continuous (4 hours on Thursday and 6 hours on Friday). I don’t use this time to catch up on grading (I find that there are substantially more take home work assignments due at PUI’s compared to R1s) or work on making lectures for the course I’m teaching in the Spring semester. Because I elect to spend this portion of my week on research, I regularly bring work related to my course home. My rationale here is that I need to get the grading/lecture prep done by a certain date, so I know I’ll finish it at home. I don’t technically need to write manuscripts by any specific date, so I figure that I’ll be less inclined to work on those at home.
This also means that I have revised my open door policy — during these 10 hours each week, I generally work with my door closed. When students, or faculty, stop by during this time (which inevitably happens), I have been pleasantly surprised at how accommodating they have been in my request that we meet later that day or the following day.
During the next couple of weeks, I have some lofty research goals. My Brazilian collaborator is coming to Allegheny for a week and we are hoping to finalize and submit 2 manuscripts and work on some analyses for a 3rd paper. After that, I’ll be starting a project with one of my local collaborators. This should be fun and productive.
Here’s to keeping that research time each week!