I unearthed this fragment of a post the other weekend. I started writing it in 2012, when I was about two years into a professional role at a university as a research grant developer. I had had about ten years of researcher life before that, with back-to-back research-only fellowships. My feelings about leaving my researcher self behind were mixed, to say the least.
Now, I’m about two years back into an academic job after leaving that professional role. And I have things to say to my 2012 self.
Hopefully, this dialogue with the self is useful for those of you with ‘portfolio careers’ and seemingly zig-zagging career paths. It may never seem like the right way to do things, but it helps to know that there isn’t a right way to do things.
Me, writing in 2012 while in a professional role:
What’s the shelf-life of academic expertise?
This is an issue that’s haunted me ever since I started working on the ‘other side of the fence’ in my current professional research development role. I was used to being easily identified as ‘academic’ for many years, and it was the angst of having to explain being a research fellow position that occupied my time. Common things I’d have to say: “No, I don’t teach”, “no, I’m not supposed to teach”, “yes, I’m 100% research”, “yes, that means I don’t teach”.
Now, as a research grant developer, I’m in a role where I’m constantly advising researchers on what’s good practice and savvy research strategy. I can’t help but view my on-the-ground experience as a researcher for over a decade as a core part of the value I bring to my job. Similarly, if I’m not publishing, presenting at conferences, or debating critical issues with peers, am I a lesser occupant of this role?
For example, if I was awarded (and completed) a shiny competitive grant, does my experience in putting that application together count, more than five years later? If I haven’t published in an academic journal for over ten years, do I have credibility advising researchers on how to strategise submissions and papers, or negotiate editorial processes?
I’ve kept a part-time hand in with running the research network but, other than that, haven’t given an academic conference paper or written an academic article for about two years.
It feels strange. Read more of this post