Faculty Success – Developing a Research and Publication Agenda – Research Education

Anyone associated with higher education will acknowledge that tenure track faculty have to perform a fantastic balancing act. Compared to an administrative or line role in an organization, higher education faculty have tremendous autonomy and freedom. However, they face competing demands of many different (and good) opportunities, and for them the stakes are always high. Help is here! This article introduces a powerful strategy for staying on track in the research strand of this competitive journey.Building a Research Agenda.
Strangely enough, when entering their first tenure track position, often the only research faculty has pursued is their one dissertation. Yes, that is one project over the course of years, with one massive “publication”. Nonetheless, once on the tenure track, faculty have the demand looming over them to publish or perish- and they are solely responsible for their success or failure.Research Topics.The first step in taming this unruly situation is to consider the natural extensions or additions to your prior research. Or, if your research is not directly related to your department, the first step is to access a topic which bridges the two and will be respected by your colleagues,I like to use a large piece of paper and start writing topics in various areas of the sheet. This activity becomes the process of throwing your research ideas down on paper and seeing if there is a logical concept map among your prospective endeavors. Alternatively, one might have a pattern in mind from the start. If so, begin the concept map as a base structure and see how more activities would be connected to this established core or set.Publication Goals.Many faculty think that each research project results in a single publication: but seasoned researchers realize there are, in fact, many publishing opportunities to be extracted from each project. Hopefully the pre-tenured faculty learned to present at professional conferences during their doctoral studies. As an extension of this experience, faculty can use conference opportunities to field test and gain feedback on their evolving manuscripts. While conference presentations might not be as highly esteemed in tenure and promotion as refereed journals, they can be a powerful proving ground for young academics of theory, model building, data analysis and interpretation.It is important that once faculty identify what they will research and what they will publish that they also begin looking at highly reputable peered reviewed journals. I suggest my faculty clients identify 2-3 potential journals as primary and backup journals for each writing project. The reason is, regardless of how brilliant the scholar, sometimes our work will be rejected. Having the next destination on deck minimizes the delay of having that published article listed in your vita. In fact, we use manila folders to write the name of the topic, article and 3 journals on the front and keep all the related documents inside.Putting it All Together.Now that the topics and publications have been identified, we begin to develop a timeline which will assign them to appropriate time slots. I suggest using a Gantt chart which you can make in Microsoft Excel, on graph paper or plain paper.Columns. At the top of the columns write the months, beginning with the current one. Leave 4 columns empty and then write in the next month to label that column. Following this sequence continue across the page.Rows. The name of the research activity goes on the row in sequence where they are allocated. That would mean labeling a row Project A and then placing an “R” in all 4 boxes in September to allocate time to work on its research. Then in the next 3 boxes, which represent 3 weeks, write in a “W” for “Writing.” Next mark the estimated dates (spread across 4 weeks) where you should receive the results of the review, edits and moving to the In Press status and mark them “P” for publishing.As one works down the page in this fashion, it becomes apparent that while one cannot work on too many projects at once, there are different phases of activities. This pattern can be maximized by alternating work across the projects. Therefore while conducting research on one project, one can be writing another, and/or beginning new research while waiting for reviews.One of the tricks for maximizing success in research and publications is to have a constant flow of organized activity. Two major benefits of this approach to research and publication agenda mapping which my faculty clients discover are welcomed by most pre-tenured faculty:(1) The tracking system reduces the sense of overwhelming commitments as faculty tame their schedule.(2) It also allow faculty to be accountable for their time and see if they need to make different choices, or change their expectations.(3) It helps faculty realize they need to schedule time to get their research and writing accomplished. Neither of these are discrete tasks, they are processes.There is an adage which says “If you want to get something done, find a busy person.” But it is not always true that such busy people earn tenure: sometimes, they are just “used up” with many good and great opportunities and burn out before anything truly becomes accomplished. Don’t let his be your future: take control of your research and publication agenda with the simple strategies shared above.Wishing you all success in your quest for tenure, promotion, and beyond.

Research Develops From A Theory – Research Education

The current fascination with research data and “scientifically researched programs” being used in education needs some explanation. University professors must publish to keep their jobs or advance. They have two options to meet these requirements. They may either (co)author a textbook (usually in their area of content interest, such as reading or mathematics); many textbooks being used in K-12 classrooms have been created by teams of 5-30 professors (with publishers having a vested interest in the products). The other option is to conduct research studies and publish the results of those studies in peer-reviewed journals (strict approval of the study’s procedures and results are required).People make decisions based on research; there is nothing wrong with that, but they need to understand the total picture surrounding research. Yes, there is some really great research being done, the results of which change our lives directly and indirectly for the better. Yes, there also is some questionable research being done, but that is not what this article is about. No matter what the study is, there will be accompanying statistics that indicate the results are valid; those reading it will have to determine for themselves whether or not the research they read or hear about is good.Each specialty area has different requirements for people to become professors. This article only discusses education professors who typically must have a minimum of five (5) years experience in education (not necessarily classroom instruction) prior to earning their doctoral degree. Neither the quality of their skills nor content area is ever part of the equation. Some people begin teaching and earn their masters degree or have their masters degree before they start to teach. They may teach while doing their doctoral work or quite and become university/college instructors while working on their doctorate. An example is that someone could be a school psychologist or teach social studies or PE for five years and then earn a doctorate in education; does that make them qualified to train elementary teachers?Besides educators, there are researchers in the fields of neuropsychology, neurology, sociology, behavioral and experimental psychology, and other related areas of study. Results from such studies may directly impact decisions being made in education, both at the policy and implementation levels. However, these individuals rarely enter a K-12 classroom even to visit, much less teach. What they know about K-12 education is theoretical knowledge based on memories of their ownexperiences (which are not necessarily valid perceptions of how schools really work).How Research WorksTypically, government agencies allocate money to support research. They release Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to announce how much money they will give for specific areas of interests. Typically only university personnel need apply because there are many additional requirements (including approval from an institutional review board or IRB that determines confidentiality and safety issues). The researchers begin with a premise, or theory, of an intervention meeting the RFP’s requirements that “should” work to bring about change in individuals, situations, or conditions in their control group. The researcher reads the results of other studies to validate that his/her experimental intervention should be effective. The researcher must measure the intervention’s effectiveness, so (s)he chooses a statistical procedure in advance of the study so there will be no “contamination” by later looking for a statistical method that will validate (confirm) the study’s results.After RFPs have been received, there are grant reviewers who read and rate RFPs. Their scoring determines which RFPs will be funded. Not all of the money awarded goes directly to the researcher and his/her team. Since a large portion of the money goes to the university to cover indirect costs, the researcher may have to work within a budget of 50-60% of the total grant. When award notices go out, the researcher may begin to hire the individuals needed to conduct all aspects of the study (data collection, statisticians and data entry personnel are examples).During the course of the study, there are two data collection points (pre and post intervention). These two points of data are to show that, as a result of the intervention, change happened. The statistical change that has (or has not) occurred is what the data analysis is all about. The numbers will either prove or disprove the researcher’s theory or premise.The Impact of ResearchA textbook or an instructional method may be evaluated. In either case, the research team has created a script to control for personality variables (the effect one person has over another) in the study. That means that the script is part of the intervention and that, if the results are to be replicated anywhere else, the script must be followed. In practical terms, this means that educators are often now required to read scripts from manuals when they teach students. Does this mean that all students will learn from such instruction? No. It means that other students learned from it and, when teachers are required to use scientifically researched materials to improve students’ scores, they must use it whether or not their students are able to learn what the script is presenting and at the pace of the script’s instruction.Because governments are supporting universities doing research, there is a lot of available research now. Researched programs have teachers’ manuals with scripts which replace teaching methods taught to teachers. Individual judgment and choice are gone from classroom education. Experienced teachers who either learned or developed instructional skills from which all students learned often find their experience is neither valued nor supported. The net result is that many established practices in education are disappearing as teachers leave the field.