Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Teaching and Clinical Professorships--Having a PROJECT

Some appointments are clinical or teaching professorships. In medical schools, clinical professors devote their time to patient care and teaching, with reduced or no demands for scientific research. In many fields there has been the rise of teaching professors, who teach a larger load of classes (6 vs. 4 semester courses/year, say), and again with little expectation of research production.

Neither of these appointments carry tenure, but they usually imply a long term commitment by the professor and the university, with term contracts that are renewable.

You want to teach well, attend to students, perhaps supervise dissertations if that is permitted, be a good departmental citizen, participate in seminars and meetings. You want to remain up to date re advances in your field. And you want to revise your courses or your practices as time goes on.

But, you also need a project. Namely, you need a professional focus that is likely to produce publications, salience among those in your field, and a respect by your research oriented colleagues. It may involve survey or review articles, perhaps a textbook, research that produces publications but not so many as your research colleagues...  You might get involved with others' research projects and become a co-author.

I realize that in medicine research support has become more limited, and in most fields it is not so easy to get such support. But there may be useful and even important work overlooked by others who are more lavishly funded. And you might be able to get external research support or fellowships. But even if there is no such support available, you want to have a project that focuses your energies and you ambitions.

I am not suggesting you work 150%. Rather, with some focus and direction, you do have time to pursue your project, at a less demanding pace than otherwise, but it will get done. And it provides you with a defense against others assuming you are available for scut work--you are finishing a chapter of your book, or ...

If you have no desire for such a project, it is best you seek another position. This is also true for tenured professors. You need something deeply engaging, intellectually demanding, and fun. If not, do something else.

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