[Humanist] 26.481 should I quit

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Nov 14 08:54:00 CET 2012

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 481.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Daniel Allington <daniel.allington at open.ac.uk>            (10)
        Subject: Re:  26.476 should I quit

  [2]   From:    Patrick Durusau <patrick at durusau.net>                     (45)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 26.476 should I quit

        Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2012 09:05:12 +0000
        From: Daniel Allington <daniel.allington at open.ac.uk>
        Subject: Re:  26.476 should I quit
        In-Reply-To: <20121112090730.458746090 at digitalhumanities.org>

Alan's point is an important one. As in the economy as a whole, we're not seeing a lack of jobs right now so much as a lack of good jobs for people that don't already have good jobs: there are plenty of opportunities to teach a few hours here and a few hours there with no security from one semester to the next, and (at least in the UK) quite a lot of opportunities to do professor X's research for him over the next couple of years, but what good is that?

But I think it's worth remembering that the trend towards casualisation began well before the income squeeze. When there was more money around, the management priority in most universities was to invest it not in academic staff, but in fancy new buildings (and - dare I say it - extra layers of management). This means that the root cause of casualisation is not the current economic situation, and therefore that it can be opposed. At my university, the new vice chancellor for research created a procedure last year whereby temporary research staff could be made permanent - presumably because it was recognised that endlessly training new researchers and then losing them is not necessarily good for the institution's research culture.


> I would like to add one point about academic positions. It has always been hard to get academic jobs and probably always will be. Things have been made worse, though, by the current tendency on the part of universities to offer short term academic jobs where the incumbent does not know from month to month what the future holds. This makes it difficult to develop an attachment to the institution with which one is connected, and this important ingredient in becoming an effective teacher and member of the academic community is compromised. This may have been caused by the current tight economy, but like so many other attendant problems, cries out for attention. We do not want the standards of our universities to decline as a result.
> Alan Corré
The Open University is incorporated by Royal Charter (RC 000391), an exempt charity in England & Wales and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 038302).

        Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2012 11:09:06 -0500
        From: Patrick Durusau <patrick at durusau.net>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 26.476 should I quit
        In-Reply-To: <20121112090730.458746090 at digitalhumanities.org>


I think you hit primary issue in your reply to Jennifer where you say:

On 11/12/2012 04:07 AM, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:
> Jennifer,
> I know I'm not the only post-doc with the scars to prove they staggered
> through their PhD, but I think you forget that when you put your heart and
> soul into something, quixotic though it may be, it really hurts to keep
> being told you're not good enough.

You are letting others judge whether you are "good enough." (I hasten to 
say we all are guilty of it so I am not saying to you what others 
haven't said to me.)

Not unexpected after graduate work where catering to the caprice and 
whimsy of others determines your success in graduate school. (Like all 
universal statements, untrue for any number of anecdotal accounts that 
may follow this post.)

True, others will judge whether you get position X or Y, but as others 
have said, having an academic position doesn't necessarily enable 
scholarship. If you want to do scholarship, it will be in spite of an 
academic appointment, not because of it.

Recall that in biblical studies (my area of graduate studies) that 
approximately 98% of the articles subjected to peer review go uncited 5 
years after publication.

Question: If you had a car that failed to start 98 times out of 100, 
what value would you assign to it?

Considering the value of peer reviewer opinions, what does that say 
about the people who hold them?

If you want to do scholarship, by all means, do so.

But realize the academy exists primarily to preserve the academy with 
its perks and positions.

Hope you are having a great day! (and continue to work on research you 


Patrick Durusau
patrick at durusau.net
Former Chair, V1 - US TAG to JTC 1/SC 34
Convener, JTC 1/SC 34/WG 3 (Topic Maps)
Editor, OpenDocument Format TC (OASIS), Project Editor ISO/IEC 26300
Co-Editor, ISO/IEC 13250-1, 13250-5 (Topic Maps)

Another Word For It (blog): http://tm.durusau.net
Homepage: http://www.durusau.net
Twitter: patrickDurusau

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