Wednesday, October 22, 2008


New Kids' post today really hit home with me.

Having just taken a job outside of academia one of the things I'm struggling with is my feelings about the research that I did in grad school and in my post doc. I am committed to writing a number of papers that are in various stages with a number of colleagues. I want to write these paper and I will write them.

I also have two new projects that I'm collaborating on this semester. My collaborators are the leads on these projects but I am heavily involved (other than the actual data collection). I am also presenting a poster at my sub field's annual conference after the new year. I intend to go to that conference every year.

But what happens after I'm done with these papers? If I am fully committed to ANJ and I don't intend to go on the academic job market do I just stop? What about all the questions and ideas I have regarding my dissertation work? I will admit that even the thought of never designing another study, collecting data and writing them up for my field thoroughly depresses me. Thus, I don't think about it.

New Kid talks about how the guilt will eventually go away, but what if I don't want it to go away? I mean I don't know that I would even call what I feel guilt, for me it's more a feeling of longing to theorize, experiment and contribute to my field.

I can get some of these wants resolved at ANJ, but it's different and there is definitely no room for designing experiments and collecting my own data at ANJ. I knew this when I started, really I am just glad that there are so many opportunities for me to be a Psychologist rather than just an analyst or statistician (which what other non-academic positions wanted me to be) at ANJ.

This post may make it sound like I'm unhappy, I'm not. I really like ANJ, I'm still learning a lot and the people I work with are great, and I've been able to contribute so much already. To be honest, I wish I didn't have these longings to write and contribute to my discipline in the way I have always done. I wish I could be happy contributing in the ways that ANJ will let me. I wish I felt like my previous research was wrapped up in guilt rather than longing. Then I wouldn't have to wonder what this means for the long term...

I'm definitely not applying for academic jobs this year, but I guess I can't rule it out in the future.


Psychgrad said...

I feel very much like you do. I'm heading in the same sort of direction as you, but feel like I should still be keeping a foot in the academic world. But to what end?

I'm hoping that things will sort themself out. But, this can be risky because if I say "yes" to projects now, I'm committed. But if I say no, I may be closing doors that I should be keeping open. My instincts tell me to say no (because I really don't want to get involved in more projects). But my guilt and my hesitance to say no to people is pulling me in the other direction.

Unbalanced Reaction said...

This might make me a bad scientist...but here goes...

I've totally left my awesome grad research behind.

And I haven't looked back. I think I'm *supposed* to feel guilty about this. But I got the project going, recruited new students, and got them trained before I graduated. I got a 1/2 dozen papers or so out of it, and I have no plans to return to that particular field.

I must admit that around certain people I feel obligated to feign guilt for "dumping" my very productive research!!

jess said...

Even though you're not going on the market this year you're not closing doors, especially since (for now) you still have your hand in ongoing projects in the field. You can always reevaluate later and go on the market another year. Then you’d have the added bonus of being in a position where you can only accept academic jobs that are great fits, if you want, since you already have a position you like.

I would find it hard to not feel as you do now after spending so many years as an in the world of an academic psychologist! I can understand why you’d want to embrace the position you have now rather than wondering what might have been, but at the same time, I think it’s okay to acknowledge that you like your non-academic job but also enjoy your academic research area. It doesn’t have to be either/or.

Is there a way that you could continue to collaborate with the people you do so with now, after these current projects are done?

Psych Post Doc said...

Psychgrad- I have NEVER been good at saying no to interesting projects. I think I've done it maybe 1X and it felt brutal. If your instincts are to say no then I think you're good to go with them.

UR- I by no means meant this post as a judgment of those who can walk away. I hope you didn't take it that way. I envy you a bit, I wish I didn't feel so compelled to stay in this.

Jess- yeah you're right, I don't have to make any decisions about my "future" right now. Although there is something to be said about wanting to just be happy in the moment. I'm just not 100% there.

Yes, I can continue to collaborate with those I collaborate with right now. But that is not the same as doing your own new research. Given that they're the ones with access to lab settings it limits my work to the stuff they really want to do. I'm grateful to have such opportunities, I just worry that it won't be enough.

Mamabeek said...

This seems pretty clear to me and I'm with Jess, keep the mental doors open. If you have a longing, as opposed to just feeling guilty, then you should pursue this in some venue indefinitely. A hiatus, especially in tough economic times, is not a full stop!

Enjoy the writing you have and I'm going to guess that something else will present itself in time.