Friday, January 16, 2009

Question From Readers I

In response to my begging for comments yesterday, a few readers have asked me questions so I thought I'd answer them in a series. First I'll start with Katie who asked me the following questions...

"I remember you writing that you would consider going back to academic research. Do you feel your current role has built helpful skills should you decide to return? Or did it just make you appreciate the academic environment more"?

I have to admit that I pretty much knew I would want to return to academia, which means that I probably didn't commit to this job as much as I would have if the return wasn't in the back of my mind.

The short answers to your specific questions are yes and yes.

I am gaining valuable experience in ANJ that I think will be helpful for a return to academia. First, I am learning a whole new way to write, for lay persons and for policy makers. These are things that academic jobs in my field want new research faculty to have experience doing. There is a big push to get the word out to the general public and to politicians about the importance of my field and the research that we do, having these skills will be a big selling point. I think it will also help me when applying for funding from both NSF and NIH.

Also, the content of the research I do for ANJ will help as well. It's a nice bridge to my previous work, using new methods and analysis strategies that psychologists of my background generally do not use but may make publishing easier (and faster).

In terms of my appreciation of academia:

I really miss academic freedom regarding what you research and how you do it. I don't have that freedom in ANJ, a number of my proposals have been shot down by the powers that be (despite my direct supervisors LOVING these ideas) and I am becoming increasingly more frustrated every time that happens. I sometimes wonder (sometimes even out loud) why they hired a psychologists if they won't let me foster the psychologists part of myself.

I also miss the experimental part of research, this isn't necessarily a pining for academia per say but I know if I had an academic job I could do more of this.

Finally, I hate the 9-5 part of my job, having to be in the office all the time and having to account to others about when I'll be where, and not having the choice of which projects I work on when. And seriously, ANJ is really awesome about this... they let me work from home whenever I want pretty much, and I make my own hours as long as it's 8 hours a day.....I just have a really, really low tolerance for this I guess and want to be able to work 4 hours on Monday and 12 hours on Tuesday if that's what I feel like doing. :)

Oh, and I really miss teaching. This doesn't really have anything to do with ANJ but it's one of the things that makes me miss academia and want to go back.

I'm happy to respond to follow-ups about this topic if I neglected to answer something.


Di Di said...

Thanks for your thoughts on this. I'm very interested in these issues because I am still undecided about whether to go into academia. The point about academic freedom is a good one, and something I have to keep in mind since I value being able to choose my own questions. But I actually think I would like 9-5 because right now I feel like I work 9-9 and whenever I'm not working I feel guilty, even if it's Friday night.

caroline said...

Thanks for sharing your feelings about this topic. That's a great response and really interesting to think about.

I think I may have a really low tolerance for 9-5 or that "accountability" also. Is it that you felt like you were more like your own boss in academia than in a "real" job?

post-doc said...

Good answers - I think you identified the basic points of industry vs. academia. The lack of freedom, for me, is justified by the increased security and salary. But there's no question - I work on the company's priority projects, regardless of how I personally feel about them.

I very much hope you find what you want in academia - I know you'll be brilliant wherever you work!

Unbalanced Reaction said...

My year off from research (okay, just a half-year so far) has really helped me realize that I *do* want to do some research. Nothing like taking a break from something to realize how much you like it! :)

Psychgrad said...

Some food for thought there, for sure. I'm curious how I would feel being out of academic for 5-6 months. Certainly, the loss of flexibility would be something to get used to.

Do you think the position will be a hinderance in terms of getting an academic position (assuming that your day-job doesn't allow you to work toward publications)?

Psych Post Doc said...

Thanks for the comments everyone.

DiDi- I still have the guilt, part of that however is that when I get home from my 9-5 I feel guilty about not doing work for my grad school and post-doc projects.

Caroline- yes, I definitely felt more of my own boss than I do now.

Katie- Thanks. I agree that the $ and security of this job is a benefit. I think one of the things I most appreciate is the freedom it allows me to look and wait for an academic job is that is a great fit for me.

UR- That's how I feel about teaching. It's been 1.5 years since I've been in a classroom and I really miss it.

PG- I chose this job precisely because it allows me to publish and present at Psychological conferences. Right now I'm working on publishing my previous projects (I have a huge back log!) but, I've submitted abstracts to two diffferent conferences for work I'm doing at ANJ.