Monthly Archives: April 2017

The Future of the University… Is Outside It

If I could change one thing about higher education, it would be forging a better connection with industry. In my program, the focus is mostly on research, with the idea being that all graduates worth their salt will obtain tenure-track academic jobs. However, there are lots of students (me included) who are more passionate about teaching or clinical work than research. In fact, part of the reason why I pursued this degree was to have some variability in possible career outcomes (just being practical with the economy in its current state!). Yet I have learned very little about the different types of clinical jobs available and what skill set is required for each. Without the PFP certificate, I doubt I would be in any way prepared to apply for SLAC or other teaching-focused institutions; my program has never asked me to write a teaching philosophy, and attempts to upgrade or improve my syllabus would likely be regarded as a waste of time.

I don’t know if this sentiment applies across the university, but I have similarly heard from others that they know little about industry job opportunities and wouldn’t know who to talk to in order to receive mentorship about these paths. In my opinion, not only should graduate programs be proud to see their graduates go out and apply their skills in a variety of settings, but they should value the chance to network with companies both nationwide and in their local community, in order to provide additional training and career opportunities for future cohorts of students. Plus, networking could provide new populations for research projects and be of assistance in securing funding to pay for these projects (e.g., if a clinical psychology student does a practicum at a federally-funded clinic and, as part of it, does a research project that can be presented to the clinic and the department and then possibly submitted for publication). I am just having trouble seeing much of a downside for anyone, except that it could be construed as “taking time away” from research.

Does anyone else in other departments and colleges have this issue? If so, speak up in the comments!

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Pros and Cons of Service

This semester, I have engaged in a lot of service work. I am active in the GTA Academy, planning and attending events, and I have also been very involved as a Diversity Scholar and member of the Bouchet Honor Society. Although I have enjoyed making these commitments and find my work with them meaningful, they have not left much time for research. Fortunately, my dissertation is completed, so my department isn’t giving me too much of a hard time about it!

While I chose to devote myself to service, not only this semester but also in my future career, I couldn’t help but notice that most of the others involved in these activities were women and/or people of color. For whatever reason, my anecdotal experience suggests that non-privileged groups take on the lion’s share of service activities. Is it just that non-privileged people connect more easily with the need to give back to the community and contribute as mentors, because of their own experiences with struggling to have their needs met? Or do these groups labor under the perceived societal expectation that service commitments are part of their professional responsibility, in a way that is not the experience of members of more dominant or privileged groups? Of course, it is not fair that the responsibility for service commitments is not shared equally by all groups, as highlighted in this article. In addition, something I have personally experienced is the sense that my service work is not rewarded by my department, or at least not perceived as being anywhere close to as important as research productivity or grant funding achievements. I think that getting proper recognition for service work is important for reducing the burden of the work on non-privileged groups, because that acknowledgement would elevate the status of this work and make it seem like a worthwhile “extra” commitment.

I would be really interested to hear other opinions on this issue: do you do a lot of service work now, and why or why not? Are you considering making service work an important part of your career, or do you dread the extra burden?

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Open Access, Accessibility, and Burden Shifting

For this week’s post, I looked at the Archives of Scientific Psychology, an open access journal published starting in 2013 by the American Psychological Association. In its introductory article, the authors describe it as “a new journal for a new era.” The journal was created based on a desire for psychological scientists to interface more effectively with the public, and to make the process of psychological research (e.g., methodology) more transparent. Authors who publish in this journal are expected to make their data and methods available and to provide not only a scientific abstract but also a non-technical, jargon-free abstract that is more accessible for the public. Reviewer comments and author responses may also be published alongside the article itself, to make it more clear that the paper was rigorously reviewed, and reviewers and authors may choose to make themselves known to one another during the review process. Finally, the journal strives to produce new content frequently and on a timely basis after submission to keep things current.

All of these unorthodox policies are meant to demystify the publishing process and make scientific research more accessible to the general public. The introductory article states that the journal hopes that its model will one day be the norm for scientific articles. While the authors of this article acknowledge that the journal puts more of a burden on contributors (and possibly reviewers) by asking for extra information and speeding up the timeline, they also state that contributors will benefit greatly by having their article made available to a wide audience without a membership fee. Interestingly, I don’t see anything in this article about how much contributors will have to pay to be published here.

The journal explains its role in the open access movement in a scientific way, presenting data that argues for and against open access and sharing some statistics that suggest that open access is here to stay. Essentially, it seems like the journal’s creators are moving forward to keep up with this momentum and not attending to potential drawbacks.

Overall, I am supportive of this journal and curious to see how the articles in it actually look and read and how impactful they are on the field. It seems like the Archives goes beyond the typical standards for many other open access journals (i.e., available to a large audience without a membership fee, with the cost burden being placed on contributors instead). This journal really goes the extra mile to make the publishing process transparent and to try to benefit both the audience and the contributors (though perhaps more so for one than the other).

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