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Balancing teaching and research

Stationery and research and readingThis term, I have returned to teaching after thoroughly enjoying my full year of teaching release. When I taught at The University of British Columbia’s Department of Political Science, I reached a point where my teaching load was 2-1-2 (5 courses per 12 months). That was, in my view, incredibly exhausting. I had very little time left to do any research or consulting. But since I arrived at the Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas (CIDE), I have really moved forward full steam ahead with writing every single day.

I recognize that there are people who teach a 4-4 load and I have no idea how they do it. I simply couldn’t. I also recognize my privilege in that CIDE is extremely flexible with the teaching loads. Normally I would only be required to teach a 1-1 load. This 2013-2014 academic year, that is the way it is going to work. I am thrilled to be teaching what would be considered a relatively light load, because I do have PhD students to supervise, I am teaching this fall, and I have a very heavy research agenda and a lot of writing commitments on my plate.

How to balance teaching and research? I can’t say that I am very knowledgeable in this regard, but what I am doing is keeping the balance of my weekly schedule skewed towards research. Because I only teach one course per term, I am able to keep 3 days out of my 5 days strictly to research duties. If you see my weekly template, you can notice that I am teaching Mondays and Wednesdays, both days when I have a lot of energy. And I also have office hours on those same days.

Of course, by the time 5pm hits I am completely spent on Mondays and Wednesdays, therefore I only spend the evenings doing research-related reading. I also devote Fridays to do the bulk of my service-to-the-university (search committee, library committee) and service-to-the-discipline (peer-review) work. And of course, I write every single day early in the morning, which is where I am more energetic.

Overall, I think balancing teaching and research is always a challenge for academics, whether in teaching or research oriented institutions (CIDE would be considered an R1). I just hope I’m always able to strike the right balance!

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. The elusive quest for balance in academic life – Raul Pacheco-Vega, PhD linked to this post on December 22, 2013

    [...] my quest for that elusive notion of balance. Not only in academic life (e.g. the tricky process of juggling research, teaching and service, or the need to work in many multiple research and writing projects so that I can get stuff [...]



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