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Surviving and Thriving in Academia

I have been a very strong advocate for balance in academic and personal lives. I’m also a proponent of gender equity, a champion of marginalized academics. I promote empathy and kindness and community building. These posts are related to my experiences facing challenges as a queer academic of color in a globalized academic world.

Saying no to Taylorism in academia – pushing against the “billable hours” concept

I worked in consulting before and I am really against the idea of treating the hours we spend reading, thinking, mulling over ideas as “non-billable hours”. I make an argument in this post as to why we shouldn’t adopt this model of academic Taylorism.

On getting a good night sleep and its importance in academia

Contrary to common belief, I do sleep about 8 hours a night. I use a biphasic sleep cycle model. In this post I explain how it works.

Learning to protect your time in academia with a NO Committee.

The idea of a NO Committee isn’t really mine, but it does resonate with what I do – I have learned to discern whether an opportunity will advance or not my career and those who don’t, I say NO to. Here is how.

On slow scholarship and how we can’t cut any corners short in academic life

Many people think that success overnight really actually happens automagically. In this post, I reflect on the fact that this isn’t the case and why good research does take a lot of time.

On anxiety attacks, resiliency and overwork in academia

I almost never get any sort of physical manifestation of stress, except that recently I did get anxiety attacks. I decided to write about the realities of physical responses to stress, and the need to build resiliency (both physical and mental) to prevent this from happening again.

Coming back to work from a long illness

Despite general belief, my physique is quite fragile and I get sick often. Thus I need to take extra care of myself. This post explains how I do it.

On the need for reflection in academic writing

While I could have classified this post in the #AcWri section of my Resources page, I think it belongs in this section, because in this post I discuss the Slow Scholarship paradigm. I myself have felt the pressure to publish, publish, publish. But I recognize that if we don’t reflect deeply on our work, we risk irrelevance. Moreover, we must countervail ridiculously abusive publishing pressures. This post reflects some thoughts about my stance on the Slow Scholarship paradigm.

Some advice on building conference panels

The simplest word of advice: say no to all-male-panels (also, say no to all-white people’s panels!)

Protecting your time as an early career academic

I am still pre-tenure (though soon to go up for tenure!) so I have learned to make writing my priority. In this post I provide some strategies I’ve tested to protect my time as an ECR.

On self-care, balance and overwork in academia

Even with my strict scheduling strategies, I was unable to protect myself from incidental challenges. There were moments where my health was so poor that I was close to dying. In this post I share my story and encourage my readers to take better care of themselves, as academic life will take a toll on you if you don’t take care. This post, along with this one, were published combined in the Sh!t Academics Say blog, SAS Confidential. Incidentally, I received dozens of encouraging emails from fellow academics who feel the same way. There must be a good reason for this. A previous post is located here.

On my view of mentorship in academia

In this post, I reflect on why we need good mentors, and how other professors have shaped the way in which I myself offer mentorship. I am also drawn to mentoring students who aren’t mine and ECRs who come to me for advice (which is why I have assembled these Resources pages!) because other people have helped me succeed. I want to pay it forward.

Elinor Ostrom, Vincent Ostrom and the ethic of kindness and collaboration of the Ostrom Workshop

My friend Liz Baldwin said once that the expectation if you are in this field (commons research) or associated with the Ostrom tradition (the Bloomington School, as it’s often called), you are expected to be kind, to be generous, to share information and knowledge broadly and to provide constructive feedback. It’s not only a shared norm, it’s an expectation. This post explains why I emphasize collaboration, cooperation and kindness. It’s what Elinor Ostrom and Vincent Ostrom taught me.

My 2016 word: FOCUS

One of the best pieces of advice that you can give someone who is a polymath and who is interested in many different topics is to FOCUS. This has always been a challenge for me. I have done research in several fields, and it remains one of the biggest challenges I face in my academic career. In 2016 I decided my word would be FOCUS. I wanted to focus on specific research topics, on certain conferences, on my friends and my own well being. This post explains the rationale for having a word that becomes the axis of your year.

On the importance of networking in academic settings

One of the pieces of (unsolicited) advice I always give my students is to network, network, network. Attend seminars, even if they’re not in the core area of what you are studying. Attend conferences. Present your work. Be a part of policy discussion roundtables. Participate in public forums where politicians can be reached more easily. In this post I discuss why I am such an ardent advocate of networking and some techniques to do so.

On Designing, Implementing and Evaluating Research Trajectories

I have written a couple of posts on how I’ve been maturing as a scholar, from the first time I made a serious reflection on this topic, and to the last time I thought about this.

The downsides of academic travel

I travel internationally about once a month, because of my research, conference and keynote speaking commitments. This much travel has taken a toll on my body and my health. While I can’t change my fieldwork-intensive model of research, I do reflect on what downsides academic travel brings along.

Dealing with rejection in academic writing, and in academia in general.

I offer some thoughts on why we shouldn’t be that worried about having a paper rejected.

Balancing focus and diversification: Having multiple projects on the go

Some people ask me why I promote that scholars write and push several projects forward. Given the extraordinarily long evaluation times that some journals have, it’s important to have “several balls on the go”. I explain the model I use here.

Is working over the holidays a norm in academic life?

I offer some suggestions on how to avoid burnout when you have to work over the holidays (something I don’t recommend, but that sometimes happens).

When does it make sense to write a book chapter instead of a journal article?

This is a topic that I’ve been mulling over for a while now, since I have quite a few book chapters in books. I know that for my institution, peer-reviewed journal articles will always count more, and I am now working towards not doing book chapters. But sometimes it does make sense. I write some of my reasons why in this post.

On the need for empathy and kindness in academia

Academia tends to be quite a cut-throat activity, despite the fact that “the life of the mind” should be collaborative. Thus in this post I suggest that we need to offer the empathy we request.

On the need for slow scholarship: Towards a new paradigm of research

This post explains my understanding of the slow scholarship movement, and why I feel the need to push for more balance in academic life, without having the absurd publish-or-perish pressure.

Organizing child-friendly academic conferences and workshops

I am single and childless but that doesn’t mean that I’m not concerned about the well being of parents who are also academics. Two of my brothers belong to this category. I’m the child of a professor. I am always concerned with making academia more accessible. This post reflects on the challenges facing academics who are also parents.

On the structural barriers that women face in academia

For International Women’s Day 2017 I wrote about the very real, structural barriers that women face to their advancement in academic life.


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