Article: The Absent Presence: Today’s Faculty

Hi all,

I found this series of articles and the core paper the other day and thought you would be interested – it talks about the financial pressures of modern academics from the perspective of an academic who couldn’t afford to attend a conference to present his paper, and so rewrote his paper (to be read by a colleague) to discuss why he couldn’t afford to attend. Has sparked an interesting discussion about the growing pool of non-tenure track staff (or – to us – contract staff?) and what they have to put up with. Causes me more concern, given Australia’s growing push towards teaching-intensive positions…

The original paper is here: http://www.briancroxall.net/2009/12/28/the-absent-presence-todays-faculty/

Some related articles/web stuff: http://chronicle.com/article/Missing-in-Action-at-the-ML/63276/
http://www.briancroxall.net/2010/03/08/on-going-viral-at-the-virtual-mla/

Kat

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3 Responses to “Article: The Absent Presence: Today’s Faculty”


  1. 1 Helga March 10, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Ummmm… I’m why this is framed as a discussion that applies only to contract staff. Regular research budget allocation for tenured staff in my area is currently $500 per annum, and that’s not guaranteed. More substantial conference travel funding is granted on a competitive basis, and requires elaborate applications. The pot of money is small and doesn’t go far. In certain years, it has been frozen altogether. Of course, contract staff are even more vulnerable to exclusion from research subsidy, but they’re not the only academic staff who are being turned into teaching pit ponies by choking off conference travel subsidies.

  2. 2 ergadelaide March 10, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    We’ve just been having a discussion about this as well in my area. Funding for research varies from 0 to approximately $2,000 per annum (and only if it is an A-grade conference). Staff are also often responsibly for funding their post-docs and perhaps phd student travel as well.

    This seems to have got a lot worse over recent years in my area.

    One area that I am concerned about that appears to hit contract staff more is access to SSP. I believe that you can only take SSP if the period of SSP fits into your current contract – which is fine if you are on a long-term contract, but if you are employed on a yearly basis, you have no chance. And therefore no chance to devote the time to making yourself more competitive (research-wise).

  3. 3 ergaminion March 10, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    That first link sounds…very familiar, yes. When you’re working as a sessional teacher or in other short-term roles rather than on a long-term academic/professional contract, it’s extremely hard to get any of the research that will make you competetive on the job market published – either in journals or at conferences. This is partly because in these jobs you don’t get any research time for your own projects built into your contract (which is fair enough, but dispiriting when selection committees start telling you they didn’t put you on the shortlist/won’t support your postdoc application because you don’t have enough publications on your CV) – but having to fund conference attendance etc from your own pocket if you’re being paid at sessional rates doesn’t help at all.

    I could afford to pay my own way to something local now, if I could get a paper written and accepted (I do need *some* sleep). I definitely couldn’t have afforded it when I was doing sessional teaching and fewer project-officer hours per week.


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ERGA (Education Research Group of Adelaide) is a cross-disciplinary community of educators based in South Australia promoting high quality University learning through evidence-based, practical approaches to teaching. This blog is used to communicate information about events and ideas for ERGA activities. Please use this space to discuss our events, ideas on education research that you have and to give us feedback.

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