Academic Career Self-Sabotage
This article in The Chronicle of Higher Education offers interesting observations from the perspective of an academic who has spent 30 years in the higher education system in different capacities.
Here are 15 ways that you can be most self-destructive in your academic career (without realizing it):
1. You don't seek out multiple mentors.
2. You don't seek out external evaluations.
3. You are either a perfectionist or perfunctory in putting your work into print.
4. Did you hold on to revisions too long? Or rush them out?
5. You pay too much attention to personal relationships -- or too little.
6. You fail to understand the cultural norms of your institution.
7. You aren't well known outside your institution.
8. You lack resilience in the face of failure.
9. You've been involved in one too many interdepartmental squabbles.
10. You are too selfish or too selfless.
11. You got stuck on your dissertation paradigm.
12. You collaborate too much with colleagues from graduate school or you postdoctoral years.
13. You fail to have a coherent research program.
14. You are guilty of any form of academic dishonesty.
15. You haven't figured out who you are.
After reading the list, I've realized that I am guilty of a few of these things.
1. If I want to move 'up' to an administrative position (although I have my doubts), I probably need to find a mentor who works in administration.
2. I don't get a lot of external evaluations, and sometimes I even shy away from opening myself up to comments -- although this is not a problem in my current position (we aren't tenured), it could be an issue if I go to another institution.
3. I am currently writing articles, and I can see myself falling into the perfectionist trap. I am insecure about my writing, but on the bright side, I have no choice but to submit my work.
5. I find that I wrestle with this. Should I invest more time in my relationships with my coworkers, or should I put my head down and work?
8. Time to start taking risks!
13. Although I haven't published any articles, I can see this as a problem. I am interested in a wide variety of research and/or writing projects. As the author points out, if I do not find an area and investigate it fully, it could show that I am "merely someone who flits from project to project, aimlessly pursuing investigations."
Some of these points are made specifically for those on the tenure track. I wonder if non-tenure-track academic law librarians fall into a pseudo-academic career. Or maybe just at my institution. My mentor did not consider himself an academic, but I tend to think of myself as one. It could also be the types of projects one chooses to focus on. While a large part of my position is doing law faculty research, I also have my own writing interests.