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Author Topic: protecting research leave  (Read 6620 times)
observer3
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« on: December 16, 2012, 9:05:35 PM »

I am lucky to be able to have a university-scheduled research leave coming up (just for one term).

It has come to my attention that my leave this time around is going to be hard to navigate. I have already received a number of signs that the administrators who run our office an assign tasks are completely uninterested in the fact of research leave. Fortunately most of my major tasks (teaching and committees) have been reallocated, but there are some administrative forms and student recruitment events that I know will be bombarding my email box over the leave months.

What I am hoping to do is to put on a serious auto-reply message that helpfully directs people to the appropriate contact and to ignore or just file non-research incoming. And that if something is really crucial the chair can tell me to do it.

Unfortunately, most of my colleagues seem to be less protective of their research time with regard to the administrative side, because there are many administrators and of course one's life gets very difficult if they decide they don't like you. But the administrative side are going too far with ignoring the premises of research leave, so I will have to do something to set boundaries, even if they aren't used to this from my colleagues.

Any good advice on how to navigate this? My chair seems a bit afraid of the administrators, so relatively out of the picture for the most part.
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systeme_d_
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No T, no shade. Usually.


« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2012, 10:03:07 PM »

Lots of folks leave town during their research leaves.  If you can't actually leave, then just pretend you're out of the country, or at least out of state.  Create an autoreply message for your email.  Simple.

Or am I missing something?
« Last Edit: December 16, 2012, 10:04:26 PM by systeme_d_ » Logged

yellowtractor
Vice-Provost of the University of the South-East Corner of Donkeyshire (formerly Donkeyshire Polytechnic) (a Post-1992 University) and also a
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« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2012, 10:27:50 PM »

Like System_D said, put your work e-mail on autoreply and STAY OFF CAMPUS if you can at all help it.

If you intend to remain in town and do not do both these things, administrators (as you describe them) will be all too happy to suck up your time, since "you're around" and "not teaching."

You can check your work e-mail as often as you like, but be careful not to reply to anyone or anything work-related--that you feel is in violation of the terms of your leave--for 1-2 weeks MINIMUM.  Replying more quickly will give the signal that you are professionally available.

When/if you do reply, be Prof. SunnyJim.  "Sorry, but as per my autoreply I'm on a research leave and checking my work e-mail only sporadically.  Obviously I can't attend that recruitment event, as it was nine days ago!  I'll be excited to help recruit new students for the program as soon as I'm back from my leave."
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tuxthepenguin
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« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2012, 11:39:26 PM »

If it's research leave, you should be free of those responsibilities. If tenured, you should just ignore all of those requests, or if you do answer (after a long delay), tell them you're on research leave and that's that. If not tenured, it depends on the culture.
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seniorscholar
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« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2012, 11:11:19 AM »

And though I don't abandon my dissertation/job market students when I'm on sabbatical (almost always out of the country -- and also on the most recent one, when I was holed up at home writing, having done the research on away-from-home leave or summers), I do have a temporary gmail address shared only with those students, my own family members, and (when the department chair is someone I trust) with the department chair. Thus I can ignore anything that comes to my university address for weeks at a time without feeling guilty.
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observer3
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« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2012, 4:47:08 PM »

Excellent suggestions. The ad hoc email address is genius.
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jimdixon
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« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2012, 5:15:22 PM »

If you cannot leave town, at least you should avoid your office like the plague. I found I was able to work in the library quite nicely and none of my colleagues or students ever seemed to turn up there. You should certainly be safe from administrators there at any rate.
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anon99
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« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2012, 9:59:56 AM »

If it's research leave, you should be free of those responsibilities. If tenured, you should just ignore all of those requests, or if you do answer (after a long delay), tell them you're on research leave and that's that. If not tenured, it depends on the culture.

It varies a bit, but generally if you are on a committee that meets once a semester and is little work (yes they exist), go to the meeting if you want or don't.  Otherwise, this is your time to do your research and aside from supervising your grad students (as seniorscholar mentioned); you should not be expected to go to recruiting events, work with students or such.  Put on the out of office message and ignore everything other than your research.
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lyndonparker
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« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2012, 2:09:11 PM »

I used to have some of these problems until I looked around at some of my colleagues. While some people are good soldiers and answer administrative E-mails, others flee campus the moment term is over and leave for destinations where they are incommunicado. I have learned to emulate these individuals.
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Lyndon always has such a nice succinct way of putting things.
clean
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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2013, 2:01:01 PM »

You are not "on leave".  That terminology will only cause problems. Instead, what has happened is that you have been reassigned to 100% research.  As you are 0% teaching and 0% service, dont answer you email.  Hell, you may not even want to read it!  IF you do read it, only reply on Fridays after 3 pm.  Limit all of your email time to less than 90 minutes. That means that you can only send brief replies, not essays on any topic. 

Good luck on your reassigned time. You have a whole lot more to do than the time that has been reallocated to you.  Make good use of it and be responsible to the 'gift' you have been given.  Dont waste your resources (time and effort) on other people's problems (service).

Your "out of office reply" may include a note that you have been reassigned to 100% research this term, but have allocated 3 to 4 on Fridays to reply to email.  IF there is an emergency, call 911 (or your department chair). 
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"The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am"  Darth Vader
rihanna_edward
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« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2013, 12:08:30 PM »

Yes, but there are also long-term trends and changes in accreditation to consider. I suggest you hang around here a bit and do some reading about the job market before you go around blithely assuring people that their interest is all that matters in determining what field to enter--and whether to pursue graduate study at all
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observer3
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Posts: 487


« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2013, 3:15:36 PM »

Ok, I have now been through a few weeks of trying to protect research time in email (I have not been in the office generally). I vastly regret that they have not been perfect, but I am getting better.

One thing I didn't realize before is how demanding and obnoxious some of my colleagues (and definitely the administrators) can be. When others have been on research leave, I don't pester them. Apparently that does not go the other way.

I have set an automatic reply. This is my fantasy automatic reply:

I am on research leave. That is noted on the website. You should know what that means, especially since I respected the parameters of your research leave last year. In case you have forgotten since then, to clarify, it means that:
- I am not filling out any stupid forms or filing paperwork.
- I am not running an independent study.
- I am not going to arrange x or y meeting, nor will I attend z meeting.
- And no, it is not my $@!$@* responsibility to find others to do this for you in my place. Check with the chair or figure it out yourself.
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yellowtractor
Vice-Provost of the University of the South-East Corner of Donkeyshire (formerly Donkeyshire Polytechnic) (a Post-1992 University) and also a
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« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2013, 5:22:09 PM »

Just set it to say "I'm sorry, I can't reply to your e-mails because I am in the Seychelles through 2014."
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It is, of course, possible that what I remember as terror was only a love too great to bear.
tuxthepenguin
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Posts: 1,575


« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2013, 3:27:50 PM »

Ok, I have now been through a few weeks of trying to protect research time in email (I have not been in the office generally). I vastly regret that they have not been perfect, but I am getting better.

One thing I didn't realize before is how demanding and obnoxious some of my colleagues (and definitely the administrators) can be. When others have been on research leave, I don't pester them. Apparently that does not go the other way.

I have set an automatic reply. This is my fantasy automatic reply:

I am on research leave. That is noted on the website. You should know what that means, especially since I respected the parameters of your research leave last year. In case you have forgotten since then, to clarify, it means that:
- I am not filling out any stupid forms or filing paperwork.
- I am not running an independent study.
- I am not going to arrange x or y meeting, nor will I attend z meeting.
- And no, it is not my $@!$@* responsibility to find others to do this for you in my place. Check with the chair or figure it out yourself.

Best of luck. At the end of your research leave, you're going to be judged on the basis of your research output, not how nice you were to do things you were not supposed to be doing.
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masonsavoy
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Posts: 19


« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2013, 1:37:03 AM »

I suggest that you emulate Microsoft's danah boyd. Each year, she takes an Email Sabbatical.

Quote
During this period, I will be properly off the grid. No email, no internets, no nothing. More importantly, during this period, I will be taking an Email Sabbatical. What this means is that my INBOX will not be receiving any email. None. Zilch. All headed off to /dev/null for a cruel digital death. If you need to reach me, email me after January 10.

http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2011/12/15/vacation.html

Here is a link to her How to take an Email Sabbatical post:
http://www.danah.org/EmailSabbatical.html

It is too late to follow each step, but step 5 may be useful for your situation.
Good luck! We are all pulling for you.
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