In July and August 2017, I was fortunate enough to visit Simon Fraser University’s Graduate Liberal Studies program. Away from UWI, the visiting scholar position provided just right amount of distance to think through and outline objectives for the 2017/2018 academic year. While 2016/2-17 was a ‘good year,’ I believe improvements are possible. One key element is to schedule my time more thoughtfully. Some of this involves archival sequestration, a routine I developed during my years at Wits. At a minimum this will be 2 days a week, 9am to 2pm. This time will be set aside to concentrate on reading and writing. The afternoons of ‘archive days’ will be spent grant-hunting and grant-writing because I would like to provide more support to COMS graduate students. 2 other days will be devoted to teaching, which also involves course administration, graduate supervision as well as taking UWI’s certificate on learning and teaching. The final day will be dedicated to off-campus research, mostly conducting site visits and interviews. Throughout, I will set aside at least 30 minutes to write. At first, this writing will mostly be memo based, although there will be a few specific papers I intend to pursue. These are listed at the end of the document.
Another change is that my graduate students will be invited to monthly group meetings. I am calling this Social Change and Development. The main goal is to enable the participants to become better theorists, myself included. While the group meeting is rooted in reading, study and discussion, it is important that we disseminate our thoughts. It doesn’t serve our values if our ideas do not see the light of day. As a group, the targets are 1 book contract, 4 journal articles, 4 book reviews, 4 talks (conferences, seminars, posters etc.), 4 grant or scholarships applications over the coming academic year. Other kinds of dissemination, like posters, flyers, op-eds, light social media campaigns are also important and will be pursued. Finally, I shall organise and conduct 2 off-campus outreach events per term. The bulk of those targets fall on my shoulders. As it should. But all of us have vital roles to play and skills to contribute.
Here is the process we will use to achieve these goals:
- To begin, graduate student goals are concentrated on conferences, scholarship applications, and book reviews. So while it is good to have ambition, I think it is best to consolidate this area before looking at items like seeking to publish papers.
- Aside from monthly group meetings, I will sit down with every graduate student at the beginning of each semester. Here I will help you determine a workplan for the coming term. While you are taking courses the expectation for outputs will be less, but once coursework is over, or you are between terms, there will be outputs related to your thesis, such as an annotated bibliography, several research memos, a literature review, an outline of the argument, and of course various drafts.
- As a thesis is a product of many conversations, I highly encourage you to present at least one conference per year. Posters are acceptable if you don’t feel far enough in your research or are still developing confidence. This way you can get feedback not only from your peers, but more established scholars too. You do not need my permission to submit a conference paper, or turn a presentation into a draft chapter or paper. Still, if you would like advice or thoughts, let’s meet or bring them up at a group meeting.
- I expect that these posters and conference papers will eventually turn into chapters or publishable manuscripts. Sometimes we will need to collect more data or to combine conference papers. So expect there to be some growth, some iterations, and some rewriting. I fully accept that the timeliness of this revisions will vary from person to person, and that is perfectly fine, provided we are moving in the publishable direction.
- I will be available to review everything and we can negotiate my involvement in the writing process, but as I have said before, your work, your paper, your name as sole author. If you collaborate with other graduate students it is fair that their names are attached as authors. If there is a dispute over order, I can step in to mediate a resolution. On this note, undergrads who produce work get credit. Ideas and leadership are important, rank is not.
- Following on, if a paper is undertaken by a team, one person (myself or yourself) will be responsible for leading the team that generates the manuscript. This team leader will organize the assignments and timelines, although they will coordinate with me to make sure no one person is disproportionally burdened. Unless other arrangements have been made, that team leader will be the first author.
- There will be a group blog. PhD and MPhil students will post twice a semester, MA students twice a year. Refer here for parameters. We will use this as the public face of our collective project. I encourage social media use, although I do highly recommend that you read this guide.
Hopefully this process will help us have a more productive and accountable year. I am around on campus so we can discuss these ideas and your role in these plans. On that note, I would like to know what you would like to see changed or good things that need to be emphasized and retained.
Goals for the Academic Year 2017/2018
- Complete Revisions for the Journal of Classical Sociology.
- Luck and Liberty, book proposal to several presses
- Econometrics Paper, Target journal: Economy and Society
- Begin Second Phrase of the Petro-Cultures and Deep Decarbonization project
Mishanna Oudit (MSc, International Relations):
- Submit MSc Thesis
Antonia Mungal (MPhil, Communication)
- Course Work for COMS 6001, 6009 (several assignments)
- 2 MPhil Seminars, (proposal in June 2018; chapter of thesis in September 2018)
- One Conference
- 2 Annotated bibliographies (methods, history, or theory)
- 2 Scholarship Applications