The nature of my research topic, with a focus on the status of professional staff in an academic world, feels risky at times. While I know that academic staff occupy edvisor roles as well, I have a feeling that I’ll be digging into sensitive areas around the academic/professional divide that often seem to be swept under the carpet because they raise uncomfortable questions about privilege and class in the academy and some entrenched beliefs about what makes academics special. It would be incredibly presumptuous for me to think that my ideas are all necessarily right and the point of research is to put them to the test and see where they take me but there’s a fair chance that some of what I’m going to have to say won’t always be well received by some of the people that I work with and who pay me. The other big issue is whether if my findings demonstrate a blind spot to professional staff in academics, those same academics responsible for assessing my research will see the value in my work.
Fortunately at this stage I don’t have my heart set on a career as an academic – I really do like doing what I do – but it seems imprudent to prematurely cut one’s options. I am conscious that I need to be more researcherly or scholarly in the language that I use in this space. I sent out a slightly provocative tweet yesterday, prompted by a separate (joke) tweet that I saw which said that the fastest way to assemble a bibliography was to publicly bemoan the lack of research in topic x.
Academic inside baseball: I think we kinda figured out how to do a great lit review on any topic.
1-Pop on twitter and say "why aren't academics working on this?"
2-Build scraper to collect handles from angry replies, send suggested titles to Zotero.
— zeynep tufekci (@zeynep) November 15, 2017
Why do no academics research the contribution/value of professional staff in the teaching and learning third space? Classism? Cultural Capital? Lack of awareness? #TELedvisors
— Colin Simpson (@gamerlearner) November 15, 2017
After 36 hours I’ve had no literature recommended but a university Pro Vice-Chancellor replied suggesting a collaboration on this area of mutual interest. Which surprised and flattered me greatly, considering that I was concerned that I’d come across as a little bolshie in my questions. Maybe it’s wrong of me to see academics as some kind of monolithic whole.
Maybe the trick is to just worry less and be honest. You can’t please everyone and if you can stand behind your work, maybe that’s enough.
I’m not sure. We seem to live in incredibly sensitive times.