Friday, April 22, 2016

The Waiting Game 2.0

One common theme that has continued from my PhD into my post-PhD life is waiting. We seem to live in an perpetual state of suspense waiting to hear back from those with more power, money, influence, authority than us.

If you've been a long-time reader of this blog, you will no doubt remember my long and protracted waiting period to hear the results of my major corrections re-submission (see here). For me, the issue of the academic waiting games rests not on waiting to hear a yes/no, it is about knowing when to expect an outcome.

Now, some funders are brilliant. I recently put in a scholarship application for a conference and was immediately told when the panel would meet and specifically when I would hear back. That's the way it should be. But that is the exception.

In my previous post, I mentioned some of the upcoming costs I am facing in my pursuit to keep in academia. One of these costs is the permission rights for images to be used in my monograph. The extortionate price and state of academic publishing is a conversation for another day though. I found a fund that covered publishing costs and, to make things even better, it caters especially for those who don't currently hold an academic position. Hurrah!

But here's the rub.

The deadline was 18 March. It is now April 22. My manuscript delivery deadline is May 31 with image permissions granted. Obtaining such permissions can take up to 4 weeks. See the problem here...

Without knowing the results of that funding bid, one way or the other, I'm in limbo. If I get the funding then all my images can be included. If I don't, then I will have to remove some, if not all, images due to prohibitive costs.

And guess what, there is no guidance given as to when a candidate for this funding will hear. This is true for many many other funding bodies and equally applies for conference paper submissions, journal article submissions and job interviews.

As one of my Twitter colleagues schrewdly noted, we PhDs and post-PhDs and ECRs are bombarded with deadlines all the time. "Respond to this call for papers by X, job applications should be submitted by Y." But there is frequently no reciprocal deadline. Little guidance for those in limbo, for those whose next steps are wholly contingent on hearing back, regardless of whether the outcome is positive or negative. And don't forget about mental wellbeing, stress and anxiety. Every time your email pings your heart jumps, you check the email, it's a promo ad from Pizza Hut, and you start the process all over again (albeit with pizza, so that's something).

We are taught to just accept the status quo in academia. This is just the way that it is. Well, the way that it is does not reflect nor care for the current state of academia, and I for one think something needs to change.

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